Author: Janet Whitehead

The Tall Ship Metaphor

The Tall Ship Metaphor

A Tall Ship, well captained and crewed is an extraordinary metaphor for how to live life well.

I know this because I’ve trained as a sailor on a Tall Ship. It was a dream come true. You can have some of those too. I teach creativity, and it’s not just about paint. It can get you on your tall ships.

Oh, and my lifelong fascination with doodling and painting Tall Ships, led to a pretty extraordinary scenario of creative events that likely saved my life. Literally.  You can have more of that creative magic, too.

Besides all that, phrases like ‘the wind in your sails,’ ‘uncharted waters’, ‘your ship has come in,’… they are nice visuals for those of us wanting to take our lives, and our projects up a notch or several, don’t you think?

Artwork: Stained glass by the stunning artist, Cindy Hayden

There’s Nothing Wrong with You. Nothing. Isn’t that a Relief?

There’s Nothing Wrong with You. Nothing. Isn’t that a Relief?

I hear ya. Don’t think that those thoughts  the title triggered are going unnoticed:

“She doesn’t know me very well, does she?”
“I can’t complete a single thing I set out to, that’s what’s wrong with me.”
“I need to lose weight/ gain weight, get fit, get a haircut, and my shoes are ugly.”
“I hate my job.”
“I ‘m terrible at finances. I never shop around for best prices.”
“I’m faking my way through life. I’m not nearly as good at my job/parenting/relationship as I pretend to be. I can’t believe I’ve gotten away with it this long.”
“I can’t read well/ write well/ dance well/ cook well… that’s what’s wrong with me.”
“I’ m stuck. I’m in a rut.”
“No matter what I do I cannot meet the expectations of others.”
“I can’t meet my own expectations, let alone others.”

Will this one article convince you that there’s nothing wrong with you?  Perhaps not… A  lifetime of beating ourselves up isn’t shifted instantly.  But we can get you started….

What stops you is not what’s ‘wrong’ with you.  The ‘what’s wrong with you’ thoughts are keeping you so busy you’ve hardly ever given a moment’s thought or an ounce of credit to ‘what’s right’.  That, my friends, is what stops you: Not giving credit to what’s right.

Mary comes for coaching and announces that she’s terrible at finances.
“How so?” coach asks.
“Others I know shop around, finding the best prices on groceries, and I only shop at my favourite store. I could save us money if I collected coupons.”
“Would you enjoy doing that?” asks coach.
“I’d hate it!  It would take so much time!”
“And what do you do with your time currently?”
This question leads Mary to an “aha”.  Mary works in a demanding career that she loves.  She also loves her family and is conscientious about creating quality time for them.  She ensures the family eats well.  And within this series of acknowledging what is right, Mary also notes that her time is worth money, and in fact, she is far more financially ahead by not spending her time collecting coupons and shopping around.

That’s what’s right about Mary.

What’s right about you?
Hey, you know.. you could explore that a little….Title a page “What’s right about me” and make a list of 50 things right about you.  Do not stop when it gets hard.  Be silly, get mad at me for asking as one item (or more!) on the list,   but keeping going and going and going.  A minimum of 50.  Okay, give it a good shot.. you do want to get past the part where it’s easy.  Your logical left brain will give up, and your intuitive right might start sharing. Be playful. Be silly.  When you are finished, notice especially what emerges in the last 10 or so items.  Any surprising messages there from the right side of the brain?

By the way, I hear the other thoughts: “I don’t have time to do this!!!”  “I can never find 50 things!”

All you need is a lunch break and a pen and paper; or replace 20 minutes of facebook time with quickly typing up this list; or scratch out the list on napkins you find in the car while you are waiting to pick up your kids.

One list and you will feel at the very least, much better about you.  And then, give yourself permission to notice what’s right about you on a daily basis. Or at least twice a week for starters.

Anyone willing to share their discoveries?

The Courses, the Community – in the Most Imaginative Way

The Courses, the Community – in the Most Imaginative Way

Coming very soon, Novel Minds Signature course: the course for writers, artists, innovators, adventurers, right-brainers that, in the most imaginative way, gets your mind supporting you in life, career, and projects.  Fun. Funny. Tried and true tested Effective.

Community, just tweaking some tech stuff, and soon you can hang out and discover that you are normal – for a strange, creative, different-thinking kind of person.

Please sign up for the newsletter to get updates very soon! Just head over to your right. I know…right/ left.. those can be tricky for some of us.

Crock of Shirt – why creative folks need other creative folks!

Crock of Shirt – why creative folks need other creative folks!

For years, nearly a decade, it had been suggested that Kurt of Crock of Shirts and I meet. Finally this series of events happened. His words say it all. You’ll be affirmed. And perhaps, you’ll look for the people who ‘get’ you. Amazing what happens when we find them.

Part 1 
Jekyll and Hyde-ish

Kurt of the innovative and creative business, Crock of Shirts, bravely posted about the hell of being a right brainer in a left brain world.

Read here

I commented. It was time for us to meet, and then this happened:

Part 2   
Short and Sweet  

What happened when we met?  Read here!

From Frustration to Magic – A Timely Reminder

From Frustration to Magic – A Timely Reminder

“Shit,” she barked, as the props securing the old fence gave way, causing it to fall awkwardly into the alley.  Walking inside, she acknowledged the grinding metal on metal drone of her furnace with a “Shut up. Just shut up.” The endless cycle of broken things, dust, and dog hair surrounding her were sucking the life right out of her. Aimlessly she paced the house, landing smack into her collection of paint.

        And so she immersed herself in senseless paint blotches and strokes and tantrums on paper.  She watched the paint flow, tilting and messing, and scowling at mud colours forming but mumbling, ”let it go” for, of course, the transition from pouty cranky fences, to bills that refused to fly to the neighbours, to dishes that have never been nor will ever be all clean at the same time…  and into the space where passion, and colours transport her to where she becomes an observer… admiring what her hands are producing but certain they are not her hands, in awe of the concepts and theories and wisdom that flow through her mind…


2012 ~ Came across this as I work on my book during nanowrimo. It was written a few years ago. A good reminder now to ‘just go paint’ sometimes~

2017 I came across this post AGAIN on my Musing Along blog today. (Thanks, Fb memories) Though specifically fences haven’t fallen down, for similar reasons, I have found myself mucking about experimenting in paint mediums a lot! Some good enough art and some not so good but very funny art happening…

Befriend what’s going on inside…

Befriend what’s going on inside…

 “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves.”
– Bessel van der Kolk –

And that, dear reader, is what we get to do in the upcoming Novel Minds course. Creatively, intuitively, PLAYFULLY, and powerfully.  Oh, yeah!  Kind of like the movie Inside Out but with the characters that reside in your mind.

Beginner’s Mind, Creative MInd = Braver, More Fun Mind

Beginner’s Mind, Creative MInd = Braver, More Fun Mind

I’ve just posted a number of alcohol ink items I’ve recently made, to the photo gallery on my new Musings and Mud site.  This is funnier than hell. Who posts beginner pieces of art on their art website?  Me, apparently.

Maybe this can inspire you, and keep reminding me, to be okay with being a ‘janet of all trades.’ To be okay with experimenting in new mediums that may never make you money, that may never make you famous, that may never ever ever get posted on the Alcohol Ink community on Facebook. (Have you seen the extraordinary work of those people? Oh. My.)

There was no plan. Just pour and move inks. But, wait! There’s a ship! There’s legs!

(I know some of the pieces look decent in the photos. The pendants. But, trust me, they aren’t that great. This was one of those rare occasions where the artwork photographs better than in real life.)

But, oh my, the joys of beginner’s mind!  
“Have ink. Have paper. Have brass.
Oh, look how that colour mixes.
Oh my god, stop! Stop flowing that way!
Oh look at how beautiful areas are when they dry. So unexpected.
A little more gold. Oops.
Thank goodness nobody is ever going to see this.
This is fun!

No, no, don’t use your fingers.
No, don’t wipe them on your once favourite hoodie. (now officially ruined.)  
Oh, wait, this is beautiful.
I could pour a little alcohol here… cool!  It makes distinct lines… “

Okay, you know the routine. You’ve been there, right? I got to escape into colour and flow and creative thinking. Just a break from the day. Wrong. This process does SO MUCH MORE than give you a break!
This process keeps the door open for our whole mind to function better.

First it lifts our spirits.
Often it lets in humour.
Then the naysayer part of our mind steps aside, thinking: ‘Whatever – she’s just playing.”
Next the rest of our mind starts firing with all kinds of new connections and ideas.
All of that doesn’t stop when you stop creating.

Our logical mind is, well, logical. It is busy helping us make decisions that it thinks keeps us safe. It runs on what it knows from the past and will purr along repeating the same old shi.. stuff as we go through our day.

It needs reminders that we can think differently. That we can make new connections and find new ways. If it’s hard for you to justify creating, and especially justifying making stuff in new mediums, or writing for no reason except that some strange idea popped into your head,  you could remind yourself that you are retraining your brain. Giving it a good ol’ workout. Building a stronger, braver, more fun brain. The logical brain likes that kind of talk and will be more supportive.

And for me,it keeps me open to the magic that exists in our world.
(That’s a longer story, I had to write a memoir to share it! Beyond All Imaginings )

Empathy on a Sidewalk, and You?

Empathy on a Sidewalk, and You?

I still remember walking along the sidewalk in Kerrisdale as a young child – the cracked and worn sidewalk along Maple Street. I was with a friend, and ‘someone’ (oddly, I don’t even remember who!) explained the difference between empathy and sympathy. It stuck with me my whole life. Given how often that little memory pops into my head, I can’t help now but wonder how much it played a role in who I’ve become and what matters to me.

Ah, those brief childhood moments. Fleeting, seemingly inconsequential, yet having life time impacts.

So, of course, I must share this short video by Brene Brown. Perhaps somehow, someone will share this with just the right person and change their lives forever.

And besides, this concept is a rather nice fit for us here at Novel Minds. Sometimes we complex creative creatures need a little empathy. And sometimes it feels good to the core to have empathy for another.

And now that’s all well and good… but here’s a bigger more important question:

What moment/s in your childhood keep repeating themselves in your memory? Looking back, any particular lifetime impact from that moment?

If you don’t recall right now, keep the question in mind for a few days.  Our minds will always search for an answer, and find one. Even if it has to make stuff up. ~snicker~   (I snicker, but in fact, that made up stuff can be even more awesomely revealing than the real thing.)