Cultivating Enough

Kira Elliott Cultivating Enough

Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.” -Brene Brown

I don’t know about you but I struggle with chronic feelings of not good enough, that no matter how much I do or achieve in life, I still feel not good enough. I feel like I need to do, or it was a fluke that I succeed at something. Which of course leads me to believe that I have to do more and more, perfection is the only goal or else I am not good enough. Or as Brene Brown says, “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.” This Please. Perform. Perfect. mindset feeds feelings of not good enough.

So how can we let go of the Please. Perform. Perfect habit or mindset. How do we know  enough?

For myself, this happens by many small decisions that help me slow down and savor, and cultivate enough in my life.

Like deciding that 10 to 15 minutes daily yoga practice instead of 1 to 1.5 hours five days week is enough.

Or deciding that my weekend to do lists must fit on an small index card instead of a letter-size piece of paper.

Or deciding blogging once a week instead of 3 times a week is enough.

or deciding that spending more time outside more instead of staying at my computer working is enough.

Or deciding to clean out one draw/cupboard/closet a week instead of cleaning out the whole house in a weekend is enough.

Or deciding to only teach one writing workshop at a time instead of pushing myself to teach 3 or 4 at a time is enough.

Or deciding that 80% effort really is enough, more than enough, for most of my tasks in life.

I think this also happens by awareness of areas in our life where the Please. Perform. Perfect mindset is operating, consciously or unconsciously. When we can see it, we can choose let go of frantic doing to prove our worth and give ourselves permission to do enough.

We also need to see how we already are treating ourselves with compassion and respect, knowing we are enough.

Join me for #cultivatingenough, a free daily photo challenge

Cultivating Enough is about building this awareness, compassion and respect for ourselves. Through daily photo prompts we will explore how we are enough and life is enough.

It is about feeling good enough, knowing we do enough and life is enough. 

Remember this is about enough, so join in as much or as little as you like. There are no rules. There is no perfection, please or perform here. Just an opportunity to connect with other women who also struggle with feelings of not good enough.

As there are no rules participating is easy.  Simply take a photo of your interpretation of that day’s prompt or not, and post it on Instagram with #cultivatingenough. If you’d like to tag me too, I’m @kiraelli.

– Use your phone or a camera

– Join in whenever you like during the month

– Post a picture every day or some days

– Share it on Instagram, or keep it to yourself

Also, you can sign up for daily emails with the photo prompts and additional writing and/or other creative expression questions HERE. I know I find it so much easier to remember the prompt if I get an email, otherwise I am hunting all over the internet looking for the prompt.

2016 Cultivating Enough with Kira ElliottI do hope you will join me and others as we cultivate enough.

I Know I Try To Do Too Much

I Know I Try To Do Too Much


Soft light Kira Elliott

It is gray, wet and cold, just like yesterday and the day before that. A black squirrel is sitting on the chain link fence outside the window twitching in the rain. The sound of rain trickling through the gutters and splashing on the sidewalk outside the door to my writing studio is comforting on this last day of vacation. The space heater silently warms the room as my two cats curl up on the small cot sized bed covered in quilts and pillows.This is the space I have spent most of my time over the last 12 days when I was not sleeping. I have sat at my cluttered desk, piled high with books and journals, writing, roaming around on the internet, planning 2015 and reading. My MacBook Pro in the center, a cold cup of tea sitting to the left.

Over the last 12 days, I have slept, read, wrote and yes, watched some mind numbing TV. Yes, I celebrated the holidays with family but I limited the parties and engagements. I wanted to give myself the gift of unscheduled downtime.

I cannot think of a better way to spend a vacation, especially the unlimited hours of sleeping. I feel like a different person—clearer, kinder, more gentle, less anxious, because I am rested. I feel so pampered and luxurious because I slept 8 to 9 hours a night for the last two weeks. Sleep should not be a luxury. It should be a basic priority and yet I know within two weeks I will once again be over-scheduled and working from a sleep deficit.

I can tell myself I am going to change, and I do prioritize my sleep, but I also have a demanding day job, my writing workshops and my other creative pursuits. Not to mention friends and family, a house to maintain, and other adult responsibilities. I know I try to do too much. I have made choices to let go of many projects and expectations of myself over the last few years. What remains are projects, jobs and relationships I am not willing or can’t to let go of at this point.

I need my creative work to balance out my day job. I need it because it grants me connection, creativity, abundance and authenticity. Important feelings for me to cultivate. So tomorrow I return to my day job and try best I can to balance my life and make sure I sleep enough. For now this is how things are.

At any rate, I had more time to search and read to find links for this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

Edith Pearlman by Summer Pierre. Edith Pearlman is finally getting the recognition she deserves after 50 years of writing short stories. I find Summer’s insight on Ms. Pearlman’s success hopeful and inspiring. Yes, the work I am creating is important and it is worth doing whether I gain recognition or not.  It is easy to become dishearten as a writer or an artist.

Celebrating Late Bloomer with 35 over 35 by David L. Ulin. Another reminder it is never too late to publish. Here is a list of 35 notable authors who published their first book in 2014. As Mr. Ulin states “… writing is a lifelong engagement, a marathon and not a sprint.”

Soul Writing- What to Do When Words Hurt by Claire De Boer- I spent most of my holiday break working on a piece of difficult writing. I tend to hold myself hostage and kindness does not come easy. I needed to read this to remember the words will flow better if I am kind and take care of myself.

I love vacation because I get time to read more. Here are a couple of memoir essays I read over the holiday break.

On the Way to the Thing by Judy Hall
Blue is the Color of Hope by Lynn Hall

And finally, Fuji Instax 210 Review- One of my favorite gifts I received this past holiday was a Fuji Instax 210. Here are is a review of what it can it do. Wow, do I love these photographs. I think I need to go to Hawaii.

May you find time to rest and not do too much in the coming week. ~Kira


Registration for Writing to Open Your Heart is Open! Starts January 31, 2015. Give yourself the gift of writing and connection to others to help open your heart in 2015.



Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Kira Elliott Dinner

As we close out 2014 I thought I would share a few bits and pieces of what I have been up to the last few weeks. I considered sharing a wrap up of my year or my year in pictures, but then I thought, keep it simple. Honestly, the holidays have been enough, plus I have a writing assignment due on January 5th.

Ajahn Chah is one of my favorite Buddhist teachers. His teachings are clear, direct and simple. I love this quote because it sums up so much for me. It is only by sitting with and turning towards my pain and discomfort have I found freedom from it.

“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

I participated in Catherine Just’s In Plain Sight again this past December. I focused on taking daily self portraits. Wow, what an experience, I cultivated a lot of self compassion doing this. If you haven’t taken one of her e-courses I recommend it. She has a way of creating a supportive positive community. Here is a collage of some of the self portraits from the month.

Kira Elliott IPS


I had a rare opportunity to get on top of a 12 story building in Southwest Detroit. I took this facing East towards downtown. Detroit is huge, 142 square miles huge. While revitalization is happening in the downtown core, the neighborhoods are devastated. Detroit needs so much healing and I want to do my part.

Kira Elliott Southwest Detroit


Jay, my Mr. Awesome, got me a Fuji Instax 210 camera for Christmas. This delights me beyond measure and I can’t wait to really break this in. It has been so long since I used film, let alone instant film. I have a big learning curve in front of me.

Kira Elliott Fuji Instax

Here is one of my first pictures with the Instax. Aside from needing a better scanner, I am in love with the colors and feel of the photographs.

Kira Elliott Fuji Instax


And finally, this video delights me to no end. We have watched it numerous times and I still laugh.

Happy New Year and may your coming year be filled delight, freedom from suffering and moments of beauty.


Registration for Writing to Open Your Heart is Open! Starts January 31, 2015. Give yourself the gift of writing and connection to others to help open your heart in 2015.
It Really is My Choice

It Really is My Choice


Fog Morning

Practice is like raising a duck. If it grows fast or slow, it’s the duck’s business not yours. Let go & just do your own work. — Ajahn Chah

I have lost track of the days. I want to say I am brimming with cheer, love and light. I want to say happiness and connection are flowing like a clear river through my heart. And yet… and yet, I am swimming in rising tides of self-doubt, fear, loss and grief. The holidays seem to feed these feelings despite my efforts to foster otherwise happier, or at the very least, neutral feelings regarding the holidays.

I am not sure why exactly but this holiday season has knocked me down and beat me up, leaving me swollen, stiff and achy. Really there was nothing too different this year. Yes, grief returned over the loss of my son’s father. It is our third holiday season without him and I can’t help but be aware of his absence. Otherwise, my family, our routine, remained the same. Sure it takes effort for me to spend time with my mother, yet I have tools to deal with that. I didn’t even have to cook too much for Christmas dinner, my sister-in-law brought homemade lasagna and we went to Jay’s mothers house for dessert. Nothing strange, nothing out of ordinary.

And yet… I feel imbued with a deep sadness and loss. With overwhelming feelings of not good enough. While I know these feelings are false, they still  zap all of my energy as I sit with them and try not act to from them. My energy is consumed as I try to not let them rip through my life, eroding my relationships and creative work.

I want to understand why they are here, perhaps it is as simple as I have not been able to work out for a few months while my foot heals from surgery last October. I know I need to move my body regularly to boost my mood.

I am sure it is not any one thing but rather a combination of factors. I can get lost in trying to figure why I am feeling the way I am. It is good to know the origin but not necessary for me to take steps to help myself move through the feelings and take care of myself. So I am laying low, declining invitations to gatherings, taking naps, reading and writing. I am working out and stretching my body, drinking lots of water, eating clean food to reduce the stiffness in my joints. I am sitting on my meditation cushion despite the tears that trickle down my cheeks as I return to my breath again and again.

I often feel powerless when feelings of loss, sadness and grief show up and yet I know today I don’t have to be pushed around by then. I can acknowledge, honor and give space and also take care of myself. I can hold difficult emotions lightly, not clinging on to them so that I don’t have to suffer. It really is my choice.

Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

Intention and Intuition by Rebecca Crowell- I am not sure where I ran across this blog post but it blew me away. Rebecca articulates the difficulties of creating abstract art in a way that resonates with me. Her reflections apply not only to the creation of art, but also to our approach how we live our lives. Balancing intention and intuition is a constant struggle for me, on the page, in the viewfinder, on the canvas or in relationship with my loved ones. Also, Rebecca’s work is amazing. I am getting an itch to paint again.

Dear Life: I Am In Love, But It’s A Mess by Megan Stielstra- Once again Megan’s clear direct voice clarifies just how messy life and love can be. She does not hold back about accountability either. I love reading Megan’s work, it is like I am sitting with a a good friend musing about life.

Remembering Why I Write in the First Place by Beth Kephart- Sometimes all it takes is three paragraphs, 15 minutes, a few lines dashed, to remember why we write and to keep us going.

Healing Your Mother (Father) Wound by Phillip Moffitt- All I have to say is there is nothing like the holiday’s to reignite old wounds. I have completed lots of hard work regarding my mother and yet pain and loss still rise from deep within. Learning how to sit with whatever arises has lead me on a path to live with an open heart. It has broken the gripping fear and feelings of not good enough to allow space to create and connect with others. It gets me out of myself.

Matt Black, Instagram Photographer of 2014– I was blown away by Matt’s photographs of the gripping poverty in the Central Valley of California. He also discusses how working on Instagram informs his work.

May your coming week be filled moments to be with what is and not be overwhelmed.


Registration for Writing to Open Your Heart is Open! Starts January 31, 2015. Give yourself the gift of writing and connection to others to help open your heart in 2015.







Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Fence Kira Elliott


“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”  ― Mary Oliver

The last week the sky has been a low dense expanse of soft white-gray cloud cover. The trees are stark and bare, the grass brown and dead. Even the early mornings are filled with stillness as the chickadees and finches slumber longer, waiting for the sun to rise.

Darkness now covers over 13 hours of our days and we still have a week left before the Winter Solstice. December holidays lights are the only brightness in an otherwise bleak landscape.

The benefit of low cloud cover means warmer temperatures (for Detroit standards) and I want to ride my bike one last time before deep snows blankets the region. I want to go hike in the woods and feel my blood pumping through my veins. I want to feel the damp cold air in my lungs.

And yet, my foot is still healing from surgery last October. I now can wear my Keens (a wide boxy toe is a good thing) but I lost my gait from the weeks on crutches and then the walking cast, so I limp and shuffle. Plus, my foot still swells and is tender when I am standing too long.

I will have to wait to wander the trails or ride my bike. Perhaps I will go and sit under the pine trees on the edge of my yard. There I can let the scent of pine, damp earth and wood burning from the neighbors stove permeate into my soft body.

At any rate, here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart. May at least one of these items help you to live with an open heart this week.


It’s Not Too Late to Make a Difference TED talk by Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein- As someone who is entering my mid-40’s, I found this talk inspiring and reassuring. Age is an advantage. I have found my “mold” and I am taking all of my skills, wisdom and experience to make a difference. It does not matter what age you are, watch this now.

51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature via BuzzFeed- There is so much goodness here.

Dave Engledow and his daughter Alice Bee– These photographs are amazing and super funny.

About Getting Good: The Many Paths of Literary Mastery by Melissa Frederick- A good reminder of how to get good—keep writing and sharing.

A Heart Wide Open by Joel and Michelle Levy- Here is a good reflection on living with an open heart.

Finally, Writing to Open Your Heart registration is open. Writing to Open Your Heart is an online creative writing workshop that starts on January 31, 2015 and runs for 6 weeks. Space is limited to 10 writers, so if you are thinking of joining now is the time.


Happy Sunday and may your coming week be filled with moments to breath deeply and pause to hear the birds sing. ~ Kira