Flow is the secret ingredient

Roaring Fork Falls, Burnsville, NC, pastel by Stephanie Thomas BerryAfter years of focusing on my productivity in the studio—trying all manner of time management and goal setting techniques—I decided to value flow above everything.

The shift wasn’t an a-ha moment. It was born out of utter frustration with myself. I was making myself miserable doing what I love. I would set a goal with a piece and time myself. When I got restless or struggled, instead of listening to my body, I would force myself to continue. I was spending less time in Nature, more time on the computer. And I could see a wall looming in front of me, one that I was going to run into if I didn’t slow down. It was a wall between me and my natural state of happiness.

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Good-bye, business as usual

horsenettle

I took a bunch of business courses and they made me crazy.

“What is the emotional need that your product fulfills? Markets are conversations—how are you participating in the conversation? What are you Key Performance Indicators? How will you track them?”

And I tried. I made notes and thought deeply about the questions—legitimate business questions—that were being asked of me. I thought about how to refine my focus and how to present myself on social media in a cohesive way.

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Success Is a Word with a Hidden Trap

Appalachian Autumn

It’s Autumn, finally. The forest empties herself. Before there’s even a real flash of color the Buckeyes have already dropped all their leaves. They are, after all, the early birds of spring, putting out leaves before any other trees. They have made their gleaming nuts and gone to bed before anyone else. The wild cherry is done just as the black birches start to put on their   yellow dresses. Some trees are all about the party that is Fall, and others are already asleep.

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Why I Keep Writing

handprintsTen years ago we installed a big black wood stove in our home. It was our first home-improvement project. We tore out cabinets and poured a concrete hearth four inches thick. While the concrete was still wet we pressed our hands into it, leaving an arrangement of handprints that grew in size.  When the concrete dried we heaved our beneficent iron giant onto it, and luxuriated in its heat winter after winter (Really there is nothing like wood heat). Our intention was to tile the hearth and the wall behind the stove someday. Surprise, that someday never came.

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How I Found My Path to Aliveness

Sketch of Grasses and Galax by Stephanie Thomas Berry{Sketch of Grasses and Galax ~ 7 March 2015}

My friend Whitney calls me at 10 am on a brilliant and warm Saturday morning and says hike?My tail wags expectantly.
I have thirty minutes. I will have to hurry because I am still in my pajamas. Amazingly I arrive only 14 minutes late.

There is another woman joining us, Michelle. I have not spent a lot of time with her so I’m looking forward to that. Michelle is lean and fit and she has a watch with a little GPS thing that tells her how far she’s hiked or run, and then maps out where she went. She tells a story about tiring out her half-marathon-running-sister on a hike. I know I am out of my league here. I am neither lean nor fit nor even a tenth-marathon runner. Whitney, I already know from experience, can sleek up a mountainside like a rambling cat—quiet, efficient, and fast. I began to feel anxious. I love to hike, but I don’t want to slow these women down.

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