Silence your inner listening to it (+ The Dreamer Creed) April 9, 2015 16:00

Lumeclusteer Dreamer Creed
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Ever have that moment when an amazing idea or realization hits you with such a force, it feels like an intense power is just rushing through your body?

You feel unstoppable. Like you can tackle just about anything. So, you dive right in and put all your energy into it.

But as you start going deeper with the idea, the mood transforms. Maybe issues you didn't see before start cropping up. Questions you didn't think to ask start making their way in. Things aren't turning out the way you imagined. Concern and worry start replacing your enthusiasm with your good ol' friend, your inner critic.

Sure, on the decent days, maybe you can easily brush the critic aside. But when the road gets particularly difficult, sometimes your negativity completely steals the driver's seat.

What have I gotten myself into? Why the hell did I think I could handle this? There's so much work to do. I don't have enough time. I'll never keep up...

This is what I worried over even before I started learning how to do 3D printed art (read about my first adventure into 3D printing here). Yes, I was excited by the thought of 3D printing and all the amazing things I could make, but once I started doing the research my excitement got shaky...because there was a lot I didn't know.

The more I realized how much of a novice I was, the more I feared. Before I even gave myself a shot to learn how to 3D model, I started to tell myself that I'd be an idiot for even considering the medium. Soon enough, my thoughts took an even more self-defeating turn...

I'm just not qualified because I don't have any art or design degrees. Oh no! What if the real 3D modelers think I'm a joke?! What if other artists laugh at me for being in the artist space despite never having done any art professionally in my life? What if people think I'm a big flake for jumping around to different mediums so suddenly?

My friends and family will think I'm delusional for pursuing something like 3D printing. It's too hard for someone like me...and the learning curve is way too high. There's simply too much I don't know!

Maybe I shouldn't even bother...

I was so afraid of what other people might think that I nearly stopped myself before I even bothered starting...and it would have come at a great cost.

I had already thrown away two months just worrying and thinking about 3D printing...not actually trying it. But my sister (love her so much!) got pretty fed up with my irrational anxieties and imagined fears. With a lot of effort, she eventually made me realize that I'd get a lot more answers if I took a stab at it instead of wasting more months worrying about "what might happen."

Looking back, I realize now how much I would have missed out on... The most interesting thing is that I went into 3D printing only wanting to make a Dreamer Mask just for myself. But it quickly opened up more paths and opportunities I would never have imagined. I mean, here are just some of the things that happened within less than a year:

    • I won my first competition within the first month of being in the world of 3D printing, which led to a licensing agreement with Adobe
    • I've gotten coverage on most major 3D printing industry sites and even got a mention in Forbes
    • I've been asked to do interviews and speak on workshops/panels (still always surprises me)
    • I helped with the aesthetic design for Natasha Hope Simpson's prosthetic leg
    • I had the opportunity to work with the talented musician, Jihae, and director, Agnieszka Vosloo, on a music video starring actor Norman Reedus from AMC's The Walking Dead (not yet released)
    • I've even had an overseas company try to rip off my 3D printed artwork
    • And there are still more projects underway...

    Sure, there was also the possibility that nothing interesting would have happened if I started 3D printing. Or maybe something else would have opened up if I just stuck with my black & white ink drawings. I'll never know.

    But the point is that I took a chance. And it shook up my world in ways I never expected.

    What this also showed me was that I needed to do some serious work on reframing my doubts and fears. And If I wanted to keep climbing higher, I realized that I can't always depend on someone like my sister to help me snap out of it (after all, she has her own things to worry about).

    I need my mind to always be my #1 ally and help me stay true and focused on my dreams instead of my fears.

    And being a rather emotional and sensitive person, I knew it wasn't enough to try and force myself to "be more positive" I decided to write a Dreamer Creed that I could look to whenever I feel useless or powerless.

    The Dreamer Creed is for those who have big dreams and even bigger (internal/external) critics. I hope this can get your courage and confidence back on track when fear and doubt get in your way.

    “What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.” ― Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

    If you're fighting for your dreams, you always need to have your mind on your side. Of course, we're all human and no one is completely immune to fear, self-doubt, and criticism. Every now and then we're all bound to get a little too caught up in our negative self-talk when we're facing new challenges.

    But constantly worrying about "what might happen" and getting caught up in imagined fears can be a major time suck and a dangerous distraction. That's why I decided to write the Dreamer Creed to help you stay focused on what matters most―taking action on your dreams (and it's a little inspired by the song, Imagine, by John Lennon).

    So, whenever the critics throw some variation of the same old fears in your face and try to paralyze you with worry, just remember that they're only telling one side of an argument. So, listen to what the critic has to say and ask yourself, "why is it saying that?" Then turn its words on its head by pointing out why its concerns are irrational. Offer it an alternate view...and maybe even a bit of peace of mind.

    I did that here with my Dreamer Creed. And I hope it can also remind you that there's a whole other side of the discussion that the critics are missing out on.

    Here is the full Dreamer Creed text seen in the header image above, which you can save and use for your desktop:


    You may say I can't change the world, but I will start by helping causes I believe in.

    You may say I need to stop dreaming, but dreams are previews into life's possibilities.

    You may say everything's already been done, but anything can be seen in a new light.

    You may say we've heard it all before, but learning to listen reveals what isn't being said.

    You may say my ideas are risky, but nothing remarkable comes from always playing it safe.

    You may say I should be realistic, but innovation always needs a bit of fantasy.

    You may say I need to find the right tools first, but tools are useless without a clear mission.

    You may say my endeavors could be a mistake, but mistakes are often building blocks in disguise.

    You may say I should wait until I know enough, but expertise is built through trial and error.

    You may say my work won't appeal to everyone, but creations designed for everyone will touch no one.

    You may say I'll never be as good as my competitors, but I am here to be better than myself yesterday.

    You may say this might not work out, but every experience brings me closer to what will work.

    You may say I'll never make it big, but big wins are built on a foundation of small successes.

    You may say I'll never find the right path, but wrong turns can lead to unexpected adventures.

    You may say I'll be in over my head, but focusing on present priorities will keep me on higher ground.

    You may say I'll end up embarrassing myself, but what others think cannot overpower how I choose to feel.

    You may say my efforts might be a waste of time, but the only waste is to live a life filled with regret.

    You may say I might fail, but the greatest failure would be the unwillingness to try.

    You may say dreams are pointless, but dreams inspire humanity to keep leaping forward.

    You may say no one can really build their dreams, but I say, "just watch me."

    Dreams inspire. Dreams empower. Dreams matter.

    Because dreams can make a difference.


    Lumecluster Dreamer Mask Breakthrough
    In the end, the internal & external critics may have their opinions and judgments about you and what you do, but their words do not define you or your work...unless you let them.

    “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

    What you have to offer matters. It may not look "perfect" or "right" the first time (or even the first 10 or 20 times). But that's okay.

    If you've been following Lumecluster since the beginning, you might remember that this site used to look like shit. In fact, it used to be just me whining and complaining about random stuff (under a different name) because that's what I thought blogging was all about. My earlier Lumecluster versions didn't have any ink drawings or any kind of art either.

    It was good enough for the stage I was in and it's awful when I look back at it now. But I needed those to happen before I could realize how much better I could make it...and to realize that things can be different if I actively seek out the possibilities.

    There will always be unexpected bumps and road blocks along your journey. Just remember that you can also find a way around them. And guess what? Your inner critic will always be riding with you, but you don't have to be worried about it.

    Your inner critic is just scared of the road ahead. What it doesn't realize is that it needs you to comfort it...and maybe it'll just start getting excited with you :) And when you look back at how far you've come, you'll wonder why you ever worried about anything in the first place.

    <3 Melissa

    YOUR TURN: What's your inner critic saying to you that's holding you back? Now stop, think, and ask yourself why are you saying this to yourself in the first place?

    Then dig deeper... What's the simplest thing you can you say or do right now to ease its fear or change its tone?

    Are you courageous? September 1, 2013 08:00

    Lumecluster finding courage

         "Heroics is important and we certainly need more heroes, but I think we've lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we're feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today's world, that's pretty extraordinary." -—Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
    Do you think you're courageous? Brave?

    Yes? No? Sometimes? However you feel about it, one thing is for sure:

    We all wish we could be braver and have more courage to fearlessly pursue our dreams.

    But too often, we fear we "don't have what it takes" to make it all happen.

    We fret, we whine, we have meltdowns. We get all tangled up by the inspiring stories about the amazing geniuses who swoop in to restore floundering companies, the overnight successes who seemingly went from being nobodies to millionaires changing the world, the serial entrepreneurs who gave up their six-figure jobs to pursue their passion and wholehearted living, the rebellious spirits who boldly ruffle a lot of feathers and constantly turn industries on their heads...

    How could we ever compare? How could we ever match that?

    First, courage comes in all shapes and sizes. Second, it's important to remember that you're usually seeing only a part of the story (the happy/exciting parts).

    Lately, I've been really getting into writing reminder lists (I really like lists...). Creating one for courage was really important to me since my confidence has a tendency to plummet whenever the going gets tough. Chances are yours does too. So, I'll start by sharing my list.

    Courage is...

    tackling one problem at a time,

    breaking away from the familiar,

    persevering in the face of uncertainty,

    sharing your fears with the ones you love,

    defining your own freedom and happiness,

    asking questions about what you don't know,

    reaching out for help when you really need it,

    being honest and authentic with yourself and others,

    fearing for the safety of a dream, but pursuing it anyway,

    sharing your creations with the world (or in a blog post ;)

    doing what needs to be done NOW and not setting it aside for later,

    putting in the endless hours of work without expecting immediate rewards,

    accepting that failures happen but never accepting defeat,

    saying "no" to the customers that aren't right for you,

    telling yourself that you've done all that you can today,

    not worrying about making a fool of yourself,

    owning up to your mistakes and taking chances,

    moving forward even when you're completely lost,

    consistently taking action despite the fear.

    taking the unpopular route,

    embracing your quirks,

    thinking differently,

    holding onto hope.

    Your turn. What does courage mean to you?
    "One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest." -—Maya Angelou
    If you've done any of the above, you already have more courage than you think. No matter how new or experienced you are, as a creator, you're looking at fear in the face whenever you deliver on your product, create new content, or build anything of value.

    I don't know about you but I think that takes a lot of guts. Dontcha think?

    <3 Melissa

    Give yourself the freedom to... August 25, 2013 09:00

    Lumecluster_give yourself freedom

    Give yourself the freedom to...

    be a beginner,
    ask for assistance,
    screw up and make mistakes,
    create many shitty first drafts,
    stand up for what you believe in,
    celebrate the big and small successes,
    revisit old ideas with new perspectives,
    embrace the lessons learned from failures,
    cry it out once in a while (no, you're not weak),
    try something new without expecting perfection,
    believe you have the power to make a difference,
    build on your collection of curiosities, interests, and ideas,
    accept that you don't have the answers to everything,
    scrap an idea without feeling ashamed to start over,
    share your work because it has a right to be seen,
    reserve your you time because you deserve it,
    take a day off or book a vacation,
    define your own expectations,
    be yourself without apology,
    challenge conventions,
    dream big.
    When work, business, and life start to feel like it's too much to handle, I like to recall Col. Chris Hadfield's inspiring words:
    “Decide in your heart what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow and the day after that.
    Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in.
    Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.”
    What do you want to give yourself the freedom to do? Share your thoughts and add to the list of reminders.
    <3 Melissa

    Disempowering the dream crushers in your life. August 18, 2013 08:00

    Lumecluster Dream Crushers

    It's safer not to take any risks.

    You'll only succeed if you have a lot of investors.

    You should wait until you have a better idea that can go viral.

    You don't have enough experience to launch or build a business.

    Wait until you're really ready to share your ideas or else someone will steal it.

    Leave it to the "real professionals" to change the world.

    Try to be more realistic about your dreams.

    Stop dreaming and wake up to reality.

    I just don't think you'll ever get the business off the ground.

    Dream crushers. I bet we all have at least one in our life (not including your own nasty inner critic).

    Maybe it's a family member, loved one or a good friend. Hearing these kinds of comments can be shocking and even crippling to the work you do. But let's be honest...their words say more about their own fears and insecurities than they do about you and your abilities.

    Perhaps it's their own lack of self-confidence or an underlying fear of looking at where they are in their own life. Or maybe they experienced their own failed business(es). Or they may truly believe they're protecting you and just don't know a better way to express their concerns.

    It's not like they want you to fail or mean to intentionally tear you down (unless they're spiteful like that...). Believe it or not, they probably think they're being supportive.

    But most of the time, it's just that they have no idea how it's possible to succeed in what you're doing. And all they can do is offer whatever might be some relevant knowledge or stories/lessons, view you through that lens, and offer their "advice" in the best way that they can.

    But you know what? In the end, you're not really looking for their advice.

    What you're looking for is support, empathy, and understanding, right?

    Chances are you probably need to look elsewhere and seek out those who have been through what you're going through or are pursuing similar goals. Finding appropriate mentors, checking out conferences, and joining online communities can be an amazing remedy against dream crushers.

    So keep dreaming bigger dreams, take action through daily baby steps, meet new and inspiring people, ask questions, research, experiment, and make mistakes. Most importantly, keep launching your ideas out to those who care about the work you (must) do. Because they're the ones that really matter, aren't they?

    Now, get down to business. <3

    What have the dream crushers in your life said to you? What did you do about it?

    P.S. I've been experimenting with some fun, new, creative projects. Can't wait to share the progress! And in case you missed last week's post about rising above the fear of rejection, you can check it out here.

    A life beyond a fear of rejection August 11, 2013 08:00

    Lumecluster beyond rejection
    “We reject ourselves before other people can. Stop.” —Jia Jiang, 100 Days of Rejection

    Fake. Poser. Wannabe. Fraud.

    I bet these are just some of the words you're afraid everyone around you is secretly labeling about you. Words you may even mutter to yourself, leaving you feeling weak, vulnerable, and paralyzed.

    As an entrepreneur, author, blogger, artist, small business owner, etc., you put your self-esteem and self-concept on the line every time you hit "publish" on your next blog post, unveil your first/next product, ask for the sale or try to do anything to reach out to the world.

    When someone rejects you, it hurts emotionally and physically. Rejection inspires all kinds of conflicting and painful emotions, but above all, it totally disconnects your brain from logic and reason.

    You don't just take rejection personally, you take it as a reflection of your unworthiness.

    We've all felt this at some point in our life. Sure, some of us might be able to brush it off. But many of us end up hiding ourselves away and allowing the rejection to drag on our minds for hours, days or years. Even worse, we may steer clear of opportunities to avoid the possibility of experiencing future rejection.

    Yes, it sucks to feel like you're somehow the only one missing the point. Like you're the sole loser who is left behind because you can't seem to figure it all out.

    Deep down inside, we all want approval from friends, family and/or peers. We want to belong to some special group, community, tribe—whatever you want to call it. We want people to love our work, to appreciate everything we do, and to embrace us for who we are.

    But let's be real here. Who are we? Who are you? ...if you're constantly rejecting yourself?

    I grew up living most of my life rejecting myself.

    Because my (then small) world had rejected me.

    Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was constantly bullied or simply ignored, I didn't know how to deal with racism in school, I hated being born a girl (one of three) because some simple-minded relatives made my mother's life a living hell for not bearing any sons, I had few to no friends, and I became so quiet that people even joked about me being a mute.

    I felt so ashamed to be me.

    According to my peers at the time, everything about me was "wrong." And whenever I tried to stand up for myself, there always seemed to be someone eager to "put me back in my place." So, I stopped trying...until I left for college.

    While my perception of the world started shifting, accepting myself didn't get any easier. First, I needed to learn to like myself.

    In retrospect, I was filled with a lot of frustration, resentment, and wrath (a terrible sin, I know...give me a break).

    In my anger, I was determined not to let anyone tell me who I was anymore. I wanted to finally start standing up for myself. Thankfully, I met a lot of great mentors and friends who helped me see that I could rise beyond my anger. They saw my bad, but they also saw the good in me.

    Deciding to pursue an entrepreneurial life later on also added a new level of exploration. Surprisingly, someone I looked up to confidently told me that PianoVerse would fail and that I would never be able to do anything with my drawings. Of course, they were wrong.

    In the end, experiencing rejection is not proof of your inadequacy. It's proof that you're bold enough to try to be someone: yourself.

    Perhaps you can even view being rejected by the status quo as a rite of passage toward living a more adventurous life of non-conformity. ;) It's important to realize that discovering who you are doesn't just happen overnight. Knowing, loving, and trusting yourself is an open-ended process and thrives on finding new ways to grow.

    Now, I'm not saying you should screw the world and not care about anyone's opinions anymore. What I am saying is to recognize who these opinions are coming from before you give their words too much weight.

    Are they coming from people who truly want to understand you? Who recognize your values and goals? Aim to offer constructive criticism because they want to see your future success?

    For every person who might reject or condemn you, there is someone out there who also believes in you and what you do. So, do them and yourself the honor by putting yourself forward so that you may find each other.

    And go show them what you've got!

    Have you experienced or frequently fear rejection? How do you deal with it?

    <3 Melissa

    (Un)limited Growth August 4, 2013 09:00

    Lumecluster (Un)limited Growth

    "The failure of an artist is not the inability to draw or create, but the resistance to continually learn and do. Every artist, in their own mind, is a work in progress." — Eugenia Leung
    (Substitute "artist" with whatever word you prefer in the quote above)
    Have you ever said some variation of the following?
    I don't have the guts. I can't put myself out there. I wish I was more like X. I'm too old/young to start X. I'm just not naturally talented like so-and-so. Maybe they won't like me or what I have to offer.
    I could never do that.
    I admit I'm guilty of comforting myself with many of these lies. In fact, these thoughts run through my head almost everyday, but I still go on. Not because I'm somehow stronger, but because it's all that I really can and must do, don't you think?
    A year ago, I thought I could never pursue my love for illustration and curiosity for writing.
    Heck, I hadn't drawn for over 6-7 years and my writing was so terrible, I even blushed about it in private!
    I never had any formal art training beyond elementary school, I was bored out of my mind by the art history prerequisite back in my college days, I don't have an MBA, I found writing to be very challenging, I have a questionable grasp on grammar, and I suffered from a pathetically limited vocabulary.
    So, according to everyone who was convinced they knew me better than myself, I was totally "unqualified" to pursue illustration and writing. Do I even need to talk about the looks of (loving) concern? It was like they mentally stamped the words "starving artist" on my forehead and I couldn't erase it from their mind.
    But according to me, I wasn't going to let their uncertainties or their standards lead my life.
    So, what happened? I grabbed a pen and started writing and drawing a lot of shit every day.
    Sadly, not the epic kind, but the stinky kind.
    I'm not going to lie and pretend that I miraculously got better with each passing day. In reality, I had nuggets of good sandwiched in between massive collections of bad. In fact, drawing and (especially) writing still do not come easily to me.
    Even so, I've learned to get comfortable with knowing that nothing worthwhile and meaningful ever comes easily. If it did, everyone would be living their purpose right now. But you and I both know that plenty of folks would much rather spend their days building barriers against risks rather than opening up to uncertain possibilities.
    I'm fine with knowing that I'll always have a long journey ahead of me. No doubt, you have a long way to go as well.
    But it's better than going no where at all.
    Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something before giving yourself a chance? What area in your life are you trying to improve and grow right now?
    And do you want to see some of my old shit? ;D Leave a comment and let me know!

    Breathing Room (+ Freedom) July 21, 2013 08:00


    I bet you don't give yourself much of it, do you?
    Now, I don't just mean giving yourself room to move and breathe comfortably, although that's just as important. When I talk about breathing room, I mean being self-compassionate and being able to forgive yourself so that you can move forward.
    Let's be honest now. Giving ourselves room to breathe is just another one of those things we often say we'll do, but flounder with when it comes to actually doing being more patient, practicing gratitude, remembering the daily joys in life, taking real breaks, and not thinking about work every waking moment.
    But when you're caught struggling, making mistakes, feeling lost, battling with insecurity or stumbling into failure, your ideas (hopes, dreams) can feel like they're closing in on you. Overwhelming you. And to make matters worse, let me guess...
    You punish yourself.
    You call yourself out on all your perceived flaws, feel guilty about stepping away from work, worry about what other people think/say about you, and blame yourself for not being stronger. Maybe you've even expressed some variation of the following:
    Idiot. What's the point? No one will ever take you seriously. You're a useless nobody!
    The chaos of your own self-deprecating thoughts can feel like they're swirling uncontrollably around you. Honestly, sometimes I wish there was just an "off" switch to simply shut them down. Although such an option doesn't exist, there is another way...
    Listen and (re)discover the good within yourself...because it's there.
    You just need to give yourself the chance to plant the seeds.
    Yes, it's always tougher to remember your best self, but you deserve better and so does the work you have to offer to the world. Deep down, the seeds of self-compassion are fighting for the space to grow. Give them the freedom to take root by asking yourself:
    What accomplishments have I made in the past or today? What can others always count on me for?
    No matter how big or small, take a few minutes to write them down, now. Please? ;) If you're not sure or if your mind is feeling too cluttered by your own thoughts, then ask someone else who knows you well.
    And if you catch yourself getting caught up in the tangles of your own negativity and personal takedowns again, pause, take a breath, ask yourself these questions again and repeat.
    I know it's not easy. After all, most of us aren't masters at being our own cheerleaders, but in the end we have to be.
    What does your inner critic like to say to you and how do you like to handle it?

    Rumination July 14, 2013 09:00

     Lumecluster Rumination

    “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein

    Do you ever find yourself captivated by your own thoughts?
    On the good days, ideas can feel like they're just pouring out of you, right? Your heart's racing, mind is rapidly firing one seemingly genius thought after the other, the flow is just exhilarating until...
    The high suddenly disappears.
    Maybe yours doesn't fall apart as quickly. Perhaps yours deteriorates at a painfully slow pace—the type that loves to give you false hope only to suddenly shrivel up into a pile of frustrating thoughts.
    Before, the focus felt so wonderfully effortless and you'd do whatever it takes to reclaim that high—that flow. But you can't.
    In fact, the harder you try, the greater your mental battle likely becomes. Every idea just looks stale, jumbled, and all around bad.
    Before you know it, those nasty little thoughts start suffocating you and your mind begins to ruminate on all your supposed inadequacies and failures. Call it whatever you like—your inner critic, little demon, or (as I call it in Lumecluster) Nightmare—these bad boys are masters of capturing your attention.
    Leading you into a potentially paralyzing and all-consuming downward mental spiral.
    Sure, on the decent days you can sometimes withstand your own blows and focus your attention where it really matters. But during your low(est) moments, your mind becomes creatively cruel at tearing your self-esteem and self-compassion to shreds.
    When these moments hit, I've learned that the best thing is to take a break and do something totally unrelated to what I normally do.
    To break the negativity cycle.
    Okay, I know this sounds like "duh" generic advice. And, yeah, I guess it kind of is, but it doesn't make it any less important. And if you're a little like me (a perfectionist and slightly OCD), you know that doing this is not easy.
    You forget, I forget, we all listen to our voice of reason when we fall under (our own) pressure.
    Rather than just taking that break (the smart thing to do...), I tend to pressure myself to just try for another hour and another and another...until the day is gone. Even if it does "work," I know that I've mentally bent myself out of shape and probably won't perform my best when it comes to taking the next step.
    So, why not just take the break? Because I become consumed by guilt and anxiety when I try to bring my attention away from the thing that I still haven't "fixed."
    At the same time, I realize that I'm no good to my unfixed problem while in my current state.
    Recently, I've been training myself to take real breaks (and my own advice) again by putting post-it notes on my laptop, desk, notebook (basically, every place I'm usually at) that say, "Pissed off? Do something else NOW or you'll regret it."
    I need reminders because I'm too easily consumed by my own negative thoughts. But I figured you don't want to use a note that sounds so threatening, so I made this illustration instead.
    For me, this image will remind me to take some time to engage in the other things I love and bring me joy, like reading, doodling, playing piano, playing video games, enjoying a long walk outdoors (rain or shine), taking some photos, etc. It'll also remind me to engage in the new and different.
    I'm not trying to escape my difficulties. I aim to refresh, recharge, and reclaim a sense of calm.
    And remind myself that, although the negative thoughts can feel like a whirlwind of craziness inside my head, they're only thoughts and not a definition of who I am.

    Uncertainty Bubbles July 7, 2013 08:00

    Lumecluster uncertainty bubbles

    When you’re getting into or doing something new, different, or scary, there’s no doubt that the uncertainty can feel uncomfortable…maybe even unbearable.
    Uncertainty can turn everything you thought you knew completely upside down and make you doubt your every thought and move. Hang around with uncertainty too long and you might never take action. It’s often partnered with those nerve wracking question you’re all too familiar with:
    “Did I make the right choice? Should I do this? Should I have done things differently?”
    At the same time, uncertainty can sometimes bubble up new questions, insights, ideas, and perspectives. Looking back, I know it has for me, although I didn't think so at the time. For instance...
    Considering a Lumecluster website redesign after only just launching in February riddled me with anxious uncertainty.
    At first, I thought it was just my perfectionist tendencies kicking in again. I know I usually over analyze, second guess, and pretty much waste an unnecessary amount of mental energy only to come back to my same old, original conclusions.
    Only this time, I didn't.
    In fact, no matter how many ways I went about it, I just felt like Lumecluster was wearing all the wrong clothes. Clothes that I put on only because it's what I saw so many of my peers wearing. Clothes I figured I could just get used to.
    But it nagged at me because I knew it didn't highlight my best—my illustrations.
    I let this drag on for a good (awful) three months. This probably sounds silly, but I felt strangely lost and angry with my website. I didn't even want to look at it.
    I didn't even want to draw.
    Losing touch with my love for drawing was a stab to the heart I couldn’t bear. Thankfully, this unsettling thought was just enough to get me moving again and really clear my mental clutter.

    Now that Lumecluster is looking like a happier place, you've got a much happier Melissa...and hopefully better art.

    Sometimes getting a little lost is the best way to... March 4, 2013 19:30

    Lumecluster Getting Lost

    Sometimes getting a little lost is the best way to...

    ...find your true self. new paths you would have otherwise missed if you stayed in one direction.

    ...stumble onto new ideas you would never have imagined.

    ...reignite your creative spark.

    ...realize that you're meant to do something else, something bigger, something more.

    ...recognize what you really love or hate.

    ...understand what you're truly capable of.

    ...face your deepest fears and insecurities.

    Sure, getting lost can leave you feeling scared, sad, frustrated, confused, angry, and a countless number of other emotions that will make you feel like you've somehow failed in your journey.

    But it can also be an eye-opening experience if you let it.

    And if you do, your adventure will be much more exciting because of it. After all, amazing adventures don't come to life by fleeing from what makes you afraid and uncomfortable.

    They come to life when you choose to always stand up for yourself and what you believe in even when all seems lost.

    And because you choose to carry on as the unrelenting hero, not the victim, of your own story.

    Great treasures are never found in a rush. February 26, 2013 16:00

    Lumecluster Treasure

    Maybe you think your treasure is achieving absolute clarity in purpose or finally realizing everything you've ever envisioned for your business, writing, art, etc.

    Whatever it is, you'd like to have it all. Now.

    Who doesn't? I mean, you're probably pretty tired and often frustrated with the seemingly endless work, sleepless nights, and constant fear of an uncertain future.

    When you're stressed, sometimes you can't help but wish for everything (that you want in the moment) to just magically fall into your lap.

    Sounds like it would be a dream come true...but it would really be unfortunate.

    Because then you'd miss out on meeting all the people who might change your life and inspire you to scale to greater heights.

    You'd miss out on feeling the mind-blowing revelations that happen whenever everything you think you know is turned upside down or put into a new perspective.

    And in the face of overwhelming self-doubt, you'd miss out on the unexpected ways you'd surprise yourself with the strength and courage you never thought you had in you.

    The list goes on and on. But the point is, you'd be giving up your greatest treasure:

    Experiencing the joys and pains of life.

    The treasure isn't just getting your hands on some end goal. It's the never ending journey full of endless encounters, limitless experiences, and priceless moments that build your character, potential, and future.

    I don't know about you, but I know I'm in no rush to trade off my opportunities to experience life for some wish that might only satisfy my moment's frustrations.

    ...and Lumecluster is finally live! Yay!

    How to believe in yourself in the face of overwhelming self-doubt. January 9, 2013 13:00

    Lumecluster Self Doubt
    You know what that voice in your head says…

    You can’t do it. You’ll never be good enough. You’re going to fail.

    This voice taunts you whenever you set a goal. It criticizes you when life gets difficult. It beats you down when you struggle to stand up against its running commentary.

    You know you shouldn’t let self-doubt bother you, but it’s a sneaky critter. Sometimes, you just can’t contain it and it slips past your barriers.

    And self-doubt is greedy. When it’s loose, it devours your confidence, strips logic and reason from your mind, and steals happiness from your heart. In return, it leaves you with only fear and insecurity.

    You try to remove self-doubt by forcing yourself to “think positive,” which usually doesn’t work as well as you think it should.

    The more you fight your self-doubt, the more it fights back. However, with self-knowledge and understanding, you can use self-doubt for your benefit.

    Read the whole guest post on Tiny Buddha...

    Happy holidays, resolutions, and perfectionism December 17, 2012 20:00

    Lumecluster Tendrils

    It's the holiday season and the New Year is right around the corner. It's a time full of parties, gift-giving, and family gatherings.

    It's also a time for reflection and resolutions. I'll start off by sharing mine:

    My New Year's resolution is to not give into perfectionism and accept that what I've done so far in my life is good enough. (However, who I will be in the year to come is yet to be seen.)

    I know I'm not the only one who struggles with perfectionism and never feeling good enough...unless you're a narcissist. Our hopes, dreams, and fragile egos are constantly on the defensive against doubt, fear, and self-pity. But it's a battle you know you cannot surrender to.

    Because believing you're good enough is vital not only for your well-being and confidence, but also for your ability to see yourself beyond your shortcomings. To believe that you're more capable than you realize and that're not so bad after all.

    While self-improvement is a rewarding and never-ending journey, so is accepting and loving ourselves along with all our imperfections.

    Don't wait until you're "ready enough" or for that "perfect day" to finally show the world what you've got. Today is as good as any other day.

    Lumecluster will be coming to you in the New Year!

    Speaking of sharing your work with the world, Lumecluster will be going live by the New Year. And if it doesn't, feel free to scold me for being terribly negligent. Phew, I have a lot of drawing to look forward to before the year is out :)

    I've shared my New Year's resolution. What's yours? I'd love to know.

    Happy holidays,