Cherry Blossom Soup

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I've been thinking a lot about what creativity is and simple new ways to bring it into my life. You may have read my post last week about Finding Creativity in Tiny Spaces, in which I share some stories about things I do in five-minute increments to add oomph to my days.

Today I want to share some more ideas with you about bringing more creativity into everyday life.

I was lucky enough to get two creative juju gals —Andrea Scher and Laurie Wagner— together on a phone conversation. The call was totally unscripted. We just wanted to see what kind of conversation might naturally happen around the ideas of creativity and everyday life.

Wow, was it chock-full of energy and inspiration! Scroll down to listen.

Here are a few of my fave quotes from the call:

  • Creativity helps us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It helps us navigate the world with more courage, confidence, and trust. (Andrea)
  • We have the opportunity to show up naturally, to shush out all the critical voices. When we stop judging ourselves and worrying about what others will think of us, then we can really let our hair down. Then we can be free. (Laurie)
  • I don't think there's a moment that I'm not scanning for what's beautiful, colorful, or interesting outside. It's something I've taught myself and it nourishes me in so many ways. (Andrea)

Listen to this quick conversation (just 20-minutes!) with Andrea Scher and Laurie Wagner about bringing creativity into everyday life

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

To download, right-click this link.

If you are having problems with the audio player, click here to view online.


Laurie and Andrea are hosting an amazing workshop all about this!

Opening the Creative Channel Workshop

June 8-12, 2014

Maycamas Retreat Center in Calistoga, Ca. (Wine Country!!!)

Click here for more details!



Friday, April 11, 2014

So often we think of creativity as an ends to a means. We use our creativity so that we can write that story, paint a picture, make a piece of jewelry, or create some other end product.

But as someone who is profoundly interested in moment to moment life experiences, I see creativity as its own reward. I have an expression I use a lot with my coaching clients, "the payoff is in the moment." Instead of the end product being the payoff, our life experience (the vitality and energy we feel) is the payoff. 

I've been playing around with this for the past month or so. How would my life feel differently if I consciously brought more creativity into everday life for no reason other than to simply enjoy the self-expression?

The answer? Wow!


Here are a few things I did — all of which can happen in 5 to minutes:

  • Leave my pink ukulele out and strum it for two minutes.
  • Throw on that polka dotted scarf, crazy blue shoes, or lacy fingerless gloves for added oomph.
  • Set the timer for 5 minutes and respond to a free write.
  • Turn on "Happy" and dance around crazily for four minutes.
  • Take a two-minute walk outside and make a recording about everything beautiful I notice.
  • Practice juggling with my son for just one song per night.



I've been paying special attention to nature's own form of creativity. Specifically in the growth of the lil cherry blossom tree we planted outside our house. Here's a piece I wrote during a five-minute "Messy Beautful Pages" freewrite offered by Firefly Creative Writing. I spent five minutes writing and then another five cleaning it up. In just ten minutes, I felt like I connected to myself and to the world in a creative new way.

It really doesn't take a lot of time to feel a lot of life inside!


Ode to the First Cherry Blossoms

This has been a spring of the very first cherry blossom flower nudging its way to the outside world.

We planted the tree the second week of February — just a tiny little stick of a tree. It looked so frail. Elderly, even. Someone made the requisite joke about it being a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”  It was so spindly we feared it wouldn’t take root. Or that the crazy urban life would be too much for this pale, wisp of a tree. 

You never would have guessed that cotton candy flowers were waiting inside that thin brown twiggy tree. They were a gaggle of a twelve-year-old girls, giggling in the musty gym, huddled together when the music began for the very first boy-girl dance. They were young violinists, trying to be serious during lessons, but thinking of the mini-cupcakes they’d be rewarded with after Beethoven and Bach. Oh, that one perfect bite of red velvet with cream cheese frosting or the chocolate cake with a single swirl of caramel.

These bold, puffs of cheery blossoms were all squeezed in nature’s green room, holding their glittery breaths, waiting. They would turn up their faces to whatever small wisps of sun soaked in. They would sleep the sleep of three-year-olds after a day of chasing butterflies and rubber balls.

These buds, all curled up tight inside that stick, were pimply-faced, but full of possibility. They primped and preened behind the scenes, knowing when the right cue came, they would burst onto the stage, flawless and fabulous— full-fledged dancers in layers of tulle as fine as stardust. 

This has been the spring of their awakening. Like young geishas-in-training, their beauty is all in their plump pink cheeks and innocence. 

—Sherry Richert Belul 


Thursday, March 06, 2014

The car battery died this morning and it makes me smile.

After dropping my son off at school, I pulled over for an hour-long phone meeting. When I tried to start the car, it wouldn't start. I immediately blamed myself, thinking I must have left the lights on or a car door open or something to drain the battery.

I called AAA and they arrived in less than 20 minutes. The guy was so friendly and efficient. Turns out the battery was eight years old and had just simply keeled over and died. Within 10 minutes he had installed a new one and off I went.


Why was it such a celebration?

1. I got to see this process of how quickly I think I've done something wrong. How helpful is that?

2. I got to have a very pleasant interaction with another human being.

3. The battery didn't die later tonight when I'm at a poetry reading across the Golden Gate Bridge, when it would have been late and really inconvenient.

4. I am so fortunate to have the money to buy a new battery.

Thanks, Life.


P.S. I don't have a convertible nor am I young with long hair. But I was smiling and waving like that when I drove away this morn. :-)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hi! Sending you love on Valentine's Day.

{I'm also sending a few tried & true last minute gift ideas that you can whip up quickly.}

Oh, and — a lil reminder ...

Do you know someone who is alone, lonely, or grieving today? Can you take 20 minutes to send them off a Love List?  Template below. Seriously, 20 minutes of your time could change everything for someone who is having a hard time. Consider it. Please.

PDF links below the photo!



Click here to download this free PDF

Click here to download the Love List Template

Friday, January 31, 2014

Last week a very dear and beloved member of our family passed away — my son’s paternal grandpa, Norm. Or, as we affectionately called him —Grandpa Bebop (as a nod to his love of jazz).
Here’s who Norm was. Norm was someone who traveled to San Francisco every year since my son Kayne was born so he could celebrate Kayne’s birthday. He’d mix up Harry Potter potions with us, stuff goodie bags with us, and bowl with us. One time when Kayne was going through his superhero phase, Grandpa Bebop and his wife, Sue, brought a 4-foot Spiderman piñata on the plane with them!
Norm was someone who never had a negative word to say about anyone. He looked for the good in situations— always pointing out what was pleasant or interesting, not what was missing or difficult. He took responsibility seriously. He provided for his family, planned for his retirement, paid all the bills on time, and saved a lot of his money.  After his wife died, Norm carried out her wishes for a big family vacation: he splurged generously on a trip to Hawaii for eleven people. And then, the next year he said, “How about Cape Cod?” And the year after that, “How about Pismo Beach?”
Many of you know that I have a rather unconventional relationship with my son’s dad. We are no longer partners in the romantic/married sense, but we are partners in living together and raising our son within a loving, compassionate, and fun family. Throughout all those unusual transitions, Norm continued to be every bit as warm and wonderful to me as he ever had been. Again, never a negative word at all. I think he just wanted everyone to spend time together, be happy, and to love one another.
In fact, one of my very favorite ongoing memories with Norm is that every year since 2006 he has traveled with us from California to Ohio at the holidays to spend ten or twelve days with my mom and other Belul clan. My beau of eight years, Ian, has traveled with us most of those years and Norm simply extended Ian the same warmth and joy he had for everyone else. Not only that, but Norm was game for anything and everything. Travel from sunny, warm San Diego to the slushy, snowy cold of Ohio? Sure thing. Learn new card games or board games? Why not? He was Jewish, but he would be the one to hang the most ornaments on my mom’s Christmas tree when the rest of us pooped out. (He’d also lead the prayers and kick-off the kugel-eating for our Hanukkah night!)
Bebop was in in 80’s, but he’d don a blue bandana and heartily join in our “Survivor Christmas” Holiday Hoopla antics and games— teaming up with my mom for the “Extreme Gingerbread House Decorating” event and then afterward eating the gooey mess! He’d participate in treasure hunts, blindfolded food tasting, ornament storytelling contests, personalized crosswords, magic shows, you name it. All you’d have to do was ask, and he’d throw his arms up in the air, laugh, and say, “What the hell? Why not!”
I could go on and on telling you tidbits of marvelous things about Norm. He was just plain lovable in so many ways. My heart is squishy right now thinking of how much delight he added to our lives. (As my friend, Suki, put it, “Norm just tickled me by who he was.”)
But this note isn’t really meant to be just about Norm/Bebop. It is a reminder for myself and all of us —  that the people we love dearly …  the people who make up our favorite memories …  aren’t always going to be here. One of the most poignant parts of being human is having the knowledge that at any moment anything could happen. Our lives, or those of people we love, could change or end without notice.
I miss Norm. And I’m really sad. But one thing I don’t feel is regret. Over the years, as a clan and individually we took many opportunities to celebrate Norm and to tell him all the reasons we loved him so gosh-darned much. We wrote him letters and cards. We made him Love Lists, Celebration Books, and personalized iMovies. One year for his birthday, I set up an appointment at Story Corps and my son and his dad interviewed Grandpa Bebop, collecting audio stories of his life.
We had plenty of opportunities to re-tell wonderful memories and pay tribute to Norm.  And fortunately, for us and for generations to come, we will always have these memory books, audios, and other tangible reminders of who he was and the central role he played in our lives.
What you can do to help pay tribute to Norm/Bebop:
Norm absolutely loved his family and friends. As a tribute to him, I invite you to take ten minutes today and connect with someone in your life by sending a short love note or card in the mail to them. Simply tell them they’re fondly on your mind. Jot down a favorite memory or something you’re grateful to them for. Maybe enclose a little hand-drawn illustration, old photo, quote, or pressed flower. It doesn’t have to take a long time or be a big deal. It just needs to be a simple, heartfelt connection. And it needs to happen today. Because in the rush and tumble of everyday life, it is easy to put off the things that are most important. Don’t wait; say it now.
After you send your love note, email me and tell me how it felt to do so. I’ll send you a li’l thank you something.
P.S. If you have some favorite jazz music, will you play it in the background —in memory of Bebop —while you write your card or note to someone you love? I think he'd like that.