Greetings All —

I was recently in a used book store with my mother. When she went to pay at the register, she pleasantly told the older woman behind the counter that one of her three books was from the sale table. The woman was curt in response, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I know what I’m doing.”

I was two rows away, but the exchange gave me a jolt. I went from anger to wanting to hand the woman my life coaching card. So here’s the lesson: If you find you’re wearing your unhappiness on your sleeve in any aspect of your life, it might be time for a significant change. Contact me and let’s talk about your options for a sweeter life.

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It’s early August, which means it’s time to write the monthly newsletter. But it appears I’m blocked on a topic. Too ironic, right? The life coach who unblocks artists is having a big fat block herself.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to bust the darned block right here as my fingers fly over the computer keys. I’m going to write about ways to unblock yourself. Incidentally, in addition to their usefulness in helping along the creative flow, some of these ideas can be effective for breaking out of a rut or smoothing a life transition.

First rule, step away. Obsessing over your inability to think of anything to write (or draw or act out or sing) doesn’t help at all. Take in someone else’s art or surround yourself with nature’s beauty. Try to extract some of the creative energy around you and harness it for your own project.

Second rule, seek out and try other artists’ ideas for unblocking. For example, Julia Cameron — author of The Artist’s Way and most recently her memoir, Floor Sample — shares a three-page-a-day method she uses for writing projects. Not to be confused with her three-page Morning Pages tool, she found whether she was working on a book or a screenplay, this was a very effective way for her to find her flow.

Third rule, challenge the editor/critic living in your head. A block usually indicates there’s some fear attached to the project. Go deep, whatever that means for you, and exorcise the demon. Figure out why you are blocked at this particular time, on this specific phase of the project. Then see if you can go another step with it and make that deconstructing process part of the art ( i.e., through a character in your novel).

Fourth rule, alter your environment. If you work in cafes, find a new one. If you work at home, rearrange your desk area or add a photo or quote that inspires you. It can be jarring but invigorating to mess with your comfort zone. Get messy. Something neat might come out of it.

Fifth rule … well, do I need a fifth? The first one worked for me here. I picked up a book and got a good dose of someone else’s writing gift for a while before returning to my computer. I just added the other three for your benefit.

The most important thing may be to remember to live a little. It’ll give you more resources, more experiences, more of life to freely express.

QUOTABLE: Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again. — author Julia Cameron