Shoreline Times Columns

Writing and illustrating a local news column, now in its’ fourth year, focuses on life, transformation, vision, dance, home, clutter, creativity, family, friends, and relationships. The material springboards from my book, Create the Space you Deserve, the Creating Your Vision Workshops, and everyday life. Stories get told from around the campfire, while pulling weeds, or from the porch with the girls. For the whole story, click on a column below. Or go on-line, to read the most recent stories from the New Haven Register’s ShoreLineTimes. The Times reaches 66,000 households along the Connecticut coast.

Change - sometimes it takes a wake up call

Make a Plan Watch it Change

Years ago, I mean years ago, I used to create “books”.  They were handcrafted, and rubberstamped with whatever the heart desired and was befitting for the message wanting to be expressed.

Here’s one from 1980; twenty pages rubberstamped letter by letter the word c h a n g e and titled, “The Story of My Life”.  Any of us could have written this book, as change is what we’re destined to do: Change, Change, Change, and hopefully grow, grow, grow… and evolve.

Mostly, we’re resistant to change because it causes us inconvenience; how dare I be inconvenienced we lament. We may think we want these changes but for me, I’m acutely aware I don’t like my boat to be rocked. Change triggers the discomfit of not knowing what’s around the corner. Sudden change, on the other hand, is often a wake up call to walk away from our worn out ways of being and doing. Either by design or sudden change, we’re driven to want to know, HOW will this all work out? We want to know the end result before we start to paddle. Seeing and writing a new picture for ourselves is what moves us along. Is it easy? No way! Actually the question, is it easy, isn’t the point. The better question would be, am I wiling to accept and embrace that change is occurring?

Original Collage by Jill ButlerGratitude in the darkest days reminded me of where I was no longer and the energy to consider the new that was developing around me even if I couldn’t see it yet…like the silver lining. Without expectations of how others are suppose to support us, keeps us open to the unexpected graciousness of the benevolent unknowns.

As the world is shifting into it’s new version of itself, we are beginning to see some breakdowns of what was assumed to be the “that’s just the way it is”.  Now would be a really important time to look around and see what’s not working, what is ill around us and within us, and to start to imagine things differently. I love the idea of the Shaman who said, “if you want your world to change, plant a different kind of seed”.  Who we are and what we experience is the outgrowth of what we believe to be true for ourselves and the world.

What book of CHANGE do you want to write for yourself? How are you being or wanting to be challenged? How are you stepping up to the changes already knocking at your door? Change is a process not a one stop shopping fixer-upper. Instant This, Instant That. was another of my handmade books. The process of creating it gave me a tool for creating patience and an opportunity to come to terms with the need for immediate gratification.

Diary, Original Artwork by Jill ButlerI’m reminded of the response of the boss who when I told him that one day I knew he would be promoted and that I wanted his job. His reply was not one of how dare she, but more wisely, he said, put your head down, and go to work. In a year, pick it up and we’ll see where we are. And so I did. I worked like a dog and in a year’s time, I picked up my head, quit my job, title, car, expense account, and all the goodies of corporate life and went out into the world to learn how to live. How to work I already knew! And change came knocking big time. Research states the three most stressful changes in life are death, divorce and moving. Perhaps I knew that change would by my middle name even in 1980. Or was it the handmade book that projected me into ever-changing?


Blender, Original Artwork by Jill ButlerEasy-Peasy, it’s summer. I love the idea of less is more, keep it simple, answer the phone and life changes. I’m ready for the easy flow of summer. It’s time to be outside, in the heat, in the water, walking under the moon. Mostly, it doesn’t matter where we are as long as it’s outdoors. Something I used to do when I first moved into the cottage was to take late night walks. These were not power-walks but still-walks into the darkness. I liked it because there was no agenda only the discovery of this quiet neighborhood and the eventual reward of sleep. Easy-Peasy.

Summer brings with it easy access to locally grown, and hopefully organic foodstuffs. The color palette of the rainbow is the perfect visual for guiding our eating choices. The red of the early strawberries made me ever so happy, that is until I succumbed to a pesticide attack brought on by the berries that weren’t organic. One step forward, two steps back. So we want to shop locally, and simultaneously, we need to make sure, by asking, if our choices are organic even if the price is higher. The ultimate cost will be higher yet, if not!

Isabella, our marketing and sales director, talks about eating with the colors of the rainbow. You can read more of her ideas on our website home page, Isabella’s tidbits. The rainbow is an easy visual to hold in our mind’s eye. Mother Nature is no fool. Isabella’s idea is to ‘taste the rainbow’. She likes to start her day with her rainbow of colors in this high-charged breakfast smoothie.

blueberriesAs Isabella notes, “because each color represents a different combination of nutrients, ‘eating the rainbow,’ means you’re eating a healthy balanced meal. Nature makes it easy by attracting the eye to healthy choices that fuel, oil, and energize the body.”  Lisa Sobelski, owner of JUST FOOD organic juice and chocolate bar, totally agrees and creates yummy smoothies from her location at The Local Beet in Chester. Find Lisa and her magic blender, Wednesday through Sunday and during the Chester Sunday Market now through October.

Recently, I was reminded by feng shui consultant, Lurrae Lupone, that my preferred color palette of blues and greens for my office and home needs to be juiced with some higher energy colors. Just like our diets, the colors of our spaces creates how we feel and what we experience in them. Some shots of deep colors like red and purple need to be added into my world. About these colors, I balk, hesitate, and complain a bit, probably a lot, as these aren’t my favorites. Shifts and changes even as “simple” as adding a few touches of a new color, feels difficult, not so easy-peasy. The workshop facilitator that I am has just as much trouble as everyone else in realigning with new ideas. The slight difference might be that I recognize my resistance. I’m suggesting we put on a different pair of sunglasses, perhaps rose colored, or what other color we want to add, and get on with it.

Cherries, Original Artwork by Jill ButlerGoing with the flow is my easy-peasy for this summer…again Mother Nature knows best as she serves up heat too hot to work in.

I’m loving it as the heat ushers in the season of slowing down, taking time to swim, hanging-out on the dock, and paddling around the lake. I’ll watch the blue sky, the birds diving for bait, and consider what new pattern, new colors in my rainbow, and new ideas I want to blend into my rainbows of eating, living, and creating. Summer has arrived take it easy-peasy.

Boredom: a key ingredient for creativity

Original Artwork by Jill ButlerRemember being bored as a kid?  We were pushed outdoors and told to “go play”.  And then what happened? Out of boredom came unspeakable adventures and untold risk. Play took over and cool stuff got created. With our release into nature and our blissful freedom, magic occurred. We built dams, climbed trees, created caves in the woods, and lemonade stands in the front yard.

In this space of no agenda lives a highly underrated commodity…our creativity and genius for invention and innovation. When given space our playful curiosity begins to experiment which leads to creative adventures as varied as nature itself.

Bird ImageWhen is the last time you played with an idea, notion, an inkling without trying to make it into something right then and there? Looking into the void, playing for the fun of playing, taking a shower, running unencumbered, walking in the woods, or driving without our devices opens a space for unexpected observations and intuitive inklings to come into our quieted minds.

As creatives, and, yes, we are all creative, we need to be left alone to work, or as I have come to see work, play. Interrupted with endless questions, people poking at our project, or forcing us to talk about what we’re doing, is not supportive.

Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance, states very clearly the difference between problem solving and creating.  Fritz states, “problem solving is taking action to have something to go away.  Whereas creating is taking action to have something come into being – the creation.  Getting rid of what you don’t want is different from creating what you do want.”

Garden ImageWe must first birth the child before exposing it to the larger “family”.  Our job is to back-off and let the process breathe and unfold. Our goal oriented society has little experience, or tolerance, with the gentle unfolding of anything. This is our challenge to quiet the mind and allow our heart and intuition to speak to us.  The media, internet, or TV are not where our creativity lives, although there are ideas and source materials here, of course. Often I get into overload on information and ideas and need to return to less is more.

Our sense of emergency and impatience to create something new for ourselves is why we often push the process by not allowing time to play with the ideas. Without the time, we end up with just another version of what we’ve had (created) before. We desire more and we deserve more. Our being wants to reinvent, transform and come to new and more satisfying experiences in our lives.

Getting started on the new, or anything for that matter, is always the most difficult . I have a variety ofGarden Cat image ways for tricking myself into “just start” actions. I say things to myself like, “just give it 15 minutes”, “just pull weeds in that area”, “just throw some paint on paper and let it rip”, “just write some words, it doesn’t matter what it is”.  I see what happens when I JUST START.  Next thing I know, I’m transplanting from here to there; next I’m watering, next digging, next creating a new fern bed.

Just go outside, sit in the backyard and breathe. We can do this.  Observe nature and its’ ability torenew itself. And while you’re at it, go take a hike! Studies are now reporting that time spent in nature increases performance of creativity by 50% in all age groups.

The art of being, doing, having.



By way of a recent client project, I was reminded about an exercise on the distinction of HAVING what we want, DOING what we do to get what we have, and BEING whatever we hope will result in our feeling good about what we’ve created in our life. In reverse, you’ve got to BE before you can DO and DO before you can HAVE.

By responding to BEING, DOING, and HAVING in this order, we can create a totally different result that looks like a much healthier, balanced, and meaningful life. The first question becomes how do I want to BE? This is the emotional, like being more caring, sensitive, loving. Next, what do I want to be DOING, writing a book, travelling the world, designing a vegetable garden. The third is Having the life I want as a result of who I am, plus, what I am Doing.

There’s great pressure from society to live the prescribed life. When our lives are prescribed by the fearful, and mandated by what we’re “supposed” to do, we miss the boat for the life that wants to be more intentional and authenticate to our nature. It’s good to remember that every choice, or decision, we make has a consequence.

There is an entire generation of recent grads working in unexpected jobs, or not at all, living at home, and being supported by parents who are scratching their heads wondering what was that investment all about? What will be the ROI (return on the investment) of these expensive educations? Students with loans are pondering the same question.

Because of the economic downturn and the world being in turmoil this generation of grads is caught in a SHIFT without a plan or a skill set beyond what’s worked before. Before is no longer. What I see is an opportunity for looking at what this talented and educated group can do and create by looking at their world with a different eye… or better yet, from the inside out.

My friend Carol says, “if you want a job, you have to create it yourself.” I remember Vera, the scarf, ladybug Vera, whose first job out of art school during WW II was painting roses onJB_Art_PM metal wastepaper baskets. Vera didn’t love roses, never did!  So, she went to her boss and said, “you know women love daisies, I think we should be painting daisies on our baskets”. He wasn’t so sure until she said, “well, I can paint daisies a whole lot faster than I can paint roses”. And he said, “O.K. Vera paint daisies”. Her daisies became their best selling pattern and when Vera created her own enterprise she became the most successful female designer in the world. Seeing an opportunity and speaking up was Vera’s path to her Being, which led to her Doing what she loved, and opening the way to HAVING her ultimate success.

A SHIFT in our thinking is needed!

My new assistant Isabella, just out of college, thought she was destined to work in NYC but she wasn’t willing to pay the rent by BEING a waitress or bartending, in order to DO a job she couldn’t even name. She was far more interested in BEING independent, responsible, and self sufficient, thus, was drawn to what goes on here at Jill Butler art&design, and was willing to DO what needed DOING. She has now created, HAVING, a job for herself in sales and marketing.

If we don’t know who we are, it’s time to find out. If we don’t know what are our offerings, our talents, or what are our gifts to give, it’s time we did. If we want to be taken care of without participating, we need to get beyond that and start thinking in new actionable ways.

Sometimes I Get a Little Lost

Start by spending less time with the devices, and more time moving physically, eating better and balanced food. Begin connecting in real and meaningful ways, eyeball to eyeball. Pay attention to your surroundings and you will begin to see what you are attracted to. By listening deeply, and watching attentively, you’ll begin to see where you can contribute. When you see a need, or an opening, consider it a sign that there is something here with your name it.

When in doubt, ASK for help. Ask, who am I BEING? What am I DOING? And what kind of life can I create that is worthy of HAVING?

Let there be magic: It can come from out of the blue

Let-be-magicWhen asked what am I writing about this month and I say passion - eyebrows raise, voices go up, cheeks get rosy, and I’m smiling because the first thought about passion is love and sexy…quite literally. And that is so what we all want - to love and to be loved.

Gratefully passion has many expressions. To have passion within and for our lives, I do believe, will attract all the experiences of passion. When we are fully engaged and impassioned about what we do, create and offer to the world, we are on fire, and alive as attractive people others want to be around. I see passion as the thing we love and do because we love how we feel when we are engaged, as well as, how it feels to wake up in the morning with a YES for life.

Read more: Let there be magic: It can come from out of the blue