a callto failure

A Call to Face Failure

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
— Joseph Chilton Pearce

If we are living a creative life, we will fail. We will make mistakes, a lot of them. We will stumble around not sure if it is right or wrong or feeling uncertain of our direction. But that’s okay. Creativity is about exploring all our options. Creativity calls to us to try new things and experiment with new directions. I’m calling on you to face your fear of failure and to let it go.

When we fail in a positive environment, we learn the art of resilience. Resilient people don’t let failures keep them from the work they want to do. They may step back and dust themselves off before they begin again but they keep going.It is imperative as creative people that we actively engage in practicing failure. Empower your failure. Learn from your failure. Allow for setbacks to be considered great and the lack of failure to be considered mediocrity.

Pixar co-founder, Edwin Catmull, says that failure is the ”inevitable consequence of doing something new.” Every time we attempt to create something new, we risk falling flat on our face. However to not to risk failure, and to not take a chance of a future success because of we are “playing it safe” means that we are not creating at our best.

This type of creating is called iterative process. It is the act of doing something over and over until we achieve the final product we want. How does this apply to art? The painter who practices every day will be much better than the painter who practices once a month. The painter who practices every day will use more canvases, make more mistakes, and throw away more failures but in the end, will create something more sophisticated than the painter who only painted one time. As creative artists, we are not above this practice of doing something over and over again. The jewelry maker was not perfect the first time they made the first necklace but after time has refined their skills to make better quality jewelry. The writer practices by showing up to the computer or the page every day and writes. They do not have to write the same thing or make the same jewelry but it is the practice of doing it that is the process.

When I first began making pendants for every 10 that I made correctly, there were at least four that I threw away. When I first began making cards for every 20 I made right, there were five or six that the didn’t come together the way they were supposed to. If I had let those mistakes stop me, then I would not still be making cards and pendants today. Each time I visit the store where my cards are sold, I feel a little bit of fear that maybe what I am making isn’t good enough. I have discovered that though a particular set of affirmations are a success, as well as my notecards and bookmarks, as it turns out some of my other affirmation cards are not a fit for the store and I have yet to find a place to make them marketable. So they were a failure to make money. However, I have found them to be great gifts to give to people who need a pick me up.

What have you failed at lately?

What have you dared to try and fell on your face and then got back up to try again?

I challenge you to find that one thing that makes you want to face your fear of failure. I challenge you to try the one thing that you are willing to try again and again until it becomes a success. All of us have one thing that we want to do that allows us to face our fear of failure and come out more resilient on the other side.


Ten Minute Tuesday: Creativity is Your Birthright!

Creativity is your birthright!

You were born to be creative. There is no doubt about that. Just look at your body and the way that it heals itself each time…each time it has to mend something new or different or fight a new cold, it gets creative to heal you. Your mind is just as creative. It always has been and always will be. Brene’ Brown says, in Daring Greatly that “85% of people experience so much shame over a childhood experience in school, that it changes who they are as learners.” She goes on the disclose that then 50% of that group were given what she calls “creativity scars.” School is supposed to be a safe place to learn and experience creativity. That is an outrageous number of people who were never allowed to be fully who they could have been, especially creatively for a right that is given to us freely from the moment we are born. Imagine what could happen in this country if those numbers were brought down even just ten percent each. I would imagine that there would be so much more creative thinking arising from the communities that issues like water and energy would be closer to being solved because people were allowed to play with their creativity instead of it being shamed and stifled away so that someone could fit them into a box.
Creativity is your birthright. TAKE IT BACK! That’s right. It is yours. Pull it out of the darkness and claim it once again. The person that took it from you all those years ago had no rights to your creative soul. Maybe their own creative soul had been injured so they felt that they must strip it away from someone else but it is no longer your problem why they did what they did. You are all grown-up now, so CLAIM YOUR CREATIVITY! Own it. Wallow around in it. If you have forgotten how, start by playing again. DO you need ideas on how to play? Start HERE! Do you need more reasons to play? Start HERE! DO you need permission to take your creativity back? Click HERE or HERE! I want you to have it. The universe wants you to have it. That is why you were born with it.

If you need help with calling out your creativity, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on The Elusive Creative Genius. Then go Here and get to know YOUR OWN creative genius. Come to an understanding with the creative genius within you that will come to you when you allow it time and space. To claim back your creativity, you simply have to give yourself time to sit with it. Time to play with your creative soul. It probably has shown up off and on through out your lifetime and you have not been present to receive it. Now is the moment to be present for your creative soul. Now is the moment to listen to what it needs to be creative.

Often, we think of creativity as only being A-R-T but creative thinking is so much bigger than that. In the book, Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer, he discusses how the Swiffer mop was invented. Researchers watch thousand of hours of how people cleaned their houses. But it was in watching a video of woman cleaning up coffee grounds with paper towels that sparked an idea. That idea expanded and became the Swiffer mop. It wasn’t an instantaneous, overnight success. It took trial and error but that is creative thinking in progress. It is seeing one thing and creating something new. Even in art, there isn’t just one love song or one break up song, there are hundreds because what speaks to you may not speak to me and vice versa. This is the core of creative thinking. Making something new out of an old idea or changing an old idea into something different or new.

I love to watch Brene’ Brown being interviewed by Chase Jarvis, who is a YouTube genius with his show. Yes, I like her tedTalks and her Oprah talks but there is just something about how comfortable she gets when she is being interviewed by Chase Jarvis that makes her relatable in many more ways for me. It could be the “You Bless my Heart, I’ll kick Your Ass,” comments that make me laugh but what really struck me in one of her interviews was what she said about living in a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” world. She said, “I am tired of living in a ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ world. I want to live in a Show up and Be seen World.” I LOVE THAT. We spend so much time hiding and not being real. Our creativity gives an opportunity to show up in the world in a way that nothing else can. Show Up. Be Seen. Even if its just in your circle of trusted friends, those that have earned the right to see your creative soul. That is okay. I just want you to have it back.

As you take back your creativity, it may feel strange at first but for your ten minute Tuesday today, play. Click the links. Explore. There are ideas Here and Here.  Answer the Call.  Or you can check out Jamie Ridler Studios, or Andrea Schroeder at the Creative Dream Incubator, Or SARK, whose book, A Creative Companion was my first real introduction to creativity exploration. It was given to me from a friend when I was twenty-one years old. My dear friend passed away way too young just a few years later but the gift has had a lasting impact on my life. A couple people more to explore are: Leonie Dawson, artist and CEO of a huge woman centered creative empire; Jani Franck, who owns The Art House in Britain but is an artist and blogger; Read and watch Sir Ken Robinson who writes and talks about creativity and is actively trying to change our schools. Read the book Imagine by Jonah Lehrer; Read Brene’ Brown, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong ( I can’t decide which one I like more), Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and watch her interviews and TedTalks.

It is funny to me as I write this for you that I have always wanted to produce a conference on creativity and have all my favorite creative people show up and speak, and have panel discussions about creativity and I realize as I have written, I have given you just that, a conference of my favorite creative inspirers. Some day, it will happen and maybe then, I will have my own talk to give but for now, I leave you this. TAKE back your creativity.

It might be messy at first. Remember creativity has no right or wrong. Just lessons on how to do it different next time. You will make mistakes. BIG ones. Little ones. They are all okay. You learn and grow and move on. But claim your right to your creativity. It is an integral part of your soul. In the words of one of my favorite artists, Mumford and Sons, from Roll Away Your Stone, “With my stake stuck in this ground, Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul,” and “You have neither reason nor rhyme, With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine.”
Your Creative Soul is your Birthright.

Over 100 Reasons

Over 100 Reasons to Write an “Open When” Letter

Last month, I wrote a post on Five Reasons to Write a Handwritten Letter. As someone who creates cards just for those occasions when handwritten letters are the most needed, I really feel that a handwritten letter says so much more than a text or e-mails can.  When was the last time you sent out a letter to someone? Or dropped a letter into the mailbox with more than just some family pics on it or a quickly scribbled Happy Birthday. In this busy age, it is quite common to do these things in hopes of staying in touch. What if instead we went one step further and wrote a letter? There is great joy that comes from sitting down and writing out a letter for someone you care about. For your creative weekend pleasure have I got just the treat for you! Welcome Julissa, my guest writer for this fabulous Friday.


Julissa, from Shari’s Berries, has written a wonderful guest post and link to a fabulous letter writing idea,  “Open When” letters. I am delighted to share with you what she has to say.


Do you remember the first time that you ever received a handwritten letter? Maybe it was from a relative, a pen pal, or a best friend. Maybe the envelope was decorated with swirls of color or your favorite stickers. Whatever form it came in, it held the promise of something great: a special message just for you, folded up neatly and tucked inside.

There’s something special about holding a tangible letter with your name on it. Maybe it’s the knowledge that someone took the time to sit down and put pen to paper for you. Maybe it’s just the old fashioned fun of it in our age of emails and text messages. Regardless, it’s a sure-fire way to make someone feel loved.

It makes sense then that “open when” letters have recently become a huge trend.
Popular among long distance couples, close friends, and military families, “open when” letters provide a different letter for the recipient to open on a number of occasions. Some popular topics include “open when you miss me,” “open when you’re sad,” or “open
when you want to know why I love you.” Shari’s Berries thought this was a great idea, so they came up with over 280 “open when” ideas to share with your loved ones. Plus, they’ve included some pre-decorated templates you can print out to get the creative juices flowing.

Open when letters are a great opportunity to slow down and stay in touch in a way that shows you care. They’re also a great chance to think creatively. Try using them as a form of art journal or scrapbook and see what you can come up with to make your recipient’s day.

Have you ever written an “open when” letter? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments!”


Six Ways to gofrom

Six Ways to go from Busy to Creative

In this time and place where the answer the question,”How are you?” and “Busy” is the acceptable answer, there something wrong. Busyness has become a feeling rather than being something one is doing. I hear it all the time and have even done it myself without thinking. Someone asks How I am and instead of being authentic, I simply say, “busy.” This answer strips away my humanity and implies that unless one is Busy, than they are doing nothing, and that is not okay.
Being busy has also replaced feeling anything. When we are busy we lose touch with how we are really feeling on a day-to-day basis. One is so busy with trying to complete checklists and cram as many errands into one shot as they can, focused on getting things done NOW that there is no room for anything else. Not fun. Not creativity. Not feelings. How can one possibly be expected to be able to create if they don’t allow themselves time to feel? How can one express themselves fully if they do not allow themselves to be in touch with feelings?

The answer of course is doing the exact opposite of being busy and giving permission to slow down. Remembering how important it is to stop and breathe for five minutes is vital to re-grounding. The other part of the answer is to express the creative self in activities that one finds fulfilling and authentic. It is starting with a small activity for five or ten minutes and working up to taking more time for oneself. This looks to many like being selfish. Ignore them. It is not selfishness that drives ones need for creative freedom but rather an innate desire to express oneself in a manner free from harsh criticism and chaos.

Here are some tips on how to take back some creative soul time, even if it is just five to ten minutes.

Journaling: Some people find it hard to get started with journaling. They have to have a purpose for writing. Some people are okay with just brain dumping onto the page. Either way is fine. Need some help getting started,  Andrea Schroeder at Creative Dream Incubator has some excellent journaling cards to use as prompts to get your started. I have used a few and they are quite mind opening and inspiring.  I have been following Andrea for a few years now and she has developed some amazing products for finding your dreams and inspiration. She also has a guided Journal book for sale. On her website you will also find free journaling parties! The recent one with Jamie Riddler was pretty cool.

Affirmation Cards: I love these. I love the ones that come with a brief statement of belief on the front and then a simple explanation on the back. These can jump start a day in just a few minutes, allowing the mind a brief mediation on the topic in hand. Sometimes those few minutes of reflection are just enough to be a reminder of how important creativity and soul time are. I have a couple of recommendations: I have my set at Etsy. They have an affirmation on the front and a brief meditation on the back. Also Louis Hay “Power Thought Cards” featured in her movie “You can Heal Your Life” are a great source of inspiration.

Coloring: This is all the trend right now. You can find coloring books for adults pretty much everywhere, even the dollar store. This is an activity that one can spend about ten minutes on and it has been proven to reduce stress levels. It is easy to keep one around most time with a few color pencils or markers. Take them out at break times or while relaxing at home. Here is a link to some pages I have made available previously.

Drawing/Doodling: Perhaps making the designs and pictures is a better fit. Grab a small sketchbook to carry around with some sketch pencils or colored pencils. My daughters are always doing this EVERYWHERE we go, the sketchpads come with. They like simple mechanical pencils. I buy them in bulk at the dollar store. I guess I can’t complain too much they learned from me, I take a writers notebook everywhere I go.
Play Dough: My recommendation is to get a favorite color in the small party bag size to keep on hand. It can be taken out and played with in five minute increments or use up a while fifteen minute break squeezing, shaping and molding the dough. This is also great to squeeze under stress. Almost like a mini stress ball.

Breathe: People forget how to breathe. Many people hold their breath or breathe from low in the diaphragm which actually creates more anxious feelings and a sense of being to busy. There is all kinds of information out there about different types of breathing. The one I am most familiar with is where one breathes deep from their stomach and lets it out slowly. This type of breathing forces one to physically slow down and be in the present moment.

Finally begin answering how are you with real feeling words as best as possible. Does this mean letting the grocery cashier in on the deepest secrets? NO. Use informed judgement. It is perfectly honest and all right to say, “No, I am really not having a good day today.” How they respond is up to them. If it is a best friend, then be honest and truthful. In return, most times honest and truthful will be reflected back. Here are some basic not real feeling words that get tossed around a lot but mean nothing: Fine, okay, busy, meh. They are an answer but provide no information. It is great way to brush off questions one doesn’t feel like answering. However, some good substitutes are: overwhelmed, good, great, swell ( though I would be careful, this one is often used sarcastically), or low. There are practically hundreds more.

I know when I have not had time to stop and fulfill a creative playtime or even taken a few minutes for affirmations, I feel grumpy. There is nothing wrong with that. The brain gets used to being fed good, positive stuff and throws a bit of a hissy fit when it doesn’t get what it wants. The brain is amazing. It knows what it needs and how to fix it. We just have to listen. So the next time someone asks “How are you?” try being real. I have even said, “I need a time out.” It is so much better than being too busy.


DIY: Creating Leaf Poetry

This is a replica of a favorite project I did a while ago. I call it Leaf Poetry. Why? because you use the leaf templates or you can trace leaves and paint them anyway you desire. Then you are going to write some very simple poetry on your leaves. You can use as many leaves as you want but I chose three. See…Leaf Poetry.


Ten Minute Tuesday: Talking to Your Critic

We all have at least one in our head. One critic that doesn’t shut up. He or She is the critic in the stands that Brene’ Brown often refers too. They aren’t supposed to matter because they do not get down in the arena with you. They don’t wrestle with the world and come up dirty. This critic tries to stay above it all. Always criticizing  but never trying. Since this is National Letter Writing month  let’s write  a letter to this critic, Tell this critic what you think of them. See who they are clearly in your mind. Man or woman? Insolent child? Think of this letter as standing up and addressing them directly. If they are a critic that is not willing to get down in the mire with you, do you fire them? Send them on vacation for a while? What do you want to say? I once wrote a letter to this critic firing them. He was a cranky old man in my head. One who was never happy with anything at all. It didn’t matter how good something was, HE did not like it. So I fired him. Now, I will warn you, since firing him, he does not come around as often, though a couple of new ones took his place. But everyone once in a while the cranky old man slips past my defenses and into my head once again like an employee who never gets the hint that he is doing terrible at his job. So I have to fire him again. Here is my letter to the critic in my head and how I fired him.

Dear Critic in the Stands,
I’m letting you go.
I’m saying good-bye to your harsh tones and your sandpaper words
that scrape away
the soft parts of my heart.
I’m turning away from you,
Leaving you standing with your arms crossed and
frown lines on your face
while tapping your foot.
This relationship is not working for me.
I do not enjoy having you shred my skin away,
expose the broken bones beneath
while you are up in the stands, keeping your hands clean
and your bones safe.
I have made my list of the ones who matter,
tucked it in my pocket… the loved ones who get down in the mud with me.
So, I will tell you again.
I’m letting you go.
I’m saying good-bye.
Please leave the arena now,
you are fired.

Four Poems

Four Poems to Inspire You



Let’s gather by the golden, red fire
in the early morning,
before dawn breaks through.
While the madness of sleep still inhabits our minds.
Time to dance before the flames,
heal our younger selves,
while laughing and singing,
wildly spinning around the circle,
howling like wolves
under the moon.
Medicine women,
with the pharmacy of the earth
in our hands.
The windows we keep
between being inside
or out,
shattered away,
and the concrete barriers
we built around out hearts,
tumble down,
crashing in the fire;
the red flames reaching to the stars
and we do not burn.
The drumming goes faster.
The wild howling,
stomping of feet,
a feverish circling of the pit.
As the blue sky appears,
the sun slowly
ascending into dawn;
the small bits of ice formed at the edges of our spirit
melting away.
Hands held,
a circle formed,
a promise made,
as the flames die,
we are Reborn.
My inner child dances,
in movement to beating drums
only she could hear.
She stands on the edge of cliffs,
into the rushing, turning ocean,
and rises:
chilled, excited
She carries sword and wand,
rides into battle
protecting villages,
rescuing beggars,
the children,
the lost ones,
bringing them home safely.
As for dragons,
my wild child,
she rides farther,
higher on the backs of dragon’s
that others
are terrified to slay.


ALL POETRY is the property of Susan Sontra, author of The Creating Room. The post may be shared but the poems cannot be shared outside of this posting.

wrting acrostic poem

Ten Minute Tuesday: Acrostic Poem

“An acrostic poem is a type of poetry where the first, last or other letters in a line spell out a particular word or phrase. The most common and simple form of an acrostic poem is where the first letters of each line spell out the word or phrase.”
Young Writers Free Glossary

For example I could use my name SUSAN with each letter beginning the sentence of a line in the poem. You can choose to use any word or even the whole alphabet. Sometimes it is easiest to start with just using a name.

Such as the morning came, the dawn so cautiously rising and the day

Unwritten. I savor the gray light that arrives just before the dawn,

Surrounding myself in its quiet blanket

And keep myself warm in its solitude, listening only to the

Noise of the doves cooing in the gray light.

It is a great way to learn the feel and rhythm of poetry. It’s form also lends itself to learning to choose words carefully as we write poems. In a poem, unlike a story, you may only get 5-10 lines to tell your story, so words need to be chosen with care. Today I want you to play with the Acrostic poem. If you are having a hard time getting started I am including two sets of word tiles for you to draw words from. Print them out and cut them apart and draw a word, or simply pick a word from the list. I find that words with five or more letters work best but short words are a particular challenge that could be fun. Save them the word tiles because there will be other poetry prompts this month that will call on them to be used. Good Luck and have a bit of fun.

word tiles 1 word tiles 2

Five reason handwritten note

Five Excellent Reasons to Write The Handwritten Letter

The handwritten letter…when was the last time you wrote one and sent it? When was the last time you received one. Guess what? Here is your chance. Starting April 1s,  it is not only national poetry month but it is also the beginning of national letter writing month. As someone who makes cards that are blank inside, I wanted to give you five excellent reasons to embark on writing a card or letter to a loved one. As a child, I used to delight in getting letters in the mail, special notes from people I love, letters from penpals in different parts of the world and cards from other friends or family members. They were like getting little presents. Even now, as an adult,  I have one friend who will send me a surprise postcard or note in the mail and I’m always delighted just by the thought that goes into it. Sure, we chat on the computer and through email but is not the same as getting an actual letter in the mail. I even enjoy sending my readers here handwritten notes. Though they happen less frequently as my arthritis has become worse, I still enjoy it. That is why Your Five Excellent Reasons are handwritten…just for you. Who will you send a note to today??

Why would you want to write a letter when sending a text message or email could be so much quicker? Here are the Five Excellent Reasons that sending a handwritten note is so important for you have the recipient.

magnetic poetry

Ten Minute Tuesday: Magnetic

Welcome to April, National Poetry Month. It is also National Letter writing month but I will bring that up again in another post. I want you to play today. Have you ever seen the magnetic poetry kits for sale, usually  in gift shops or little off the wall places. I used to collect the kits. I had three or four of them and more words than I could count. I even had a magnetic calendar and separate magnetic board just for all the words to hang out. I LOVED them. In my last move, they kind of scattered away. Every once in a while I will find a stray word in a box or stuck in an old journal. I loved having them to use for jump starting poetry writing.
Well, Magnetic Poetry also has a GREAT website, where you can not only by said poetry kits but you can PLAY with some of the kits in an online interface. It is a lot of fun and a great way to play with poetry if 1) you have never really played with it before 2) feel stuck in your own poetry 3) just to play for a few minutes for fun. It makes poetry entertaining and easily attainable to everyone which is what I like. Poetry should be reachable for anyone to try. It isn’t just for the poets or the slam poets, but for anyone wanting to express themselves in new ways.

So what I have done is taken screen shots of the website and posted them here with brief tutorials beneath the photos. It is really simple to follow and a lot of fun to do. Just to give an extra tip now, what I have may not stay in this form. I like to use as a jumping off point for an idea and then expand it from there. I hope you have a lot of fun playing with words today. More poetry prompts to come and favorite poets to share.