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morning pages

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Finding Clarity Within Myself: Questions for the New Year

#Realtalk: Finding Clarity Within Myself

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s blog post Reflecting on 2017, I mentioned that I’m doing an email series with my subscribers called Cultivating Your Best Year. Day 2 was all about getting real with ourselves. This morning I took some time to journal all 13 questions prompted in the email! I know, that’s a lot right? But it truly helped and I loved getting clear on things that seemed to have slipped to the back of my mind. P.S. if you don’t want to miss out next time, click here and scroll to the bottom where it says “Let’s Connect” and sign up for my newsletter!

I don’t think we can truly cultivate a life we love without getting 100% real with ourselves and asking the tough questions (or honestly, even the silly questions that we haven’t asked ourselves since we were kids)

Creating the life of our dreams means asking empowering questions, means moving in a direction where we feel our best selves, and knowing firmly what we really want. They say we grow where we are planted, but in order to grow you must know what it is that you need. What we need is always changing but I think to cultivate our best year yet, we have to get really clear on things! Some of the questions I asked were meant to help us discover ourselves a little deeper & find clarity about our dreams and goals so we can pursue our intentions (that we’ll set tomorrow) with clarity and authenticity.

Here are just a couple of the questions I asked, feel free to journal these too!

What do you feel, at your core, that you absolutely cannot live without doing? What do you feel you’re meant to do in this life?

Storytelling & moving people to feel deeply. This is the foundation of everything I’m passionate about in this life (acting and screenwriting, or writing in general, which are both forms of storytelling) and I know that’s what I was meant to do and would not want to live without doing. Storytelling and moving people to feel deeply about something also coincides with connecting with people on a deeper level. I think that’s why I love it, too. There’s a reason I love deep conversations!

What would you do if everyone believed in you?

My answer to this question in my journal was longer than I expected. I wrote about a lot, but something that emerged I thought was interesting (which happens a lot when we journal; things come out from us that we didn’t know where thoughts) was that I would show up more for my blog in person (IG stories, live video, Youtube videos, etc.) I think I hold back in this area because it’s a lot scarier than posting a picture! A lot more vulnerable and I know I wonder if people will tune in, or furthermore if they even care? But I felt such a reassurance, or maybe even a voice that was saying not to care what people think, to try this!

What are your most treasured values? How can you live your life more aligned to these values?

This prompt was a great reminder! I loved this one. I skimmed a few lists of values on the internet, like this one, and made a list of the ones that stood out to me:

  • Authenticity
  • Adventure
  • Balance
  • Compassion
  • Creativity / imagination
  • Community
  • Faith
  • Legacy
  • Determination
  • Loyalty
  • Growth / Learning
  • Friendship
  • Inner harmony
  • Love
  • Honesty
  • Meaningful work
  • Optimism
  • Peace
  • Curiosity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Openness
  • Passion
  • Happiness

Okay sooo, that’s a long list! And while all of those traits are valuable to me, I know I needed to narrow it down. “If everything is a core value, than nothing is a priority.” I wanted to get really clear about my most important things so that I can set clear intentions about my day-to-day life in the coming years. Here’s what I narrowed it down to:

  • Adventure: Because life is fun! I don’t want to make excuses as to why I can’t travel somewhere or do something I want to. It’s fun to go out of the norm and experience new things!
  • Empathy: For me, it’s important to come from a place of trying to understand how other people feel. Having empathy can be both a blessing and a curse, especially when you feel bad about serving yourself when you know something doesn’t feel right at the cost of hurting someone else’s feelings. But I know this is an important value to me because I can’t stand when people are rude or mean to others, it shows me they have no empathy for others and there’s no room for that in my life.
  • Creativity / Imagination: Probably obvious here! “Made to Create” you know?
  • Faith: I couldn’t get through life without this. It’s what keeps me going when the path gets a little muddy or I question myself.
  • Growth / Learning: I always loved school and love soaking up new information. Podcasts and as always reading are my favorite way of learning right now.
  • Inner harmony: Because I’ve struggled with anxiety a lot in the past and probably will continue to. This inner harmony and peace is essential for me.
  • Passion: Because if you have passion you have meaningful work and vice versa. Having passion for what I’m doing means I’m on the right path towards fulfilling my soul’s purpose
  • Trustworthiness: I really try to be that trustworthy friend and I hope I will continue to.

*I wanted to include love and happiness in here, but to me those felt like the essential human needs that everyone wants and I feel like love and happiness are the foundation of many of the core values above. Just my thoughts!*

What I learned from Day 2 journal prompts:

What I learned overall from all 13 questions asked on day 2 was that in order to attract the kind of dream life we want, we have to radiate it and become it before it is drawn to us. Getting clear on my dreams, my values, and what was missing allowed me to really get down to the nitty gritty about what I want to incorporate in my life. I feel that when we are that specific, it’s easier to attract jobs we love and repel the ones that suck the life out of us and the same goes for friendships and relationships!

If you want to see me get candid about these topics, head on over to my Instagram where I’m probably sharing more thoughts with you guys on the new year!

What are some of your core values? Comment below!

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Morning Habits that Will Inspire You to Create
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5 Morning Habits that Will Inspire You to Create

My morning routine is pretty simple and I’ll admit, you’re not going to see anything mind-blowing on this list that you probably haven’t heard of before. Simplicity is key for me, especially in my morning routine. I learned that the more intentional I was about my mornings and the more I stick to them this way, I was more inspired to write, brainstorm new ideas, and do what I love to do best: create. So here are 5 healthy morning habits I’ve gotten into a routine of doing that inspire me to create.

Create before you Consume

AKA don’t be on your phone first thing in the morning. I used to wake up and check my phone in bed while my eyes were barely open. Not only did that start to strain my eyes sometimes, but it would either get me stressed right away if I looked at how many emails I had or it was a big distraction because I would start scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, and let’s face it, there’s nothing that interesting on there so early in the morning. “Create before you Consume” was actually something I heard Julie Solomon say over a year ago when I tuned into one of her webinars. It really hit home for me because I realized, I know that my mind is more alert and fresh in the mornings. That’s when I do my best writing. But being able to create was being overshadowed by everything else I was consuming. It’s hard to come up with an original idea when you’re flooded by the ideas of everyone else. This is something I’ve really tried not to do and it’s worked so well this past year! For me creating before I consume means I don’t read other blogs, scroll on social media, read another screenplay, etc. before I write my own blog post, a page in my own screenplay, etc. the list goes on. I usually keep my phone on silent until I’ve finished writing and drinking my coffee.

Morning Pages

If you’re sick of me talking about my love for morning pages yet, you’re in for a treat haha. Morning Pages for me (3 handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind) makes me feel so grounded and ready to attack the day. It’s the ultimate dump and jump—dump out everything that might be weighing on you, stressing you out, or even positive things that might just be clogging up your brain and then jump into your day with a freer peace of mind. Sometimes I read a few pages of The Artists Way before writing these pages, which is where I heard about this in the first place! Doing my morning pages gets my creative juices flowing and sometimes I come up with my best ideas for my projects during these pages. So inspiring!

The routine of coffee or tea

For me, this is a part of my routine that I covet. I love my mornings so much. It’s “me” time and I love to sit and drink a few sips of my coffee with my dogs snuggled up near me and enjoy that time. Sometimes I think it’s less about actually needing that caffeine (although let’s be real I am a coffee fanatic) and more about the routine of enjoying my cup of brew. Having a part in my routine that I do without fail brings more intention and consciousness into my everyday life, and furthermore it inspires me to go create something I love.  You may not be a coffee or tea drinker and that’s fine, but find something that you will do every day and just sit there for a few minutes taking it all in. We won’t always have mornings to ourselves so I like to cherish that.

Get dressed before you create

Whether you work from home or you’re finding time for your morning routine before heading to work, I find that getting dressed makes you feel mentally prepared to get down to business. Of course, I still like to be comfortable and most days you’ll probably find me in workout clothes regardless if I’m working out, but staying in my pajamas until noon does not do me justice. Getting dressed inspires me to be conscious that it’s time to make those ideas a reality. 

Morning Habits that Inspire You to Create, Made to Create Coffee Mug

“Made to Create” coffee mug by Samantha Skelton. Click to buy. Photo by Hannah Robinson Designs

Start Creating

Aren’t we talking about things to do in the morning that inspire you to create? Yes, but it’s sort of like that saying, “to begin, begin.” Like I said before, I do my best work in the morning. It’s when my brain is most alert and I show up and do the work in the mornings more so than any other time in the day. Sometimes just starting in on a project can lead to more ideas, momentum, or creative clarity. There is no better time to start than “now” because tomorrow will lead to never.

What habits do you do that inspire you to create? Share your inspiration below by scrolling to the bottom to leave a comment!

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Sam Chat: What Hawaii Taught Me About Being Present
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Sam Chat: What Hawaii Taught Me About Being Present (Beyond Putting Your Cell Phone Down)

You know that feeling when you’ve been traveling all day and you finally get to where you’re going? When you finally see that beautiful water and put your feet in the sand that feels like butter and then…everyone takes out their phone. I’m 100% guilty of it too. This past trip I went on with my family though, I took a step back and realized just what Hawaii taught me about being present. But this isn’t just your typical post about turning your phone off. There were a  lot of takeaways about being present that I didn’t think about before.

#picoritdidnthappen

Being away from the stresses of daily life, it was a little bit easier to breathe it all in. It was nice to pause and not have to worry about anything really. It also made it easier to step back and think about things. We are so used to taking out our phones and documenting every second in our day to day lives. This was no exception, especially in a gorgeous place like Hawaii. The thing is, I don’t think most of us in the millennial generation are taking photos necessarily for the memories. Sure, it’s nice to have them and show a few friends. But for the most part, we take photos because we’re thinking ahead about what we want to post on social media. That’s kind of sad. We take a beautiful hike where the view is just breathtaking, but we don’t stop to think about the moment. Or the history behind the environment. Or how we’ll never be in this same place with family again. All we do is scramble to take a few boomerangs, and then re-take some photos with a different pose, and then we leave. #picoritdidnthappen is the double-edged sword millennials have with wanting to show the world what we’re up to and yet when we’re always thinking ahead, we’re NEVER in the present.

Millennials and Being Present

Something that made me realize this pattern us millennials have is in part thanks to my parents. They aren’t thinking ahead about what photo to post on social media. (Mom if you’re reading this, super proud of you learning Instagram though). They take pictures because they really want to look back and remember and cherish everything. That’s kind of the ultimate goal, right?

As I would do my morning pages every day, I was writing about trying to be more present and then I would write down everything that was worrying me, or looming above my head, or stressing me out. I thought, well this is good because I write it all down and let it all go. And then it hit me. Again…worrying about the future isn’t really being present! Worrying about things I can’t control won’t do me any good. And so being present extends so much farther than putting your phone down and smiling at the beautiful view in front of you. It’s also about learning that the NOW, the present day or moment, is the only one that matters.

Being Present in the “Now”

We hear about needing to be “present” all the time, but it’s actually a hard concept. Can you sit there for 1 minute and think about nothing but the present moment? It’s almost impossible. Our minds venture to something in the past or present. But I started to think that if we can focus on being present just a tiny bit more, we might have a happier and more peaceful state of mind, and furthermore, we can show our spark to the world when we’re in those present and open moments. More than anything, I was reminded that it’s important to be present in life so that you can be real with yourself and your dreams. Tune into your most authentic self and share your spark with the world! Go after what you really want and don’t be afraid to share your most natural, REAL, uninhibited, un-retouched, beautiful spark of self to the world!

What are a few ways you can practice being present in your daily routine? I know for me that’s taking time in the morning for me, to write and just simply be without my phone which I love doing. It’s freeing. And to also stop worrying about the future, it ain’t up to me! Scroll to the bottom to comment below!

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Morning Pages for Creatives: How They Can Help You Gain Clarity in Your Life & Business
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Morning Pages for Creatives: How They Can Help You Gain Clarity in Your Life & Business

The Importance of Morning Pages & How It Changed My Life

Five years ago, I was told about Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a 12 week step-by-step guide to uncovering your “inner artist” and becoming unblocked creatively.  What I thought I would discover is a cult-followed book that spouts a bunch of non-sense about how to overcome self-doubt or the “secret” that would fall short of my expectations like so many other books. What I never thought I would find is a book that changed my life.

I know—that’s a heavy statement, but I mean that even in the lightest of terms too. At the heart of The Artist’s Way is a ritual called morning pages. At the very least incorporating this ritual changed my morning routine and in the greatest sense, it made me acutely more aware of what I want out of life, in my career, and to sort through things/thoughts/people that might be weighing me down. You might’ve heard of “morning pages” described in a different way. I had heard of stream of consciousness writing or free-writing, where in both instances you write about whatever comes to mind. Morning Pages are similar, but Cameron refers to morning pages as 3 pages written in longhand form (preferably on 8 1/2 x 10 paper) every morning. The idea behind this ritual is that you will start to free yourself creatively, write away the self-doubt that burdens your creative dreams, discover things about yourself you may not have realized, and get to the core of what might be blocking you from creative success.

What’s the Difference Between Journaling and Morning Pages?

Mornings pages aren’t addressed to anyone, as in “Dear diary…” and unlike a journal or diary, they aren’t meant to look back on and read. Think of them more as a write them and let ‘em go type of thing. But, it’s up to you to decide where you want to take your morning pages. Similar to a diary though, they are meant for your eyes only. What I love about morning pages, as Julia Cameron puts it, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages.” This takes away so much pressure because you can rest assured that you’re free to write whatever comes to mind. If you want to complain about the dentist yesterday, that’s fine! If a new character pops into your head for your novel, go with it! At first, the task of writing 3 pages every single morning is daunting. I’ll admit that I even dreaded it at first because it felt like I had to think of things to write. If you have to, you can write over and over again “I don’t know what to write” until something pops up. But don’t feel like a fraud if you struggle with this at first because it becomes easier. That I promise you!

The best thing you can do is explore how morning pages best fits you. There’s no wrong way to go about it, so try different things! For example, I usually feel like I need to spend the first page writing down things that are bugging me or stressing me out or weighing negatively on my mind. Then the other pages are usually more positive, filled with things I want to do or I’m working on or excited about. I’ve also heard of some people using their morning pages to map out their day or to do a handwritten meditation, so there’s a lot of possibility for something that’s “stream of consciousness.”

Moving Through Morning Pages

A lot of thoughts will pop into your head as you move through the weeks of The Artist’s Way and morning pages. So even when you think you want to quit or don’t want to get up 30 minutes earlier to write your pages, here are some advantages that come from them:

  • You start to look forward to it. You move from struggling to find things to write, to struggling to keep up with all the thoughts that are popping into your head. Seriously—you should see some of my pages. They start out so nice and then towards the end of the 2nd page it’s completely chicken scratch because I have so many things that are coming to mind that I want to write down before they vanish! Chicken scratch or not, you start to find a peace of mind not just about your creative pursuits, but about your life, relationships, things you stress over, things you have anxiety over… the list never ends. You end up recording your thoughts about things you didn’t even realize you had an opinion on, or a feeling about, or an idea of. That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?
  • You gain more confidence and hear that voice A LOT less that says, “Are you crazy? You can’t do that.” As Julia Cameron likes to call it, your “inner critic” shuts up a lot more.
  • The greatest thing that happens though, is the clarity you get from doing these morning pages. Essentially what we’re doing is starting our day with a thought dump. You write down everything that comes to mind (good and bad). I found that when I did this brain-dump in the morning, I was able to move through my day with such a freeing feeling. A lot of the thoughts that seemed to cloud my mind or give me anxiety over were all dumped into this notebook that I left behind as I went about my day each morning. And then came the flood of creative ideas.
  • It was as if I had to push aside the worries and self-doubt that clouded my brain to make room for confidence and ideas that were just waiting to pop into my mind. I have no doubt that’s what will also happen for you and THIS is why Julia Cameron created “morning pages.” But it’s not just meant for creative people that need to make room for more ideas or who are feeling creatively blocked.

What If I am Not A Creative?

Morning Pages is one of the most helpful rituals/tools for people that don’t even know they are creative. Everyone is creative on some level, but what “creativity” looks like is completely different for each person. I know, I know—maybe you’re sitting there on the other side of this screen saying: “Sam, I am not creative. I work out of an office in a cubicle from 9-5 and the thought of writing or drawing or taking a picture sounds like the most boring thing in the world to me.” That’s fine! But if you don’t think re-decorating your room or sanding a coffee table down to be re-painted or baking a pie is creative…then I’m real excited for the things you’ll discover after making morning pages part of your ritual.

The discovery that comes through writing down everything that passes through your mind is amazing. You may be that “suit” that works in the office, but when you start to do morning pages you start to uncover dreams you buried 30 years ago and suddenly that idea you had of opening your own restaurant doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. So yeah, I’d say that morning pages are pretty dang life-changing!

Give It A Go

Here are some of my tips for starting morning pages:

  • Have an open mind. Like I said, even if you don’t consider yourself creative or don’t think you have any thoughts or feelings buried within you—just try it!
  • Take it one day at a time. Don’t think about week 12 when you’re on week 1. It will make it easier on yourself when you think of the day’s ritual of writing those 3 morning pages as opposed to stressing about how many you’ll need to write by the end of week 12. Don’t stress because more than likely your mindset will shift by the end of it all.
  • If you find 8 ½ x 10 page papers too daunting, choose a smaller notebook. This is something that I’m not sure would be recommended straight from Julia Cameron herself, but I’ve found that I feel accomplished after writing these pages no matter how big the pages are. I wouldn’t sell yourself short, but don’t stress on page size either.
  • Don’t write your pages on your laptop. This is a big no-no because it’s defeating many of the purposes of morning pages. Writing longhand means you have time to process your thoughts and ideas. You have time to sit with your thoughts whereas on a laptop, you’re more likely to rush through your pages and focus more on grammar errors than being aware of what’s going on in your head and heart. Plus, is it just me or is there something a little romantic and nostalgic about writing in a notebook with a good cup of coffee at hand?
  • Put your phone on silent. Your thoughts will get interrupted right when you’re on the verge of something great and your brain will start thinking ahead about your to-do or the Instagram you need to post. For the 20-30 min. that you need for your pages, that cute puppy video can wait!
  • Just start. Morning pages are really such a simple idea that it’s almost unbelievable to people that they can have this much of an impact. So with that, I leave you to go try morning pages for yourself!

Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about incorporating this exercise into your routine! I’d love to know if you plan on giving Morning Pages a go and your thoughts throughout the process. Reach out if you’ve read the Artist’s Way and currently write morning pages yourself, too!

Ready to give it a try? As silly as this sounds, sometimes I was more apt to write my mornings pages when the paper or notebook was cute. Feel free to check out my Etsy shop and the cute notebooks I’ve added!

xosamantha

Pin the below image to Pinterest so you can easily refer back to this guide on Morning Pages!

Morning Pages for Creatives: How To Transform Your Life and Business from The Artist's Way Tool of Morning Pages

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