Creative Bagel Time Gets
Your Day Off to a Productive Start

Here it is, a morning ritual to get your creative juices flowing ...Creative Bagel Time!

Each morning I head out to a cafe somewhere nearby and start my day with a bit of reflection time, which I call Creative Bagel Time (cbt for short). It has become a life changing and business enhancing structure for me.

I've been surprised at how many people want to know the details...what do I do, what do I bring, what do I wear, ...do I really eat bagels everyday?

So, here goes, I'm spilling it all! And use these ideas to create your ritual - doing it the way that will truly inspire you!
First of all, put it in your schedule. Pick a day of the week and for one month plan (as in write it in your planner/palm/berry) to start out your morning at a cafe. Start with one day each week.

Ok, now what to wear? I have to admit I dress for myself. I call it "Creative Casual". I might dress up a little funky and fun or wear my heeled boots! Another day I'm in jeans and a fun coral colored suede jacket! (working with an Image Consultant was a life saver for morning no-brainers in selecting clothes I love and look good in! Check out www.AICI.org for a consultant in your area!) I also check in with my energy and my plans for the day and dress accordingly. Do I need a boost in my energy? If yes, I don't slouch into a sweatshirt - I give my energy a flourish in my clothes or accessories!

I know for some home based entrepreneurs you might be saying...so what's the point of working at home if I have to get dressed? I have to tell you - I dress to feel good! And it shows! I meet lots of people everywhere I go - I'm dressed as though I'm engaged in life and that's attracting to people.

Ok, now that we have that taken care of the next step is to pack your bag. Which bag? A bag that can hold a host of inspiration! I bought my cool multi-colored bag at a boutique in Atlanta. Again, the point is to make YOU smile. So whatever type of bag makes you smile.

What to put into the inspirational bag?

Well, it's like you are packing for a mini-retreat. I always pack more than I need since I don't know what I'll be in the mood for once I get there. Some suggestions:

Books - whichever book you are reading - something inspirational, creative or relaxing. Just to read a few pages as you get started. After all, you are going to a cafe to soak up energy too. My favorites at the moment: The Scarcity Trance by Victoria Castle, Living Artfully by Sandra Magsman; True Balance by Sonia Choquette; Wisdom's Choice by Kathleen Shapiro - I bring one just depending on my mood.

Magazines - Bring your favorite and browse through for inspiration. A few of my favorites: O, Body and Soul, Time, and Fast Company.

Journal - One that makes you smile. Find a type of journal which you enjoy writing in. I personally prefer 5x8 spiral bound - no lines. They are a bit hard to find with no lines. So, I settle for a Moleskin (thanks Hemingway) on occasions when I'm in a more formal mood, and inexpensive spiral bound for everyday. I want my journals to lie flat - there's nothing worse than not really being able to write on the pages of a journal because it won't open all the way. By the way, here is a reason to get out those beautiful journals people have given you - YES you can write in them! That's what god created them for...to capture your inner self. (PS: you can even be messy and no one will care!) (More about what to write coming up...)

Pens, Felt-tip Markers - I love markers! I love the way they write so smoothly. Lots of colors depending on my mood. They just flow on the paper so easily - I swear it helps the ideas to just tumble out when your pen flows. I love to have colors to make my journal or ideas come to life. I'm not an artist but using different colors makes me feel creative (and that's half the battle -yes?) I keep a little zipper pouch full of markers ready-to-go!

Ezines, web stuff - I print things off during the day and save it in a pile for my CBT (Creative Bagel Ttime). I write all over other ezines about my own thoughts and ideas, different perspectives, circle websites to check out, etc..

Laptop - sometimes. I'll bring it along when I know I want to write a specific piece and need to be out of my office for the flow to happen. Everyone is a little different here. I find that I like to go out and get inspired and come back and write. There is something really special about starting the day writing by hand - it's such a visceral experience.

Large notebook with blank paper - This is for my heart maps - brainstorming - when I have an idea flash and I just have to swirl and twirl it out....

Where to go?

Any local bakery, cafe, restaurant. Again, check in with your energy and your needs. Do you want delicious coffee? Chai Tea? Maybe you want a full breakfast? Some cafes are lighter, darker, happier, calmer, busy and the food fare is very different depending on your taste for the day...

Now - what to write?

You can write anything of course, but to point you in a few directions:

Synchronicities - this is a favorite of mine. I write them everyday. My world (and yours) is full of amazing things that happen. Phone calls, chance meetings, surprising websites, emails that contain exactly the right information you were looking for. I write down when things go "surprisingly easy" since I love to notice that and let it happen more often! This "practice" can be life-shifting! When you start noticing, tracking, writing down evidence that the universe is conspiring for your well-being - you will truly start to believe it. It will erase any doubts and support you in being more confident!

Gratitude - another form of appreciation is to write a gratitude list. Just notice all the things you are grateful for in this moment....warm beds, sunny husbands, cooperative children, laughs, hot coffee, French Toast Bagels, ...your heart has an electromagnetic field 50 times greater than your brain.....gratitude and appreciate expand that loving energy.....imagine as you are writing that you are spreading love all around the cafe to everyone who comes in....now that's a way to start a day!

Follow Julia Cameron's advice from The Artist's Way. She recommends writing Morning Pages - 3 pages nonstop. I swear by this advice. Always, always by the end of the 2nd page I will tap into my inner wisdom and some brilliant thought,or an idea or aha will surface. Even if I struggle at the beginning to write something, as long as I keep going, my 3rd page will have some juicy insight or idea!

Write all the terrible things that have happened over the last couple of days. Yep! (Thanks George J. for this insight!) You will probably notice that most things aren't that bad and it's just your expectation that they should happen sooner or in a certain way that made everything so darn frustrating!

Heart Maps - this is my version of free flowing, no-rule mind map. I take a top-o-mind topic - maybe it's a topic for my blog or an ezine, maybe it's a program idea....it could be ideas for a birthday party or summer camp planning for your kids. Put a topic in the middle of the page (maybe even turn your journal sideways!!). Draw lines out like spokes on a bicycle (it's ok to be squiggly and messy!) and then put one thought or step about the center topic. For example, if I'm thinking about the CD recordings I'm doing. I'll put that in the middle (inside a quickly drawn heart) and then draw spokes out to different topics related to this.... Who to interview? Editing? Write a recording agreement - Getting them transcribed - Pulling the Juice from each one., etc......Then I just write bullets underneath each topic of what I know or what I need to know. Play with ideas for your own ezine, blog or program. You don't have to write things in order, the idea is to get you out of your linear "in-the-box" thinking and just let your thoughts free-flow. You will be surprised at what you know.

Lastly, I end with my Giggle Goals for the day and of course Giggle Goals for the Universe.

Do I do all this every single day? Not usually. I definitely notice and write synchronicites and my Giggle goals....the rest all depend on my mood and energy.

What's the benefit? My energy is up. I am inspired. I'm grounded. I'm focused on what's important to me in the day. I usually have kickstarted my creativity with one of these activities - which is a must for any business owner. I'm filled with the energy of people enaged in life around me, sometimes I have great ideas spun out into real possibilities, so I'm full of enthusiasm to get them going. Minimal - I'm just relaxed and happy that I got out and I don't feel so alone as a SOLO-preneur!

If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog please feel free to do as long as you include our credit information: Written by Laura Howard West, Center for Joyful Business (www.joyfulbusiness.com). I would also appreciate it if you'd send us a copy for our media files.

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Laura West is an award-winning entrepreneur, and president and founder of the Center for Joyful Business. As a certified business coach, author and speaker, she helps thousands of women entrepreneurs create successful businesses filled with passion, purpose and prosperity. She is known for making marketing simple and fun for passion-based business owners. She is also the author and creator of Joyful Business Guide™ Home Study System, and she is author of the upcoming book, Awakening Your Inner Business Goddess. She is also the Fresh Entrepreneur Expert at Ladies Who Launch.com and creator of their Fresh Entrepreneur workshop and workbook program.

If you are interested in having Ms. West speak for your organization, membership club, teleseminar, or Internet radio show, please contact her Media and Marketing Manager, Dawn Goldberg, at dawn@joyfulbusiness.com. For more media information, please visit: www.centerforjoyfulbusiness.com/media.html.

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