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365 Day Challenge Day 11- Aimlessness

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Aimlessness means not setting an object or goal in front of you and running after it. We want this, we want that, and as long as we haven’t got it, we think happiness will be impossible. The truth is that we already have everything we need. We are whole; it is all within us.

I don’t know why it is easier for me to chase something I don’t think I have than to recognize all that is within me. Okay, I do know.

Because it is scary.

If I am already whole, if I already have everything I need to build my business, to live the life I say I want-fill in the blank- then it is scary because the only thing standing in my way is me. When I pretend that the thing I need is outside of me then I can distract myself for days, years chasing it down.

Then it starts to get real, really fast. How am I going to stay present and use what I have to do what needs to be done?

In my case, I love helping creative entrepreneurs grow their businesses in meaningful ways. To that end, I am offering free 30 minute brainstorming sessions. Take me up on it-I know what I am talking about. 🙂 And believe me getting out of your own way is much easier with someone else by your side.

In gratitude,

Kristan

Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


Are you happy? Is your life meaningful?

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Jane Buckingham, author and founder of Trendera is a fantastic speaker; I have revisited many of the ideas she presented at a conference I attended nearly 2 years ago and there is one I come back to time and time again. This is the one I share most often too: the suggestion that we aspire to live a meaningful life in lieu of the more common edict to just ‘be happy’. I am a Gen X’er and while I don’t consider myself to be a complete and total helicopter parent, I have been guilty of wanting my children to ‘be happy’. Heck, how many times have I wanted that for myself?!   And what is wrong with that? Nothing at first glance, yet upon closer examination, it is a vague and nebulous mandate with a host of unintended consequences.

‘ I just want you to be happy.’ is unrealistic and as frustrating as trying to spear a tapioca ball in a serving of boba. It also does not encourage resilience or ‘grit’; the newly touted ingredients necessary for success. When I examine my own life with the ‘just be happy’ lens; it occurs to me immediately how boring my life would have been and not to mention, bland. I realize that I am messing with a core value and I do not take on the ‘pursuit of happiness’ lightly.

The minute Jane shared her suggestion to inspire in our children to live lives of meaning, I was inspired. Meaningful lives are rich and textured; there is spontaneity and serendipity when done right. Looking back on my life choices, I realize that I know this firsthand. My curiosity and love of adventure have prevented me from a consistently happy life. I have tried it at times, and it is not my thing. For me, ‘just being happy’ is difficult; I can easily get sidetracked into someone else’s definition of happiness. Luckily, I have often made life choices because I felt the need to challenge myself or honor a difficult truth. As a result, I am familiar with deep joy and blissful stretches of peace and wonder. I have also been in the ring with blistering pain and gut-wrenching sorrow, the kind that leaves an ache so cellular you are convinced it is a part of you that is never going away.

Meaningful lives are messy and require an unrelenting honesty. Meaningful lives ask us to engage with others, the other and offer no guarantees. This is where you are always learning, always on the edge of making a mistake, or even worse-FAILURE. Yes, it gets scary out here and that is where the spontaneity and serendipity swoop in to remind you not to take it all so seriously.

I began working with creative entrepreneurs because I believe that people can build lives and support themselves doing work they love. I want to support more creativity, art, and goodness in the world. This is me living my meaningful life. Let me know if you would like to talk about how to pursue your version of a meaningful life.

In gratitude,

Kristan


Lotus In the Mud

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The goodness of suffering is something real. Without suffering there cannot be happiness. Without mud there cannot be any lotus flowers. So if you know how to suffer, suffering is okay. And the moment you have that attitude, you don’t suffer much any more. And out of suffering a lotus flower of happiness can open.

Sometimes I will read one of these lessons and I feel like I get part of it but not all of it. Which is okay. One truth I have discovered is that upon each reading these nuggets of wisdom can impart a new, slightly different understanding.

Today as I read the passage, I understand it to say that in order to know the good, you need to know the bad. AND that the more you recognize the value in the mud/bad then the less the mud is bad and the more the mud becomes part of the process. This reminds me of an article or perhaps it was a radio interview, it doesn’t really matter, discussing the role of the art critic and their importance. There is no doubt that being creative and expressing oneself artistically is one of the amazing and unique things we do as humans, yet that does not mean all art is good or particularly meaningful. Most importantly,  part of the process is creating regardless of the outcome and growing from each attempt.

So on the most basic level for us as creatives and this is particularly for my landscape designers and other designers, there are really well-designed projects and those that are not. We must know the difference. If you are like me then you will welcome all ideas into your design process if only to highlight more clearly the good ideas.

The other thought that comes to mind is the process of identifying your ideal client. Anyone who ends up discussing business with me know that:

  1. I love my clients.
  2. I will only work with clients I love.
  3. It took me a long time to get to this place.
  4. I believe a key foundational piece to success is being willing to know your ideal client.

I have known suffering in the form of working with less than ideal clients.

It was good suffering in that it was the journey I needed to take in order to come out on the other side. Several years ago, I almost quit landscape design entirely before I was willing to think about my ideal clients and ideal projects.

If you would like to talk to someone who has been through hell and back then please make an appointment. Life is too short to work with people who do not appreciate your gifts. Life is too short to not being doing work you love. I can help you discover your gifts and turn them into a profession and I can help if you have a creative business that is not what you want it to be.

In gratitude,

Kristan

Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


When was the last time you went to class?

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When was the last time you attended a class? Not for work, not for credit, just because…

Last night! Yes, I went to LACMA for one of their Art 101 Lectures. It is a perk of membership: lacma.org for those of you who want to join.

The topic for last night’s presentation was Portrait: Monet. It was terrific. I admit I love Art History; it is the way that history in general, came alive for me when I was in school. And who does not love the Impressionists? I fell for the Impressionists almost as hard as I loved ponies and horses. Although, I don’t know if I ever attempted to paint like the Impressionist. I did draw lots and lots of horses.

The material our lecturer shared was fantastic, and I learned many new facts about Monet, his contemporaries, and history of that time period. Did you know of that the invention of portable, metal paint tubes was an important technological advancement? Why? Because it allowed the Impressionists and others to paint out of the studio. Similarly important inventions were the portable easel and pre-stretched canvases. The Impressionists were painting in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and benefited from the advent of manufacturing. There were women too who benefited from the ability to paint anywhere.

Having recently read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, the story of the Impressionists’ rejection by the ‘Big Pond’ of the Salon was fresh in my mind. Especially, the part about their determination not to be deterred by the Salon and to put on their own show. Malcolm Gladwell uses this story to illustrate his point that sometimes the best course of action is to be a Big Fish in a Small Pond. In the case of the Impressionist, it was a pond of their own making.

It is fascinating to me when I consider the Impressionists being disruptive. All those lovely paintings with their wonderful use of color, the glimpses of life at that time, the vibrant light and brush strokes. The paintings and the artists were slammed by the critics.

This leads me to thinking about our digital revolution and disruptive technologies. I feel numb to it at times yet I have come to expect it. I love history for the perspective it allows us. How do we live in times that seem like they are moving so fast? When do we get a chance to gain some perspective? For starters let’s support artists as I believe they are in the moment and attempting to distill our current state of being. Nick Bonamy is a young artist whose work I like right now. Check it out.


I have arrived

We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. That is why the practice ‘I have arrived’ is very important. The realization that we already have arrived, that we don’t have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient we only need to allow ourselves to be in the present moment, and we will be able to touch them.

 

If I am wearing my business hat and if we substitute happiness for success in this lesson then we have another valuable concept to chew on, another lens with which to approach each day. So much time in our businesses can be devoted to planning, setting the next goal when we are thinking strategically. 

So as a practice in order to grow a sustainable business, I would suggest we all check in regularly and recognize the small successes. AND to recognize that we have all the tools right here and right now at our disposal to serve our ideal clients and experience the success we want. One of those tools may be knowing when to ask for help. I can help with that. Let’s talk and identify your strengths, recent successes, and dreams to grow your sustainable business.

 


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


APLD Garden Tour 2017

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The Association of Professional Landscape Designers welcomes you to their Second Annual Garden Tour! Spend a gorgeous spring day in LA wandering through some of our designers most beautiful and inspiring landscapes. At each location, you’ll see how the Watershed Approach to Landscape Design is being implemented… Read More.


“Suchness”

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The word suchness describes reality as it is. Most of our suffering arises from our ideas and concepts. If you are able to free yourself from these concepts/beliefs, anxiety and fear will disappear. Our own beliefs and concepts can be the cause of much of our suffering.  

I can see how this has played out in my own life. Specifically, I think of the times I have been anxious because of the expectation I have in my head about a certain situation. For example, after I have my initial meeting with a client and they accept my proposal then we have our first ‘official’ meeting. I cannot tell you how many hours of sleep I have lost worrying about what are their expectations for our first meeting.  Will I disappoint them? Will I have any good ideas? What if I don’t know the answer to one of their questions?

Clearly these are stories or beliefs that are not based in reality. These are old anxieties; I can’t even remember a real incidence that resembles these scenarios I am envisioning. Yet they feel very real and can potentially debilitating. This is the kind of stuff that could keep me from succeeding in my business and my life. So what to do? Lately, I have been able to catch myself and realign my thoughts with the present. In the present, I can take positive actions like doing some research prior to my meeting, get some exercise, and write down any questions I want to remember to ask my new clients in order to create a better design.

What is the story or belief that inserts fear and anxiety into your life or business? Consider what each day would be like if you approached it free from old ideas, conjecture, and past hurts?

For me, it would mean going into each client meeting fully present. I could meet potential new clients without being overly invested in the outcome. I would offer a better experience for my clients with with a better outcome with less stress. A win-win!

I would love to hear about what your business would look like when you are fully present. Let’s talk!


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


Why We Suffer

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When we look deeply at the nature of things, we see that in fact everything is impermanent. In our ignorance we believe that there is a permanent entity in us, and our pain and suffering manifest on the basis of that ignorance. If we touch deeply the non-self nature in us, we can get out of that suffering.

Some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s lessons in Your True Home are a bit harder to apply to business than others! When I look to understand this lesson, first off I swap the work “ignorance” for “lack of knowing”. Then I can begin to feel into this lesson in a variety of ways:

  • Each day is a new beginning, and with that mindset I allow myself to let go of yesterday’s mistakes and start anew.
  • Taking myself too seriously gets me nowhere, as does taking anything personally.
  • It is okay to bring more fun and levity into everyday. Not just okay, recommended!

I am curious; how does this lesson speak to you. Please share or reach out to me directly.


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


Concentration

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When you contemplate a big full sunrise, the more mindful and concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you. That is why mindfulness and concentration are such sources of happiness. This is why a good practitioner knows how to create a moment of joy, a feeling of happiness, at any time of the day.

When I read Hahn’s Your True Home, I immediately thought of the deep sense of joy I experience when I am designing something, meeting with clients I love, or learning about a new product/practice. In order words the feeling of being immersed in doing something I love to do. Yet what is really funny/strange is that I will often allow myself to be distracted. I will take myself out of the moment. I will leave that moment of joy to open the mail or get a glass of water. Which is just plain crazy!

  • Crazy because immersing yourself in the joyful aspects of your business is one of the foundational keys to creating a sustainable business. A business that fulfills you and brings out the best you have to offer your clients.
  • Crazy because I chose landscape design because it allows me to employ my creativity, my curiosity, my love of problem solving.
  • Crazy because my life is too short to build my own business on someone else’s rules about what ‘work’ should feel like.

I invite you to join me this year in embracing that which brings you deep joy in your work (and in your life). Schedule a Strategy Session today. I can help you build a business as creative and dynamic as you are.


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


Walking Meditation

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You walk as if you kiss the earth with your feet, as if you massage the earth with your feet. There is a lot of love in that practice of walking meditation.

I walk a lot. Walking is a sort of meditation for myself, but what Thich Nhat Hanh is suggesting here is very different. It feels good to I read this; I like the concept of a walking meditation that brings in love into the world, brings more love into each step I take in my world.

Embracing this good feeling of love and the idea of bringing love into each step, I invite each one of you to sign up for a FREE consultation. I love being a creative business owner and I love helping others grow their businesses. Let’s reflect on your business and dream about the business you want then brainstorm together on manageable steps you can take to ensure your success as you imagine it to be!


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.