The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Owen

I want to thank you for subscribing to my blog. Welcome to new subscribers! And, to those who have been followers (and readers) from way back, thanks for sticking with me!

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In 2011, I decided to devote myself to writing weekly on my blog and to support creative community. From that intention, so many great things followed: community building, more writing, opportunities I couldn’t have imagined, new friendships, etc.

I’m inspired by all that you do, seek and create. I want to continue to walk this creative path with you. Let’s keep inspiring each other.

On that note, I wanted to share several inspiring conversations I’ve had with some of the most talented writers, coaches and transformational experts from my Creativity Bonfire Series. My Creativity Bonfire Series brought together 12 leading writers, authors, visual artists and thought leaders to talk about creativity—how to sustain and maintain it.

Each conversation is about an hour long. Let yourself soak in their wisdom about staying true to the creative process and eliminating distractions.

Conversation with SARK, artist, creative entrepreneur and author of Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It

Conversation with Eric Maisel, creativity coach and author of Coaching the Artist Within

Conversation with Amanda Owen, consultant, motivational speaker and author of The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve

Links will stay live until Oct 15.

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Don’t turn away what life wants to give you. A huge connection exists between what you are willing to receive and what you actually get. I call this step “Accept All Compliments” because I have noticed a correlation between people’s unwillingness to receive the simplest things in life, while at the same time having some pretty big expectations. Your ability to receive something as simple as a compliment is significant. It signals loud and clear that you are ready to receive.
Amanda Owen, The Power of Receiving

Affirmations-366Days#17: I receive compliments about my creative work with grace and do not externally or internally refute them.

How good are you at accepting compliments about the creative work you share with the world? Do you push away compliments about your creative work? Do you tell yourself that the person giving you a compliment is ‘only being nice’ or saying these things to you because they couldn’t find ‘the real artist’ that they wanted to talk to? Or, do you say back to them, ‘Oh, it wasn’t my best work, here’s all the things that are wrong with it’? Or, ‘That journal my poem appears in has a pretty tiny readership, so it’s not such a big deal’. If you have been in this situation (as I have on numerous occasions), then you know that the giver of the compliment gives you a funny look when you push away their compliment and often shrugs. And, then an awkward pause ensues. You’ve completely confused them!

If you find yourself perpetually pushing away compliments about your creative projects, then it’s time to unlearn this habit!

Open Hands --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Amanda Owen, author of The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve, has thought a lot about the connection between being able to receive and the ability to manifest one’s goals. She suggests that pushing away compliments and refusing to accept them “sends the message loud and clear that we don’t want to be given to. And life cooperates by being less giving.” Reading her work several years ago helped me realize all the ways that I pushed away my good in not gracefully accepting compliments about my creative writing.

I was such a chronic ‘pusher away’ of compliments that I had to train myself to just say ‘thank you’ and stay quiet for at least 20 seconds before saying anything else. Then, I try to follow-up with: ‘I worked so hard on that piece, I really appreciate your acknowledgement’ (or something like that). If you are a chronic ‘pusher away’, try your version of the above and see how it makes you feel.

I also acknowledge that gender socialization often plays a role in this issue. I have found (as a coach, professor and member of various creative communities), that women more often tend to be dismissive of their talents and/or downplay their accomplishments.

We can practice receiving compliments differently. And, the benefits of receiving compliments about our creative work can make us better receivers in other parts of our lives, too.

To see my 2014 interview with the fabulous Amanda Owen, go here.

For my review of The Power of Receiving, go here.

Open Hands — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

One of the things I deeply enjoy about my blog is my commitment to conducting author interviews. My blog allows me to reach out to new and established writers after I hear them give a reading, or learn about them online, and ask for an interview. Every time an author agrees to an interview, I feel excited and inspired. I look forward to checking my email and seeing how they played with and sculpted answers to my questions. Interviewing and helping to promote writers is a passion and gratitude generating activity for me. This is one way I help to build and contribute to a writing community.

At the end of each interview, I always ask an author: What is the best writing tip you’d like to share?

Below, I have collected the most intriguing answers from writers I interviewed in 2014.

Keep this list close at hand. The advice is inspiring and offers a great way to jump-start your new year of fresh writing.

*To see the full interview, click on the author’s name

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Becky Thompson, Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for those Healing from Trauma

-Honor the muse no matter what she needs. If she needs to write while you are driving, pull over. If she wakes you up in the night, thank her. If she is shy or angry, she has good reason. For prose writing, expressing the ideas first as poems helps to keep the language lyrical. Writing after doing an intense yoga practice can bring us into a deeper register. Talking about the writing process is erotic, in the Audre Lorde, expansive sense of the word. Yoga is big like that too.

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Stuart Horwitz, Blueprint Your Bestseller: Organize and Revise Any Manuscript with the Book Architecture Method

-Writing is supposed to be a transformation of the self, first. That’s how you choose your subjects, your characters, your formats. That’s how you know how many drafts to engage in — if you are still transforming yourself, you keep going. If you are done getting what you needed personally from it, then you better clean it up in a hurry and get it out into the world, however that happens. That’s also the value of the work. People talk a lot of crap about why they write: they want to change the world; they want to make money, blah, blah. The primary reason is none of those. We want to see if we can do it, and we want to do something we can proud of. Then we have to let the work change us — surprise us and challenge us — that’s when it gets good. Otherwise we should just be doing crossword puzzles.

 

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Cornelia Shipley, Design Your Life: How to Create a Meaningful Life, Advance Your Career and Live Your Dreams

-I never pictured myself as an author, so for me it was important to follow my process and to get help from a seasoned writer and editor to help me think through the layout of the book, make sure the process was clear to readers who would be new to the material and ensure the overall tone and flow was what I wanted. Bottom line as a writer you have to be willing to follow your unique creative process without judgment.

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Randi Davenport, The End of Always

Let’s see. There are lots of people out there giving advice to writers. Very little of that advice is any good. The best of it is mostly just okay. A good deal of it is truly terrible. Potentially damaging, even. I don’t want to contribute to the problem. However, I’ve been writing my whole life and by this point I do know something about the process. So here’s my advice: If you want to write, write. Forget prompts and tricks and gimmicks. Roll your sleeves up, plant your butt in your chair, and tell your story. Write. And if this isn’t something you can bring yourself to do or if you can imagine any other way to spend your time (Face Book? Twitter? Vacuuming?), it could be that writing is not the thing for you. That’s a hard fact but it’s true. Writers write. And my advice is to get to it.

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Jason Mott, The Returned

-Less talk about writing, more writing. Which is really just my way of saying “keep writing.” Haha.

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Amanda Owen, Born to Receive: 7 Powerful Steps Women Can Take Today to Reclaim Their Half of the Universe

-Write every day. Write plenty of bad sentences so that you can get to the good ones. If I don’t have a terrible piece of writing in front of me after all of my efforts, I feel like I have not made any progress. I need something I can work with, fuss over, and shape. A flimsy idea can be nurtured into something substantial. A phrase can be fanned into a flame that produces a whole sentence. A poorly written paragraph can inform me of a direction that may yield gold.

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Lisa Harris, ‘Geechee Girls

-The best writing tip? Write. Watch and listen. Write. Meditate and travel. Write. Play cards, laugh and watch frogs, and you guessed it, write. Writing is an act of love, an honoring of life. Read!

 

 

On Monday, I appeared on a radio show called ‘The State of Things’ hosted by WUNC, our local National Public Radio (NPR) station. This was the most vulnerable interview I’ve ever done. I discuss my early childhood experiences of creativity as connected to resiliency and survival. I publicly discuss my experiences with sexual assault and trauma in honor of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The role of speculative fiction for writers of color, creativity coaching and women and creativity were also topics the interviewer and I discussed with great delight. I thought you might like to listen to it as it gives you a glimpse into why I am so passionate about the subject of creativity and empowering others.

You can listen here.

Bonfire

P.S. I’m thrilled to announce that I an running an encore replay of the ENTIRE Creativity Bonfire Series through Wednesday. So many people wanted to listen but didn’t get a chance to hear ALL of the incredible speakers. Some people didn’t get a chance to register. Was that you? If so, register below and get your week off to a GREAT start.

The list of participating speakers is AMAZING! They include Amanda Owen, bestselling author of The Power of Receiving, SARK (aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), creativity expert and author of sixteen bestselling books, Diane Ealy, author of The Women’s Book of Creativity, Kimberly Wilson, author of Hip Tranquil Chick and yoga studio owner, Dr. Eric Maisel, creativity coach and author of over 40 books on creativity, Hay House author and transformative coach Michael Neill and MANY others.

They provide tips, techniques, resources and wisdom on the issue of creativity–how to access it and how to sustain it.

Register here! It’s FREE!

Dear Reader,

How are you? Are you stuck on a creative project? Have you lost momentum on something important to you? Are you struggling with fear, doubt, procrastination and perfectionism? Are you ready for new approaches in dealing with inner critics that block you from taking the next step on creative work?

As a scholar, coach and creative writer, I know how challenging it is to continually nurture one’s creative impulses.

That’s why I’ve created the CREATIVITY BONFIRE event for YOU. I have asked 11 of the most amazing artists, writers, coaches and visionaries to come together and provide insights about how to ACCESS and SUSTAIN your most amazing renewable resource-CREATIVITY.

Get Ready for a powerful SPRING RENEWAL and an Inspiration blast off!

Bonfire

You are going to LOVE these 11 powerful conversations in Sustaining Your Flame-Secrets from Wildly Inspired Creators!

The list of participating speakers is INCREDIBLE! They include Amanda Owen, bestselling author of The Power of Receiving, SARK (aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), creativity expert and author of sixteen bestselling books, Diane Ealy, author of The Women’s Book of Creativity, Kimberly Wilson, author of Hip Tranquil Chick, Dr. Eric Maisel, creativity coach, Hay House author and transformative coach Michael Neill and MANY others.

I believe that creativity is our most vital renewable resource and I felt guided to deepen the conversation about our rich treasure.

We will gather around the virtual CREATIVITY BONFIRE during April 3-April 6th. Whatever you are trying to do–empowering others, thinking up solutions to climate change, finishing the next revision on a novel, being a better parent-accessing your creativity will help.

This is YOUR SPRING RENEWAL and it’s all FREE + speakers are providing GIFTS! That’s right, GIFTS for you!

Ignite your spring by grabbing your seat around the Creativity Bonfire! Register here

 

 

Amanda Owen’s first book, The Power of Receiving offered a paradigm shift in how we typically approach and embrace the states of ‘giving and receiving’. She notes that historically, our society “champions the use of willpower and under-recognizes the value of receptivity.” Owen encouraged us to look at how our beliefs about the continuum of ‘giving and receiving’ and ‘active and receptive’ shape our lives.

In receptive states, we generally can pay more attention to “information from and about other people, information from the environment and information about our own feelings.” A close friend of mine and I (both overdriven ‘givers’) read this book together, discussed it and did the practices suggested. We experienced a remarkable shift in our capacity to receive,and our ability to acknowledge and express our preferences and desires. Owen’s philosophy of receiving was also helpful in interrupting my tendency to live in a constant state of ‘doing’. I don’t often write reviews of  books, but I felt moved to do so for The Power of Receiving.

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I am thrilled that Amanda’s new book, Born to Receive: 7 Powerful Steps Women Can Take Today to Reclaim Their Half of the Universe brings her important message about receiving to women. This is a timely book that delivers real treasure. Amanda Owen is a consultant, coach, and motivational speaker. Her powerful “Receive and Manifest” seminars and workshops have transformed thousands of lives and have earned her a loyal worldwide fan base.

I’m delighted to welcome Amanda Owen to ‘The Practice of Creativity’.

Why did you write Born to Receive? What’s in store for readers?

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My first book The Power of Receiving gave an introduction to receiving and provided a foundation and basic tools for living a balanced life. In early 2012, I discovered I had much more to say about this topic—specifically to women.

Women pay attention and tend to other people’s needs in a way that makes them vulnerable to overextending their giving and subjugating their own needs and desires. I wanted to provide practical solutions and demonstrate how embracing their receptive power would give them more energy, reduce stress, and help them achieve greater reciprocity in their relationships and create more balance in their lives.

In Born to Receive I offer seven practical steps that women can easily integrate into their daily life and give numerous examples of women who have changed their lives for the better by using their receptive power.

You suggest that women should be critical of the idea that we “naturally” suffer from low self-esteem and look instead at several external influences. Can you say more about how women can disengage from ‘the cult of self-esteem’?

It makes sense that women feel it is natural to have low self-esteem. We are constantly told that we struggle with self-esteem issues and are bombarded with products that will help us.  (Is there a Dove Beauty Campaign for men?) It’s become a mantra that too many of us say over and over: I have low self-worth. I suffer from low self-esteem. It’s like we have all been drinking the same Kool-Aid.

In Born to Receive, I ask women to stop talking about their self-esteem and refuse to let their feelings about themselves be dictated by those who do not have their best interests.

You outline seven powerful steps that can enable women to use receptive power in their daily lives. In Step Three (Ask For Help If You Need it and Accept It When It’s Offered) you note that, “Even though our culture is infatuated with a person who does it all, carrying 100 percent of the load is not natural and is not the behavior of an empowered woman…If you are habitually giving more than 50 percent, you are doing too much.” Can you expand upon this for us and discuss why you think we should be striving for 50% versus 100%?

Filling our days with activities that our bodies cannot comfortably support is a kind of madness. But if we follow a cultural model that champions activity and self-sufficiency and undervalues receptivity and cooperation, we can’t help but harm ourselves. I call this “multitasking mayhem.”

Allocating 100% of our energy and efforts to trying to make something happen is not only unnatural, it is mentally exhausting, physically depleting, and emotionally draining. When we give as well as receive, we allow a metaphorical gate to swing both ways. Sometimes it opens away from us and sometimes toward us.

What did you learn about yourself as a writer while writing The Power of Receiving that helped while you were crafting this book?

Above all, writing The Power of Receiving gave me confidence. Once I wrote one book, I knew I could write another one. Also, working on my previous book gave me a template to follow for Born to Receive—not only for how to structure a book, but also how to structure my day.

What does your writing practice look like?

I write every day. My day starts out with catching up with the world through online news and emails over coffee and breakfast. Then I begin writing, which usually lasts until about 3 pm. My friends know not to call me during the day since I do not answer the phone when I am writing.

What’s your best writing tip?

Write every day. Write plenty of bad sentences so that you can get to the good ones. If I don’t have a terrible piece of writing in front of me after all of my efforts, I feel like I have not made any progress. I need something I can work with, fuss over, and shape. A flimsy idea can be nurtured into something substantial. A phrase can be fanned into a flame that produces a whole sentence. A poorly written paragraph can inform me of a direction that may yield gold.

To find out more about Amanda Owen and to purchase Born to Receive, visit her website.

 

The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve by Amanda Owen

“Receiving is a skill that can be learned, developed and strengthened.” Amanda Owen

We’ve probably all been raised with an idea of what makes a ‘good giver’. Most of us have spent considerably less time though contemplating what makes ‘a good receiver’, or how being a good receiver might help us to achieve our goals. My skepticism ran high as I approached Amanda Owen’s The Power of Receiving. Receiving, yeah…yeah…yeah isn’t that about gratitude? Haven’t we heard it all before? I thought, great, another book in the personal transformation genre that encourages narcissism and tilts toward individual versus collective solutions. Well, on most fronts, I was pleasantly surprised about how useful Owen’s philosophy of receiving can be in helping to shift our tendency to live in a constant state of ‘doing’.  Owen encourages us to look at how our beliefs about the continuum of ‘giving and receiving’ and ‘active and receptive’ shape our lives.

Owen notes that the ‘Giver archetype’ is well-known and lauded in our culture, but the ‘Receiver archetype’ (as a positive image) is absent. She explores cultural and spiritual beliefs that make many of us suspicious about the value of receiving. Receiving and being a receiver can have negative connotations, especially in ‘a pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ society.  She, however, dispels the notion that being a more skilled receiver is about being a taker, passive, selfish, submissive, or a doormat. Instead cultivating our ability to receive allows us to embrace a more richly textured human experience. Tuning into the power of receiving can help us feel supported, energized, and enhances our ability to give.

Owen applies her philosophy about receiving to goal setting. She argues that we rely on and are encouraged to “exaggerate the importance of initiative and to allocate most, if not all, of our resources toward the active pursuit of our goals.” Most of us have been taught to set goals in a determined and often relentless way. It’s not that this is a wrong strategy, but it is one that values “willpower” and ‘doing’ so much that we can miss what the universe is offering us at any given moment. Also if we are always in an ‘active state’ (see below), we may cultivate ‘overgiving’, miss (or misinterpret) vital information about how to best achieve what we want, or fail to as for help and support in key moments.

The gold of the book was in Chapter One and her discussion of ‘Receptive and Active States’. She lists these as the following:

‘Receptive States’: Meditating, Listening, Feeling grateful, Accepting, Allowing, Opening, Relaxing, Letting Go, Noticing, Observing Welcoming, Yielding, Including, Embracing, Feeling, Hearing, Appreciating, Being, Contemplating, Watching, Letting Be, Attracting, Revealing, Acknowledging

‘Active States’: Analyzing, Talking, Promoting, Investigating, Controlling, Influencing, Multitasking, Persuading, Defining, Judging, Exploring, Shaping, Pushing, Holding, Thinking, Informing, Building, Doing, Acting, Performing, Gong After, Hiding, Forcing, Evaluating

Her ‘active and receptive’ lists have been described elsewhere as ‘inductive and deductive thinking’, ‘inner and outer knowledge’, and ‘holistic and linear thinking’.

I looked at the two lists and honestly asked myself, ‘In what state do I spend the majority of my time?’ And, ‘What’s my preferred state?’  You guessed it–I tend to spend the majority of my time in the ‘Active States’.  As a coach, I often talk a lot about the importance of receptivity (and by extension relaxation), but after reading this book, I could pinpoint my own gaps in walking my talk.  Owen points out that relying almost exclusively on outer focused active states is taxing on mental, physical, and emotional levels, often leaving “no replenishment time.”

Last year a dear friend and I (who define ourselves as ‘overgivers’ and often feel challenged with receiving), read and corresponded about The Power of Receiving. Her insight about Owen’s work on ‘active and receptive states’ strikes me as important:  “One part I especially appreciate is her argument that the ability to notice subtleties in one’s environment is part of the skill set needed for receiving.”

In receptive states, Owen notes, we generally can pay more attention to “information from and about other people, information from the environment and information about our own feelings.” Hard do all of these things when we’re active (or giving) all the time. If you buy this book and just read Chapter One, you’d get your money’s worth.

Owen provides a step by step approach for working on your goals using her receiving model. She recommends a gratitude practice, learning how to receive compliments (surprisingly difficult for many of us!) and developing the capacity to be ‘spiritually naked” as a different way to approach one’s goals. Being spiritually naked means that we not just allow the good parts to show, but allow people we care about to see what we consider the flawed parts of our self, too. She advocates going on a ‘complaint fast’. Complaining, Owen reminds us, saps energy, and “discharges energy without changing anything.”

All of her suggestions for becoming a better receiver are doable. I especially like the way she adapted Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s breathing exercise (Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out). She suggests an additional exercise where you breathe in a quality that you like about yourself (and breathe that out), and then breathe in a quality that you don’t like about yourself (ten in-breaths and ten out-breaths) . When we disown the parts of ourselves that we feel are negative and undeserving, they tend to as Owen says “run us from behind the scenes” and become part of a ‘shadow self’. I found this once a day breathing practice powerful and opens new channels of self-acceptance.

Her book is especially useful to read if you’ve felt blocked for a long time in waiting for your goals to manifest. Her formula: Believe + Receive=Achieve is accessible and shows how to achieve balance in creating the life you desire.

She outlines who should her read book and the list includes women (though she skirts over a detailed discussion of gendered socialization that encourage women to ‘overgive’), men (no discussion of gender roles or sexism), caregivers, the helping professions and new age, metaphysical and self-help readers. Books in this genre typically minimize history, racial group disparities, and systemic inequality. So, I didn’t really expect a discussion about how America’s political culture has created rigid ideas about ‘givers, takers, and receivers’ that default along race, class and gender lines. But, I would have willing received that level of insight and analysis and the book would have been richer for it.

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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