Category Archives: Balance

How Our Beliefs Mold Our Life

Are you tired of revisiting the same problem over and over again? Are you tired of feeling angry, frustrated, or like a victim? Do you want to increase those genuinely happy, and empowered moments in your life and also have the capacity to stay centered with your heart open even when life feels like an “out of control” rollercoaster ride?

This past spring John McComb interviewed Nancy Marie, because he wanted to share the I Create What I Believe! program with the world. He felt it would be a great way to help people understand why we sometimes repeat the same problems over and over again. He also wanted to help people understand how our beliefs and perceptions can hinder our ability to love unconditionally and realize our dreams.  All six segments of the interview, HOW OUR BELIEFS MOLD OUR LIFE! are now posted on the I Create What I Believe! website. and on “youtube”:

Peace Begins at Home

When I was growing up my mother often tried to end battles between siblings by saying, “Peace begins at home.” In those situations she was referring to peace in the house. I think the statement is accurate, but I actually think “home” refers to our body. When there is peace and harmony within us we can effortlessly weather storms and also be a catalyst for peace in others. On the other hand, when we are stressed or out of balance the process becomes more difficult.

Mitchell Gaynor in his book Sounds of Healing states that “…illness is inharmony–either physical inharmony or mental inharmony; the one acts upon the other…” Stress, or the lack of harmony, affects our clarity, creativity, health and ability to live effective and positive lives. Since life is filled with so many external stresses is there a way to restore inner peace quickly? Yes.

Most people have at least one activity they like to do that helps them reconnect with themselves and reclaim a sense of inner peace, but is it adaptable or transportable?  Let me give you an example: Lets say you discovered that you are able to regain clarity and reconnect with what is important or bothering you if you go for a bicycle ride. This is wonderful, but what happens if you are at work and something happens that throws you off balance? Your mind starts reeling, your inner peace dissolves, you lose your clarity and you find yourself getting upset and maybe even reacting poorly. What can you do in that moment? You can’t get on your bicycle and go for a 10 mile ride—at least not until after work.

What you can do is the next time you go riding, or do any other activity that helps you reconnect with your essential self and restore inner peace, is pay attention to what part of the activity is most pivotal.  Is it the change in your breathing? The rhythm?  The stillness? The movement?  Physical exertion? One-point focus? Feeling of freedom?  Or is it something else?

Paying attention to your body sensations and emotions while you are doing it can help you identify what part of the activity helps you move out of stress and back into clarity the quickest. Once you have uncovered that information take that awareness and use it in situations where you can’t use your bike.

I found that movement helped me shift my mind-state the quickest. I also discovered that with clear intention, the movement did not have to be as big or as physical as when I rode my bicycle. It could be as subtle as moving my pencil, my crayon or my foot. Now when I find myself in difficult or challenging situations, I move. This relaxes my body, changes my breathing, and subsequently my mind clears.

If you don’t have a simple and effective way to restore inner peace, you might want to check out the I Create What I Believe! Program. Using activities as simple as scribbling and drawing circles and lines you can uncover simple and effective ways to transform habitual stress patterns and create new and healthier responses to the external stresses in your life.  We can’t control life or the behavior of others, but when we are aware of what helps us maintain clarity we can respond to external events in a manner that doesn’t disrupt our inner peace and also helps us generate more peace in the world.

For information about the I Create What I Believe! Program and Pilot Study

Choose Happiness!

It is not the cards we are dealt that decide our happiness; it is how we respond to the situation. Every turn of the road we have an opportunity to view ourselves as a victim or choose to be the hero in our own life. This is not something imaginary. As the Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, Ph.D. details, research now shows us precisely how our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes mold our life.

With every situation we have the opportunity to see the cup as half-full or half-empty. The “half full” mind-set produces an opportunity for us to view the potential, use our imagination to find an innovative response, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and implement change. The “half empty” mind-set just reinforces a sense of powerlessness and feeds underlying beliefs that we aren’t adequate, or capable of “making the cut.”

This is a time of great change. It is not the time to feed or reinforce a sense of powerlessness because that discourages an innovative and pro-active response.  So whenever you feel stuck, overwhelmed or confused, no matter what the situation, activate your childhood curiosity. Why isn’t the situation working? Step out of your old mindset and be imaginative! What is possible? What would I really like to happen? Allow yourself to be creative! What can I do differently to encourage this new direction?

Looking at a situation in an inquisitive and non-reactive manner allows us to step out of old reactive behavior and come up with a more balanced and integrated plan of action. The I Create What I Believe exercises support this process. On the other hand,

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

Here is a marvelous video that reminds me that none of us really know what the next moment will bring. It is also a wonderful reminder that it is not the moment or the situation that matters, but rather how we choose to respond to the situation that molds our life and our experience of happiness.

The I Create What I Believe! Program is a fantastic tool for helping us find and nurture the positive habits of thought and creativity it takes to live a life of happiness.

Untapped Resource

Technology has helped give non-traditional learners a more level playing field, but the understanding or appreciation of what these unique minds can offer society remains an unknown to most people. I am a very non-traditional learner. When I was younger I was one of the children who was falling through the cracks. No one really understood why I was having difficulty, so I was on my own. In my attempts to be like everyone else, I came to realize how different my mind really was. At first this was a source of embarrassment, but over time it became a point of fascination for me. I had always been poignantly aware of all of the things I couldn’t do, but I was also under the assumption that everyone else could see and do the things that came naturally to me. I was very, very wrong!

On my path to self-discovery I have come to wonder if the individuals our culture has labeled as “learning challenged” might actually be the “untapped resource” we need to resolve many of our cultural, environmental and socioeconomic difficulties. When you have a uniquely wired mind, you get used to taking multiple detours and creating multiple adaptations in mid-stream to accomplish what others take for granted.  Over time this process changed for me from a “problem” into a game–a fascinating and attention grabbing game. At this point in time, my mind doesn’t accept the concept that something is impossible. I know deep within the core of my being that all things are possible; you just have to peel away your limiting beliefs, and shift your perceptions to open the door to amazing magic.

When I was writing Passage of Change, A fable based on the research of Bruce Lipton,Ph.D. ( my editor informed me that it was impossible to convert all of Dr. Lipton’s research into rhyme—I had to do it in prose. I responded, “If I can’t do it in rhyme, I am not going to do the book.” Why was I so adamant? This was how I saw it in my mind. I saw the size, the illustrations, and I heard the rhythm of the words in my body. I also knew that by reducing all of Dr. Lipton’s research to 2000 words, converting it to rhyme and fully illustrating would make his life-changing research accessible to more unique minds, learning styles and ages, which was the point of the project.

Education today is mainly designed for the linear thinker, but you only have to turn on the news or read a newspaper to know that our world needs lots “out of the box” thinkers right now to resolve many of our current problems. So if you have a student or children with “learning challenges,” take the time to discover and appreciate what their unique mind can do that others can’t.  Then help them develop and see how their unique mind could be an untapped resource for the world. This is what individuals learn how to do in the I Create What I Believe! Program.

Are You (or your child) Bored?

Are you bored? Do you believe that boredom is part of life and you need to endure it?  Or are you aware that boredom, like confusion, discontentment and frustration are signals from your body saying the current situation, your approach to the situation, or your belief about the situation is not good for your biology.

Boredom is not something we want to ignore or teach our children to endure. It is more effective to look at what message the body may be trying to convey when anyone feels bored. Boredom often occurs when there isn’t enough or the right kind of stimulation to engage the brain in learning. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to increase the volume or quantity of stimulation. It could just mean the approach is not engaging.

When you hear someone repeatedly express boredom, it would also be good to realize that what he or she is really saying is, “Help, my brain is going to sleep or starting to waste away!” Benjamin Gottlieb, in his book, Coping with Chronic Stress, demonstrates that under-activity in the brain can produce a health risk by encouraging atrophy of nerve cells in the hippocampus––a region of the brain that is essential for spatial and verbal memory.

Understanding what it feels like when engagement is taking place in your body and mind is important, but how can we develop that awareness? The process is quite simple. Reflect on an activity that you enjoy and ask yourself what about it you enjoy. Is it the physical, mental, emotional or creative challenge that engages you the most? Then reflect on the situation that is boring you. Does it contain any of the same qualities that previously engaged you? If not, is there a way you could approach it differently so it would possess some of those qualities?

For me physical motion is the most essential. I am engaged and the happiest when I am moving around. So if I am bored, or stifled in any way I always try to move my body. Clearly I would prefer going for a long bike ride or hiking but when that is not a possibility I will pick up a pencil and scribble, doodle or draw. The composition is not important. What is important is how the movement of my pencil and my fascination with what is emerging on my paper affects my mind.

Sometimes people don’t understand why I need to do this, but many years ago I discovered that in order to not be bored and to retain information I needed to keep my system in a state of constant fascination and motion. Now this can be a difficult task during a dry and boring lecture, but one day I discovered I could accomplish this with my pencil.  I now effectively use scribbling, doodling and drawing throughout my day in any situation where I need to keep my mind open, and engaged.

Buying into the belief that we all learn in the same manner and that struggling students just need to “try harder” is obviously not the answer. This mindset is not only not productive; it also fosters poor self-image and low self-esteem, which can become significant barriers to ongoing learning. It would be far more effective if more time and energy was placed on helping everyone discover how their minds organize life and what are their most effective learning styles. Then when students felt bored, confused, discontented or frustrated they would know what to do to help themselves engage more effectively.

When I was growing up my mother always told me that I needed to listen and follow instructions. Regrettably she was referring to me listening to her, my teachers, and all other authority figures and doing exactly what I was told to do. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t. Not because I was stupid, bad or incapable, but because my mind organized life differently and I had a very unique learning style.

I struggled for many years until I realized that this “one size fits all” approach to learning was ridiculous!

Learning how to use my pencil to keep my mind engaged, and relax my body changed my life! Now when I find myself frustrated, confused, uncomfortable or bored I just pick up my pencil and in the process I uncover what isn’t working for me and what I need to change. This is exactly what students learn how to do in the I Create What I Believe! art program: understand the messages their biology is sending, and find the uniquely creative solutions that will allow their learning to flourish.

Brilliant Beyond Belief

Imagine how different the world would be if all children learned that they were brilliant beyond belief and they were encouraged to discover how their mind worked the best.

We are all aware that school districts have faced repeated budget cuts. We are also aware that our teachers are required to teach more academic content, meet higher standards and at the same time have more students in their classrooms. I think we are also aware this situation creates more stress and that stress has an adverse effect on the learning environment, the student and the teacher.

Stress interferes with students’ attention, memory, and their ability to organize and integrate information. This is not new information. Educators have known for a long time that the optimal mind/body state of a student is one of relaxed alertness, but unfortunately how to generate a state of relaxed alertness, especially in stressful situations, is rarely taught in the classroom.

How did we get on this treadmill? Isn’t it time to get off?  Children still focus a high percentage of their attention in school on tasks bearing little relationship to real-life activities. Have we forgotten that our focus should be on preparing our students for life––the new ever-changing global life?  Have we forgotten the importance of developing the conscious creative and problem-solving mind in this new and changing world? And have we forgotten that to develop this part of the mind, individuals need to understand how the mind works and be encouraged to step out of reaction and discover new answers––not just repeat the answer someone else discovered?

Almost everyday I hear the stories of individuals whose faith in themselves and potential was crushed by this stress-filled treadmill we call education. What many people don’t realize is those scars don’t disappear miraculously. They can last a lifetime––or until the individual learns how to turn on his or her conscious mind at will and transform stifling inaccurate beliefs.

What if, when a student didn’t understand something, the focus was on figuring out how to get better performance from his mind, not on his feeling he was inadequate or stupid? Linear thinkers have an advantage in the traditional classroom, but now there is a greater need in the global market place for the “out of the box” thinkers. Can we rise to the occasion and find more effective ways to help our youth understand how to activate their conscious mind, maximize its performance and become “out of the box” thinkers? If we can, we can activate a wave of brilliant minds that are desperately needed to solve the world’s current problems.

Thoughts from a pilot teacher:

“…One of the best things about the I Create What I Believe! Program is what it does for the teacher.  When I began using the activities in my classroom I started to see my students differently–– a less adversarial relationship. The classroom climate changed as well when my students saw me doing the art too, because they knew this wasn’t something I was just telling them to do, it was something I used in my own life.

With all of the stress, demands and pressure teachers are under these days it is really easy to see only the defiance in a student. However, when students are given these opportunities to express themselves you get to see that under that defiance they are vulnerable and very unsure of themselves. Being able to suggest an alternative to disrupting the whole classroom leaves me feeling less like a tyrant, leaves them feeling less attacked, and ultimately is helping me become more a compassionate and effective teacher…”

For more information about the I Create What I believe! Program and Pilot Study

A Sense of Self and Balance?

When parents and teachers talk about the need for good self-esteem, they usually mean that children should have “good feelings” about themselves. For young children, this also refers to the degree they feel accepted and valued by the adults and peers who are important to them.

A child with a healthy sense of self-esteem feels accepted and loved, is not afraid of making a mistake, and knows that the important adults in their life would go out of their way to make sure they are safe and well.  On the other hand, children with low self-esteem do not feel accepted and loved, are afraid of being wrong,  and are not sure the important adults in their life would go out of their way to ensure their safety and well-being.

It is important to remember that “self-esteem” is not something that magically appears out of thin air. It grows from our early childhood experiences.  In the first six years of life we acquire our fundamental beliefs about life and ourselves merely by observing the behaviors, attitudes and reactions of our parents siblings and peers. This is not a thinking process, but rather an automatic download or an experience similar to “cut and paste”.  Once our beliefs are acquired they will color our perceptions about life and ourselves for the rest of our life, unless we actively change them in our subconscious mind.

Living with the belief that you are flawed, inadequate or undeserving can reap havoc with your ability to succeed.  On the other hand, if given opportunities to discover the faultiness of your perceptions and an opportunity to change those core beliefs can change your whole life.  Self-initiated hypnotic-like practices, like the drawing activities in the ICWIB program,  are a very effective way to change old beliefs that are stored in our subconscious, because they take the brain into a relaxed and receptive state, which allows for the easy observation and transformation of inaccurate thought patterns and beliefs.

Challenges are important, but so are activities that encourage inward reflection, and the valuing of the child’s uniqueness. Providing opportunities for children to experience a sense of balance and discover their uniqueness can help them develop a good sense of self. Unfortunately, we live in such a performance driven society that type of development is being rushed or overlooked.  The end result is similar to taking a cake out of the oven before it is fully cooked––it falls! It fails! It never reaches it full potential! I find myself concerned about the future when I see the list of beliefs that sixth graders have about themselves and life. (Today’s Pilot Update)

The good news is the teachers, and parents that are using this creative program with young children are noticing changes in behavior, attitudes and responses.  This in turn is affecting their performance both in and outside the classroom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get tools like these into the hands of all of our children so they grew up knowing how to transform negative beliefs that are hindering their ability to thrive?

If you are interested in using some of this program with your children or students here are some free resources:

Introductory Presentation for Teachers––audio file

I Create What I Believe! Activities

Today’s Pilot Update

“…This week I had my students write in their journal about what false beliefs a sixth grader might have about himself or herself.  Here is list of beliefs that plagued them and they felt plagued other sixth graders: You are stupid. You can’t pass. You can’t play sports. You are not as good as others. You have to do what adults tell you to do. You have bad handwriting. No one likes you. You are ugly. You are not pretty. You can’t do math. You are fat. You can’t do anything right. You need to be a bully. Scary movies are real. Monsters are real. I am going to die today. Many of these beliefs were repeated many times in the journals.  The last four were only single entries…”

A lighter note from the same teacher, “…The ICWIB program is a great equalizer––especially for my special ed. students.  I usually have to tell them how to do everything to get them through a lesson, but this is something they can do as well as rest of my students!  It is nice to see changes beginning to take place in individual students and in the classroom…”

Reduce Stress with Balance

What can we do when we find ourselves getting overly stressed? The simple answer is simple– stop, look and listen. It doesn’t matter it you are a student struggling to understand a problem, a parent trying to make ends meet or a senior citizen trying to remember where they left their car keys. The answer is always the same–– You need to stop, look and listen.

If you have forgotten how to stop and reflect or no one ever taught you the importance of introspection––the art of connecting deeply with yourself here is a very simple exercise you can do:

The labyrinth is one of the basic I Create What I Believe! art activities students are being taught in the classroom and in after school programs. This simple activity can help you relax your body, you focus your mind, and move your whole system out of reactivity and into your conscious problem-solving mind.

Give it a try! Once you learn the activity on paper, you can duplicate the experience with your finger on your leg or arm to help your body regain a calm, clear and centered perspective.

Our body was designed to be balanced, though our culture with all if its striving to dominate perpetuates disconnection and imbalance.  This can leave us feeling powerless or incompetent. Having one simple tool you can use anywhere to help you stop, reflect and uncover a new solution can make a huge difference in the quality of your life and your ability to succeed.

Today’s Pilot Updates

“…I was able to devote the entire class period to ICWIB today.  We began by making a journal for their ICWIB reflections.  Our activity today was circles and lines, this time with objects to draw around and rulers.  Last week was so hurried that I wanted to extend the lesson.

When I was reviewing from last week’s reading of Out of the Box! one girl said “this feels like church.”  I have only presented the material from an art of science perspective so she is obviously experiencing a change.  Another student said, “I messed up” and a classmate said, “You can’t mess up.”  I am really pleased to see they’re getting it!

I saw many variations on my instructions.  Some put lines and circles together even though I asked for one side of each first before combining them.  Some did rubbings.  One scribbled really hard and said “I’m putting my anger on the page.”  I saw all kinds of interesting designs.  Our first journal entry will be Monday to reflect on whether they’re a line person or a circle person and how it feels to draw each…”