[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Are you listening?

March is International Listening Awareness Month.  Take a few minutes today to close your eyes and open your ears. Listen for the sounds that disappear when you are automatically going through your day.

Did you know that we derive 55% of a message’s meaning from the speaker’s facial expressions, 38% from how she says the message and only 7% from the actual words spoken?

What do you hear?

Machinery? Music? Sirens?

Voices? Sighs?

Whispers and longing?

  • We listen to people at a rate of 125-250 words per minute, but think at 1,000-3,000 words per minute.*
  • Less than 2 percent of people have had any formal education on how to listen.*
  • Images go into your long term memory, while words live in your short term memory. We can only retain seven bits of information at a time…which is why we have 7 digit phone numbers.*

Listening is the foundation to understanding, digesting, then acting or reacting to situations. The perspective to decide if a comment is a complaint or a compliment, a criticism or a solid suggestion for improvement…listening beyond assumptions.

In business or personal relationships we want to be listened to…validated…cared for…and heard.

“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.” – Margaret J. Wheatley – author

Who listens to you?

What and who do you hear?

*statistics resource GetInFrontCommunications

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] What is Your Legacy of Spirit and Wisdom

ask.believe.receiveDecember is Intuition & Wisdom as well as Spiritual Legacy Month.

Are you among those who knows that your future is in the palm of your hands and routinely have gut feelings so you follow your instincts?

Or, do you belong to the camp that ignores inklings or nagging feelings as indigestion and reach for the pink stuff?

What will the record of your life journey look like?

In the era when I graduated from high school, the college track was not the norm as it is for this generation. Only a few of us had aspirations that required a college degree or specific education:  doctor, teacher, and nurse. The rest of us would get a job and get on with the business of life. We were eager to make our mark in the world.

 Since then I’ve come to realize that we’d already begun the process of creating our legacy as soon as we drew our first breath…the story of our lives. Our legacy isn’t the “stuff” we accumulate; it’s the stuff we do every single minute of every day. Our legacy is how we treat each other, our loved ones, business associates, Mother Earth and ourselves with respect, compassion, and kindness. Sometimes it may take every ounce of creativity and inspiration to keep our stuff together for this challenging part of our story, but having faith that whatever it bugging us will pass helps to stay focused on living our beautiful legacy of the story of a life well lived.

My legacy is sharing on-going stories…my own and helping you share yours because nobody can tell your story from your perspective except YOU!

What is your story? Hop over to my Facebook page and share a part of your legacy.

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com








[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Greeting the Great Pumpkin…

This month we celebrate Halloween. Are you going to be dressing up and walking in the neighborhood, or greeting the little ghosts and goblins at the door?

I snapped this picture at a previous Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, our annual celebration which brings many, many visitors to the Coastside. Fall festivals abound this time of year from school carnivals to full-blown extravaganzas which have a life of their own and take over the town. The latter is exactly what the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival has become. It started out as a way for the Downtown Beautification Committee to make some money to spruce up Main Street. They invited some local crafters to set up booths and bought pumpkin pies from a local restaurant. The posters promised a simple Sunday afternoon get together. Now, some 40 years later, there’s even an iPumpkin app! Which by the way, my husband the Techie, loved!

But if festivals full of jostling crowds, booths crammed with everything from apple core peelers to wooden zebras, multiple stages playing  very loud music, and pumpkin everything, then seek out a way to welcome the Great Pumpkin on your own terms.

Maybe you just want to admire all the trees in their multi-hued glory on your daily walk, or daily commute. Perhaps you want to take your journal or camera on a walk and record some of the really pretty ones. Or go to a nursery (even lingering at the floral department at the grocery story) and pick up an autumnal colored mum plant to brighten your home or office. The point it to do whatever it is you want to do to celebrate this time of year.

I’m ready to face that crisp air and search the sky for all the gorgeous colors of browns, reds, and yellows. What about you? Are you up for it?

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] School days ahead

Allen, Gale and Mary, Fall 1960, from MaryEKnippel.Author

Allen, Gale and Mary, Fall 1960, from MaryEKnippel.Author

School is back in session again. Take advantage of the back -to-school sales to stock up on notebooks, pencils, pens and grab that big box of 64 colors. Go shopping for your inner child and pick up anything and everything you on your special edition school supply list…something you wanted desperately…and never got! Now is your chance to indulge in that paint set, the colored markers, construction paper in all the colors of the rainbow…and more. Take your time picking out notebooks, 3-ring-binders and filler paper. Check out the pocket folders and don’t torture yourself over the decision of how to choose between the sweet kitties, Charlie Brown or Justin Bieber.

Students at Sacred Heart Elementary never had the option of anything more exotic than the Big Chief writing tablet and No. 2 pencils. The Franciscan nuns were, of course, concerned with our spiritual well-being and not as concerned with us tapping into our creativity. I remember an art project where we had a choice to paint something with primary colors of red, blue and yellow, or black and white. I wanted to create my own colors and Sister Judith insisted I choose one or the other and not waste her time experimenting. It started me thinking that I was wrong because I wanted to do something different.

Today I celebrate being able to choose something different! (As an adult, I can also see her frustration of having to manage 25 energetic elementary school children wielding paint brushes.)

So today I make it my mission to encourage different thinking, to create messes and add color in your life with everyone I encounter…life is too short not to explore your creativity when you have a fresh box of crayons and blank sheets of paper!

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Plan Your Own American Adventure

August is American Adventure Month! There’s still time to plan your own American Adventure. Let your imagination spark your creativity and see what can happen. Claim time for yourself on your calendar, then set out to have an experience you’ve never had before…or to revisit something you have not enjoyed for quite some time.

Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, our “vacations” were Sunday afternoon outings for a picnic and boat ride on the lake or river. We met my aunt, uncle and cousins, cooked hamburgers, dug our toes in the muddy river bottom and floated on enormous black inner tubes. The picture accompanying this post is of my cousin Marilyn, whom I adored, and little MeMe at Lake Hanska.

To this day when I get a whiff of the infamous thick white Noxema body lotion, I’m immediately see myself covered in the soothing goo all over my lobster colored body. 

Did you go to camp? Did you go to summer school? Did you visit relatives in the city/country,  sleep on pull-out couches, and eat Grandma’s German potato salad while listening to aunts talk about who got married and who had a baby? Or did you attend annual family reunions? Now’s your chance to explore the great outdoors picnicking or camping, relive your youth with cotton candy and screaming on the carnival rides at a street fair, take in Shakespeare in the Park or a concert under the stars, or go shop at the back to school sales and stock up on notebooks and pencils. 

Think about going out and exploring the unknown…going out there unprepared and doing things that are new and fun. Take yourself on an adventure!


[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Give Your Schedule a New Order

frazzled womanDo you find yourself feeling rushed and harried…even before your feet touch the floor in the morning? 

As if you are already an hour behind schedule before you have even finished brushing your teeth!

As if you didn’t have enough to think about…now your time management skills are in question!

Take a breath and let’s look at at a few simple tricks to help you feel centered and refreshed not only to begin your day, also ways to reset during the day to keep your inner sense of peace.

woman sleeping on grassSleep Well:  Do you know how much sleep you need? Perhaps the reason you have a hard time getting up in the morning is because your body needs 7-9 hours of sleep according to current research from the National Research Foundation. Of course, many factors play a role in getting a good night’s rest. But you can create an inviting environment by keeping the lights low (including turning down the red beam from your alarm clock), taking the TV out of the bedroom, going to bed at reasonably the same time  and establishing a consistent bed time ritual.

list of possibilities

Write it Down:  Before you go to bed, make a list of your morning activities, and review your calendar for upcoming appointments. Prepare your lunch, make your clothing choices, and gather anything you need to have for the next day (exercise gear, meeting notes, or computer for example).

Take a Break:  Are you able to schedule mini-breaks during the day to be by yourself for 15-minutes or so? Even a 5-minute “oasis of calm” will enhance your sense of well being and reset your inner compass. Close your office door, or go out to your car if you don’t have an office, (last resort lock the bathroom door), set the timer on your phone or computer for 5 or 15 minutes, close your eyes and visit an oasis of calm in your mind. Breathe in the scents and feel the warm sun on your skin. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Repeat until the timer goes off. Instead of deep breathing, you may try writing in your journal or other short spurts of creativity. Return to work refreshed and renewed.

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] What do you focus on?

camera.journalMay is National Photo Month. Do you enjoy going to new places and photographing the exotic locations? Of course, you document your vacations, graduations, weddings, births and monumental moments in your life. But there are lots of “ordinary” moments you are not recording.

What about taking a tour of your neighborhood and taking a closer look at your own exotic location. Walk slowly and purposefully. Take in all the sights and situations you miss in your determined mission to get from Point A to Point B without ever enjoying  the journey. 

Looking at the world through a view finder can give you a whole new perspective on what surrounds you. Take along a notebook with your camera and jot down your thoughts about the scenes you observe. What are people doing? What do the sunshine and shadows tell you? What are the stories? 

Do you feel invisible behind the camera? 

Do you feel more power from that location?

Are you more approachable with a camera?

Are you more likely to approach someone else and initiate a conversation when you have a prop – such as the camera?

Perhaps your home offers opportunities to produce unique photos of your objects d’art. Pretend you are an explorer or a scientists and come upon this habitat, scene of domesticity, or work environment and wonder about the person/s who inhabit this place. 

What can you learn about the things they love?

What can you learn about the person they are striving to become?

What can you learn about the person they are right now this very minute?

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Connect with a note…

When you were little, what did you have to do before you could play with a toy or spend your birthday money? This is an activity brides have to attend to within a specific period of time or risk alienating family and friends. Do you labor over what to say and hear guilty admonishments in your head when you know you are behind in accomplishing this task?

Do you know what I’m talking about? If you guessed writing thank you notes, you are correct. 

Now, I’d like to suggest you expand this activity beyond thank you for a specific gift…consider sending a note to say that you are thinking about someone, that you are grateful they are in your life, that you just wanted to say “Hi.”

Be a Rebel and turn your back on technology. Now, please do not have a panic attack. I know you could not live without voice mail and e-mail access 24-hours a day. I’m not suggesting that you do away with all your modern devices such as your cell phone, laptop, or iPad.

Reach out and connect in a personal and significant way with a letter in honor of National Card and Letter Writing Month. There is no substitution for the feeling of pen on paper putting your thoughts on the page as far as I am concerned. Of course, as a lover of journal writing my confessing I love receiving and sending hand-written notes comes as no surprise. The next time you want to really make an impact, try sending a pretty note card or even a single sheet of paper with a few lines from you. It will be a gesture that is remembered. Perhaps even imitated. Happy writing!

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Look what’s blooming in your life!

Are you blooming?

Are you blooming?

Blooming? Last week I’m talking about baking and this week I’m asking about blooming…does this mean I want you in the kitchen or in the garden? Well, maybe. 

They both center on you diving in to explore your creativity.

What I invite you to focus on is blooming…as in flourishing…prospering…thriving…opening…growing.

Flourishing – are you doing well? Have you discovered what you love to do and finding that when you share your gifts with others they flourish as well?

Prospering – are you fortunate in your abundance of relationships, knowledge, expertise, human empathy? Are you jumping out of bed in the morning to greet the day and all of what it holds in store for you, or do you pull the covers over your head and groan because you are already overwhelmed with what the day holds for you?

Thriving –  are you successful in body mind and spirit… the state of your well-being is in alignment…you are moving forward daily with a positive attitude in body, mind and spirit?

Opening – have you witnessed an awakening? An awareness of another way of thinking and opened yourself up to new experiences? Let yourself step over your limiting beliefs and enter into what is beyond your known into the great unknown. Start to take note in your journal where you step over that invisible line and the results of that action.

Growing – are you stretching beyond your comfort zone…expanding your limitations. When was the last time you chose something outside the box of your usual behavior?

Also, I love the English slang version where “blooming” means that you are brave, a little cheeky and perhaps even outrageous. Now, that’s the kind of blooming I really want to be associated with. Outrageous in growing out of my boundaries and opening into a new way of thinking. I want to thrive at being the best I can be and encouraging you to be your best YOU!

So I ask you…Hop over to my Facebook page and share…What’s blooming in your life?

photo by:  MEKnippel

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Time to Let Nature Nurture…

Let Nature Nurture (photo by Writer Unleashed)

Let Nature Nurture (photo by Writer Unleashed)

How’s the weather for you these days?  It’s time to let nature nurture!

Can you go out and let the April breezes blow the cobwebs out of your head? I hope so because it’s time to shake up your routine to make way for the next phase of that amazing life ahead of you.

My family in the Midwest is experiencing lingering winter, but here on the California coast we’re enjoying beach worthy weather. I spent a couple of bliss-filled hours recently just watching the waves roll in and out, listening to the occasional bird chatter, and the squeals of surprised children and adults when they discovered how cold the Pacific truly is…no matter what time of year.

The air had a hint of a chill too…just enough that shorts and a sweatshirt was exactly the right combination for a walk on the sandy shore. Up on the bluffs on the paved Coastal Trail, the breezes were blowing quite strong which made a leisurely walk a little difficult. I choose a short walk down from the parking lot and happily stayed put in my very comfortable collapsible camping chair. Dreaming. Observing. Recharging. Renewing. Being Nurtured by Nature. 

Whether you run a marathon, stroll in the neighborhood, swing on a swing,  scale the face of  Half Dome at Yosemite, or simply sit motionless absorbing the energy surrounding you…get out and let Nature Nurture YOU!

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Connecting with grace and ease

connectAre you active in the in-person networking communities?

Or would you rather sit behind your computer and write “safe” Facebook posts?

Now, both of them are valuable ways to connect, but the combination can be an amazing way for you to discover new friendships and grow your business relationships…to connect with grace and ease.

Meetup.com is a resource for all sorts of interest groups and allows you to search the focus of the groups to find a perfect fit. When looking for a way to connect…to build relationships…consider reaching out to both business and personal interests through internet options on-line and off-line. You can search for different interest groups from dog walking groups to writing about your grief after the loss of a loved one.

Don’t forget about places where you are already connecting with folks as also being a good place to seek deeper connections…what about your children’s school? your church or place of worship? where your shop for food? where you shop for household items? where you find cute shoes and hunt for flattering jeans?

Oh no, you are shaking your head. I’m too shy to just start a conversation with a stranger.

Not true because I know you have been “liking” posts on Facebook and I’ll let you in on a little secret…how many people are you personally acquainted with of all the folks that you click Like? 

Have you ever…

  • asked another shopper an opinion about a product?
  • struck up a conversation while waiting in line to attend an event?
  • exchanged frustrated glances with another commuter as you survey the pouring rain outside of a coffee shop while the TV announcer is reading a sunny day weather report?

Congratulations!  You are connecting!

Please hop over to my Facebook page and connect with me! 

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Reinvention and Rediscovery…


Buttons - nothing is wastedIt’s National Craft Month! How do you express your creativity? Do you always follow the rules, or invent your own?

Whether you recycle to save the environment, because you believe in waste-not-want-not, or you subscribe to that old chestnut…you never know when something will come in handy…if you keep your creative eye peeled, you can regularly “discover” treasures just about anywhere. From your pantry, junk mail in your mail box, gift wrap, and, of course, the recycle bin.

The beauty of crafting is that everything has the potential to be part of a new creation. When I was growing up my mother sewed many beautiful items of clothing for us. She made simple dresses and complicated snow suits. I have a white baby dress with matching slip she stitched my initials on. I remember one particular time that she repurposed one of her old coats for my younger sister. She cut down a coat that had served her well for several winters. She went to her bulging sewing box and added a “fur” collar which she had salvaged from another coat. The sewing box also contained a glass jar of buttons collected over many years. Mother added “jeweled” buttons to the coat…making it royal blue Sunday best!

Over the years I’ve sewn various projects for my home and family from a flower girl dress, intricate dance costumes, floaty ice skating ensembles, to an insulated window covering and duvet covers. While I usually had all the materials I needed to complete my projects, there were many times when something called for in the design wasn’t exactly what I wanted to complete the project.  So, I’d rummage around in my sewing box and consider what in my collection would enhance whatever I was working on. I let my creativity dictate when the project was complete…not the picture on the pattern, or what the illustration suggestion.

What do you do? Hop over to my Facebook page and share how you express your creativity.

Photo credit:  canva.com