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Dear Reader,

Do you hear a faint but familiar call to create, whispering in your heart? A quiet, unmet yearning to explore, tickling your soul? Whether it’s painting, poetry, true love, travel, or adventure, your muse is calling you to create your most spectacular life. Are you willing to leap into love with your muse? Or will you resist, jilting her for your daily to-do-list instead?

The muse is a mirror of your inner artist, reflecting your innate creative potential. It doesn’t matter whether you dabble with watercolor, or cake frosting, work professionally in the arts, or can’t draw a stick figure to save your sister—when you kiss your muse, you rekindle your passion for living, with a spark of mystery, magic, and a touch of the divine.

A kiss is an act of self-revelation that awakens our senses and simultaneously expands and dissolves our boundaries, if only for a moment. Through this intimate encounter with our muse as ourselves, we come face-to-face, metaphorically, with the blank page or empty canvas of our lives; the untamed, uncharted territory of unlimited possibilities. Whether we’re creating art, love, or our own life’s adventure, embracing our muse can help us navigate the process more intentionally, intuitively, playfully, courageously, and gracefully.

How? Kissing the muse is an active, creative mindfulness practice. It uses the expressive arts and Jungian psychology to help you improve any area of your focus—work, creativity, family, relationships, health, even your finances—by revealing your personal narrative and empowering you to change it. What’s working for or against your “hero’s” purpose? What makes your muse want to sing? To answer those questions, it cast you as the hero, artist, lover, muse, and explorer in the starring role of your own life’s creative adventure, basedon the twelve phases of the muse. Each chapter (or session) introduces a distinct muse and “kissing practice” (expressive art-making exercise) that prompts you to explore a particular phase of the mythic hero’s journey. The mythic journey is a pattern of narrative that appears in stories, fairy tales, fables, movies, psychological development and religious rituals. It expresses the repeating, universal and eternal themes we all face across time, place, culture, age, gender, and economic status.

When we frame our work and lives in the structure of a creative adventure, each experience, action, and conflict take on a different significance and meaning; even the seemingly mundane mistakes and failures become necessary to the story. These road bumps, plot twists and frustrations ultimately move us forward, shaping and transforming our character as we strive to fulfill our desires and dreams.

Our stories are shaped and constrained by the stories that are carried in our social, political, and interpersonal contexts--the narratives of myths, movies, novels, advertising, family legends, and fairy tales. We make meaning of our lives through these stories, living them out as dramas and comedies, tragedies and thrillers, interacting with a cast of characters that we may love or hate, or not even know. Our stories contribute to the ideas in our culture that we take for granted as realities. But we can experience alternative storylines and learn to reframe and rewrite them, with themes and plots that are more empowering, more satisfying, and more hope-filled. Eventually, we come to see ourselves as the empowered star of our own life’s movie, while simultaneously playing a more intentional and supporting role in the world.

Like the surprise and delight of love at first sight, I hope this book finds its way into your hands like cupid’s arrow, shooting you straight into the arms of your muse as your mate. Use it to travel to the wildest places of your imagination without leaving home, or to embark on a real-life epic adventure. Even if you’re not yet ready for a full-blown affair with your muse, let alone a long-term relationship­­­­, you can experiment with the kissing practices herein. But be forewarned, the muse has a mind of her own, and even a peck on her cheek could change your life!

So put some cherry lip gloss on and pucker up—it’s going to be a wild and wonderful, life-changing ride!

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