Monthly Archives: November 2015

I’m thankful for…

thankful_loresHi friends!

I’ve been on my second sabbatical this past week! For those of you who are new to this blog, I decided to take every 7th week off to step back and recharge. I wrote about it here and received a lot of positive feedback from folks. I hope some of you’re trying out your own version of mini sabbaticals 🙂

Naturally, I’ve written this mini sabbatical post ahead of time – but on my agenda, I had quality time with my husband, Dave, and maybe multiple Thanksgiving parties with family and friends. I’m probably in a Thanksgiving food coma by the time this post comes out… So typical… Zzz…

Because it’s the time of the year when we look back and reflect on what’s happened in our lives, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge what I’m grateful for.

I’m grateful for many things. My husband and I are pretty healthy (and our pets too!), and we’re happy toghether. We have a roof over our head and a warm bed to sleep in. We can eat good, healthy food every day. I get to share my life with people who are kind, compassionate, and inspiring.

And most of all, I’m grateful to have the privilege to be able to pursue my dream. Yes I work hard for it, and it takes courage to do so. But I’m also in a situation to be able to choose what I want to do. And that’s not just my doing.

It’s true that certain things about me (e.g. race, gender, citizenship etc.) make my life a little more difficult sometimes. And I also fit a lot of the conventional societal expectations, and that’s allowed me a lot of space to explore and live the kind of life I want to have.

Being able to choose your passion is a tremendous privilege, and I never want to take it for granted.

What are you grateful for today?

xoxo Yuko

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Can I coach you? (Part 2 of 2)

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Last week I shared here that I’ve been coaching other artists and helping them stay on track to achieve their big goals. My Creative Coaching service is still in a pilot stage, but I’m really loving it and am looking forward to taking on more clients in February 2016!

Today, I wanted to share some of my current clients’ experiences and give you a peek at what it’s like to work with me as a Creative Coach.  First of all, I want to thank my clients, Michelle and Sarah, for being so open and letting me share their experiences with you all!

So, a few months back when I was thinking about starting a Creative Coaching practice, I reached out to a couple of people whom I thought would be a good match. First person I reached out to was Michelle Greco (www.michellegreco.com). I reached out to Michelle because she’s been following my work on multiple platforms and had been really engaging and encouraging. She’s a poet, writer, and a photographer, and has been pursuing painting/drawing lately. I had a feeling she’d meet my “ideal client” profile and emailed her to see if she would want to work with me.

I got a very enthusiastic “YES” from her, and we’ve been having bi-weekly sessions on Skype since September.

hi Michelle!
hi Michelle!

Michelle, like many of us, has multiple passions and talents. She also has a demanding day job as a writing instructor and was having a challenge making time to dedicate to a meaningful daily creative practice.

In our first session, we narrowed down her goals to something reasonable yet challenging enough. Since she was struggling with keeping a consistent art practice at that time, we spent time problem-solving around that particular challenge. One of the roadblocks for Michelle was that she’d come home exhausted after work, and setting up her drawing/painting materials was just too much work.

So when she found the Paper app, she found a way to draw on her mobile devices without the hassle of setting up. She could spend as little as 2 minutes to create a quick doodle and post it on her Instagram. I could tell that was a big game-changer for her! Michelle also uses this productivity app to keep her motivated to accomplish different tasks daily and weekly. It has a note feature she uses to write down one or two things she’s grateful for each day as part of her “Practice Gratitude” habit. What a wonderful way to stay positive every day! 🙂

So I asked Michelle how our Creative Coaching work has been helping her achieve her goals, and here is what she had to say:

Yuko’s coaching has been helpful in several ways. The first is accountability. Up to this point, I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping a daily artful practice. Since September, though, I’ve only missed a handful of days, and even then, I catch up. I think this is largely in part because I know Yuko is looking out. Her likes and, especially, her comments have kept me motivated to keep creating because, if anything, I know at least one person will take notice if I don’t post. Her comments also help me gauge what catches the eyes of my followers and what styles really capture who I am as an artist.

Another very useful aspect of coaching has been reasonable and adaptive goal setting. At the end of our sessions, Yuko and I set goals for me to accomplish. They keep me focused while also being flexible enough so that if an original goal isn’t working, there is space in the plan for fine tuning. Yuko helps keep me in check too. For example, when I mentioned starting a podcast, her first question was a firm but open, “I want to ask are you sure you want to start a podcast when you already have quite a bit on your plate?” That’s something I normally wouldn’t ask myself, and it forced me to reevaluate why this particular project was important to me and how I could make it a sustainable practice.

Lastly, Yuko’s coaching has helped me see the fruits of keeping a steady creative practice. Over the past three or so months that she’s been guiding me in my creativity, I’ve started an e-mail prompt challenge (#MuseMoments), which has grown my newsletter list, been asked to present a lecture on the intersection of poetry and art, and had two pieces I created during my daily art practice accepted to a local gallery exhibit. I’m supercharged by these opportunities!

More importantly, however, I’m proud of myself and so grateful to Yuko because I now see that I can keep a daily practice and achieve a personal goal.

It’s been amazing to witness Michelle’s journey – with the right tool and additional accountability and support, her art practice has been very consistent, and I can tell she’s become more comfortable exploring art in her own way, too. She’s also started a podcast recently and has been creating new episode every week. I’m very happy she’s found multiple ways to express her creative talents so successfully! You can hear her talk about what her daily art practice has been like on this episode and her steps on accepting her art for what it is here. I really admire Michelle’s courage and generosity for sharing herself so openly with her listeners!

OK, so let me now introduce you to another person I’ve been working with! Sarah Golden from Maker Maker (http://www.sarahgolden.org) and I met in an online block printing class called Design, Carve, Print in January 2015. (By the way, I highly recommend this class if you’re interested in learning how to block print on fabric!!! Jen is an amazing artist and a great teacher.)

Sarah profile
here is Sarah!

Sarah and I have been internet friends since then, and I’ve been really inspired by her beautiful work and just how consistent she shows up for her creative practice. She prints her simple and beautiful motifs on fabric and turn it into accessories/eye candies you will fall in love with. She’s also a mom to adorable 2-year old twin girls, and I still don’t know fully how she manages all of that…!

© Sarah Golden, Maker Maker
© Sarah Golden, Maker Maker

I reached out to Sarah wondering if my Creative Coaching service could be helpful to push her creative business forward. By the way, I just wanna say that I wasn’t reaching out to people whom I thought were “less successful” or somehow struggling – I hand picked people who were already working hard for their goals and seemed open to learning and growth. That’s absolutely the number 1 prerequisite to success!

Anyway, I was delighted to get Sarah on board! When we met for the first time, we went over her goals and challenges. Sarah is a very talented artist and designer – and she’s also a strategic-thinker, who keeps her eyes and minds on her long-term business success. It’s an ideal balance for someone who runs a creative business. Her challenge was all of her short-term tasks and ideas were getting in a way of her focusing on her long-term projects. She had an overwhelming list of things to do, especially leading up to the holiday season, and didn’t have an effective way to prioritize her tasks.

We discussed urgency vs. importance of the tasks at hand, and I introduced her to the decision matrix I’ve used in the past.

olivergearing.com
olivergearing.com

You may have seen this tool before. If not, I totally recommend you incorporate it into your priority-setting activity! This article and this one give you more details on how to use the tool if you’re interested!

Sarah reported back to me later that this tool was extremely helpful in organizing her thoughts. Although she doesn’t pull this out every time she makes a decision, it gives her mind a little more space to sort things out so she doesn’t get overwhelmed.

For Sarah, what’s most helpful about working with me as her Creative Coach is to have a consistent person to talk things out with and to ask her questions. She’s been accessing other support and resources to grow her business both online and in a group setting. And when we meet, our time is intentionally focused on her and her business. I ask her questions because I’m truly curious to know more about what she’s been working on and how things are going. And by having her explain to me and digging even deeper, it gives her the clarity she’s been looking for. Sarah is always full of wonderful ideas, and after each session she feels lighter and is ready to move forward with more clarity.

Sarah’s been offered some pretty amazing opportunities lately as well, which I’m not able to share yet, and I’m so honored to be part of her creative journey! Be sure to follow her on social media and be inspired 🙂

Can I just say – I’m so lucky to get to work with these amazingly talented, smart, and hard-working people?? I said this in part 1 of this blog post last week, but I’m so privileged to be able to pursue my passions so wholeheartedly. Making art and helping people feed my soul like nothing else can. And doing more of what I love actually help other artists be inspired to achieve their dream goals? I can’t even handle it!!

I’m so looking forward to opening up my Creative Coaching service officially to new clients on February 1, 2016!! If you want a consistent one-one-one support that’s going to help you push your creative practice (whether professionally or as a personal goal) to the next level, be sure to sign up to receive updates!

On that note, I’m off to my mini-sabbatical this week! Woo hoo!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week! I’ll post a shorter sabbatical blog post next Sunday 🙂

Talk to you soon!

xoxo Yuko

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Can I coach you? (Part 1 of 2)

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Are you passionate about multiple things? I bet you are.  Arts and tech. Food and design. Gardening and games. Yoga and cat-whisphering, perhaps?

For me, it’s art and helping people. I’ve mentioned this several times here, but I worked for a social service organization for domestic violence victims for 14+ years until this past July. I had many positions throughout the years. Admin support to direct service to program management to HR to sum it all up.

I had many reasons to why I stayed there for so long, but at the end of the day, I liked helping people. I felt so honored to be there for people who were going through tough times. Many people who came to our programs had gone through horrendous, heart-wrenching violence, physically, mentally, and spiritually, at the hands of someone they loved. And the hardest part of intimate partner violence is not always physical. Most physical scars heal – but the toughest part is the emotional and spiritual scars. You can’t show them to anyone, and it takes longer to heal. Repeated violence and control destroy who you are inside.I heard many times from the survivors that they’d wished their partner would’ve just hit them.

When I was doing direct service work, I always worked in the community-based program and not in the shelter program, so people would come in to the office for one-on-one meetings and support groups while they lived at their own home. When they first come in to meet with me, a lot of them are just a shell of themselves, feeling confused, tired, scared, and worthless. They want the violence to stop but don’t want the relationship to end.

They’re often told by their family and friends that they should leave or call the police. Or be strong and stand up to their abusive partner. Though these people are trying to be helpful by giving these kinds of advices, it can be very disempowering for the victims and feels like yet another person is trying to tell them what to do.

So the first thing I would do when they first come to me is to listen.

I would listen intently to understand their situations. And for many of the people who come in, that’s the most powerful thing anyone can do. Even though they had to go back to their not-so-happy home at the end of the day, it was so valuable that someone listened and understood what they were going through and not judge them or their decisions.

I believed in the advocacy based counseling model we use when working with our clients. We listen without judgement and meet people where they are and support their ability to choose what’s best for their unique situation. We don’t tell people what to do or what not to do. We listen, offer options, and discuss pros and cons of each option. For many people, leaving their abusive partner is not the best or the safest option. So we’re there to help brainstorm different ways to stay safe for as long as they need to.

Some people just call or come in once, and we never hear from them again. But other times we get to work with them long-term. They start to acknowledge the injustice their partner had put them through. They recognize what happened to them was not their fault. And most importantly, they start trusting themselves again.

In my recent years, I managed general HR stuff at the same organization. Among other things, I enjoyed helping employees reach their career goals the most. I developed and facilitated a group for employees so they can explore their passions and skills and work towards their big goals. It was so rewarding for me to help them understand how their everyday work was moving them towards their career goals. Though I’m not there any more, I know many of them have moved into a different position that supports their big career goals. YAY!!!

So, as I was leaving my day job this summer to be a full-time artist, I thought, “how can I combine my passions and skills to maximize my earning potential?” You’ve probably heard the advice, “diversify your income stream,” somewhere. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket because if something bad happens to that one basket full of eggs (I’m assuming raw eggs), you’d be in a BIG trouble. Lots of artists diversify their income source by doing client work, selling products, teaching etc.  What else could I do?? Hmmmmm….

Oh, I got it!  I could coach people!

Creating art and helping people are two of the things I enjoy and am good at. Isn’t the point of being your own boss to be able to decide how you’re going to make a living?

Coaching seems like a really good fit for me. Instead of helping people in violent situations or employees, I can help other artists, makers, and crafters stay on track and get stuff done so they can reach their big dream goals.

“What is coaching?” you may be wondering. There are different schools of thoughts, and each coach would approach their work slightly differently. But basically, coach is someone who can help you set goals and be successful by drawing out your strengths and helping you find your own solutions for the challenges you experience.

Here is what it would be like to work with me as your Creative Coach (yup that’s what I’m calling myself):

  1. Our coaching session will be one-on-one conversation over Skype or phone.
  2. I’m a nice person (and a good listener), who actually cares and wants to know your story and the unique struggles you’re having in your creative pursuit. You won’t be laughed at or ridiculed, I promise.
  3. I’ll ask you a bunch of questions about your dreams, goals, and ideas because I’m curious about you and what inspires you. In the process, you’ll definitely learn more about yourself! Oftentimes the answers you’re looking for are within you, but you just need a little extra help to realize it.
  4. You can come with an overwhelming list of things to do and leave with clear, bite-sized action steps to work on, feeling lighter and inspired!
  5. You’ll get a reality check. If you tell me you’re thinking about taking on a new client, launching a new product line, and saving 100 kittens from an evil monster all in the same week, you’re gonna hear what I really think about that. I’ll help you decide where to focus your energy and time first. (FYI – I’m a cat person but am not gonna impose my personal preference on you during our coaching sessions…)
  6. You’ll have a reliable source of accountability and encouragement. Our conversations will be focused around your goals, and I’ll ask you to keep track of your progress and challenges in between. We can also discuss ways for me to provide extra accountability outside of our sessions if needed!
  7. You’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of and problem-solve with in a non-judgemental environment. Like my point #2 above, you can usually find the answers by looking at your problems from different angles. My goal isn’t to tell you what to do or what not to do. It’s to help you come up with your own solutions that work best for your unique situation. After all, those are the skills you’ll need long-term, and you’ll be more likely to stick to the solutions you come up with yourself!
  8. You’ll have someone to celebrate your small and big successes with. It’s important we take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments when you’re working towards your big dream. I’ll notice them and point them out to you even if you don’t think it’s significant.
  9. I’ll teach you what I know about having an art/craft-based business. I don’t consider myself to be a business expert by any means. I can’t give you a blueprint for your business success. But I’m more than happy to share with you tips and tools that worked for me and give you my feedback if you’d like. You can choose to apply it (or not) to your own situation. You’re the expert of your own life! If you’re looking for specific business advice that is beyond me, I’d suggest you work with a business consultant who specializes in the area you’re seeking advice.

Ok, if any of these things sounds good to you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have many creative passions and don’t know where to start, so you end up starting nothing?
  • Do your friends and family tell you you’re creative/artistic?  Are you wondering if you should take your “hobby” to the next level?
  • Do you start new projects but have a hard time following through?
  • Do you wish you had time or motivation to make art every day?
  • Do you want to pursue your creative dream while having a day job, family, and other obligations?
  • Do you want to transition out of your day job and pursue your passion full-time eventually?
  • Do you perform better when you know someone else is counting on you to show up?
  • Do you say yes to every opportunity and feel resentful and stressed as a result?
  • Have you been pursuing your creative passion for a long time and haven’t seen any results? Thinking about giving up?
  • Do you compare yourself with other “successful” artists and be hard on yourself?
  • Are you serious about making your creative dream come true?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, having  a Creative Coach could really help!

I’ve been running a pilot of my Creative Coaching service for the past few months and am happy to see the positive impact our work is having on my clients so far! I’ll share more about their experiences in my blog post next week 🙂 Don’t miss it if you’re curious about working with me!

I’ll be taking on new coaching clients beginning February 1, 2016 and you can sign up here to receive updates and be the first to know when I officially start booking sessions!

I’m super excited to have found a way to combine my passions and help you be successful! Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post next week to hear from my awesome clients 🙂

Take care!

xoxo Yuko

yuko_flowers

 

 

 

On Jealousy

jealousy_loresI was at a craft show a couple of months ago. I was all prepared. I worked really hard to make lots of stuff to sell, and they all looked really cute. I sold lots of the same things at the previous show so I was hopeful that people would go crazy for my stuff again. And…

It bombed.

People would come by and look at my stuff. They would tell me my stuff looked great and how much they liked them. But I ended up making a very small sales at the show. Meanwhile, my neighbors were having a great show. People were buying things from them left and right. And it was one of the other vendors’ very first show, too.

I was happy for them. They had great crafts and deserved success. And I was jealous. I was  jealous of their success and felt very insecure. I felt like all of my hard work was wasted. It was an extremely busy month for me, and all that time and resources returning poor results was very discouraging. I couldn’t quite figure out what went wrong. Is this how it’s going to be forever?

The answer is, no, of course it won’t be like that forever. Because no one, not even a super-duper psychic, could tell you what’s going to happen 100%.  I’ve done a handful of shows now to know there are many factors that determine if it’s going to be a successful show. But even if you do all the homework, you don’t always know for sure how it’s going to go.

In a moment, I could intellectually understand that it happens. It could be hit or miss, and I missed. People were going out of their way to tell me they liked my stuff, and some people did buy stuff from me. Just because not everyone wanted to buy from me, it doesn’t mean my work is bad. And there were other vendors who had beautiful things, and their sales weren’t going so well either.

When you see other creative people being successful (i.e. making more money than you, or at least you think they do.), it’s a very natural human reaction to feel jealousy. It’s OK to have positive or negative emotional reactions to anything. It’s important, though, that you notice it when you start creating stories that may not be true. Especially unhelpful ones that will make you feel small and keep you focusing on what other people are doing rather than what you can do to grow.

You can be happy for them and maybe learn a thing or two about what they’re doing – attractive display, their interaction with customers, how they price their products etc. etc. But don’t put any more subjective judgements or beat yourself up about why it didn’t go well for you.

When you see other people being more successful, in this scenario at a craft show, the only observable fact you have is that they had more customers buying from them than you did during the time you were there. That’s it. The rest of the story is made up in your head. Some of it might be true, but you don’t know that.

The truth is, you’re only seeing a snapshot of their life at any given moment. Social media is a great example of that. People, including myself, tend to curate what they share on social media. Especially as a business or brand, you have to curate what you share. And it creates an illusion that everyone is doing so well and happy and successful all the time when in reality that’s simply not true.

We all have ups and downs. What you may not be seeing is the problems they are having with their families. Or many unreturned emails and phone calls from art directors. Or first 5 years of their career where nobody knew who they were. Maybe they only sleep 4 hours a night and feeling grumpy all the time! Who knows what people are struggling with?? I’m all about being a real human being on the internet, but I’m still thoughtful about sharing only relevant contents.

Like I said,  we all have these emotionss, and it’s OK to have them. But how can you manage them when it’s doing more harm?

When I feel jealousy, it’s often accompanied by a little bit of sadness and envy. Sadness because I put in a lot of time and energy into something, and it didn’t work the way I had hoped. So it’s a combination of sadness, disappointment, and a little bit of loss. Envy because I wish I had what I perceive the others have. I’m saying “perceive” because I don’t really know for a fact if they have what I think they have.

What’s at the core, though? It is the fear that I’m not good enough. There I said it. The big, scary monster that lives in many of us. The fear and self-doubt creep in as soon as you see a sign that things might not be going as well as you’d hoped. It hurts. Somehow you’re drawing a conclusion internally that “being unsuccessful” equals “being unworthy”, which is totally a separate thing.

So, what do you do to fight it?

My somewhat Yoda-like answer is “don’t fight it” but accept it and be OK with it.

Or more like be OK with you feeling jealousy and all the other “negative” feelings. It’s kind of like looking at all the emotions as tiny individual you inside – oh, like the movie Inside Out, which did a great job of portraying how all emotions, even the negative ones, have their purposes for human growth and development.

So when a part of you is hurting, blaming yourself or being hard on yourself for having these feelings are counterproductive. This could be emotionally intense for some, but you could imagine yourself as a child or a younger person and try to be compassionate and kind to yourself when you’re having these reactions. If it’s too much, you can also imagine talking to your best friend who is being hard on themselves for something they didn’t have control over. Do you want to belittle them and tell them to snap out of it, or do you want to give them a hug and tell them you’re sorry things didn’t work out as they’d hoped?

To me, that’s the first step of getting over it. See it for what it is. It’s not good or bad. Cut yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself. You’ll find that once you give it some space, rather than ignoring it or trying to shame it out of your mind, it’ll quiet its voice eventually, and you won’t be thinking about it as much.

I’m getting better at this as I get older. I’m constantly learning from my life experience, and meditation or some kind of practice to be present also helps me. I used to be an avid meditator. Going to a 10-day silent meditation retreat in 2014 was one of the best things I did for my personal development. It did many things a few years of therapy couldn’t do! I don’t sit and meditate for two hours a day any more, but when I notice my anxiety or stress building up, I zero in on the sensation of my breath going in and out of my nose. Focusing on that tiny area of my body for just a split second can bring me down to the calmness just like that. It’s pretty magical and super empowering.

Other tools and resources to work with jealousy and other unhelpful thoughts:

1) I wrote this blog post about not comparing yourself with others on the internet a while ago. Give it a read if you haven’t yet.

2)  I love this book Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa! I love her beautiful art and her message of compassion and kindness to self.

3) Keep praises and encouragements other people have written to you, and look at them when you need a little boost. Sometimes you need to look at the version of you that other people see to be able to recognize it for yourself. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

4)  Ask yourself: Is this helping me become a better artist/business person/who I want to be? Your answer is probably “no.” You only have 24 hours a day like the rest of us. Do more of what helps you achieve your goals and less of what holds you back.

5) Seek a professional help. I’m a big fan of therapy. I’ve worked with a couple of amazing therapists who changed my life. When your emotional ups and downs are causing you to have problems in your health, relationships, and work – or even if you just need an on-going support to maintain your emotional wellbeing, working with a trained professional is a huge help. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you’re not afraid to ask for what you need.

Now go out there and do your thing!! I know you can 🙂

xoxo Yuko

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Will you be my accountability partner? (Part 2 of 2)

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Hi!

I hope you enjoyed my interview with my friend and my accountability partner, Whitney Thoren, last week! It was nice for me to hear from her what her experience has been, and it also validated my reasons for having accountability meetings.

So, today you’re going to hear from my other (and original) accountability partner, Stefanie Robbins. Stef and I go way back. We were also co-workers at our old day job doing direct service for survivors/victims of domestic violence. We remained friends after she moved on to different things several years ago.  By the way, many people have told me I keep in touch with my old co-workers/friends very well. And it’s true 🙂 As adult, I don’t meet new people or make new friends very often, so ones I like I want to keep forever!

 

Earlier this year, I was itching to get an accountability partner. I’d been an avid listener of Seanwes podcast, and they talked a lot about accountability meetings. (Note: this episode focuses on why, how, and what of accountability partners if you want to learn more!)

I started thinking of who would be a good match for me. It needed to be someone I like and trust, someone who is working on creative goals, and our personalities have to work well together, too. And ideally, someone who lives nearby (I hate driving.)

And guess what? Stef met all of my accountability partner wish list!

So I began writing her an email asking if she’d be interested in being my accountability partner and meet regularly to check in on our goals. I was SO excited to reach out to her because I just knew our meetings were going to be awesome.

She responded to me with an interest, and we had our first meeting in March of this year. We’ve been meeting monthly since then. We typically meet at a coffee shop in our neighborhood and check in about how things are going and how we did with our goals. We support each other and help set goals for our next meeting.

I really appreciate her warm and friendly personality. She’s honest and kind. I also feel honored to be part of her support system because her music is so amazing and powerful! Every one should receive the gift of her music 🙂

I’m friends with both of my accountability partners, so we do talk about personal stuff, too. I feel I can support a person better if I have a bigger picture of what they’re going through outside of their career/creative goals. However, that’s more my personal preference, and it just works better that way with friends, so if you want to keep your accountability meetings more business, I think that works just fine, too.

OK, enough introduction from me!  Here is Stefanie!

Stef photo

Please introduce yourself to my readers. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi All! I am a mama, a musician, a therapist and each of these identities are front and center in my life right now. I have two children ages 5 & 9 and, as a family, we stay very engaged in our school community, Jewish community and neighborhood. I work half-time at a community mental health agency providing counseling to young people ages 5-22 and their families.

Since I was a child I was singing and making up songs. I started voice lessons at a young age, participated in choirs and musicals, attended a specialized performing arts high school and began University as a Music Theater Major. As I was “launching” into young adulthood I had a crisis of confidence (maybe it was pragmatism?) and stopped most avenues for performing that were familiar and had a structure I understood.

For a while, I dabbled in a bands, songwriting with friends, and “a Capella” over the next few years but nothing really stuck and filled the music (on a soul level) and I was aimless. Other parts of my life were blossoming at their own pace and, over all, going well – personal identity, career, a wonderful partner and marriage, house, kids – but something was deeply missing and it was music.

Something shifted in me after having my second child and I knew I needed to pursue my music goals and reach my own potential. The universe aligned and many of my fears and questions got the attention and answers needed to press on. I continue to do daily work on resistance and pushing through my doubts (some days are easier than others) and struggles and have found mountains of support from friends, family and a community of artists/musicians.

I completed my first EP “In the Sun” and am currently working on my first full-length album with the goal of recording in January 2016.

Why did you decide to become my accountability partner? What were your initial expectations?

Yuko initiated the conversation about being creative accountability partners and a few things helped me reach the decision to say yes. First, being asked! That is a huge piece of the puzzle! I was inspired by Yuko’s courage to be an artist and because I know Yuko to be reliable and kind, so I felt it was safe yet there was still a little jump to trying something unfamiliar.

I was familiar with the idea of mentorship and have enlisted support of many more experienced musicians for guidance and advice. What was different about Yuko’s ideas is that it is a partnership. My expectations were that we could support one another in our individual goals and that when we listen and teach each other, we learn and apply it to our own stories as well.

How has having an accountability partner helped you? Any examples of the changes you’ve noticed or progresses you’ve made in your own practice since you started meeting with me?

Having accountability and specific, concrete steps toward meeting lofty goals has been incredibly helpful. I have set goals in the past but often left too much time in between the goal and the deadline. With this model, we meet monthly and set baby-steps toward an overall bigger goal. One example of a change I made because of this partnership is when I was approached to do a performance for a non-profit that would also help me raise money for my album production and I was afraid to say no and lose the opportunity EVEN THOUGH my schedule was packed with other shows that were taking a lot of time and energy that I needed.

Through the accountability partnership I learned to shift my ideas around timing – not doing everything NOW is ok – but looking at the ways I can move things to fit what I am capable of doing. I reached out to the person who asked me to perform and suggested we revisit the idea in the fall and that is what we did. It worked out and we are in conversations now about how we can work together.

In your own experience, what are the most valuable things about having an accountability partner?

The infusion of energy and intention around my music and goals is incredible. I may come in to a meeting thinking I have not done enough that month or that I am off track but the point of meeting is to explore what I HAVE done (and to celebrate that) and what barriers were in the way (mental, financial, health, etc.) for what I haven’t yet done.

I find it very pragmatic and goal-oriented but also validating and supportive of where I am now.

What do you think are important to look for in an accountability partner?

I believe the things to look for are a person who be consistent (monthly works for me, about 60-90 minutes), a person with non-judgmental approach, and an active listener, practical and lofty (able to hold both), some ability to be vulnerable and share their own stories and struggles, someone who is invested in their own goals and can relate to what the other may be experiencing.

Any words of wisdom for someone who’s thinking about having an accountability partner?

Find someone who inspires you and approach them with the concept. You may be really surprised but many people are willing to be part of your support network if you ask.

And where can people find you?

Oooh! Self-promotion, yay! Uncomfortable! Necessary!

I have a website or I can connect with you on Facebook

Wonderful!! Thank you for taking the time to share with us! 

Do you have someone to check in about your goals? Find someone if you don’t! It’ll totally boost your motivation, and you can do the same for them too.

FYI – If you just can’t find someone in your community, I’m working on launching exciting new services to help provide on-going support and accountability to people pursuing their creative goals early 2016, so stay tuned!

Have a wonderful day!  See you next week.

xoxo Yuko

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