There are really no words to describe how much I enjoy my Joy Journaling practice.

As I collage regularly, I reap the benefits of connecting with myself in ways the world does not provide for me.

This is what I hope to address in my work: bridging the gap between women and daily self-expression for its own sake.

The world is never going to offer ourselves to us. Instead the world is going to provide a new distraction, a new goal, a new thing to buy, new breaking news, new gossip, and a new list of shoulds to get us to conform to today’s trends.

But the world is also full of awe and wonder, and our collage journal becomes our map to what matters most to us. So my collage practice helps me filter an overwhelming amount of data by helping me become more aware of what I care about.

I care about the earth, women, girls, mothers, kids, self-expression, art, creativity, writing, gardening, theatre, film, health, personal transformation, feminine power, and spirituality most. But there is no limit to the number of things I am allowed to care about.

My collage journaling process has an impact on me and then I have an impact on the world. It’s incredible how much your perspective can change when the only person you have to impress is yourself.

What if the only person you had to please was yourself? How might your life look different?

Women are deeply trained to become pleasing machines instead of individuals guided by intuition and passion.

Life starts to look completely different and a lot more fun, when you let your heart help you navigate a distracting world.

Do you know what you want out of this life? Do you do what you love? Do you embrace the day?

If you are not sure of the answers to these questions or if you feel caught up in the daily grind, having a Joy Journal can help.

I offer a monthly Joy Journaling group by subscription. You don’t have to be actively journaling to join. You can be getting ready to journal or simply be ready to take some baby steps.

You are welcome to join by paying what you can each month and participate as much as your schedule allows.

I used to do work that involved putting the pressure on. But now I do work that involves taking the pressure off. Pressure is just not helpful or sustainable.

What kind of life do you want to live? A life of pressure and shoulds or a life of honest, organic choices?

I want to live in a world where women can be more authentic and honest. I want to live in a world, where groups of women can share self-expression from all over the world.

And that’s the world I am creating. I hope you will join us!

When I have something to say, this blog is the place where I give myself permission to say it. Though I often write about writing and creativity, I also write about issues that are important to me. I help folks become more creative for personal enjoyment, professional development and transformational growth. I am a veteran journalist, author and coach with over a decade and a half of experience and a wealth of techniques to share. Whether you are a professional creative or hope to become one some day, I can help you embrace your personal strengths, explore your creative possibilities, and evolve incrementally into your most inspiring self. If you are ready to achieve creative consistency in your life and career, email me about monthly coaching calls. Looking for more fun in your life daily? Then join us for Collaging For Self-discovery, my online accountability group. To learn more about increasing your creative confidence, please check out my online school. Stay tuned for ways to save money by becoming a Beta User for my next new course by subscribing to The Prosperous Creative. And don’t forget to get these blog posts delivered to your inbox, so you never miss a post. If you appreciate my work—school, products, blog and social media posts—you are welcome to make a contribution of any size at any time. Thank you for your support!

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Broadway could not have produced a more timely musical than Mean Girls, based on the movie Mean Girls, based on the book by Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.

Across America, moms are talking to moms about the mean girl nightmares in their own backyards.

And if moms across America are talking about mean girls everywhere we live, then what we have is an American bullying epidemic, that can’t possibly get enough ink.

Although I am certainly thankful to the many experts who have shined a light on mean girl behavior in the past, having a few experts on this topic is not doing enough to turn the tide.

We need a kindness movement that redirects bullying behavior in a healthier direction — or at the very least interrupts it.

We do not need an anti-bullying movement, because when you feed what you hate with attention, it just gets bigger and worse. And that’s what we have right now.

Girls don’t need me to tell them what meanness in schools is like. If you are a girl in America, you have experienced meanness and it is likely an everyday occurrence. If you are a parent in America, no doubt mean girl behavior has brought you to your knees more times than you care to admit.

I have an idea. If we want mean girls to stop ruling the schools, we need a kindness, dignity and respect movement among girls. And we need it now. Powered by girls. And perpetuated by kindness.

Moms could also use a movement. But let’s save the girls first. I think we can all agree that the girls, and their futures, are worth preserving. (Boys too, but one group at a time.)

Let’s pull together and create a plan for confronting mean girl behavior as it happens girl by girl, and let’s start today. However, in order to do this, girls need to learn to confront each other with kindness, dignity and respect or all the confrontation in the world will never do any good.

These are my suggestions for dismantling mean girl power trips. I will update it over time with feedback from readers. I hope you will post your insights and suggestions in the comments.

TIPS FOR GIRLS, TWEENS & TEENS

1. Recognize that mean girls have false power. In the fairly tale, the emperor had no clothes, and it’s the same with a mean girl operating on the premise. “I am popular, therefore I am powerful, and you will all carry out my will.” Once everyone stops doing this, the mean girl no longer has power. So stop letting mean girls tell you what to do, what to think, and how to behave. It’s called giving your power away. Why not discuss this idea with your parents today, so you can stop doing it tomorrow.

2. Bravely stand up to mean girl false authority in the moment. If someone is directly mean to you, you have a responsibility to stand up for yourself, whether others support you in the act or not. Good things to say are, “Why are treating me so badly?” or “Why don’t you stop being so mean?” If nothing else works, you can say, “Have you ever considered being kind to others instead of being mean?” The goal is to take the mean girl aback. It’s a bit of a shock and awe approach, so don’t stick around waiting to be thanked. Say what you have to say, then turn on your heel with dignity and walk away. You are not waiting for an answer to your question. It’s her job to hear you. You can’t make someone hear you if she does not want to. But if you speak your mind, then you can at least feel proud of yourself.

3. Let a girl who is mean get confronted by other girls. If you are one of a mean girl’s devotees, constantly there to reassure her how hot, awesome and superior she is while she is treating others badly, then you are part of the problem. Stop doing that. If you are acting like a minion, you need to reconsider your role in perpetuating your mean girl’s rule of terror. Maybe you are just as terrified of getting on the bad side of a mean girl as nice girls are. But guess what? Nice girls can’t change the climate without you. So pick a side, meanness or kindness, and know if you choose meanness, then you also need to be confronted and likely will be confronted.

4. Look for better behavior, without expecting it. When mean girls change their behavior and treat others with kindness, dignity and respect, be the first one to say, “Thanks, I appreciate your kindness.” Don’t throw the mean girl out with the mean girl behavior. Yes, it’s true that most girls are pretty much who they are going to be by the time they turn fourteen, and you should not necessarily try to change a mean girl into a nice girl. Also, you can’t. But if a mean girl decides for herself to behave more nicely, you want to be the first one to appreciate her efforts. Of course, don’t expect a mean girl to transform overnight, but encourage mean girls you know to keep trying to make the kind choices, as they are given the opportunity. They might even thank you for the support some day.

5. Girls, for goodness sake, stop acting like members of a mafia. Be an individual rather than relying on a devoted posse. Your popularity is not who you are. Your integrity is who you are. Integrity means you love yourself and you are not afraid to be authentic, honest and vulnerable. Self-compassion means you can cry without it meaning that someone has to pay. It means, you embrace a range of emotions in yourself and others with acceptance and tolerance. It means you recognize that in life you win some and you lose some and your worth is not made or destroyed depending on those outcomes. It means you stop trying to control the world. It means, if you do not love yourself, you work on that instead of ex-communicating, stonewalling, and punishing other girls according to your whims. At the end of the day, you are either creating a healthier, happier world or a more messed up one. School is practice. Which side are you on?

6. Practice the assertiveness skills you need. The bottom line is that we live in a confrontation-phobic country. No one is teaching girls the skills necessary to confront others in the moment with dignity and mutual respect. As a result, we are raising a generation of terrorizing or terrified girls. Why are we so afraid of girls who can express themselves? We can’t and won’t have equality between the sexes as long as patriarchy keeps us valuing girls for superficial things such as appearance and popularity. Girls, if your parents are overly focused on your looks and how many friends you have, you need to tell them to back off. Tell them you already look good as you are and you’ll have friends when they are genuinely kind and caring people and settle for nothing less. We have a shortage of genuinely kind and caring girls right now and we need more joining the club. So start a club not a clique, and keep it permanently open to new members.

7. Ask your school to give out awards for kindness, caring and emotional intelligence. Varsity letters and top of the class are so 1950’s. If we want to create a future where everyone is not a raging narcissist, it needs to start in families and be rewarded in schools. Right now kind families are sending their girls in to school to get their butts emotionally kicked by mean kids. Enough already! If schools don’t change what they recognize and value, then teaching kindness is a waste of time and the future belongs to the female Trumps of the world. How’s that for something to look forward to?

Don’t just sit around hoping that mean girls at your school get hit by a bus.

They won’t. And they won’t feel bad about being mean either, unless they are confronted about it.

Kind kids can outsmart mean kids by throwing them off their games with directness instead of snarkiness, with honesty to disarm their self-absorption, and by making room for bullies at the table of personal responsibility, if and when they choose to join.

Kind girls of the world, my money is on you. It’s time for you to step up and speak up. Learn how to confront others. It’s time to work together to push back and create a more compassionate world, where there is acceptance for a broader range of types of girls, without as much complicity for girls treating each other badly.

When I have something to say, this blog is the place where I give myself permission to say it. Though I often write about writing and creativity, I also write about issues that are important to me. I help folks become more creative for personal enjoyment, professional development and transformational growth. I am a veteran journalist, author and coach with over a decade and a half of experience and a wealth of techniques to share. Whether you are a professional creative or hope to become one some day, I can help you embrace your personal strengths, explore your creative possibilities, and evolve incrementally into your most inspiring self. If you are ready to achieve creative consistency in your life and career, email me about monthly coaching calls. Looking for more fun in your life daily? Then join us for Collaging For Self-discovery, my online accountability group. To learn more about increasing your creative confidence, please check out my online school. Stay tuned for ways to save money by becoming a Beta User for my next new course by subscribing to The Prosperous Creative. And don’t forget to get these blog posts delivered to your inbox, so you never miss a post. If you appreciate my work—school, products, blog and social media posts—you are welcome to make a contribution of any size at any time. Thank you for your support!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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I have been making the transition to middle-age for a while now, and let me tell you, it has not always been smooth sailing. Now that I am firmly in the middle years, I have some advice about supplements. The good news is that taking vitamins and minerals can make a big difference in your health and quality of life.

I am not a doctor and these are not medical recommendations, however all of my traditional doctors refuse to discuss the benefits of vitamin and mineral supplements, and instead focus on prescriptions medication and surgery.

I believe that any person of any age can benefit from a few choice vitamin and mineral supplements. I feel that more conversation about supplements is needed. I would also like to reward companies that focus on women’s needs and invest in research and product development for women’s health needs.

The scales have been tipped towards men’s health for too long. I hope you will comment and share this post, so we can help balance the scales back out.

For women, managing mid-life, or younger women dealing with hormone-related issues, these are my recommendations.

If you are fatigued, get your blood work done and ask about anemia. You don’t want to take extra iron unless you are anemic. Anemia has been my greatest health issue throughout my life, and I have needed to take iron for it, off and on since I was a teen. I have written about some of the products I’ve used in this post. These days, I keep one brand on hand in case I need it or my daughter needs it. (I also highly recommend all of the Vitanica products, so I hope you will check this women-centric company out.)

I take this product to help suppress too much estrogen in my system, and I always feel better when I am taking it. I feel that it helps reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, which can be a real pain.

Women need to get enough calcium. If you have depleted calcium caused by medication or if Osteoporosis runs in your family, check out this calcium product. Absorbancy is an important issue with calcium, and that’s why I chose this product, which is super-absorbable.

Turmeric capsules are good to take for any kind of inflammation. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but you can get them anywhere. This product looks good.

If hot flashes are making it challenging to get a good night’s sleep, try taking the lowest dose of Melatonin each night right before bed. Be mindful to read labels, as there can be a big jump between lowest dose and the next dose up. I use this brand from Trader Joe’s.

Take a high quality daily supplement. This is the one I give my daughter from Vitanica. I suggest you search their products and choose supplement that is right for you.

Generally speaking, mood is not a challenge for me. However if you find yourself feeling down, discouraged or even mildly depressed, and you think the cause is hormonal, try this product from Vitanica and see how it works for you. Of course, if you are consistently or seriously depressed, please consult your doctor.

Finally, we live in a fairly distracted and distracting world. If focus is a challenge for you, I highly recommend taking L-Theanine. You can pick it up just about everywhere, but I suggest you use a natural brand. I get mine at my local grocery store, but this one looks good. It really makes a difference when you need to sit down and focus for several hours at a time, as most writers do.

What supplements have you taken that have helped you navigate mid-life more smoothly? Feel free to comment!

When I have something to say, this blog is the place where I give myself permission to say it. Though I often write about writing and creativity, I also write about issues that are important to me. I help folks become more creative for personal enjoyment, professional development and transformational growth. I am a veteran journalist, author and coach with over a decade and a half of experience and a wealth of techniques to share. Whether you are a professional creative or hope to become one some day, I can help you embrace your personal strengths, explore your creative possibilities, and evolve incrementally into your most inspiring self. If you are ready to achieve creative consistency in your life and career, email me about monthly coaching calls. Looking for more fun in your life daily? Then join us for Collaging For Self-discovery, my online accountability group. To learn more about increasing your creative confidence, please check out my online school. Stay tuned for ways to save money by becoming a Beta User for my next new course by subscribing to The Prosperous Creative. And don’t forget to get these blog posts delivered to your inbox, so you never miss a post. If you appreciate my work—school, products, blog and social media posts—you are welcome to make a contribution of any size at any time. Thank you for your support!

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This post is for Nathalie. Here you go, Nathalie!

Are you a flower-lover, who wants amazing, colorful gardents without spending tons of money?

I feel like I have discovered gold in terms of seed companies, and I want to share the information with you.

I have been dabbling in gardening for years. I would usually purchase the cheapest seeds, throw them down without much thought, and then hope for the best.

Needless to say, the best is not what I usually got.

As the weather warmed and seeds did not pan out, I would reach for annuals and perennials that were already started at garden stores with pretty much the same results. Sometimes the plants would take and sometimes they wouldn’t.

Oh well, at least I was learning what liked to grow where. But the lessons were costly and I always felt frustrated by how much bare dirt I could not afford to fill in with plant starts.

I always felt happiest if a plant was a perennial, biennial or was self-seeding, so it would live on in my garden year after year. That was a good investment in my mind. But I could not really wrap my head around purchasing annuals and having them only survive one season.

Then last year, I discovered Botanical Interests seed mixtures. And what a huge difference in my gardens this seed retailer has made!

I have one area in my garden, in particular, where I could never get anything to grow. The space is underneath a tree in one of my garden beds. I had planted seeds and flower and ground cover starts, but they never seemed to take.

I had pretty much given up on that part of my garden when I stumbled on the Made In The Shade collection of seeds from Botanical Interests.

Fortunately, a couple of shops in my local area are selling these seed packets but you can also order them online from Amazon or from the company website.

As usual, I tossed them down, but this time, instead of mostly not growing, it seemed like every single seed grew.

But then, guess what happened? My husband was so used to nothing growing under that tree except weeds that he mowed the starts down with the riding mower as soon as they all sprang up.

Needless to say, he did not hear the end of this move for a while.

And yet some of the flowers blossomed anyway! It took them a little while to bounce back after being mowed, but fairly soon I had a steady assortment of delicate flowers.

Not only did I get awesome flowers, I got waves of awesome flowers.

The Made In The Shade seed packet is wisely mixed and it contains annuals, perennials biennials. So not only did I get steady flowers under the tree the first season, all new flowers came up to kick off the second season.

Apparently the key to my heart is to sell me seeds that actually grow. This was something I did not know about myself until I discovered Botanical Interests.

We can all have amazing gardens for little money, if we plant our garden from seed and wait for the magic to unfold.

Yes,if you grow them from seed, your gardens will need time to root and grow and blossom. But you are not going anywhere, right?

In the meantime, why not plant some window boxes, pots or planters with annuals that have already flowered to give you something to smile about while you are waiting for Mother Nature to do her magic.

Remember, it’s a lot less expensive to fill a planter with annuals than it is to fill an entire garden bed. You can also move planters around to different parts of your yard as the weather changes, which is convenient for flower longevity.

And isn’t it awesome that you can pretty much plant flower seeds year round except for the dead of summer and the dead of winter? As long as you have workable soil, you can plant seeds. Heck, you can even plant seeds when there is some snow on the ground.

So my good news is that there is hope for flower-lovers of all budgets with no green thumb or garden expertise required!

I have a few more tips for successful planting from seed:

  1. Weed and then seed. I weed about three times a year, and then seed after each time once I’ve raked up the soil a bit in spots where I intend to plant.
  2. Put the seeds where they are supposed to go according to the packet whether full sun, part sun/part shade or full shade.
  3. Mix seeds with potting soil and then spread them throughout your gardens by hand, aiming for the spots you wish to fill in. (Watch out for wind!)
  4. Plant seeds right before a series of rainy days. Then you don’t have to water and the birds won’t get as many.
  5. Apply slug bait frequently while the seeds are sprouting so they don’t become slug snacks.
  6. If you have serious trouble with birds, cover seeded area with netting until flowers are established.
  7. If you still have bird and slug issues, mix part of the seeds from a packet (rather than the whole packet) with a cup of potting soil and plop that down in one spot and cover it with a recycled clear plastic container like a roasted chicken cover. Leave the plastic in place until seedlings sprout and then remove the cover.
  8. Whenever any strategies work, repeat them. For example, I can grow Alyssum, English Daisies, Johnny Jump-ups, Columbines and Hollyhocks from seed with ease. (These seeds work for me whether I use Botanical Interests or not.) This is why you will find them all over my yard in increasing amounts each season.

Please let me know in the comments if this post is interesting and helpful. I have plenty of more tips to share about inexpensive gardening.

When I have something to say, this blog is the place where I give myself permission to say it. Though I often write about writing and creativity, I also write about issues that are important to me. I help folks become more creative for personal enjoyment, professional development and transformational growth. I am a veteran journalist, author and coach with over a decade and a half of experience and a wealth of techniques to share. Whether you are a professional creative or hope to become one some day, I can help you embrace your personal strengths, explore your creative possibilities, and evolve incrementally into your most inspiring self. If you are ready to achieve creative consistency in your life and career, email me about monthly coaching calls. Looking for more fun in your life daily? Then join us for Collaging For Self-discovery, my online accountability group. To learn more about increasing your creative confidence, please check out my online school. Stay tuned for ways to save money by becoming a Beta User for my next new course by subscribing to The Prosperous Creative. And don’t forget to get these blog posts delivered to your inbox, so you never miss a post. If you appreciate my work—school, products, blog and social media posts—you are welcome to make a contribution of any size at any time. Thank you for your support!

Every Writer, Teacher & Coach Needs A Copy Of The Business Of Being A Writer By Jane Friedman

March 16, 2018

There are a lot of people in the book publishing industry, and folks move in and out of this realm all the time. For me, there could be no more of a trusted authority than Jane Friedman. If you are in the book publishing industry in any fashion — whether as a writer, teacher, agent, […]

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This Year Only: Pay What You Will For Creative Accountability

March 5, 2018

How’s your creative confidence this year so far? Cultivating creative accountability is one of my specialties. I have been helping others accomplish it for over a decade and a half. And by helping others with their creative accountability, I have also helped myself become more accountable. This is why I have decided to make membership […]

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Making Time For Daily Self-reflection: 5 Reasons To Collage For Self-discovery With Me

January 21, 2018

We are more than half-way through the month and I have been collaging regularly. Wow. What a difference collaging for self-discovery makes. Not only do I feel more inspired in my life and in my writing, my dreams have also become so much more colorfully vivid. Having a collage journaling practice is something I have […]

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Getting Lice Sucks! Here Are Some Solutions To Save You Time & Money

January 10, 2018

Got scalp itch? I hope it’s not lice. Because getting lice sucks. We’ve only had lice once as a family, despite the fact that my husband has been teaching in the public school system for many years. To say those little suckers brought me repeatedly to my knees over the course of several days would […]

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What An Awesome Month! A Random List Of Stuff I Loved About December

December 31, 2017

A random list of things I appreciated this month… Sending Samantha to dance for a week of half-days at Northwest Dance Project. They challenged her and she relished the opportunity to dance regularly. Check them out. Finally watching Wonder Woman. A little sorry I didn’t see it in theaters. But ultimately feeling like the timing […]

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