Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

One of the exercises that I do in my creative coaching sessions is to come up with a mantra that I repeat to myself as much as I can throughout the week. Everyday, I spend some time in the morning building intentions around that mantra and then reflect on it at the end of the day.

My mantra for my first week was: “I Know the Answer is Here.” This was based on the fact that the reason that I embarked on this creative coaching journey was because I knew I had the answers to the problems I was facing, I just needed someone to help me organize and give me tools to help me clear my head and find them.

There isn’t any formula around how I write about my intentions or reflections. At first, I found it somewhat difficult. I definitely had a few moments of, what the hell does an Intention around “I know the answer is here.” really even mean?! But sometimes, you just have to go with it. I just started writing and it came to me. Sometimes they come in the form of concrete actions other times, just a general approach to my day, or sometimes just pure rambling of almost utter nonsense. But it feels good nonetheless, to just get my thoughts out there.

A gem from this past week was my intention for the last day of the mantra “I Know the Answer is Here” and I felt a little surge of excitement coupled with a big helping of humble pie, when I wrote it – and, yes, I’m going to quote myself:

“I intend to be decisive and focused. I intend to not be overwhelmed by how things initially appear and to not feel as I’ve wasted my time or others but to see that everything is a learning process. I intend to view situations and experiences as a way of growing rather than as a reflection of my shortcoming. I intend to do what I haven’t the past few days and address issues that I’ve put off in fear. I intend to continue feeding my sense of lightness when approaching roadblocks and seeing contrary solutions to my own as ways of learning and listening. Sometimes realizing that I don’t have all the answers, is an answer in itself. I do have the answers in the sense that it is within my capacity to find the answer, but I don’t have to be the one that supplies them all them time.”

This particular intention was very centered around work, but I find that there is a lot of overlap in my approach to work and life. Which makes sense because I’m a creative in my day job, and I can’t separate that creative aspect from my personal life. But not only that, a lot of my creative coaching sessions are not only directing me in how I approach my work at my day job, but how that job itself fits into the life I’m building for the future. It’s all connected.

From here on out, I plan on sharing any Intentions and Reflections in this space. I’m sure you probably don’t care about my intentions to clean the bathroom sink, so I’ll try and spare you some of those mundane details!

{Photo I took of Q + E in our garden, taken this summer}


Photograph  by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tyrrenian Sea, Amalfi 1990

Lately I’ve been floating. Figuratively, not literally. I felt afloat in a sea of familiar things that I sort of watched go by. They would come and go on the currents and occasionally lap against the hull. I felt like I was waiting around for a breeze to come to move me forward toward my destination. It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great. The most I felt was restless. Restless to get going, but also somewhat resigned to my fate. It’s like, well, I’m here and I don’t see a rescue ship in site. Not that I even really felt like I needed rescuing.

Then I realized that I had some oars all along, so I start to paddle.

Ok, so I know this is sort of a cheesy analogy. And probably not entirely accurate. And will most likely get more cheesy as we continue, but I’m just going to go with it.

Earlier this month, as a form of professional development, I started a six-week course of Creative Coaching sessions with Kathleen from Braid Creative. I’m going to consider this my realizing-I-have-oars moment, in the analogy above. I wasn’t as helpless as I thought. There were resources available if I was willing to put the work into it.

So let me just tell you, if making the decision to work with Kathleen were the oars, the Creative Coaching sessions themselves have been the winds in my sails. (I told you it was going to get cheesier.)

Ok, enough with the analogies. For the past two weeks, I’ve been giving a good hard look inwards and it’s been insightful. So much so, that I’ve been wanting to share the ride I’ve been on. I wish I’d had the foresight when I first started my sessions to start sharing the things I was learning and uncovering because now I feel like I want to go back and start from the beginning.

And I plan to (which goes along with my mantra for the week – but more on that later) I’m just not sure what form that will take or how I should even begin to structure it. But I will find a way that makes sense.

Last night, I was attempting some light yoga (because my wrist has been bother me, ugh, side note) and the instructor said something that really resonated with me. She said something along the lines of “There are still so many things you can do, even if there are some things you can’t.” It sounds sort of like a ridiculous statement to make. Like, duh, of course. And even though she was talking about yoga poses, in that moment, it struck something. I have a tendency to focus on the things that I can’t do, things that just aren’t possible within the current situation I find myself in – be it financial, physical, mental, whatever – rather than focusing on the things that I can do now. It’s a really slight change of perspective, like looking through one eye, then the other. Just a subtle shift in movement that can completely change what you see.

I find it somewhat refreshing to be taking stock of the things that I have going on in my brain. Becoming a parent forces you to look less at yourself and more outward because your focus is on these little lives that you are now responsible for, and also fascinated and captivated by. I realize that creative/life coaching isn’t for everyone. I’m sure there are people who don’t see the point, that anything you could possible uncover, you could have uncovered on your own. Which may be true. But I’m not too proud to admit when I need help. I’m not above seeing value in other people’s experience and advice. Personally, I believe there is great value in just finding someone you’re on the same wavelength with.

So, I hope to start sharing my journey through my Creative Coaching session, and maybe they’ll motivate and inspire you to take a look inward and maybe shift perspectives once in awhile too.
Kathleen Shannon is co-owner of Oklahoma City based Braid Creative. She is a storyteller, designer, adventurer, and creative coach that helps other creatives find their voice.