Happily Creative: 5 Steps to Freeing the Artist Within

Of course, it’s not really 5 steps, hop over a gap beneath which rage gnashing monsters intent on keeping you from creating, and then home free forever, never to have to take that leap again.
It’s more like, I’ve figured out how to put into words the nebulous and personal process we call creativity, put numbers in front of the biggest points, and if you find them useful you have to actually do them again and again, until it becomes a rhythm that your life pulses to. So, a dance. A spiral dance.
But it is a blueprint, and it is a start. And starting is where lots and lots of people get hung up. Either they’re standing at the precipice looking down at the the raging, gnashing monsters and decide to simply set up camp there, or they make the leap and set up camp there, just on the other side, thinking they’ve begun, but actually they are perpectually beginning.
You see, there’s a whole road beyond. You know this, of course. And that’s what scares you. It scares me too. That’s why I focus on beginning, on foundational skills that, once mastered, take you down the road while holding your creativity, sensitive creature that it is, where it should be: away from all that.
Now, you as a person, you need to go down that road. You need to create, share, experience, communicate, ponder, digest, create some more and share some more.
The system I’ve developed does both. It keeps your creativity new and fresh and safe, while deepening it, so that your daily practice becomes an intelligent field of energy through which you connect with a deeper wisdom, via the well-worn pathway of your own creative channels, guided from a deeper more delighted place.
My system also carries you, the person, deeper into becoming the person you were meant to be, deepening you and broadening your experience, now guided by a heart and soul that you have access to. 
Wait, what happened to self-doubt, criticism, being good enough? What happened to sales and marketing, making a living, getting training and all that other stuff that absolutely cements us to the place where we are currently setting up camp and calling it living?
The short answer is, not yet. We don’t have to know any of that in order to begin. But there are some things that help put all that into proper perspective, so that we can begin. And that’s what I would like to share with you in this webinar. Whether you want to write a book, get back to painting, or take your creative dreams out into the world, this webinar is an excellent place to start.
I’ve made it truly affordable, and I would love to see you there. If you click the little widget below, you’ll get to the Eventbrite page, and there you can register. Meanwhile, feel free to contact me with any questions: phyllis@phylliscapanna.com. Text/phone me: (207) 558-5830.

What’s stopping you from your creative dream and what to do instead

It’s a hobby of mine to ask people about the secret dreams they’ve given up on. As a childhood witness to adult disappointments, I learned there is no better guarantee of failure than to succumb to one of these 5 all-star reasons for letting your dreams go unfulfilled. It’s almost as if people with chronically unfulfilled dreams have substituted the reason for not doing it for the thing itself, so attached do they become to that reality, instead of putting their energy into creating the one they desire.

Bottom line: Success is never guaranteed. But you can guarantee failure by continuing to not take action on your dreams. How wrong would you like to be? Do you recognize any of these?

I don’t know how to do it.

Of course you don’t! The good news is, you don’t have to know everything in advance. (When was the last time that happened?) The myth is that the people who succeed have some kind of special knowledge or insider info. But the truth is, everybody starts somewhere, many people have false starts, and the ones who make it just keep going until they get it right. And THEN we learn about them, and it appears to be something that just popped into place, when actually they’ve traveled a long road to get to where they are. What to do: Brainstorm a list of steps you’ll need to take in order to begin. Study your list until it becomes clear which one is the actual starting point. Hint: It’s the one that doesn’t require any of the other steps to happen first. Then, do that step. If you have to,  break it down into a series of micro steps to create momentum. Micro steps count. Celebrate each one as if you’ve just crossed the finish line of a marathon.

I don’t have the resources to do it.

Broken record time: Of COURSE you don’t have the resources to do it! I’m reading a ridiculous story written in 1922 about three privileged boys who get into some kind of excitement. What could possibly hold my attention throughout this book I don’t know, because the first 3 chapters have been real yawners. You know why? The 3 boys in the book all have unlimited resources. Where is the challenge in that? I mean, who cares what happens to these guys? They’ll always be able to buy their way out of it or lean on connections. They have resources. You, not so much. But don’t worry, you will develop them. Honestly, you don’t know what you’ll need until you start the process. What a concept. What to do: See step one. Just get started. As you negotiate the steps, part of what you’ll master will be getting the resources you need. Another great myth is that people who accomplish things do so on their own. You will have to create partnerships, ask for help and excite people about your project. Start now. Your commitment needs to be solid when you reach your next hurdle.

Somebody else has done it before me and better than I could.

Well, okay, so you want to do what someone else has already done. Do you want to do it to be the inventor of it, or for the experience of doing it? Do you need it to be the best, or simply something you accomplished? Does someone else’s achievement negate yours? Is there room for only one? After you get clear on why you want to do this, and you’re sure it’s for the experience, not to be the best in the world, here’s what to do: Find the person who’s done it first and better and find out how they did it. They are a gold mine of information and resources. Instead of seeing a competitor, see an ally. After all, this is someone who shared your dream and made it happen. They might be eager to help you avoid some of the mistakes they made. And p.s., somebody else is going to come along after you and do it even better.

I’ll never make it.

Again, examine your motives. Is “making it” your motivator? As I wrote in a previous article, at least 50% of making it is out of our control. Once you’ve cleared that up, stop predicting failure and get into action. You absolutely will not make it if you fail to act. And now’s an excellent time to make sure you really want what you think you want. A good exercise to do in case you’re not sure is the “and then what?” exercise. Pretend you’ve achieved your dream. What would you do then? I want to be a famous author. After that, I’d travel around collecting stories from interesting people and writing them. Guess what? I don’t have to wait to become famous to do what I want to do! I can do that first, and maybe, just maybe, the fame will come. But I will have fulfilled the part that I definitely can do. And maybe that dream of fame was only a stand-in for what I really wanted: to take myself seriously and commit to doing what my heart is telling me I would love and enjoy.

Maybe your dream of fame is a stand-in for what you really want: to take yourself seriously &… Click To Tweet

It’s too late.

File this under “Summer’s half over!” and “I can’t believe in 6 weeks it’ll be Christmas!” It’s only too late if you say it is. But, you protest, “I’m old, slow, over the hill, out of the loop.” So…get into the loop. Whether you have a couple of decades of a couple of months left to your life, you can either decide to drop out or keep living until it’s over. “It’s too late” is one of those subtle confidence busters that keep us from taking action on our dreams. The way you can tell it’s a distraction is there’s nothing constructive you can do to make it go away. It merely springs back in another form, an inarguable, slippery, exhausting point of view that begs to be given into. Or ignored. What to do: Keep moving toward your dreams. If it really is too late to achieve the whole thing, is it time to give it up peacefully? If you don’t feel peaceful about letting it go, then it’s not time. Keep focused on what you can do today. Tomorrow is an unknown for all of us. I’d like to be able to say I’m struggling with different challenges than today’s when and if tomorrow rolls around.

Want to jump start your dream? Download my free ebook, Happily Creative: How to Become a Happy Creative in Just 30 Days! The first 10 pages give you tools for handling confidence busters, and the remainder is a 30-day guided experience in doing something everyday toward your creative dreams.

Do You Know These Secrets of Creative Alchemy?

magic formula or magic trick?

We Earthbound Creatives often feel the enormous gulf between the magical alignment with our creative flow that we long for and where we are now on our creative path. Getting to alignment doesn’t take sleight of hand so much as it takes knowing some of the manifesting secrets that creatives have used through time. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does touch on the major points: claim your truth, have a daily practice, create a magical space, and, beware the Devil’s bargain. Instead, strike a good bargain with the loving Universe, which is totally on your side.

 1. Ritual = Regular Intervals(time+place+purpose).

Each moment is an intersection of time + place + purpose. What makes it a ritual is you repeat it, keeping time (when and for how long), place and purpose the same. I’ve often written here about the power of daily writing, but only seldom have I spoken of the magic of my writing space. Now, before you imagine that I have your idea of the perfect writing space, let me tell you that half the room is filled with cartons and piles, and the corners are stacked with stuff. It was designed to be a bedroom and has an entire wall of closets. The closets are filled with winter coats and boxes of photographs and my supplies for mailing and packaging, art supplies, musical instruments and my five 25-quart plastic bins full of notebooks. So it’s not a pristine, distraction-free oasis.

But my little writing space within the room seems to magnetize me to the chair the moment I enter. To be specific, it’s the objects on my writing table that pull me in so powerfully.

2. Visual cues+placement = magnetic.

Creativity Ritual Visual Magnetic

My writing table. It’s not a table I sit at to write. It’s next to the chair where I write. To my left is a large desk that holds current projects, notebooks and pens. My writing table is a short, round, carved side table to my right that holds treasures plus an electric gadget that keeps my coffee warm. On my table is a collection of meaningless, seemingly useless objects that are nonetheless mysterious and beautiful. They’re not refuse or afterthoughts. They’re placed there on purpose.

The stones, shells and shards have more intrinsic mystery than any meaning I might assign to them. Even the items that have meaning to me–my father’s dog tags from the Army, the candle of St. Bridget from a drum circle, the strips of fabric from a fire ceremony–have new things to reveal. I have to be present each time I sit. I can’t come to the same conclusions about them, nor should I assign a static meaning to my objects, for that is anti-creative, anti-this moment, and closes off other possibilities. If they can grow and transform, then so can I.

Something so physically static can be an invitation to open up and approach the precipice. This transmission of possibility and potential, of mystery and transformation, this invitation to lean over and fall, happens in a second. As I’m situating myself on my writing chair, pushing up on its arms to raise my body so I can fold my legs under me, I put a pillow on my lap and pick up my pen and notebook. I glance at the objects and begin covering paper with squiggles.

The objects then become witness to my process. The safest witness. The kind that sees all and judges nothing and doesn’t move, but remains present. The kind that reveals and reveals and reveals the more I reveal. My process becomes as trustworthy as their presence. I write my way to the truth that my objects embody. We are all pieces of a whole.

3. Illusion+Truth = Truth

I made a deal with the Universe today. I don’t usually make deals with the Universe. I don’t usually have a thing that I’m willing to give or get, a clear trade, a win-win intention, but today it was clear as clear: “Universe, if I write, will you keep sending me paying gigs?” By that I meant, if I write first thing, in ernest, as if that’s who I am and what I do, if I am that, if I give everything to it, will you respond with love as you always do? And in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to get to the writing, right then and stay there, where I belong. I knew it. I said it. It is so.

This is the complete opposite of a devil’s bargain. Opposite in every way. First, it’s not the devil, it’s God. Let’s say, in case you’re a holist like me, it’s the good side of God. This is important, because the Force is the Force. You can summon up Its power to destroy or create. What do you long to create? What are you willing to destroy in order to create that? In my case, in that moment, my wisdom spoke to me of destroying the illusion that there is something else I have to do first, that there is some more urgent way to spend my time, some way to make money, some way to take care of every last thing before I can sit down to it.

But the illusion was easy to destroy. It fell right over and became a nothing, because illusions cannot stand up to truth. And truth is something you can speak at any time. You have to keep speaking it until you drill down into its core, getting closer and closer to its essence each time. The only way to fail at this is to stop speaking the truth. Because when you get there, it won’t matter how much time it took and how many false truths you slept with. Because time is collapsible, and because the Universe is kind. And because truth is power.

4. Truth+Action = Efficiency

This is not a devil’s bargain because rather than selling my soul I’m claiming it. Because I didn’t ask for ideas of ways to make money, or promise to do anything as long as there’s enough money, or any of the other ways I could tell the Universe, “I’ll be what you want me to be as long as you give me money.” I also didn’t tell the Universe, “I’m willing to wait to be alive and to fulfill my god-given dreams, as long as you give me money.” I also didn’t say, “You know, I love all this stuff you’ve given me, so I’m okay doing without the one thing I love and desire the most.”

Why would the Universe agree to such a thing?

Instead I finally heard and felt the urgency and spoke urgently, acknowledging what the Universe has been trying to tell me all along: You can avoid this, you can skirt it, you can set up elaborate systems and trade this for that, you can keep making sand castles with different colored buckets, but I will always be there, ready to help you, as soon as you decide to trust yourself. As soon as you are able to say the words, “I must write”–and for you, dear reader, what is it that you must do?–I will help you make the best deal possible. Because the Universe is efficient.

5. Desire+Inaction = Exhaustion

Keeping a Devil’s bargain usually entails a lot of wasted effort. The effort of avoiding, resisting, ignoring and pretending is enormous. We are never fully at rest, and never fully invested in what we are doing. We are forever searching outside ourselves for the magic formula and the answer to our neverending need. We are constantly mourning for a self yet-to-be while fertively checking that the flame of our desire hasn’t gone out. We are more identified with wanting than with our dream. We know more about being scared than getting through a difficult pass.

We have no idea that opening the door takes only an instant. We’d rather sacrifice our very soul than anger anyone or otherwise upset the apple cart of our daily lives, the very things we need to do in order to render the bargain we’ve already made null and void.

6. Discipline = Freedom

So, yes, the writing table, and yes, the daily writing. Yes, the walking to the precipice and the falling. Yes, yes, yes, to all of that. But also, this: It’s taken me all of a gorgeous, sunny July day in Maine to write this article. We don’t get that many gorgeous, sunny days. Not this year. I should be out on the lake or gardening. Visiting with summer friends, taking a walk and hunting for wild raspberries.

But I’m writing by an open window, and I’m dreaming of ice cream. I’m writing because I gave my word this morning and because it matters to me. There are people out there turning 70 and 80 who are too scared of failing to let themselves express and create what’s in their hearts. And that’s the funny thing about these bargains we make. There is no guarantee that our dream will “come true” should we strike that bargain with the Universe and say, “I’m in! Send angels.”

But, my dearest readers, there is a guarantee if you strike the other bargain. And if you have, you are living it now, and what kind of certaintly would you be willing to trade for a day of creative alchemy?

Notice I said, alchemy, not fulfillment, or goals met, or accollades or anything like that. There are no guarantees. This is important to know. So that you begin with the right intentions and don’t fool yourself about an end goal that will make it all worthwhile. The stones on my table are not hoping to become boulders. The sun is setting. I have nothing to show for myself. The efforts of today will be published online and maybe 100 people will read my words.

When you decide that creating is essential to you, you will get rewards and blessings you cannot imagine from your present vantage point. Instead of navigating yet another cul-de-sac or wrong turn on the path of hoping to not get too hurt, this is where your feet are on the path, pounding their way inexorably home. You might even be whistling. Unless you’re having ice cream.

7. Heart’s Desire+Universe Sending Angels = ?

This is one only you can complete, dear reader. Here’s your chance to forge the bargain of your dreams:

Universe, If I (your heart’s desire)_________________, will you (your equivalent of sending angels)_________________________ ?

After you’ve made your bargain, download my free ebook, 30 Day Creativity Breakthrough. It’s a practical guide to getting started.

finding your way home to create

What Do You Want to Create Today?


Midweek Update:

My brain is in distract mode. I’m flitting from FB to researching things to do/eat/enjoy in Portland. I’m paying bills, answering emails. The email discussion is about consciousness for Pete’s sake. Last night I dreamt my Dad was driving with his shirt off. He was very happy. It was warm out. He doesn’t visit very often, but I’m glad he visited last night. I woke up thinking, I’m not ready for another person to die. I wanted to write letters to everyone. This is my letter. I love you. You matter more than you’ll ever know, more than I can ever say. Those stupid thumbs up and smilies, shares and comments, it’s just evidence that you’re out there. In some ways, it’s evidence that I’m here, too. I also talked with real people on the phone. I ate cookies. I worked on the outline for my writing program and created a separate document, a task list, and one of the categories ended up being “wildest dreams!” On a task list! But, yeah, I want to have a retreat once a year where writers in my program, current, future and graduates, get together and deep dive into this crazy journey of creatively living, expressing and coming out of the closet as who we are. And I want to send little gift baskets every 6 weeks or so, like real ones, in the mail, to my clients who are slaving away at their books. Hand cream, buckwheat pillows, comics, coupons. I might as well pour my heart into this, because I’m creating it, and I get to say how it goes. Where else can we do that? That’s why I’ve started saying, “What do I want to create today?” instead of “There’s no money coming in!” at the beginning of every day. Both create the life that I live, and only one creates the life I want to be living. I stayed in my P.J’s all day. I’m going to shower and change before bed, though. Do you know what matters? Me neither. But I trust that if I follow my gut ruthlessly and quickly and listen for the instinct that comes before I have a chance to understand it….You know something? It takes practice to create. To really catch that impulse and be true to it and not try to make it all neat and just like something that already is. It’s such a simple thing. None of it is complicated. But, jeez, the training we have to undo in order to be able to be true to the creative, expressive impulse that’s within in us. So, I give myself a pass on the P.J.’s and the cookies. I created something today. I loved today. I connected, and I laughed at myself. I figure this puts me in the top 5%.  How blessed and lucky is that? How lucky and blessed do you want to be? What do you want to create today?


What If Your Dream Is Lost in Translation?

Welcome, reader! 

In this post, I tell a story about a failure that was predicable and a success I didn’t see coming. (And give a nod to one of my favorite funny men, who had a signature way of falling that was really quite graceful.)

This blog, the Joy Report, is about recovery, spirituality and creativity. At that intersection is pretty much where I live. And so do many of my readers. Your comments, both here and on FB, remind me that we all struggle with the concept of success, and that it is a valid topic for discussion.

I am also reminded that success is pretty simple: You set out to do something, you do it. Success. Whether or not it was hard, whether or not anyone else noticed, whether or not you got paid. And just because it’s something you want to do, something you are made to do, something you love to do, doesn’t mean it doesn’t take courage to do it.

Where it gets tricky is when we screw up the courage to do something and fail to reach the goal. That’s when we start parsing the word “success” for fear that all our efforts have been in vain. It’s important to acknowledge the success of overcoming our fear and taking action; it’s also important to not stop there. That goal is still there. It’s important to hang onto it.

Our dreams and aspirations are divinely directed. Following them is a blessed thing to do.

I remember a guy who used to come into the store where I worked, a mom and pop natural foods store in Cambridge, Mass., way back in the mid-1980s.  He wrote songs, but couldn’t sing. I wrote songs and sang them. He asked if I would sing some of his songs for a demo tape he was making. He even offered to pay me. I said sure.

The songs were horrible, the pits. They were actually so bad they were funny. After several sessions of recording vocal parts on his songs, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I told him that I couldn’t do any more of his demos, that the songs were not my thing. Among the musicians who were asked to help out with this guy’s song demos, his name would always engender a good deal of eye-rolling. Nobody could stand to make the demos, even though he was paying us. He was not a songwriter.

He still came into the store, and he always talked about folk music with stars in his eyes. He told me he had a dream. “Uh-oh,” I thought. “He’s gonna get his heart broken.” His dream, he finally admitted, was to become a concert producer.

While I was relieved that he was no longer aspiring to songwriter fame, I still thought his dream was an impossible dream for him. He had no experience producing concerts. He didn’t have many connections, either. He was just a dorky guy in polyester pants with a huge keyring in one of the front pockets who loved folk music.

To my amazement, he achieved his dream. He created a company called Songstreet Productions, and he began producing shows in a local movie theatre, which eventually became a thriving venue for live performances. He would introduce the acts himself, and to fend off nervousness, he would toss that enormous bunch of keys from hand to hand during his introductions. People loved him. He was funny. He was a success. He had a thing he wanted to do, and he did it.

I have no idea if he made money. But I do know that he produced concerts. I moved away from town, and I lost track of Songstreet Productions. A quick Internet search shows that Songstreet Productions existed until about 2008, then nothing. That’s roughly 25 years in business. I hope he retired a happy and fulfilled man, and I’m sorry I judged his ability to achieve his dream.

And I’m glad this story came to mind as an example of hanging onto a dream through multiple failures. (Those songs really were awful.) It reminds me that it’s possible to fail because you’re going at it the wrong way. You may think you have to do what everyone else is doing, or it may take you a while to admit what your dream really is. It’s very likely my old acquaintance would not have been so clear on what his dream was had he not made a significant foray into what it wasn’t.

Maybe your dream is getting lost in translation. You will never know what to do to bring that dream to life if you stay on the sidelines out of fear of failing.

What if getting it wrong were an important part of getting it right? How would that change how far you are willing to stick your neck out in pursuit of your goals? Probably the most important thing about failure is it teaches you that you won’t break.

Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 9.21.42 PM
In the opening scene of every episode of the Dick Van Dyke show, he tripped over the ottoman when he came home from work.

As always, thanks for reading. If you’d like to see a particular topic covered here on the Joy Report, please drop me a line. I always love hearing from you.

With love,


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by Phyllis Capanna © 2015 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna and joyreport. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2015 joyreport

The S-Word

Universe Designs

The Universe designs the perfect circumstances to support your success.

If the first thing that jumps to your mind when you read this assertion is your most recent flop, read on. And keep in mind the corollary: “If at first you don’t succeed, there’s more to the story.”

I’ve decided to jump into the topic of success, because it is such a loaded one for me, and, I suspect, others. Even the word is distasteful and alarming, as in gets my cortisol levels up. It can’t be success I’m talking about, can it? That illusive yet over-worked topic that people either pay thousands to master or give themselves energetic whiplash pretending they don’t care about?

I thought I didn’t care. Until I learned about someone else’s success. Someone in my own field of touchy-feely personal growth and healing. Someone I did not regard as a writer. Someone who seemed to just jump in and voila! Success! Even though I understand the mechanics and manipulation that go with claiming bestseller status on Amazon, I was still stung by her book’s success. 

Even though, even though, even though. I still felt humiliated, hopeless and terrible. As in terror. Yes, I would fail. It’s written in the stars. I am hopeless. It will never happen for me.

Some good news: I knew what to do. I wrote down, in excruciatingly detailed and honest language everything that was going on in that mind of mine, all the reasons why I was a failure, all the reasons why being a failure meant I was also useless as a person, all the reasons why being a useless person was who I always had been and always would be.

Then I turned them around into affirmations. Well, not right then. First I spent at least an entire summer’s day in Maine (which means I wasted the equivalent of a week anywhere else) feeling as though I were dying, trying to convince my partner that I was dying, and losing all interest in any of the things I usually enjoy. Yes, it was that bad.

My depression lasted for a couple of weeks. I started calling it what it was, and I started talking about it in safe places. I started to ask myself why I cared so much what happened for someone else. And most importantly, I started to ask why I wanted what I wanted, and how did I define success.

The most obvious lesson gleaned from my plunge is that my ideas of success were based, at least partly, on competing with and coming out ahead of others, and on getting validated and legitimized by others’ recognition of my work. I also had success tied in with self-esteem and worthiness. As in, I had to prove that I deserved to exist, and the way that I would prove that would be to become a bestselling author.

My depression actually helped me by bringing these beliefs to the surface where I could see, examine and question them. No wonder I had been holding my fledging business at bay and felt estranged from its heart and soul. I didn’t actually have a handle on its heart and soul. I was in it for the wrong reasons. Yet I knew that I was called to reach beyond writing just for myself. I knew I had something of value to share.

My Mastermind group helped, my friends in similar fledging endeavors helped. They helped mostly by doing an enormous amount of listening as I talked myself through the process of discovering what mattered most to me as a writer of healing works.

Eventually, I sat down with my trusty yellow legal pad and took each one of those damning beliefs and turned them into affirmations, and from there developed a new list of Soul Messages, all related to the topic of success.

I also wrote down some guidelines for how to turn affirmations into Soul Messages, essentially turning I-messages into ah-messages by using the word “you,” as if someone were telling you about yourself and about life, as they do when we are young sponges absorbing everything the big people tell us.

I still don’t like the word success, and I’m open to suggestions. I don’t like it because anyone like me, who has all this emotional charge around the concept, will look the other way when they see the word, and these are the very people who might benefit from the messages. Maybe I need to find words that a child might use in talking about success. Maybe the entire concept is something we only develop as part of a mindset we adopt because we think we have to, in order to be legitimate adults.

I don’t know. You tell me: Is success a valid topic for the Soul Messages lady?

Love you lots,


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Madame Transformational Happiness Saves Us From the Scary Thought Monster

walking-shadowI don’t know why I thought I’d never encounter the Shadow again. I guess it’s possible to believe you’ve seen the worst, lived through it, and now, what? Smooth sailing? Endless chai lattes? Bagels with cream cheese that don’t cause instant weight gain? Yeah, something like that. But just because my darker half showed up again doesn’t mean I haven’t acquired some impressive chops in facing down my demons. I might have found myself in some of the same places, but this time I had different equipment: a better map, a brighter headlamp.

You know the Shadow, right? That dark part of you that wants to trip little old ladies and steal a pack of gum in the check-out line? Most of us have our Shadow under control, so we don’t act on those impulses. In fact, they usually go unnoticed. They just stream by in the never ending river of internal experience, bumping up against other impulses, thoughts, feelings, impressions and memories, as we process input from outside ourselves and navigate each moment.

But the Shadow shows up on a regular basis in a much more palpable and troublesome way: It generates those pesky thoughts that keep us stuck, make us feel bad about ourselves, sap our self-confidence and stand in relentless judgment of everything around us. We may not trip the little old lady, but we are mean to ourselves regularly.

We can do something to change and heal that process. Like anything else in personal growth, awareness is the first step. I remember reaching a juncture in early recovery where I was clearly miserable and for no reason that I could discern from analyzing my circumstances. Then one day I heard the thoughts that were in my head and realized what was meant by “beating up on myself.” My thoughts were brutal and relentless. I couldn’t do anything right.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I was simply perpetuating the thought forms and beliefs I had learned growing up. And that isn’t code for blaming my parents. These thoughts and beliefs are everywhere in our culture. Beliefs about our worthiness to receive the love of our Creator; expectations we are to conform to, based on barely articulated sets of conditions we are never quite perfect enough to meet; conditional okay-ness in every sphere: physical, emotional, and behavioral; attacks on our worthiness and value as people.

As I began to recognize the effects of that voice, I began to work with ways of healing the thoughts it wanted me to buy into. I wrote them down to examine the beliefs and world view more closely. I began to see what the New Thought movement (what is manifest starts in thought) was talking about. As we believe so shall we receive. How could I have a wonderful, fulfilling life with thoughts like that?

Fast forward almost ten years. I am offering empowerment workshops, as I have done since graduate school, on various topics all focused on creating a good life. I get totally hooked on the idea of incorporating principles of quantum physics into the empowerment work. After all, if the butterfly wing really can trigger a thunderstorm, then maybe our thoughts can affect our reality.

"How do I work this thing?"
“How do I work this thing?”

In that model, I decided not to pay too much attention to obstacles and stuckness, except to acknowledge that our outer world reflects back to us what we believe is possible. That which we focus on becomes our reality, which correlates with the Observer Effect in physics. No point in doing battle with stuckness, just heal the perception of lack and limitation, and the situation transforms.

Then I received a request to develop a workshop all about dealing with obstacles and stuck places. I revisited my transpersonal psychology notes from the Program In Spiritual Psychology. Right there with the other sub-personalities I encountered the Shadow. My notes say, “Don’t confront the Shadow.” Check. They go on, “Treat as if no big deal. Don’t do battle. Just ignore it.” Then a little later on, “Best way to treat the Shadow is with humor, even mocking.” I flashed on Eckart Tolle’s brilliant work in A New Earth where he talks about how the one thing the ego hates the most is being laughed at.

Bingo. So, in the workshop, in the midst of our very intense work on obstacles, we came face to face with our Shadow or Adversary. I could see people start to tense up, like you do when the bully is approaching from the other side of the school yard. How is Madame Transformational Happiness going to pull us out of this one and save us from the Scary Thought Monster???

And if you, too,  know all too well the tyranny of the Inner Wet Blanket, who seems to hold sway over one or more sticky aspects of your life that just don’t want to change or get better, I suggest you do what my workshop participants did:

  • Give your shadow a silly name

    Don’t let that pompous meanie ruin your life one more second. My shadow’s name is Silly Poopy Banana Pants. No lie. Yesterday I caught the witch trying to ruin my successful writing workshop by telling me I would not be equal to creating something of value for five more sessions. So, I said, “Silly Poopy Banana Pants, Na-na na-na na-na!” and IT SHUT UP.

  • download my free guide

    My Kick-Ass Guide: Getting Unstuck not only contains instructions for crafting utterly luminous affirmations, it is also a step-by-step approach to ferreting out those unconscious beliefs that your silly Shadow wants to scare you into believing. Your affirmations can then address these beliefs directly. This guide is basically that entire workshop, organized like a workbook.

    Armed with these tools and the appropriate moniker for your Inner Naysayer, you should be ready to silence that demon without breaking a sweat.

Not poopy, but you didn’t need to see that.

© 2015 Phyllis Capanna. All contents property of Phyllis Capanna and phyllomania.

Calling All Self-Help Nerds and Geeks

I really didn’t know which was the correct term, so I used both. No offense intended, nerds and geeks. I think I must be both, because they seem equally apt, to describe someone who buys self-help books, then does the exercises.

My friends take advantage of this, trying to use me as a surrogate for their own self-help. That’s twisted, isn’t it? “Did you get anything out of that book? Because I didn’t. Oh. You did the exercises? Wow. You’re so…”

And here, they pause as if looking for the right compliment, when actually they are reminding themselves that judging is bad and taking a moment to heroically reframe my obvious sickness into something positive.

Don’t look to me to remember which synonym for “virtuous” they usually choose. I have usually already stopped listening. Back when they let on that they read the book, but didn’t do the book.

Yeah, about that problem? I can’t help you. I can only do my own footwork.

But you, on the other had, you with the pencil stuck in your plastic spiral-bound yearly Planner for the Souped Up Soul? Yeah, you. You might be interested in what I’ve spent the last few couple of irrelevant-because-time-is-an-illusion time measuring units putting together:

I’ve got your interest, don’t I? Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. It’s my new workbook, Kick-Ass Guide to Getting Unstuck, which is a workbook for discovering and disarming limiting beliefs in all areas of your life. It includes How To Craft Affirmations and tells you how to transform your I-statements into Ah-statements.

I know what you’re thinking, because you, like I, have read – and done – a bazillion workbooks on using affirmations to heal everything. But have you ever found a powerful tool that guides you through a thorough process of  rooting out the peskiest of unconscious negative beliefs, the ones that are keeping you stuck? Has there ever graced your conscientiously self-disciplined personal growth area a clear guide to the anatomy of a kick-ass affirmation?

Most importantly, do your affirmations kick ass?

I thought not. Even if they do, or did, who couldn’t use a refresher? Especially a free one? Well, that’s exactly what I have created for you, my fellow self-help junkie. So look right up there on the upper right, where it says, A Gift For You. Something new and juicy to sink your teeth into.

And look out, you’re about to leave your lazy friends in the dust. Again.


© 2015 Phyllis Capanna. All contents the sole property of Phyllis Capanna, phyllomania and the Joy Report.

One Resolution and One Intention

I’ve made only one New Year’s Resolution, and I’m doing smashingly at it: I’m leaving my cell phone in another room while I write. That’s it. I like to pick resolutions that are no-fail doable and instantly gratifying. Lazy, or do I know how to hack a resolution? Let’s put it this way: I believe in setting myself up for success.

I think most of us know when we’re ready to make a change, and when we are, we go ahead and set it in motion. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means we don’t have to talk about it. Instead, we look around and ask ourselves what we need to put into place to make it work. That’s a process. Not that I don’t love and adore magical transformations that come in an instant of expanded awareness – But in most cases that magical moment has to be followed up with action in order for the change to take root in our lives and create the new reality we desire. By focusing on the magic to the exclusion of the process, we cheat ourselves of the satisfaction that empowering changes bring. Hence, I opted for a small, doable change born of a moment of expanded awareness (i.e., I am very distractible and will use the phone to avoid writing through stuck places in my project.)

What one, small change could you easily make that would increase your success in some area of your life today?

In addition to that one mighty resolution, I have also set an intention and focus for my healing journey this year. It’s is a happy little made-up word that spell check hasn’t caught onto yet: Enoughness.

I’ll be ferreting out the insidious pockets of not-enoughness in my mind and heart and studying how they show up in my life and world. My intention is to heal those unhappy not-enough realities. I’ll be writing about the process here.

Meanwhile I’m creating new ways to empower people to bring their unique gifts out into the world.

If that sounds like a good time, then perhaps you’d like to join me. I have two workshops coming up for your consideration:

Find Your Voice ~ Find Your JoyIMG_1463

A six session writing workshop focusing on the roots and tangles of joy in all its mysterious ways. If you want to get out your pen and fill some pages while exploring your relationship with joy, please join us! The location is the Universalist Unitarian Church or Waterville, Maine, 69 Silver Street, 04901. The dates are Saturday mornings 10-noon, February 7, 14, and 28 and March 14, 21 and 28. The fee is $75. A deposit of $25 holds your place in the workshop. For more information, read about it here.

Registration information below.

bohemiancolorfulpantsPull Up Your Big Girl Power Pants III

What’s that you say? You missed the first two Power Pants workshops? Not to worry, you can still join us for a deep dive into our personal power to create the life we want.

Join us in beautiful Surry, Maine for a two hour workshop in which we revisit, revive and rev up our Manifesting Muscles.

Our theme will be (of course!)…

Enoughness: Exploring Our Beliefs of Abundance

Sunday, February 1, 2015
Noon – 2 pm
Fee is $5. (Yes, that’s $5.)

Lastly, A Thank You

Thanks to everyone who ordered Soul Message cards and books over the holidays! I had a great time creating special, one-of-a-kind gift cards to send to your loved ones and friends. Feedback is trickling in about the timeliness and spirit of Love that the lucky recipients are experiencing with the Soul Messages. If you have yet to explore Soul Messages, you can read about them [here, on their new website.

Feedback completes the circle: I write, you read, you tell me how my work effected you, I am complete. Want to do something really helpful that doesn’t cost a cent?  Write a review of Soul Messages. Please follow this link and let prospective readers know how you’re using and enjoying the book and cards.

And thank you for reading this far. Please get in touch if you would like me to offer a workshop near you and have a venue in mind. (Living rooms work!)

If you would like help with bringing your unique gifts into the world, use the contact form below to set up a free 30 minute consultation via phone or Skype to discuss your project, goals and dreams.

Please fill out the contact form (below) if you wish to register for either of these workshops, would like more information, or to inquire about private consultation.



by Phyllis Capanna © 2015 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna and joyreport. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2015 joyreport