Archive for About the Muse

Wedding kiss Bob’s and I celebrated 43 years of marriage last week. Add an additional year of being engaged and a year of dating before that, and we have been sharing our lives for 45 years.

That’s a long time to spend with one person…in close quarters…come hell or high water. A l-o-n-g time.

People often comment on how we still seem so much in love (we are), what great role models we are (thank you), and that perhaps we ought to teach a class on marriage (hmmm, no).

So many things could have undermined our marriage, illness and death being two of the biggies. Economic challenges, career challenges, moves, and extended family issues are all things that can eat away at a relationship.

Just as they can eat away at your relationship with your creative work.

So here are five (by no means all) things I’ve learned about marriage that are also key to an enduring relationship with your Muse:

1. Commit wholeheartedly. If you want an enduring relationship—with your partner or your creativity—don’t bring conditions to it. Don’t commit for a month or a year or until it is challenging or uncomfortable. Bring everything you have to it. Everything.

2. Communicate regularly, even if only you do the talking. Often in a relationship, one partner is more verbal than the other. So, take responsibility, even if it feels uncomfortable or scary, to share hopes, joys, concerns, and inspirations—even if you have to follow the other out of the room. And be aware if you need to be the one who sits down and really listens. Don’t make your Muse chase you.

3. Be patient. Growth in individuals, relationships, and creative projects takes time. We’d all love for things to move quickly and perfectly but they usually don’t. Sometimes they even move backwards. Be patient in small things as well as big ones. Be patient if words don’t flow onto the screen. Be patient if the agent didn’t get back to you in two weeks or two months. Be patient if your Muse hasn’t delivered the next idea by your plucked-out-of-the-air deadline. Consider it a creative’s spiritual practice.

4. Take time for each other. And by that, I mean take time for really being with each other to play, enjoy, relax, engage, imagine. Go on regular vacations where the focus is on just being with each other and re-igniting the passions that brought you together. It doesn’t all have to be about work.

5. Forgive each other for failing. This is a biggie. HUGE. Really. Forgiveness is key to an enduring relationship. No one is perfect, even if you intend to be. You will fail in ways big and small to fulfill the hopes and expectations of your partner. And vice versa. So when the ideas don’t come, the story isn’t flowing, or you’ve gotten your 20th rejection letter, forgive your Muse and forgive yourself.

Use these marriage tips with your Muse and you’ll be celebrating anniversaries of first publication, first exhibit, first payment for your work, and other creative events.

And your marriage to your Muse will endure.


Theme, 5 of Wands. Wands is the element of Fire in the realm of spirit, creativity, career, work. Five is a challenging number. Here, the challenge this week is that of too many ideas, projects or roles fighting within you for prominence. Be aware this week, when you feel that inner battle and make decisions about what your creative priorities are. Calm the turmoil.

Focus, King of Wands. Still in the realm of Wands, but this time it’s the King who asks you how are you showing up in your creative work as the king? How are you positioning yourself as the expert, the one who tends the creative fires by managing priorities and resources? Where are you failing to step up?

Action, The Fool. A major arcana card, the Fool is the beginning of the journey. The Fool urges you to stop hesitating, stop over-thinking it. Trust your instinct (the dog) and leap. Take the risk. Start the new project, try the new direction. It could lead to marvelous growth, a magical adventure.

Gift, Queen of Cups. Cups is the element of Water in the realm of heart, emotions, dreams, intuitions and creativity. Look for someone in your environment who cools the fires of this week with a little nurturing and pampering. Perhaps it is a friend or family member. Perhaps it is you. Be prepared to go with the flow for a little bit and enjoy. Sometimes the priority is self-care.


Theme, The Lovers. This Major Arcana card as it relates to creativity is often about bringing the intuitive and active, inner and outer aspects of the creative act together. It is in listening to your intuition and allowing that creative spark to move in and through you that then allows you to manifest the inspiration or idea. It’s that integration and harmonious working together that keeps the work flowing and inspired. Look for those moments and opportunities this week.

Focus, 10 of Wands. Wands is the element of Fire in the realm of Spirit, creativity, career, work. Ten is the tipping point from completion to new beginning. What is the creative load/project that you’ve been carrying for too long? Is it time to finish it, end it, let it go?

Action, 4 of Cups. Cups is the element of Water in the realm of heart, emotions, dreams, intuitions and creativity. Four is a number of stability and structure. Stay open to new inspirations and project ideas this week. Letting go of the old one makes room for new possibilities if you are willing to see them. When the new idea comes through, make notes, take a few first steps to give it stability in your mind and vision.

Gift, Faith. This Major Arcana card comes just before The Lovers in the tarot deck. This card is also about structure, traditional wisdom, inspiration. This week, look for that divine spark of inspiration, that communication from your Muse, and for the faith and confidence in your work and creative ability to take action.

Monday’s Tarot Message from the Muse, 11/24/2014

Theme, Judgement. A Major Arcana card, here the Muse calls you to a bigger creative vision or project, one that may challenge you but also serve you and others. Listen for the call this week.

Focus, 5 of Cups. Cups is the element of Water in the realm of heart, feelings, dreams, healing, intuition, and creativity. 5 is the number of challenge and change. Focus this week on where you are tempted to play it safe. Will you sit with your back against the wall nursing your hurts and avoiding risk, or will you get up and get out there?

Action, 6 of Swords. Because you are definitely to get moving, maneuvering your way through the hazards of doubt and fear into the future to answer the call. Swords is the element of Air in the realm of mind, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. 6 is one past that 5. Ask for help and use the tools at hand to light the way and guide you.

Gift, Faith. Another Major Arcana card that assures you that the reward for getting past hurts and moving forward is a deepening of wisdom and faith, a level experience that strengthens your work.

Because of the two weddings Bob and I recently attended, the idea of commitment has been on my mind.

Bob and I committing

Bob and I committing

I love weddings and witnessing couples affirm their love for each other and then dare to commit to journey together into the future—for better or for worse.

As with the marriage vow, sometimes when we commit to writing a book or some other act of creation, we do so with the naiveté of the untried and the untested. Or, we commit even though we know the risks of failure are as great as the risks of success. Still, we commit with optimism and hope, and with that tender belief in happy endings.

But remember “…for better or for worse…”?

It’s a warning and a reminder that any commitment, even the ones a couple in love make to each other, is not a magic shield against hurt, disappointment, betrayal or grief. The warning reminds us that life—and love—is not a promise of the happy ending. Unless we are willing to work for it.

Commitment requires work. Down in the trenches, teeth clenched, getting-up-every-day-and-working-at-it-no-matter-what work. Whether the commitment is to a job, a relationship, or a book. Even when the sex appeal of the the project or relationship wanes and determination falters. Even when we wonder, “ WHY AM I DOING THIS?”

Oh sure, there are reasons not to give up—like making a living, leaving a legacy, supporting our children, making a difference in the world, keeping our word.

But sometimes the challenges and the trials can be so numerous or painful that the desire to break the commitment really strains the strength of the commitment.

So what makes us stick it out in the midst of the “for worse”?

And why, oh why would we ever take the risk of that commitment in the first place?

Because, the commitment, along with its better and worse, has the potential to call forth the best that is in us.

The commitment offers us an opportunity for our souls to grow. For our worlds to expand.

Committing to your writing in spite of day jobs and rejections and bad reviews and family and friends that just don’t get it and then sticking with it provides a soul ride that is both exhilarating and terrifying. And we stay with it because somewhere deep inside we long and hope for a happily-ever-after of our own.

The groom at one of the weddings we recently attended had decided that he was never going to marry.

Nope, marriage and its commitments were just not for him.

Until the day he stood before hundreds of people and vowed to love his bride for better or for worse, with joy lighting his face and every word of his vow. He’d arrived at the moment of his happily-ever-after.

Because he understood that there are relationships, opportunities and projects worth making a commitment to, that will grow his soul and expand his world.

Like his bride.

What about you? What creative commitment do you need to make?

Copy of Travel & Writing- Flights of theFor the next 24 weeks, you are invited to join Beth Barany and I as we share with you about the magic of travel and writing. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, novels, short stories, personal essays or keep journals, we will offer information, tips, techniques and tools for using travel to inspire, inform, enrich and empower your writing. Starting today, look for posts from both of us at and every other Wednesday. And get information on our destination retreats, Beth’s in Paris, mine near Delphi, Greece.

For this week’s post, Beth and I thought we’d share with you why we’ve chosen Paris, France and near Delphi, Greece for our retreats.

For me, I have had a life-long fascination with Greek myth and I even took a course on it in college. The stories of the gods and goddesses of the Greeks have influenced much of Western culture, including art and literature, over the centuries.

And Greece is the home of the Muses, those nine demi-goddesses who gifted mortals with inspiration in the fields of music, poetry, story, theatre, and science.Ruins of Apollo at Delphi

Here, too, is where the famous oracle, the Oracle of Delphi gave messages to those who came seeking her wisdom.

When, as a writer, you write from your deepest knowing, you write from that place of myth, that place of symbol and metaphor and meaning.

So it felt natural to lead a writing retreat at the home of the gods and goddesses of ancient myths. After all, what better place to connect clearly with the Muse through sleep and conscious dreams, to perform ritual and ask for insights from the Oracle, or to call up your best story, your most meaningful and imaginative words? All while being soothed by warm ocean breezes and nourished with the delicious foods that Greece has to offer.

Greece is an ancient source of story and creativity. And a great place for an intimate writing retreat.

You can get more information about my retreat here.

And check out Beth’s post on why Paris here.

God is in the detail. ~ Anonymous

The Devil is in the detail. ~ A derivation of the previous quote

In a recent weekly video for Monday’s Tarot Message from the Muse, the theme for the week was the 10 of Coins. 10 of Coins

Coins is the element of Earth and represents the physical realm. The number 10 is the point of shifting from finishing to preparing to begin again. Note the treasure chest filled with coins and jewels. Note also the signs of Virgo (details) and Venus (beauty). With these signs, the card speaks about the beauty and rewards found in the finishing detail.

Years ago, I exhibited and sold woven rayon chenille scarves and other wearables at national fine crafts shows. What distinguished my weaving from the myriad other chenille scarves and wearables for sale was my finishing details. My scarves were always thicker because I slightly felted them, and they had a hand-twisted and plied fringe.

The other weavers did overhand knots for the fringe, leaving the individual chenille threads to hang so that, months later, they lost fiber and became thin, tangled threads. My plied fringe remained thick and added drape to scarf or shawl even when they unwound slightly or pulled a little loose into loops

Yes, the Divine and the Devil are in the detail.

Especially the finishing detail, because it can make all the difference in whether you and your work are taken seriously.

This is where I have a problem with the get-it-done-fast-and-market-it approach to so much of the digital publishing industry. Too often, people fail to do the finishing work in a race to get it out there.

While having the ability to create, produce and market work to the world independently is a good thing, it is also a bad thing as undeveloped, unedited, poorly designed work fills the marketplace.

Writers like Bella Andre and Liliana Hart prove that you can successfully self-publish and create a career and income.

But guess what? They have their manuscripts edited. Their covers are carefully designed. They know what to do to properly finish and launch and promote their work. They don’t throw it against the Amazon wall like half-boiled spaghetti and hope it sticks.

Have you ever purchased a digital book and found innumerable errors in the text? Or discovered that the actual content is so thin as to make you feel it was hardly worth your time reading it or your money purchasing it? Yes? Well, will you ever buy from that author or creator again? Unlikely.

So why would you take the risk of being that author or creator?

Remember, the Divine and the Devil is in the detail. And because of that detail, your reader or customer will either have a divine experience and come back for more or, bedeviled by the lackluster work and disappointed in the value for dollar, scratch your name from the Must Buy list.

And never buy from you again.

Be clear. I am NOT advocating perfectionism which becomes a way of avoiding finishing.

I am advising you to follow through and finish, finish well.

Because that divine detail will set you apart from your competition.

Which means not just continuing sales, but, because I hope you are putting your whole self into the work, it will honor your work.

Because remember…the Divine is in the detail…and in you.

I’ve been writing articles for my newsletter for more than five years now,Illustration of a Little Girl Throwing a Tantrum so you’ll understand if I tell you that some weeks, my inner child throws a tantrum.

“No! I don’t want to write another newsletter. You can’t make me. No!”

And yet, the deadline draws near. I can’t escape the deadline. And I don’t want to fail to follow through on my commitment to publish it once a week. But sometimes my inner child just has these fits… Read More→

I’ve been writing articles for my weekly newsletter for a long time, almost 250 articles.

So it should come as no surprise that inspiration—and my Muse—occasionally go missing. Sherlock Holmes

After I’ve searched in the usual places for her like my dreams and journals, I call in Sherlock Holmes because only that wily, observant detective is able to find the clues that lead to my missing Muse.

After checking for notes or chocolate in my studio or near my laptop, Holmes goes searching using these tricks of the detective trade:

1. Look. Then really see. Did you know that the Greek poet, Homer, never used the word for blue in any of his work and, in fact, may not have perceived that color? Apparently, our brains are pattern-recognizing machines that function to identify what is useful to us while discarding the rest. But even though this function is necessary to prevent sensory overload minimally and insanity at the extreme, you can probably recognize how this might keep you from finding where inspiration and your Muse might hide. So, if you’ve lost your Muse, one way to find her is to slow down and ask yourself the question, “What am I not seeing?” Then look, really look…patiently.

2. Try a disguise. Often, when Holmes was hot on the trail of a villain, he would disguise himself so as to not give himself away to the person he was chasing, or to fit into a place where he could pick up additional information. When you are searching for your Muse, try a disguise. Instead of being the writer, disguise yourself as a person out for a walk or visiting a book store. I often disguise myself as a gardener or someone relaxing on our patio. That disguise may be just the thing for sneaking up on your Muse.

3. Get help. Yeah, yeah. It’s your work. No one has quite your perspective on what you are trying to create. But that’s the whole idea. Holmes seldom set out on a case without his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. Why? Because Watson gave him a different perspective, helped him understand things in a different, slightly less logical, way. Your Watson may be a critique partner, a mentor, a friend, or even your significant other. Whoever it is, don’t hesitate to ask for help when your Muse goes missing.

4. Follow the clues. While this may seem obvious, what needs to be pointed out is that the first clue leads to the second clue which leads to the third clue and so on. That is, if Holmes could have gone straight to that third clue, he would have, but he couldn’t. He had to start where he was with what he knew. Each time I sit down to write an article, I have to start where I am with what I know. Sometimes that is a whole article, but often it is one word or image or feeling. And I follow it from there. Often I find my Muse far from where I expected her to be.

Whenever and wherever She may be hiding, follow Sherlock Holmes’ approach for solving the Case of the Missing Muse, and you and she will be back to working together in no time.

Hey there, Little Red Riding Hood, you sure are lookin’ good.
You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.
~ Rolling Stones

Did you grow up hearing the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood?Red Riding Hood And were you clear about what happens to good girls when they stray from the path of the straight and narrow?

But look more closely. There’s more to this popular fairytale. Here is a story about female power, and a path for the creative process.

Remember the story? Granny is sick in bed and her beloved granddaughter, to whom she has given a red velvet cap, is instructed by her mother to take cake and ale to the grandmother to help her get well.

“And mind,” the mother admonishes Red, “you are to go straight there and come straight back. Do not stray from the path through the woods.”

With the beginning of the story, you are Read More→