Watching paint drip while listening to Car Talk on NPR.
#workinprogress #artinprocess #artistsofinstagram #wip
Ah, 1994. That was the summer I “tried to be a writer.”
I was newly married, with lots of time on my hands, having recently acquired a “useless” academic masters degree, only to decide that the dream of going on for a PhD had lost its luster.
With my planned-out career path in a shambles, I felt utterly adrift. “What do I do now?” I wondered.
Writing seemed an obvious answer.
After all, I’d been writing my whole life — what else did one do as a Liberal Arts major in college and grad school but write? Why not turn it into a career?
Strangely, though, when I actually needed it, my gift for assembling words together seemed to have left me. [Read more…]
Miracle Man and I tied the knot on Saturday, in an intimate ceremony with our nuclear families (we called it “the nuclear option”). The weekend could not have been more lovely, the ceremony could not have been more wonderful — absolutely perfect in its imperfection.
My intention for today was to write a third and final post about the making of the ketubah (which, yes, I did finish in time for the signing on Saturday morning!)
But we all know where good intentions take us: not always the destination we’d planned.
Lo and behold, a wedding weekend — even a low-key wedding with only 14 guests — kinda takes it out of a girl.
Miracle Man and I were rather fried when we woke up, so we took it pretty easy today. We ran some much-needed errands (getting my dress to the eco dry cleaners, mailing off our marriage license to the County Clerk Recorder, stocking up on picture hanging nails so I could hang the ketubah, among other things), and I paid some much-needed-to-pay bills.
Getting that blog post written? Well… That will just have to wait.
In the meantime, however, I present to you another creative effort from our wedding: a brand new song, written for my beloved.
Enjoy! And Happy New Year! I’m off to get some much-needed sleep…
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Are you a soloist, or a collaborator?
I used to think of myself primarily as the former. After all, I spend most of my working hours alone, usually either writing, immersed in email, creating ketubah proofs, or tackling some technical task on the computer.
I’ve been a solopreneur since 1996, and a former boyfriend once told me “You could never work with other people. You’re too much of a control freak.”
Hmmm… Was he right, I wondered?
Except for the precious, rare occasions when I’m at at a workshop or retreat, I make my artwork all alone, too — just me and my pens, paper, paint, and ink.
Music is one area that I’ve tended to work more with others — as a jazz singer, singing a capella is fine once in awhile, but I really need instrumentalists to do what I do.
Even in my music life, though, I’ve made a concerted effort to be able to fly solo. After all, it’s easier to get gigs when you don’t always have to find other people to play with (and pay!) The ability to back myself on my ukulele and perform solo has made me a lot more flexible, not to mention more confident.
(See me below, confidently pumping my uke against the Robot of Mediocrity at the World Domination Summit on July 5.)
So yeah, I think I identify more as a soloist than a collaborator.
But I’ve always wanted to be a collaborator.
I liked the idea of collaborating with others, even if I feared that maybe that ex-boyfriend was right…
And at the World Domination Summit, while watching the premiere public screening of Indie Kindred, a new film by writer/filmmaker, Jen Lee, I yearned and longed and oh-so-badly wanted to be a collaborator, instead of a soloist….
The talented artists and inspiring collaborations portrayed in the film triggered my usual “4-on-the-Enneagram” sense of envy:
“You should have cool collaborators like those women!” said my Everyone Else Is Better Than You gremlin.
“You never collaborate,” it went on, followed (not surprisingly) by, “Everyone else is better than you are…”
But rather than take that gremlin’s words at face value, I put into practice some of the gremlin-whispering tricks I taught just the other week in Module 2 of Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy, in a session I call Gremlin Training Lab.
Arguing with gremlins doesn’t work, you see, but getting curious with them often does.
“Wait a minute,” I said to that gremlin. “Yes, the women in the film have some awesome and amazing collaborations. But is it really true that I never collaborate? Hmmm… In fact, when I think about it, I’ve had some pretty awesome and amazing collaborations myself.”
So I started to list some of them:
- Playing Around Istanbul — the week-long creativity workshop/creative immersion adventure vacation I co-taught last October with my partner Poobah of Play, Kelly Hevel.
- ArtEmpowers.Me — the online course and community to help artists learn to bust the starving artists mindset, co-created with my partner, Cory Huff.
- My first CD, Online Dating Blues, the song arrangements on which were a true collaboration between me and my amazingly talented band members (I can’t remember who came up with which ideas).
- Ahem – Argentine Tango, anyone?!! (And salsa, and ballroom, and… And yes, that’s me in the photo, taken by Rosaura Sandoval at Jazz Camp West.)
And, of course…
- Every single time I play with a band
Which made me think about my recent open mic performance at Jazz Camp West the last week of June, where I performed a true collaboration of my original song, The Last Five Pounds.
Interestingly, just two nights before that open mic performance, the very night before driving into the redwoods to get to camp, I had the opportunity to perform my song on local television, solo.
And since there was no audience (except for three cameramen, the director, the producer, my boyfriend, and a few other performers waiting to go in front of the camera themselves, it was even more solo than usual.
Check it out:
The next morning MB helped me load up the car for camp, and into the redwoods I drove. And less than eight hours later I was deep in collaborative flow, while waiting in line to audition for the vocal intensive.
With about 80-100 singers in attendance, most of whom do choose to audition, that’s a lot of singers to go through, and it takes hours. Even with each of us only singing sixteen bars.
(But it’s worth the wait, and the nerves.
Because the vocal intensive is an opportunity to study in a small group with a special guest instructor for three and a half hours every day. This year, the vocal intensive instructor was Patti Cathcart, of the guitar/voice duo, Tuck and Patti.
That was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.
The auditions are always nerve-wracking, and with only ten spots in the vocal intensive, and at least three times that many really good singers in camp, it’s always a crap shoot whether you get in or not. I haven’t always bothered to audition, either — sometimes there are other classes during those three morning periods that I don’t want to miss (and let me tell you, that makes the first day at camp a lot less stressful!)
But this year, despite some pretty fantastic-sounding offerings in those morning sessions, the chance to study with Patti for a week sounded beyond fantastic, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring.)
I was just about the last person in the audition line, and in for a long wait when I finally staked my place. But hey, we’re all at Jazz Camp! Everyone is happy to be there, despite our audition nerves, and we’re feeling chatty. Soon I was deep in conversation with a woman named Cynthia.
We talked about our mutual love of harmonizing, one thing led to another, and pretty soon I was playing her The Last Five Pounds on my trusty ukulele, and she was oohing and aahing in harmony.
That was it. I’d debated about whether to put a band together for my performance, but finding rehearsal time at camp is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack, and going solo meant a lot less stress.
Now, though, it was clear that my song just had to be done with background vocals!
And Cynthia and I decided together that two backup singers would work so much better than just one. So I asked my friend Angie Doctor (of The Bobs), a pro if ever I knew one, if she’d like to join us. She jumped in without hesitation.
The two of them worked out all their harmonies together, a trio of mouth-trumpet solos happened by accident — and stuck — and small details (like the hands in prayer during the out-of-time section) emerged organically as we played and rehearsed.
Twenty-four hours later, with maybe a half hour of total rehearsal time with all three of us in attendance, we stepped on stage. The video below is the result (gratitude to Andy Mogg, the camp videographer!):
Of course videos never fully communicate the experience of being there live, but I’m curious which of the two videos above you find more compelling.
I know which experience was richer for me (take a guess), but then again, having an enthusiastic audience colors everything.
I’ve also learned that what I feel onstage doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the audience’s experience. (This is a good thing for any performer to know — just because you think you sucked doesn’t mean anyone else did. Of course, just because you think you hit it out of the park doesn’t mean anyone else did, either… ;))
Am I giving up solo work? Hell no. But I am embracing and reveling in the collaborations so far in my life, excited about the ones brewing behind the scenes, and looking forward to seeking out more collaborative opportunities.
And if I inspire you to do the same, so much the better.
PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
A street festival took over my town’s downtown this weekend. I met up with a friend yesterday afternoon to wander around and soak up the sights.
We strolled past booths of paintings, exquisitely crafted wooden toys, jewelry, gourmet olive oils, hammock chairs — the usual fare. We stopped for a full ten minutes to watch kids (and the occasional adult) tumble around in human hamster balls inside an enormous, inflatable pool of water.
And of course there was live music — the requisite, loud, rock & roll cover band on the main stage, plus smaller groups scattered every block or so.
We noticed a crowd gathered at one corner where a band was cranking out a blend of Caribbean-influenced blues, jazz, soul and funk. The music was good, but when we got close enough to see through the mass of people it became clear that it wasn’t just the music that had attracted their attention.
It was also the fact that there was a six-year-old at the drums, banging away quite expertly.
The six-year-old, whose name is Eagan, has been playing since he was three. He clearly has a gift, and a passion for the instrument, and crowd could not get enough.
I was as fascinated as the rest. One simply doesn’t expect a six-year-old to have these kind of music chops. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
Oh, how we love our prodigies!
In fact, sometimes it seems like the very young are the only ones that we (as a culture) love.
The Problem with Prodigies…
When this kid grows up, when he gets into his 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond, should he maintain his passion for the drums (which I hope he does!), he’ll find it harder and harder to capture the attention of a wandering crowd. For his sake, I hope he keeps his focus on his passion for his instrument, rather than the attention he’s getting now, for being a prodigy. Otherwise it could do a number on his head.
Any woman growing up in Western culture understands this concept on a visceral level. The older we get, the more “invisible” we become, as attention stays firmly focused on the young and firmly toned.
I pretty much summed it up in the bridge of my song, The Last Five Pounds (jump to 39 seconds in to go straight to the bridge):
If your sense of your own value is tied to your youth, what happens when that youth is gone?
Nobody really cares about another drummer. But show us a six-year-old drummer and we ooh and ahh. It’s not really his musical chops, it’s the fact that he has musical chops at six that grabs our attention.
I’m as googly-eyed over prodigious youthful skill as anyone else — face it, it’s just plain fascinating! — but there’s also something about it that bugs me. Prodigies fascinate me, but they can’t ever really inspire me, because being a young prodigy is not something I can personally aspire to.
In fact, prodigies often have the opposite effect from inspiring us.
The truth is you don’t have to be a “natural,” or a “born genius,” in order to start up a creative pursuit, take on a creative challenge, or even to achieve mastery. Nor do you have to be young. But our cultural obsession with young prodigies has a way of distorting this fact.
I wonder how things might have been different if we paid as much attention to our older folks as we do to our youth.
I’m not saying we should diss the young — every age is a wonderful age to be and should be honored — but how about a little balance?
How about some Grandmother Power?
I think of someone like Gudrun Zapf von Hesse, whose name you may never have heard, but whose work might very well touch your life on a daily basis.
Zapf von Hesse is calligrapher, teacher, lettering artist, and bookbinder. She’s also the designer of several fonts, three of which (Alcuin, Christiana, Colombine) she designed in her 70s, and the most recent of which (Diotima Classic) she created at 90.
Now that’s the kind of role model I want more of in my own life! A woman creating amazing work well into her “grandmother years.”
My mom’s another model of Grandmother Power, picking up the harp in her 50s. That inspired my dad to pick up the flute, and now, in their 70s, they perform together all over the San Francisco Peninsula.
Take that, oh gremlin that tells me “Your only value is in your youth and appearance!”
For more stories of inspiring grandmothers, check out Tara Mohr’s Grandmother Power blogging campaign this week. While you’re there, sign up to share your own!
Let’s bring a little more balance to our youth-obsessed culture, please! I’m sure my head will always be turned by young prodigies, but I want more stories of older women making amazing things happen, older women creating, older women changing the world.
After all, I’m never going to be six again, but I sure hope to be an old woman someday! And I hope that the work I contribute to the world keeps evolving and blossoming as I grow older.
Will I turn heads in my (child-free) “grandmother years”? Probably not. But I hope I’ll open some hearts, which feels a lot more important in the long run.
PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Over the course of the next several days, I watched as hundreds of people registered for the course, and lives began to change.
Seriously, the comments people have left inside the Creative Sandbox 101 “classroom” have not just floored me, they’ve brought tears to my eyes!
Here’s what Erin wrote after completing all five days:
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for Melissa’s Kick-Start course but the idea of a “Creative Sandbox” just grabbed me. From the first day I just started having a ton of fun and immediately realized that I had a lovely playful self inside of me that I really only engage when I’m “doing something” in which being playful “makes sense” as part of another goal.
The BIGGEST surprise, though, was how this process helped me reconnect with Playful Erin. I cried on the last day when I realized how long I have kept her stuffed away. The joyful part is that I’m now letting her out and I am NOT going to shove her back in the box ever again.
Thank you Melissa!
And this is from Mercedes:
Everybody has the wounded child living within them, this class helps to heal those wounds and coax that child to come out and play: playing by creating is good for the soul.
Kate Wolfe-Jenson wrote:
I read Melissa’s 10 Rules on her blog and heard about them in an interview. I thought they were great ideas and even shared the links with friends, but this course invited me to EXPERIENCE them. I have a new excitement about and commitment to my creative life. Thanks, Melissa!
And Laurie Richardson said this:
Creative Sandbox 101 really opened me up to realizing that creativity is NOT about being perfect or even the end result-it is about the BEING and DOING of expression, playfulness, fun and experimentation!
Another participant, who’s taken other Kickstart Your Change courses, called Creative Sandbox 101 “the most rewarding by a long shot!”
The comments inside the classroom have been amazing. Here are just a few more:
“I didn’t want this to end!”
“You helped me get going and I’m not going to stop!”
“I really believed that I belonged and that I could allow myself to enjoy creating.”
“Really awesome, Melissa!”
“I feel like I’ve made it over a hurdle that seemed impossible before.”
“I got lost in the fun of it.”
“I’m just blown away by what happened in that short time.”
They go on. And on.
This. THIS. This is exactly what I was hoping for. This is exactly in alignment with my mission to empower people to go after their creative callings.
Even when they don’t think they can.
Even when they don’t think they’re good enough (read: “I’m not creative; I’m not talented.”)
Even when they think it’s frivolous and stupid.
Even when they are convinced they don’t have time.
Even when gremlin voices in their head come up with seven thousand and one other reasons why they shouldn’t or can’t or don’t deserve to.
Big change often comes about tiny baby steps at a time.
If even one person got benefit from Creative Sandbox 101, that would have been worth it to me.
But it has been more than one. It’s been enough to qualify as a small movement. Tiny, but hopefully growing.
Not everyone who went through Creative Sandbox 101 will keep up with their daily creating. Many I’ll probably never hear from again.
But some will carry forth the insights they’ve gleaned, and the world will change. Their individual lives will change in small or large ways, and that change will ripple out to affect everyone they come in contact with.
This is how movements start.
Like any other important thing, a movement doesn’t happen overnight. It grows little by little, baby step by baby step.
If you missed registering for Creative Sandbox 101, I may bring a revised version of it out again down the road — click here to get on the waiting list.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share a small piece of the course here. This is a video I made very spontaneously on the third day after Creative Sandbox 101 opened for registration. I noticed a lot of very nasty Comparison Trap gremlins floating about, and wanted to deal with them right quick.
I wasn’t actually intending to post this outside of the course — I was sticky with sweat, my hair was dirty, and this video was really off-the-cuff. It felt kinda vulnerable to post it inside the “classroom,” and even more so outside of it, where anyone might see it.
But I got a lot of positive response to this video. It made a difference for a number of people, and keeping it locked up just because I felt a little vulnerable just seemed silly, if it might make a difference for someone else.
So here it is. No polish, no editing, just my best thinking on the spur of the moment. (And of course, keep in mind that it is explicitly aimed at those inside Creative Sandbox 101, so there are references that may not make sense to you.)
Enjoy. And then go get creating!
PS — Here’s the Martha Graham quote I referenced in the video (emphases mine):
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
~ Martha Graham
PPS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Whether or not you got a chance to check out Creative Sandbox 101, you might want to check out my Creative Ignition Kit, a 30-day course to build the consistent, sustainable creative practice you long for. Read all about it here.
I should note that I’m very proud to be an affiliate for both of these programs (so yes, that means if you click one of the links here and end up buying, I’ll earn a commission). I’m signed up as an affiliate for all kinds of things, from web hosting to WordPress themes to online courses, but affiliate or not, I’m very choosy about what I actually write about here on the blog, or in my newsletter.
Whether it’s my favorite new music artist, my favorite novelist, an online course, or anything else, unless I love it, I’m not gonna rave about it. And if I do love it, I’m gonna shout it from the rooftops, whether it earns me any money or not!
So consider this a shout from the rooftops!
But as you’ll see, I’ve shared the things I’m not as happy with, too. Read on…
First: time-sensitive notice! Jen & Michele are offering a FREE kick-off to TeachNow that you don’t want to miss, and it’s happening TOMORROW, September 19! It’s called The Bottom Line of Teaching: More Contribution, Income, and Evolution. Click here to sign up for this free class!
I’ve taught workshops all over the country, and if there’s one thing I can say about myself with confidence, it’s that I’m a good teacher. But one thing any good teacher will tell you is that they can always get better!
Since teaching is a big part of what I do — whether it’s in the form of a class, a tutorial for a coachsulting client, or a blog post — it was a natural for me to sign up for Jennifer Louden and Michele Lisenbury-Christensen’s TeachNow program.
What you get
TeachNow comes in two versions: a “self-study” option and the “full course,”
which as far as I can tell is identical to the self-study version, with the addition of live calls with Jennifer and Michele every month or so, and more recorded interviews with master teachers. UPDATE 9/22/12: I just signed up for the full course (yep, I loved it so much, I signed up for TeachNow again!), and it is in fact quite different from the self-study option:
The full course is on the Ruzuku platform, which has the added benefit of online community interaction, and the content is “drip-fed” over the course of 10 weeks. There are also 5 live calls with Michele and Jennifer, and an amazing 45 master teacher interviews (one of my absolute favorite parts of TeachNow — so inspiring!) Plus several yummy bonuses, to boot. Click here to read more.
Whichever option you choose, the bulk of the course resides on the Ruzuku platform, [UPDATE 9/22/12: For this session, only the full course is on Ruzuku; the self-study option is on a separate website] which handily organizes the content on your personal front page so you can see at a glance which “assignments” you’ve completed, and which are still yet to be done.
To the right you can see a screenshot of the top section of my personal TeachNow home page. The darkened dots are assignments I’ve completed; the hollow dots are assignments I haven’t gotten to yet.
There is a LOT of content in this course. Jennifer and Michele have assembled a wealth of interviews with master teachers (I love these!), plus archived recordings of previous TeachNow calls, plus homework invitations and prompts of all kinds to move you forward.
And that doesn’t even touch on the content that is continually being added as TeachNow members contribute their voices to the “conversation” inside Ruzuku.
Yep, there’s a lot of stuff!
Whether you want to bone up on the nuts and bolts of teaching, or how to best care for yourself while you’re giving of yourself to your students, or how to promote and fill your classes, you’ll find gems inside TeachNow.
The downside of a lot of stuff and self-paced programming
You can see from my screenshot that I have a lot of assignments still to get to, and that brings me to one of my few complaints about the course: its self-paced nature.
Not that self-paced is, in itself, a bad thing! I love that I can complete the TeachNow modules on my own time. This is great! Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for TeachNow when I did if it hadn’t been self-paced, since I already had a lot on my plate. But with a full year to complete the course, I figured I could justify signing up, because I could (ahem) pace myself.
However, I also know that for me, personally, deadlines are magical things. With a supremely busy schedule, the sad truth is that if something doesn’t have a deadline, it often doesn’t get done in my world. And as a year-long membership, TeachNow really has only one deadline: when my membership expires at the end of my term. This means it’s up to me to create my own deadlines for this course. (See update note below.)
So far I haven’t been very consistent about that (my personal preference would be some kind of “drip-feeding,” that delivers content periodically, or even just a suggested schedule delivered regularly via email, with links to the recommended content). However, I’m using TeachNow as a way to strengthen my scheduling muscles, and as my January end-point quickly approaches, I’m motivated to get much better at that! 🙂
If you choose to do TeachNow, I recommend creating a regular time slot on your weekly calendar to interact with the course. Then stick with it. That’s what I’m doing after I get back from Istanbul.
UPDATE 9/22/12: The full course is actually delivered bit by bit, over 10 weeks. This is one of the reasons I decided to sign up for TeachNow again — to take advantage of the modular delivery, AND the bi-weekly calls with Michele and Jennifer!
This brings me to my only other complaint about TeachNow…
My frustration with Ruzuku’s “forum”
Overall, I think Ruzuku is an awesome platform for delivering course content. (I’ve also met some of the people behind it — one of whom was in one of my Creative Ignition Circles — and they are totally cool.) My one big frustration as a user is that there’s no real central forum where course participants can interact. Comments are spread out all over the site, attached to individual pages, which makes carrying on an ongoing conversation really challenging.
The Ruzuku folks have made efforts at improving this, and there is now an Open Discussion page, which posts the first few lines of each new comment in reverse chronological order (newest comments first), alongside the poster’s avatar. It’s better than nothing, but there’s still no way to see, at a glance, what conversations are happening, and where you might like to join in.
It’s too bad, because the people inside TeachNow are smart, creative and interesting, and it would be nice to have an easier way to interact. You may find it less frustrating, but for me, I feel like I have to jump through too many hoops to engage in the way I’d like. Personally, I’d prefer a traditional forum.
(I’ve contemplated using Ruzuku for my own online courses, but community engagement is a big priority for me, and until Ruzuku makes this easier, I’m sticking with hosting my courses myself [not for the faint of heart!] However, if you’re looking for an easy way to get your own course content online and you don’t need a forum, I don’t think you can beat Ruzuku!)
To sum up:
What I like:
- the semi-regular phone calls with Jennifer and Michele (I love connecting in real time, even if I don’t “raise my hand.”
- the master teacher interviews (and J & M keep adding more!)
- the depth and breadth of content
- the worksheets, homework invitations and readings Jennifer and Michele have assembled — top notch!
- Ruzuku’s visual index page, which allows you to check off each item as you complete it
- the people inside — brilliant and loving!
What I don’t like:
- the lack of an easy way to interact with other participants (you can leave comments, but there’s no real forum)
- the lack of structure in how the content is delivered (with the exception of the scheduled live calls in the full course option, TeachNow is totally self-paced) (UPDATE 9/22/12: I expect this issue to be largely resolved with the full version of this next session of the course, which is delivered bit by bit over a 10-week period.)
If you’re at all interested in sharing what you know, becoming more confident and grounded as a teacher, I highly recommend TeachNow. Five stars!
UPDATE 9/22/12: I’m so impressed with TeachNow, and truly believe it will help you succeed in your dreams to teach, so I’m offering a 1-hour coachsulting session with me if you sign up for the full version of the course via my affiliate link, or a 1/2-hour coachsulting session with me if you sign up for the self-study version via my affiliate link.
Playing Big Review
One of the most impactful experiences I’ve had this year was participating in Tara Mohr’s 6-month Playing Big program for women. Tara has crafted a 6-month women’s leadership and professional development journey that any woman can benefit from, regardless of where you’re longing to play bigger in your life.
Among other things, the transformations I experienced as a result of Playing Big helped me appreciate my true value enough to finally make the leap to run my online program for creative women, Time to Glow.
This is no small thing!
Still, I have to admit that the decision to invest in this course back in January was not without some nail-biting on my part. It’s not cheap! God knows I’ve spent a lot of money on things that I regretted — was I going to have buyer’s remorse after clicking that “Add to Cart” button?
I needn’t have worried. As I said in a recent interview with Tara (which I’ll be posting here soon), scarcely a week goes by in which I don’t reference Tara or something I learned in Playing Big, either in a one-on-one coachsulting session, or while teaching a class, or in my Creative Ignition Club clubhouse. That’s how much I got out of this program.
What you get:
Playing Big is much more of a live experience than TeachNow, with a 90-minute group call with Tara every other week for 6 months. Prior to each call, Tara also sends a link to a page of resources, including a reading or worksheet for that module, links to relevant blog posts and books, and several additional guest interviews to watch and/or listen to.
Most of my previous experiences with online courses had a weekly call, and I wasn’t sure how this every-other-week schedule was going to work, but I found it to be the perfect interval to process the material.
By “process,” I don’t mean reading or listening to the material; there was never so much that I felt overwhelmed by it. I mean that 2 weeks was the ideal interval to allow me to absorb the concepts and start to apply them in my life.
Unlike some intensive “boot camp” courses I’ve taken, Playing Big is the kind of program that fosters deep transformation over time.
In addition to the calls and the resource pages, there’s a private Facebook group to engage with other participants, and I found this was where a lot of internal shifts really blossomed. There’s simply nothing like sharing my own experiences, and reading about other people’s, to move me forward! (Which is precisely why I wish TeachNow had a more user-friendly forum.)
That said, I wasn’t totally thrilled with Facebook as a forum, either.
The downside of Facebook as a forum
Facebook is certainly convenient. A lot of people log in daily anyway (hourly, anyone?) And I love how visual it is, and how easy to share content.
It can be a bit… distracting, though, it being so easy to click over to see what’s up in the 27 zillion other groups I belong to, or my comment stream, or…
In addition, for a group of more than 40 or 50 people, Facebook gets a bit unwieldy. Messages fly back and forth at such a rapid-fire pace that it’s easy to miss something as it gets pushed down the stream. There’s no easy way to search for posts, no index, as in a traditional forum, which would once again be my preference.
In an attempt to avoid Overgrown-Facebook-Group-Syndrome, for my session of Playing Big, Tara divided us into three smaller groups. This kept the flow of posts manageable, and made my group easier to interact with.
On the other hand, it also segregated me from all of the other amazing women in Playing Big! I would hear them on the calls, and wish I could interact with them, but I didn’t have access to their Facebook groups, so that made it more challenging. (There was a roster of everyone in the program, however, so it was possible to contact people directly. Just one more hoop to jump through, and sometimes, much as I hate to admit it, one hoop is enough to keep me from doing something.)
Tara is trying out keeping everyone together in one Facebook group for the upcoming Playing Big session (including us “alums” — I am thrilled that I’ll be able to participate in the upcoming version of Playing Big, too, so you’ll see me inside if you sign up). It will be interesting to see how that works.
To sum up:
What I like:
- the transformative course content
- the bi-weekly pacing
- the people inside — diverse, brilliant and loving!
What I don’t like:
- Facebook as a forum
Despite my frustrations with Facebook, I really cannot recommend Playing Big more highly. Five stars!
In fact, I believe so strongly in this program, if you decide it’s for you and sign up via my affiliate link, I’ll give you a package of 4 one-hour coachsulting sessions, to be scheduled anytime that works for both of us during the 6 months of Playing Big. (That’s a $580 value.)
Which to choose?
With two 5-star reviews, it just begs the question, doesn’t it? If both of these courses sound perfect for you, how to choose between them?
Well, if you’re like me (remember, I’m a self-confessed over-committer!), you’ll sign up for both.
If money is an object, TeachNow ($200-400 (?)) is significantly less expensive than Playing Big ($874 or $164/mo).
If sheer volume of content is your aim, TeachNow has it (but it’s also got inspiration and transformation).
If you’re looking for regular, live interaction (over the phone), Playing Big has it (though the full version of TeachNow also includes monthly calls with Michele and Jennifer!).
If you’re specifically interested in teaching, go with TeachNow. You won’t regret it. But if you’ve got a niggling feeling that you’re just not playing as big as you’d like in your life and would like to change that, Playing Big‘s your course.
Either way, you really can’t go wrong. These three powerful women have created two rock-solid courses that I would sign up for again in a heartbeat
If you decide to do either of these courses, let me know! I’d love to hear about your experience!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Hooboy, what a fun treat I have for you today! I scored an interview with creative business maven, Tara Gentile.
Tara is a leader in creating what she calls “the You Economy,” redefining commerce as the creation and distribution of meaning, relationship and experience.
How’s that for awesome?
I highly recommend Tara’s ebook, The Art of Earning, which deals very elegantly with so many issues that we creatives (and others) struggle with when it comes to money and our relationship with it. I dare you to read it without being somehow transformed. (And with a “$25 or what you can afford” price tag, you really have no excuse not to.)
As a participant in another Tara’s online course — Tara Mohr’s outstanding Playing Big journey — I’m hyper-aware of other women out there playing big, and Tara Gentile rocks this out. Not so long ago she was earning $28K/year working 50-60 hours/week at Borders Books. Now she’s a role model for any creative who wants to do well for her(or him)self.
Tara is a model of doing well by doing good, a visionary who helps other visionaries and creatives bring our gifts to the world (and get paid well for it).
Now Tara’s turned The Art of Earning into a live event, taking place next Thursday, February 23. Twenty lucky participants get to join her in Philadelphia, but guess what, the rest of us can participate too (and clothing’s optional for us!)
Yep, smartypants Tara has created a virtual ticket for The Art of Earning Live. I’m one of Tara’s affiliate partners, which snagged me a ticket, and I’m pretty excited. Check it out, and if it speaks to you, maybe I’ll see you there. (NOTE: All of the above links are affiliate links, and if you click through and buy, I’ll earn a commission — 20% on the live event and 50% on the ebook, in case you’re wondering).
Regardless ow whether you come to The Art of Earning Live or not, watch the video (which is, of course, totally free). We talk about some pretty juicy stuff at the intersection of art, creativity, making a difference, and MONEY. It might just get you thinking.
Then tell me, what is the biggest money mindset issue that’s holding you back?
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Just a little invitation today, for getting out of whatever rut is keeping you from doing your creative thing.
PS – Looking for some ideas for a new way of
working playing? Check out my upcoming Telephone Playshop: Play, Flow, Write, GO! Improvisational Art for the Soul. It’s perfect for ALL levels of painting/art-making experience. You’ll get a recording so you don’t even have to be live on the call to participate, plus a slew of video tutorials showing my secret techniques for making my ArtSpark artworks. You’ll even get the chance to exhibit your creations right here on the blog if you like! Click for more info.
PPS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
I’m in the mood to play. I want to make a mess with paints. I want to play my ukulele.
Sometimes one just has to honor those moods and go with them.
So in that vein, I offer you a video purely for fun: my (obviously in-process) rendition of Cosy Sheridan‘s original song, Multiply Pierced.
(You can see Cosy live in action singing the same song here.)
PS – Tip: watch for the outtakes at the end…
PPS – If you’re on my mailing list and you want to play too, watch your inbox…
What ripples are you creating?
Every day, you pay it forward, without even realizing it. Not necessarily with money or physical things, but that doesn’t mean you’re not making an impact.
So what kind of impact do you want to make?