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When Creative Destiny Finds You

I haven’t blogged for ages.  This has been for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I do think that if you are going to blog, make it real REAL good and really contribute something that is worthy of people giving their precious time to.  Problem is, every time I sat down to write something over the past few months, it somehow didn’t feel quite authentic, it wasn’t coming straight from my truth.  So instead of posting something lackluster, I opted to wait until something of worth presented itself for communicating.

While I’ve been waiting for this ‘something’ to arrive, I’ve painted, I’ve drawn, I’ve entered my work in my very first group show, I’ve kept going with my online painting tuition, I’ve completed painting commissions and sold other works that people have fallen in love with.  It’s been a wonderful adventure and it has felt like a new season in my creative life has been ripening.

Painting and art making has been something that I initially started doing again simply for myself, for my own love of creating and also as balm for a healing process I have been going through.  I have shared my journey and other’s have resonated with it.  And somehow, in this time of ‘waiting’ for the inspiration to arrive for my next move with Creative Conversation to arrive, it happened and has presented itself in the most unexpected of ways- a new career direction as an artist, for which I have just launched a brand new website: susannethercote.com

 I love working with my coaching clients and getting deep into the journey with others on the creative business path, I really do, because I have deep understanding of that process and deep compassion for [...]

Passing the Test of Time

How many times have you created something and wondered, is this going to last?  Will this be relevant in one year, two years, ten years time?  As a fashion designer, I always tried to stay away from trends and just make clothes that I loved, in the hope that there would be a timeless quality to them.  I have also had the same commitment with what I have made here at Creative Conversation.

Last week I hosted a lovely small group of four in small Holistic Business Mapping Workshop in my studio.  It was the first time in over a year that I have run this program live (though it has run several times online) and it was really beautiful to see how it melded with all the new perspectives I had gained over the past year.

I had feared that with the massive personal changes that I had been through over the past twelve months, that this course I had created nearly 3 years ago may no longer be relevant.  But, thankfully, I was wrong.  I found that the structure of Holistic Business Mapping still held true though the face of my life and business has been changing and evolving at a rapid rate behind the scenes.  There are timeless qualities to it and core truths in that I believe pass the test of time.

Because the group I hosted was small and intimate, I took the opportunity to make a new Holistic Business Map for myself to gage visually where things are at and where they wish to flow to next.

It’s been a while since I have done one of these maps, and I was surprised, yet again, to discover the power of this method of business [...]

Cultivating Creative Genius

This year, I have been participating in a wonderful online art community and art course called 52 Paintings, run by the gorgeous Faith Evans Sills and Mati-Rose over in the US.  Recently, Faith invited me to write a post to share with our group about a practice that I do in the middle of the day to cultivate creative flow in my work.  I’d love to share that article with you guys too, I hope you enjoy!

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On most days, about an hour after lunch, I find myself yawning and lacking energy, can you relate?  I could put it down to having two young children, my habit of rising early, perhaps even my need to quit sugar.  My need for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up is always there.

I have been a meditator for many years now, on and off, and I’ve long been sold on the benefits of having a regular practice.  For me that regular time is in the morning, before the household rises, I sit and connect in, with myself, with the divine, with nature.  It’s the most brilliant way to start the day and feels me with beautiful energy.

So when I realised that my body and my sprit needed an energy injections around the mid-afternoon, I sought a way of going about it that would meet two needs – my need for body rest, and my need to pep up my spirit.  I instinctively developed the following practice which helps me to both rest AND cultivate the feeling and attitude that I want to bring to my work after my little rest.

First I lay down on my bed or on the window seat in my studio.  I plug in my earphones to my iPhone [...]

The Space In-between

There is a place in life that many of us come to at least once and often more.  It is the space after you have defined yourself as ‘something’ in the world.  You’ve had some kind of success.  Defined some kind of identity around it.  And then life makes it obvious that it is time to move on from this way of being onto to something new.

But that something ‘new’ is nebulous and shady.  It is embryonic.  It has not yet taken form.  And it takes a good period of unpredictable time to incubate.

This moment is what I like to call the space in-between.  I’ve just been in one and it’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while.

The space in-between is where all possibilities lay.  It is exciting and petrifying all at once.  But it can also be lonely, because it exists only in your imagination so no-one else can share it with you yet. And no-one else can assure you that it will ‘all work out’ because they don’t know and you don’t know if it will.

And yet the space in-between, if we really understand it correctly, is possibly one of the most special places to be in life and your creative journey.  It is like a magical land of possibility from where you can conjure your destiny.

I’ve conjured many an incredible journey from this place – each perfect for it’s time.  And for the past few months I have found myself in this space once again, this time for a time longer than my urge to ‘make stuff happen’ usually allows me.

This time I made a conscious choice to slow the process down. To allow the gestation to really take root.  [...]

Honoring the Ebb as much as the Flow

These past few weeks have been a period of hibernation for me. I’ve been laying low, feeling quiet, and the need to just take a bit of a breather. As winter solstice has happened in this time, I’m not surprised at my need to bunker down and cocoon a little. I’ve enjoyed lots of long cuddles with my kids and also my fair share of afternoon naps. I’ve also had a couple of lunches with friends and few extra yoga classes. And my workday has been short, some days, very short. I have had the paintbrush out far more than I have been sitting at my computer.

Once upon a time, I would have had they whip out in noticing this behavior in myself. I would have pushed myself to get my but into gear and stick to my schedule.  But the thing is, that time is done in my life- the time of pushing the river, the time of whipping the very tired horse. It’s a new paradigm for me, one where I listen when my body and emotions tell me to slow down for a while. One where I question the schedule rather than blindly following it, because I need to check that I am on course to a destination that I actually like, as opposed to one that looks good on paper.

But this process is a relatively new thing for me, so I’m not sure yet that I trust it. All I really know is that when I push myself through these times to perform, is that I am not terribly effective and I generally wind up a bit of an emotional wreck- at which time I end up taking the break that [...]

The True Role of Inspiration, Epiphany and The Muse

Do you know what I love? I love it when I get excited about something. Excited in the way where every fibre of your being tingles with the knowledge that you are doing what you are meant to be doing, despite impracticalities and a smaller voice telling you why such a thing should and can’t be. Do you know what I am talking about? Have you had that experience? This feeling is also known as inspiration, epiphany and ‘the muse’. It’s a moment and a state of being where something between you and the outer world clicks in such a way that an opening is created in the realm of possibility. Whether or not, like Alice, you choose to fall down the rabbit hole in moments such as these is entirely another matter.

I am fortunate in that I have that feeling on a semi-regular basis- enough to know that when it comes around that I need to pay attention and follow my nose and all the signs because it is leading to the next path on what has been a pretty amazing creative journey. And I really love living my creative life in this way because I know that when I am inspired in this way that I am living in alignment with my purpose on this planet. That may sound a bit corny, but I really do! It is what connects me not just to my creative path as a designer, artist and coach but also to my role in the creation of my own life. Because, whether you like it or not, this is what we are all doing every single day!

I love that feeling of true inspiration and connectedness because it [...]

Making Business An Art- My Top 5 Tips

There are billions of ways to make a painting.  The variations are endless and unique and that is part of what makes them art.

I think that a small business should really be treated this way.  But instead we are trained to think that there are very specific and finite ways to create a business.  I subscribed to this way of thinking for a very long time as I educated myself in traditional business models and strategies.   And I must say that it did work from the point of view that my business made money and grew from year to year, just as its ‘meant’ to.

But what it didn’t do is give me a business that melded well with my personal life, particularly as a women looking to create a family.  And also what it didn’t do was give me a business that expressed my deeper sense of purpose.

Over the past three years, I have done a lot of deconstructing of my old business model and gone about creating a new one that supports my personal life and realistically fits with my reality as a business owner, a mother of a one and two year old and a wife.  Hence you get a blog post about once a month- that seems to be all I can fit in at this point in time!

I describe it as approaching my business holistically: seeing my business as something that integrates with all areas of my life that are meaningful to me, and not making myself so busy to the point that I lose activities that are really important to me such as yoga.

In essence, I’ve really tried to give the creation of my business the same mindfulness, receptiveness [...]

Sometimes Stopping is the Best Way to Start.

Last year I decided that I would be taking  December and January ‘off’.  After over 13 years trapped in relentless fashion production cycles, I never really had the opportunity to completely take time off and shut down my business (asides from to have a baby), so I thought, this is the year!

It took me the better part of December to switch myself off and tie up loose ends, so that left me with January.  Since New Years, I have barely checked my emails once a week, I have hardly looked at social media, have done a lot of digging in the garden, had a glorious time with my husband, 1 and 2 year old girls, and spent many hours in the kitchen with my latest obsession- a Thermomix concocting every imaginable green smoothie.  I have also started making art again.  Hooray!

This last one came as a complete surprise and has confirmed for me how powerful it is to completely take time out, to really let yourself stop whatever cycle you are caught up in, and just have a break.  It is here that a feint whispering that has been quietly humming along can finally be heard in the induced silence.  I did have this experience not so long ago last year at the big-hearted business conference when I finally heard loud and clear the pull to start Creative Conversation, which has been just wonderful.  And through the work I have been doing for this business, I seemed to have re-awakened another souls-yearning: the making of art.

I had a brief stint before starting Manque Design to really explore my creativity and find out what it was that I was good at (note, that I did [...]

Big Hearted Business- The Conference that Changed my Life.

This blog post is dedicated to an exhibition that is launching this coming Saturday night in Bendigo, Victoria at the Viewpoint Handmade Gallery.   What is special about this exhibition?  It is called “Community, an exhibition exploring themes of belonging and connection”. I just love this theme, considering that I am kind of new to my chosen community of Ballarat and am really enjoying the connections I am making in my new town and also the way that myself, my family and my new little business Creative Conversation are being embraced here.  And, frankly, I’m  just a little bit obsessed with the importance of creative people connecting and finding their place within the world!

This exhibition features artists and makers the attended the inaugural Big Hearted Business Conference this year, hosted by the wonderful Clare Bowditch.  Just in case you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard about this conference, it was just a wee bit TOTALLY FREAKIN AWESOME!  It’s had loads of press and Clare’s wish to encourage others to “Do what you love, make money, save the world” resonated with every single person of the odd 250 people that were lucky enough to attended that event, myself included.  Lives were changed and many a creative enterprise was born.

When I attended the conference I was three weeks out of my second shoulder surgery in five years.  I had a 20 month old and a 4 month old at home and a business, manquedesign.com.au which was ‘on ice’ while I was taking some maternity leave.  I was so excited to be at the conference and a few of my dearest friends were there also.   And I was so excited to be having some ‘me’ [...]

How Do You Deal with Criticism of Your Work?

Today I am battling with criticism and rejection.  A few days ago a close friend of mine, who I invited to be a part of a small group for me to pilot some new material I’ve been working on, contacted me to say that it ‘wasn’t for her’.  My reaction?  Well, I was taken aback to say the least.  But I called her and we talked about it and I fully understood that it was simply that she was not really ready to be doing the kind of work I was presenting and that it was stressing her out.  Later she popped around with a little bunch of flowers, which was super sweet and kind, and we talked a little more about it.  She told me as gently and kindly as she could and I took it as gracefully as I could.  All was well, or so I thought.

I am one of these people who often falls into the trap of understanding things intellectually while not really experiencing the emotional truth of how I feel about something.  My head gets it, I try to move on, only to discover that my heart does not get it and is not ready to move on.  Consequently it is often days, weeks or months later that I realize, ‘hang on, I feel really hurt by this.’ I have become expert at attempting to avoid the pain of criticism and rejection of my work by unconsciously telling myself “it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine”.

Well, it’s not fine for me today.  I feel ready to give up.  I feel like a fool for putting my very new creative dream out there in the world.  I feel fear that I [...]