Aha-phrodite: Muse of Paying Attention to Possibilities

from The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard)

By Jill Badonsky, MEd | Posted 5/4/06 | Updated 5/14/23

"Unless we learn to open up each moment and squarely face what it presents to us, our life simply hurtles toward its certain conclusion. To be able to inhabit emotional/feeling time, we need to expand our moment, to wedge it open so we can step inside, linger without fidgeting, and experience what's going on within it." —Stephen Rechtschaffen, M.D.

I would like to acquaint you with a creative concept in the persona of a Muse. The concept is paying attention and the Muse is Aha-phrodite. What does paying attention mean to you in the creative process?

If you are so inclined to engage your brain actively in this moment (always a good exercise for strengthening creative muscles), make a list of all the ways your creative process could benefit from paying attention. Go.

Aha-phrodite condones the following methods and reasons for paying attention in the interest of creativity:

  • Pay attention to where and when you get your inspirations. Many of us get them driving, in the shower, on a walk, while cleaning. When you know where you get ideas, next time you need one you can show up there rather than in front of a blank page or canvas.
  • When you get an inspiration, write it down. When Aha-phrodite knows you covet an idea enough to write it down, she will make more. The brain's idea generation behavior is also reinforced, the subconscious is cued and more inspirations are likely.
  • If you don't have an inspiration, write down small questions about what you want and then in the next week or month — be paying attention for answers, sign posts, and a-has. The brain loves questions.
  • Pay attention to whether you are in default thinking mode or possibility mode. Most of the time we are rehashing situations, judging, following the well worn non-thought of our comfortable ruts, or worrying about the future. When you notice you are doing this, flip an imaginary switch with your hand and make an intention to pay attention to what the present moment has to offer in the way of creative thought. What are you feeling? How can your thoughts be framed creatively? What do you see that can trigger a creative thought? What can you overhear?

Andrew Stanton, the director of the animated hit, Finding Nemo was trying to come up with the sidekick character to Nemo. Sidekick characters are usually rather dopey males. Stanton was distracted by his wife watching Ellen on TV in the next room. He heard Ellen change the subject about five times in one sentence … that's how he came up with the character for Dory. He did not miss the random circumstantial gift present in the moment because he was paying attention and making a connection.

The world is a smorgasbord of ideas. Ideas await in every emotion, random thought, side-ways glance, billboard, overheard conversation, arbitrary combination of unrelated notions, adjective-noun combination, loose association, wrong turn, indigestion, bird landing on the head of a statue, a song that triggers a memory, a memory that triggers a painting — they are awaiting our undivided attention combined with the possibility of connection.

Find out all the other ways paying attention can deepen your creative process with Aha-phrodite through her journal prompts, brainstorms, stories and quotes in the book, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).

Interview with Aha-Phrodite

By Molly Anderson

Q: What is your advice for mortals who have trouble staying in the present moment? What tools can you share to help us stay centered in the present, rather than worrying about the past and obsessing about the future?

A: Pay attention here: There is nothing but the present, be here now, and you must be present to win. But then again it's so not creative to cliche' all over Mortals. So let me plug into intuition — which is an easy thing to remember — into intu-ition… get it? Intuition is where there's grace, peace, and the promise that possibility burst into sizzling certainty.

Ways to stay in the present:

Practice. Start small — the mind needs patience and training. Left alone it naturally defaults to fear — the past and the future can be accessories to fear. Practice 15 seconds at a time embody this present moment with all of your senses including common sense. Imagine idea antennas rising up out of your head. Allow them to search this moment for sensations, essences, traces of ideas, evidence of the miracle you are.

Meditate. Train the mind to be present like you train a dog to walk on a leash. Be patient and kind yet stern.

Breathe. The breath tethers us to the present moment. Breathe whenever you find your mind cleverly showing films of your past or projecting holograms of your future. Breathe into the presence of inner peace and sudden creation.

Here's a breathing and imagination exercise: Think of an unfinished sentence then imagine each breath in and out as one slide in a slide-show. Let each slide be a different image, word, or thought that fills in that sentence. Or imagine the feeling you'd like to embody in the process of creating that which your soul calls you to create or the quality of this moment of your life — in other words, invite into the present moment the feeling of inner peace, joy, lightness or mirth. Practice embodying that feeling as often as you can remember — place reminders about your environment. After a while, being present will become more of a habit.

  • When you notice yourself worrying about the past, use your imagination to encapsulate images that represent that worry in a helium balloon and gently tap them and watch them float away.
  • When you notice yourself worrying about the future, pay just 5% more attention to your ability to trust. You all have it, in some mortals it takes a little more practice than in others. But as you trust and acknowledge that with which you are grateful, you magnetize the results of trust. Trust that when your intuition is in concert with your common sense, worry is an unnecessary expenditure of energy.

Q: As we all know, inspiration favors the prepared mind. How can mortals prepare for those bolts from the blue that come at the most unexpected times?

A: Amp up your bolt detector with questions. Questions help prepare the mind. When mortals ask themselves small questions and don't expect an answer immediately, the subconscious works on connecting, associating, excavating from the riches of our soul's wisdom. All of a sudden, inspiration is much more accessible because we have programmed our mind to look for it on both a conscious and unconscious level.

Q: Name one way that every mortal, no matter who they are or what their circumstances may be, can find inspiration and creative possibilities on the most ordinary of days.

A: Great question, Molly Mortal-Muse. The answer is to ask the following two empowering questions and if there is not an immediate answer, allow it to percolate: Where have I found inspiration in the past? Where might I find inspiration today?

Mortals have this funny habit of forgetting to pay attention to those things that have worked in the past and because each mortal has a different way to find inspiration, whether it's simply engaging in action, exposing themselves to motivating influences, reviewing something they've already done, or taking a shower (where many mortals feel showered with ideas) — they simply need to remind themselves that they already know.

Q: What inspires you? What are your jewels of delight? How do you help mortals discover these fabulous treasures within?

A: Inspiration inspires me. A jewel of delight for me is the moment a Mortal is awake enough to listen to a creative inspiration and recognize it as either divine orchestration of their miraculous mental software or a grand and entertaining fringe benefit of being human. When a mortal is awake, they hear the directions, the signals, and some of the answers to the reason they are on the planet.

Q: Where do ideas come from, and how do you keep track of them all? Do some ideas get lost in the shuffle?

A: There is a little committee of nine modern day Muses and a Bodyguard inside the control center located in the right brain of each Mortal. They sit in a board room and when the Mortal sends down questions or validates their divine gift of creativity through a small step of action, the Muse-committee pulls out charts, graphs, Power Point presentations, tubas, latch hooked rugs, and based on the talent-authenticity-inclinations-and-favorite cloud DNA cluster in the given Mortal, the Muses choose an idea to send up to the Mortal's consciousness (no balloons or balloon boys are involved). And sometimes ideas just come from taking a shower. You receive these ideas ONLY if you are paying attention and understand the divine importance that an idea can be.

Sometimes these ideas can get caught in incoming processed food, canned fruit cocktail and sometimes French fries from fast food restaurants.

Q: How can mortals preserve these flashes of inspiration, and find them more frequently in their day-to-day lives?

A: When Mortals take the time to write ideas down, the Muses pause for a moment of a raucous standing ovation, feel appreciated, and work hard to send up more. Muse-ovations can feel like a flurry of delicious energy served on a peace of mind.

Q: Much of what you do involves helping mortals to re-frame and re-focus their thoughts. Why is this so important? Can't you just give us inspiration and ideas, and leave the rest to chance?

A: Because the mind can be like a popcorn popper filled with thought kernels. If you're not concentrating, the kernels pop out of control and weeks later you might find one behind the refrigerator. When you focus your thoughts, those popped thoughts ended up nicely packaged with a prize inside each specially marked idea. Thoughts tend to emerge from the lower recesses of our personality until we snap into awareness, change the channel, and see the world through a filter of tinted magnificence and deep-wired possibility. It's all a choice and there's about 17,592 more metaphors I could use for this, but I think uncorking them might be on the side of excess.

Q: I often get great ideas while I'm in the shower, or driving down the highway. By the time I've rinsed the shampoo out of my hair, or stopped to get gas, the idea is gone for good. How do you capture inspiration in strange and unexpected places?

A: You stop and tell your Muse committee THANK you, and then you keep thinking that thought until you have time to write it down even if you have to drip Pantene Cream Rinse on your idea journal. Ideas are as elusive as dreams and unless you send up extra-don't-go-away-attention, they will, alas … go away.

Q: Of all the other Muses, who do you team up with most often, and why?

A: Albert, Bea Silly and I team up often. Albert and I teach mortals to pay attention with an imaginative twist on the usual...this results in creative connections, associations, and passionate explosions of a-musing possibilities.

Bea Silly makes paying attention fun and fun is powerfully motivating to most mortals.

Q: If you were making a movie about your life, which mortal actress would you choose to represent yourself on the silver screen?

A: Susan Sarandon in a flowing gown. Her big eyes exemplify being awake and paying attention. A character from a story that personifies me is Cindy-Lou in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Remember how she saw to the Grinch stealing the Christmas tree and all the presents? She was paying attention. Don't let the Grinch steal your ideas.

Q: Any final words of advice and inspiration for us?

A: Yes, Dear Mortal, heed these words of Stephen Rechtschaffen, M.D., even if it is just 5% more today:

"Unless we learn to open up each moment and squarely face what it presents to us, our life simply hurtles toward its certain conclusion. To be able to inhabit emotional/feeling time, we need to expand our moment, to wedge it open so we can step inside, linger without fidgeting, and experience what's going on within it."

In the experience of that moment, dear Mortal, is a world of possibility, an invitation to create, and a dance of passion with your authentic self.

©2001-2009 Jill Badonsky. All rights reserved.

Jill BadonskyJill Badonsky is a creativity coaching pioneer, inspirational humorist, artist, and founder of the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™ model. ...

Modern Day Muses

Based on Jill Badonsky's book The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).

Aha-phrodite's symbol

Paying attention & possibilities

"Aha!" (an idea) and phrodite (passion of creativity)

Lightbulb with Wings

Bringing passion to awareness

So the nine Greek Muses were sitting around chattering in the Muse brainstorm chamber. Lightning flashed in electric ideas as they started the selection process of what new Muse transformations they would need to make in order to jump-start the creatively destined modern day mortal mind.

They decided that the first Muse named should be representative of both the Muses in ancient Greek mythology and the newly upgraded Modern Day Muses. Polyhmnia (she of many hymns) said "Aha!" and the rest of them agreed. Thus, Aha-phrodite was named.

Aha-phrodite's name was inspired from Aphrodite, goddess of Love and Beauty and well-known daughter of Zeus and Hera. The "Aha" portion of the name was gleaned, of course, from the A-HA! discovery of a new idea. It was then combined with the old Greek name stem "phrodite," from Aphrodite, making her name a combination of both old and new. This, they believed, was politically correct.

If we pay attention to the present moment we will discover that inspiration is not elusive nor out of reach. There is already an unfathomable amount of inspiration right in front of us.

Creative electricity is everywhere and when we connect to the voltage of our awareness anything in our environment can become a conductor of new ideas.

Everything from the way the grass blows to the music of a child's laughter can become the art of our lives and the substance of artistic expression. In this consciousness, the passion for the creative process is irresistible.

Paying Attention is: Feeling awake and alive to the beauty in the manifestation of spirit. And being fully conscious as a gentle witness in all of life's offerings.