The challenges of being a crafty creative hero & some crafty tools to help

 In Collaboration, Work Flow

From Ralph Nader's article on praising those who work with their hands

Crafting an authentic, creative life is challenging. But that is just what you choose to do – you who refuse to make a cookie-cutter family or live in a predictable relationship or function like an automaton at your job or spend your weekends doing default mass-non-think activities.

You choose to craft this one wild life.

That’s what I’ve been saying lately to a fresh entrepreneur who no longer wants to ‘cobble’ a freelance existence but wants to flourish and be free. It’s what I’ve said to a geologist who’s been building her first exquisite and rich novel – for three years. It’s what I’ve said to myself.

Crafting requires work. And patience. And skill. And a whole lotta self-love and world-love and imagination. Oh, yes, imagination. Because you don’t want this life turning out to look like a Martha Stewart cut-out or even a Seth Godin cut-out (although if you had to choose…you’d probably take the Purple Cow Life or the Lynchpin Life over the Gingerbread House Birthday Cake Life).

No, you want to craft a life that’s not simply “original” (how 19 years old) – but that’s real, authentic, you.

Challenge. That’s what this creative living is. It’s a challenge. And you thought it was supposed to be all wild imaginings and clever witticisms and erotic transports and audacious sculptures or whatever? Nope.

Creative living is challenging. Why?

REASON #1: Okay, yes, because the main stream of society – and its institutions of religion, commerce, education, government – travels in a clockwise direction. Whereas, creative heroes, by their very nature, by the very necessity of staying true and real to this biological and spiritual impulse called creativity, must travel counter-clockwise, up stream, against the stream, counter-current, counter-culture. AND do so in a way that is not just a hangover of adolescent-Goth-child-James-Dean-angst-rebellion-against-an-invisble-enemy-of-the-masses kind of stuff.


The creative life is counter because your calling is a bit edgy. It’s counter because the way things are is not enough. Not true enough. Not real enough. And you know there’s a way to live with more reality, truth, and beauty – and you want some of those fish to become upstream leapin’ salmon with you.

REASON #2: Because you’re on a quest, silly. You don’t have all the answers. If you were pretending you did have all the answers (and, believe me, anyone who says he has all the answers is pretending or flat-out lying), you’d be smug and complacent and kickin’ back on the back 9.

But, no, you’re a hero. You’re on a quest. And what does a quest entail? A sense of adventure. And mustering your wits each day, each moment to see what you can bring to what’s at hand – whether a monkey has stolen your compass or a client doesn’t get your proposal.

A quest requires patience, persistence, an open imagination, an alert mind, and voluptuously generous heart that takes in all any moment has to offer. Okay, you’re searching for the grail. But, guess what? Psst. No one – not even Arthur – ever really finds it. It’s just an ideal that gets us off our duff and propels us to bring out the very best in ourselves and out into the world. And, uh, that kind of quest is challenging.

REASON #3: Because creativity is perpetual problem-solving. And problem-creating. That’s what you do as a creative. You see problems as possibilities.

* * *

This work you’re doing – this crafting a creative, authentic life – is too important to give up on now, to defer to the same ol’ familiar job or cut-out life.

And that’s why I am elated to dig in with you this May. You can step back and witness the challenge and confusion you’re going through and make that confusion fertile. You have support and safe space to delve in.

Fertile confusion is that state of no easy, pat solutions. No reverting to old ways. It’s an electrifying state of creativity in which you ultimately discover – or remember – what you’re all about and find the resources and tools to craft this next leg of your journey with grace, wit, and flair.

There are two key ways for us to work together.

WAY #1: At one of the United States’ most authentic holistic centers devoted to extraordinary living in the world– the KriPAlu Center (accent on the second syllable). It’s nestled near a mountain lake in the verdant Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. Once you arrive, you’re in the hands of a beautifully trained staff devoted to holding a safe space for your journey. TRACKING WONDER: From Reactive to Creative in Times of Fertile Confusion is the name of this Sunday-Friday workshop, May 22-27. With tuition only $300, you can’t have a much more cost-effective investment in your core work in the world.

Listen to a recent interview at Kripalu Perspectives – Meaning, Magic, and the Wonder of Everyday Life.

WAY #2: Join an amazing group of people who are leaping into the next phase of their creative lives. The Yoga As Muse TRIBE Facilitator Training brings out the best in you as you bring out the best in others. Really, there are few greater rewards in my life than facilitating other people’s creative growth and wisdom.

A Yoga As Muse Facilitator gains Versatility – that capacity to pull from a cadre of tools to aid whoever is in front of her.

A Yoga As Muse Facilitator beams with Confidence – that light of knowing that comes from stalwart faith in one’s self.

A Yoga As Muse Facilitator acts and speaks with Authenticity – that ability to listen to and move from one’s own authority.

The training gives you an abiding creative practice that in turn you can use to craft exquisite workshops, retreats, courses, and a hearty platform so you can take your wisdom to other audiences.

Most of the training from late May to September 15 is carried out long-distance through e-course, tele-conferences, and a cool pow-wow board. Nine days of residential immersion in new York’s Hudson Valley from Aug 1-9 will give you the full experience you need to catapult your creative life. Call me at 8 4 5 . 6 7 9 . 9 4 4 1 or email me at info [at] trackingwonder [dot] com if you want to stay in the loop or send in an application today.

* * *

So how do you do navigate this challenging creative life? Here are some tools I’ve learned to use and am hungry to share with you.

CRAFTY HERO TOOL #1: Remember where you stand. As you travel this quest, know what you’re about regardless of the shifts. Step back, open up, and ask: What matters most?

CRAFTY HERO TOOL #2: Call upon your Inner Confidante. We’re all familiar with the Inner Heckler. But the Inner Confidante is that great voice within that reminds us of our own courage, wisdom, and resourcefulness to resolve our problems with grace and aplomb. Luke Skywalker had “the force.” Arjuna the Warrior had Krishna’s voice. Odysseus had Athena’s wise voice within.

It might help to remember that the root of confidence is “fid” as in “fidelity.” It means “faith.”

So, follow the up and down of the next breath, follow it to your heart, and listen to the voice that says, “I’m possible” – which is so much more interesting than the one that says “impossible.”

CRAFTY HERO TOOL #3: Bring along allies. Robin Hood had his merry troop. (So did Ken Kesey, but no one there really remembers the ride.) You’ve got to find a few creative colleagues. Find ‘em online. Find ‘em at work or at a class in a book club or at Jen Louden’s Savor & Serve Café. They’re who you share your adventures with. Compare notes with. Share tips with.

Twitter is an agora, the Inn in the middle of the forest. I have my Twitter tribe. I have my three best friends I can walk and talk with. I have my Yoga As Muse Tribe. And I have my Design Team who humble me with their talent.

Who are your allies? Who “gets” the you of you?

CRAFTY HERO TOOL #4: Find a mentor. Luke (again) had Obiwan and that gremlin Yoda. A mentor might stand a few yards ahead of you or a few miles. But a real mentor is always willing to walk by your side. Even behind you at times so YOU can shine. A mentor points in certain directions and asks penetrating questions so you can wake up. A mentor has skills to share so you can ultimately wield your magic weapon in your own way.

In my twenties, I had two central mentors who opened the door to an interior intellectual world. I have my Yoga teacher. I have my business coach.

A coach. A consultant. An honorable teacher. Who are you learning from? I work with 20 clients from around the world, and here are five of my favorites I recommend depending upon what you need:
Mark McGuinness
Jen Louden
Tara Mohr
Catherine Holm

CRAFTY HERO TOOL #5: Plug in the hero’s body electric. Indiana Jones stayed fit. He had to. He had a lot of jungle-hiking and rope-swinging and butt-kickin’ to do. But the hero’s body electric is more than buffing pecs and biceps. It’s about engaging the body in the creative process itself. It’s about moving and dancing and waving your arms like a banshee bird because you know that to move your body moves the mind. Because you know that intentional movement arouses the imagination. Because you know that shaking it up keeps the neurons talking to each other so you’re quick-witted, agile, and fertile with solutions – or at least resolve when no solution is immediately in sight.

I really don’t have all the answers. I brim with questions. And at the heart of a question is a quest. Come on out! Let’s see what we’ll discover, and remember.

What’s your creative challenge these days? How are you navigating it?

See you in the woods,

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  • Jennifer Louden

    I am so honored to be included here and to learn from you. Years ago when i was working on combining yoga and writing, and found your work, and went to see you in Portland, I knew I had found something good! Great great post!

  • Jeffrey

    You’re a sweetheart, Jen. All those years ago…!

  • Catherine Holm

    Thank you, Jeff! Interestingly, as I walk into the most edgy places ever (running workshops, promoting my book, meeting more and more people), I feel more and more courage. It feels as if much (I can’t believe how much) is possible.

    • Jeffrey

      Cat: Oh, you hit on the Tracking Wonder mantra: “It’s possible So much is.” Right? I love how you describe your current journey – walking to the edge and, in that walking, mustering the courage. The courage doesn’t come BEFORE the walk to the edge. You ACT first. The COURAGE follows. Really beautiful, Cat.

  • Tessa Zeng

    So interesting that you’re writing about this, Jeffrey! I believe DEEPLY in the power of facilitation, and am interested, likewise, in the creative tools that propel our work along the way. Just sent you a DM on Twitter!

    • Jeffrey

      Tessa, Thanks for your note. Yes, facilitating others’ experiences is a charge & gift unlike any other. I can’t even articulate what happened in Taos, NM 3 weeks ago with a group of creatives as we tracked wonder. Amazing stuff we can do for one another.

  • Elle B

    Ah, Ken Kesey. I remember him well, so I obviously wasn’t a member of his troop! I am, however, a proud member of Jen Louden’s. Wonderful post, Jeffrey.

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