Monday, September 30, 2013

Subtle shifts, Radical Changes


by Melissa Klein

I decided to take a mentoring client out on a walk with Hawthorne, my giant "baby" draft horse along the Olympic Trail. There is a point where the horse trail splits off from the main track. The main track is lovely: paved, straight, easy and goes over the beautiful Railroad Bridge. From up above, you can see shadows of fish going up the river. 

The horse trail is a small dirt trail that splits off of the main trail. It's unmarked. It's easy to miss. It involves walking through a tunnel of high grass and over small streams. Theres a bit of bush whacking - and some branches of deer trails that go nowhere. It goes under the bridge. Down to the river to where the salmon spawn. You can be so close as to touch them and identify them as individuals. The river can be crossed in knee boots. You can see salmon eggs, salmon spawning and dead salmon in the same 10 foot stretch of river.

It's a much more interesting path - and connects to the poetry of the salmon song as they fight their way up the river and complete their life cycle.  

It's only a one degree difference on the trail. 

My client was delighted - she breamed at the wonder of it all. Afterwards we talked about what that meant - how a subtle shift can lead to a radically different departure. In charting a course for ships - 1 degree can make the difference between reaching the correct destination and winding up in a far-flung port. 

Floatiing Boat by Melissa Klein

So many times in making changes in life - there is an urge to make a 90 degree or 180 degree turn. While that's sometimes necessary (I've done that for both better and worse), some of the most radical changes can be made by making a subtle shift in direction. The one small habit or routine that is incorporated into the day or week. A shift in focus. A conscious choice in thinking patterns. Minimizing contact with negative people.

Here are some of the subtle shifts that I've made over the years that added up to radical changes:

1. Choosing to go Complaint Free: The goal was to make it to 21 days without complaining. It was designed by a minister who challenged his congregation to go for 21 days complaint free. It wasn't easy. It took me a year to accomplish. Sometimes, I slip back into old bad habits and have to re-commit. It helped all of my relationships - personal and professional. Conversations are more interesting. If there is an issue that needs to be resolved, even if I'm talking to someone who isn't "complaint free," we are more focused on problem-solving and solution. Here's a resource for more information: 

2. Cutting down on sugar: Wayne Dyer mentioned it as an aside in his audio book "Making the Shift" - he said: "If you want to lose the fat around your middle, cut down on sugar." While it's obvious to not eat things like candy/cake/cookies, sugar is loaded into things like milk, fruit juice, alcohol, potato chips and ketchup. I cut waaaaay back. Looked more critically at what I was putting in my mouth from the sugar perspective. The first 2 to 3 weeks, I was constantly hungry. I filled up on veggies or just acknowledged it for what it was and did something else. Then the cravings eased. I don't know to this day how much weight I Iost (I don't have a scale), but I think it was@ 15 to 20lbs in the last 6 months - especially since I keep hearing "Wow! You lost a lot of weight! What did you do?" Recently I decided to treat myself to a hot chocolate for completing my website. Sorta enjoyed it and then felt sick. I'm in a radically different place than six months ago. 

3. Put stuff in places where they will automatically remind you: Like vitamins. Just saying this as a fact (not complaining!): I. hate. taking. pills! Yet when my doctor identified severe B-12 and iron deficiencies, it was clear that that had to change. At night I would get into bed and then go "Ungh! Forgot to take vitamins!" Zzzzzzzzz. Henry, my husband, suggested moving the vitamins and a carafe of water to my night table - because that's where I remembered to take them. They stare at me. I stare at them. I take them. I have more energy and better health. 

4. Put the change you want to see on paper: When there is something that I want to actualize or a mindset issue to be challenged, I write it down on a either a 3"x5" card or sticky note and stick it up on a board in my office. It focuses the intention. It becomes "real" on the paper and then it becomes "for real" in the physical world. It doesn't often happen in the way I plan or think it "should" but more of these positive intentions have happened than not. It's spooky but it works. 

5. The No Asshole Rule: I read the book "The No Asshole Rule - Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't" by Robert Sutton because I was dealing with a difficult and negative workplace situation several years ago. I stopped having lunch in the staff room. I closed my door. I got out of unproductive staff meetings. While the ultimate solution was to leave that organization, just by realizing that I could at the very least minimize if not completely avoid contact with negative people was extremely empowering. It's a great policy and has helped to avoid some situations that would have been a complete drain on my time and energy. I'm happy to report that I'm now surrounded by colleagues who are funny, uplifting and supportive. 

These subtle changes also explain why so many people get off track with their lives. It wasn't like they decided to screw up their lives consciously - it was a series of small 1 degree decisions that charted their course to a place where they didn't want to be. It's scary to think about how easy it can be to become disconnected from what we want in life. The good news is that it's still possible to make those small changes which can chart the course to greater possibilities and happiness in life.

One crucial first step making changes is to to take inventory of the different areas of your life and from a variety of "lenses" - (time, symbols, and stories) I developed the "Personal Mythology Guide" as a series of exercises to help people gain perspective from a right-brain perspective. 

The beauty of using is images and symbols and games is that it helps to defuse the "logical" left side of the brain which can interfere with deep truths through imposing memes (false rules) or can be so judgmental and overbearing that all motivation is lost. An example of a false rule would be  "I can't have horses, I am an artist and am too poor!" Guess what - I've had horses for eight years now. An example of the judgmental side is "You are so fat! You have been pigging out and that's what you deserve." Feel the motivation to change habits drain away. Instead by visualizing what I wanted: this shape  ) (   which symbolized a slim waistline, it was easier to make positive decisions without feeling discouraged.

Sign up here to download Your Personal Mythology Guidebook. I strongly encourage you to print it out and write things down - gain inventory, and identify the subtle shifts for radical changes.

Please let me know how if goes - I would love to hear your feedback.

Also - if you want to receive a more personalized and in-depth look at using stories and visualization techniques, I will be giving three workshops at the Bodhi Center in Bainbridge (just a ferry ride from Seattle) on Sunday October 20th; Sunday, November 17 and Sunday, December 15 from 10am to 1pm. Tuition is $80 per workshop, or $200 for all three workshops together (a $40 discount). You can choose to attend any combination of workshops, but it's best to attend all three to get the most benefit. Space is limited, so call or email to reserve your spot and "Journal of Journey" that accompanies the workshop.

Happy trails!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 Myths About the Skills Center & Register! Best. School Year. Ever.

Ember by Robert Simpson, Skills Center and Port Angeles High School Student

I also included an info sheet that Ron Craig, the director of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center and I put together called the "5 Myths About The Skills Center." Scroll down for the article...


Here are some fun things that I'm lining up for the school year.

  • Special Event planning - the tentative theme for this year is "Steam Punk Halloween"
  • Professional Artist studio visits - starting with Jackson Smart - muralist and sign painter
  • 2 or more field trips a month - either to view art galleries or to draw/paint outside - including Port Townsend, Sequim, Joyce, Neah Bay etc.
  • Mini-mural painting with guidance from Jackson Smart - a professional sign and mural painter.
  • Learning Adobe Creative Suite Photoshop Pro version curriculum
  • Airbrush Mastery - beyond the basic stencil
  • Drawing and painting people
  • Light up your panting with light effects
  • Your website or your life!
  • Putting on your own show at the Skills Center
  • Port Angeles Arts Council special event
  • Superstar! Promotion and Media outreach

Last year Akamai Art, and the community donated about $2,000 worth of supplies - in addition to Perkins Funds of about $1500 and our annual budget of $1,000 for a total of $4,500 which means that we have materials that are... AWESOME!!!! New digital cameras, airbrushes, and paints - oh my!

All of the students who showed work at our spring 2013 student art show "Spring Loaded" sold work. Some sold more than one piece and others also were commissioned by the pubic to create original works of art. All that marketing that we did paid off - literally! And a shout out to the students from the 2013 Summer School for accomplishing the B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of producing a professional quality comic book in three weeks - 77 pages of wild imagination.

You can register for classes either by stopping by the Skills Center (905 West 9th Street, Port Angeles WA 98363 (360) 565-1533  and filling out the form, or through your high school counselor. Classes start Tuesday Sept 3rd, but registration is open through Sept 11th. 

Multi-Faced by Josh Watson, Skills Center student

What's great is that no matter what career path you choose - you will know how to communicate what you have to offer in a way that doesn't feel like being an "icky salesman." This can be applied to job interviews and being a leader in the workplace. Best of all - it means learning how to work with people in a way that is fun and builds organizations. Helps you to be the MVP of your company or the CEO of your own empire.

These last few weeks I've been reflecting and putting together new material for the school year. What worked? What didn't work? What could be improved? Should this be scrapped? Should that be added? How does a student know that they are making progress? How do I know? These are all questions that are revisited not only at the beginning, but continuously throughout the school year. It's how you get better. It's how anything is improved.

In education, there's this focus on "Get the paper/project/test done. Get a grade (hopefully a good one) and move on." I remember thinking as a student "Oh, I will be so happy to be done with this American History class. I will never have to deal with it again!" Ummmmmm. Guess what? If you are an American citizen - you are never done with American history. Because you are a part of it in the making."

As a student artist, I would think very differently. "I'm getting more accurate with drawing faces - and that picture of my sister looking serious really looks like her. How can I get a drawing or painting that really captures how she smiles without her looking scary?" I was never done. It was all about getting better. This is how things work in the real world.

Those of you who have taken my classes before know about how I incorporate a "Mindset" piece into the curriculum. Mindset is everything. With it you can accomplish anything. Without it, nothing can be accomplished. While letting go of the freedom of summer is difficult - there is something to embracing the change of seasons, and starting a new school year. 

Lighthouse by Emilee Spoon - Skills Center and Port Angeles High School Student

"People would not be so impressed if they knew how hard I work."

In sports, many people believe great athletes are "just born" or are "naturals." This is not true for most of them. It's the mindset and working towards improving skills that gets them to the high levels of performance. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity team, not recruited by his choice of college and passed over by two teams that could have had him for the draft pick. But he worked harder than his coaches had ever seen an athlete work - and became considered one of the greatest basketball players ever. This is true for art and any other skill or subject. 

Cosmic Relief by Chaz Stephens - Skills Center Student

Here's a video about Michael Jordan and his mindset

Instead of berating yourself for something that you didn't do well (I suck at __________! or I wish I hadn't done____________.) - can you look at it more from the perspective of where you can grow. (I can improve _____________. Next time, I can try doing ___________________ instead.)

What was something that you did last year that turned out great? Could you do something like it, but even better?

Is there a habit that isn't really working for you any more? Can you let it go or replace it with a better habit?

May you have the BEST. SCHOOL YEAR. EVER!


Melissa Klein    360.809.0083    PO Box 2272 Sequim WA 98382

PS - Please help out by passing on the word about the Commercial Art class and other Skills Center classes - let your friends know! Feel free to forward this email or give them my contact info. Many classes have openings, and if there is not enough enrollment, then the class gets cancelled (which would suck). Thanks so much!


Hi Everyone,
As an artist, I deal with myths and how they can reveal great truths. But there are truthful myths and there are false myths. The importance is knowing the difference.
While many of you know me more as a professional artist - I also teach at the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center in Port Angeles. Last year, I started a Commercial Art program at the Skills Center and over the course of the year I have gotten to know the other instructors in a wide range of fields - from auto collision to culinary to video production. They share a passion for their subjects, the students and a deep knowledge of their industries. Our facilities are state of the art, but in talking to people in the community - it is clear there are a many misconceptions about the Skills Center. 
Many people are frustrated by the education system. I've been frustrated by the education system - both as a student and as a teacher. Ghandi says "Be the change you want to see." For me, the Skills Center is the change I want to see. My only regret is that I didn't have an opportunity to take classes like these, it would have saved so much time, effort, and struggle. 
Ron Craig, our new director, created an information sheet I want to share with you to clear up some of these myths. We want a dialogue with the community about what we offer. 
Registration is still open - and it's not too late to enroll. It's a great opportunity for students who have completed 8th grade and are under 21. It's open to home school students and to people who are no longer in high school who meet the age requirements. 
Scroll down for more information about my class this year

Dragons in the Mist by Josh Watson - Skills Center & Lincoln Student

“The Skills Center Is Not Academic”
  • Skills Center Students can earn Core Credit or College Credit while taking Technical Classes.
  • Skills Center Students often work and study side-by-side with Peninsula College Students.
  • Many people with college degrees go back to school for training at Technical Colleges similar to the Skills Center.  Why not get those skills in High School?
“There Are No Good Jobs For Skills Center Graduates”
  • Our courses lead to industry certification.
  • ·Many of our graduates go on to successful careers: International Chef, Composites Technician at ACTI, Composites Technician at Westport, CNA in Medical Clinics, IT Technician, Auto Body repair, Auto Body Painting, and many more.            
“Skills Center Classes Are Expensive”·      
  • All classes are free with the exception of Cosmetology (fee to purchase your professional kit, which
  • you keep.)
  • Bus Passes are available for students who qualify. Inquire at the office or with the instructor.
  • Free Tech Prep college classes (High School classes where you can earn college credits which means that you pay less for your college education)
  • No College Loans to repay.
“I Don’t Have Time For Skills Center Classes”
  • 3 time slots available: Morning, afternoon, and evening.
  • Some classes offer part-time and independent study options
  • Online learning options
“Education Is Out Of Touch With The Real World”
  • All instructors have industry experience.  In order to become a Career and Technical Education Instructor, teachers have to prove that they have the real-world experience.
  • Every Skills Center instructor has a committee of industry professionals giving them advice.
  • The Skills Center provides hands on experience with industry tools. For example, Composites Technology offers a technology lab, CNC Router, composites baking oven, and an updated computer lab.
Can you afford to not do this?

From right: Rachel Catterson, Jeanette Dewey, Abigail Nicholls, Brandon Fudally

Ninja by Destiny Walters-Spencer - Skills Center and Port Angeles High School Student