The Art of Asking Questions

by Julie Claire on March 10, 2015

julie with tea living room adjusted smaller

I grew up being the one who was always asking questions. I live in questions. I love questions.

One of my favorite parts of being a professional coach is asking questions.  It’s really in my job description and I find there is an art to it—finding the questions that are useful, timely and opening.

I know with every ounce of my being:  Not all questions are created equal.  Some are wild goose chases and some get you right to where you want to go. 

Some questions go “ding”.  And some don’t.

Recently on a coaching call, I asked a coaching client to draw what her life looked like in the moment.  My question was:  “How big would she draw each part of her life?  She responded by drawing some simple shapes—circles– representing different parts of her life.

What she saw was that all of the circles were the same size.  She realized she had no priorities, no sense of what was or wasn’t really important.  She turned to me and said “no wonder I’m so stressed!”


On the other hand, unhelpful questions can put you on a dead end road.  I call these the impossible questions. Impossible questions aren’t really worth your time at all.   They take you further into the mindset that created the dilemma, they bring you to more strategy and less intuition, they sometimes STOP you from any movement at all.

One example of this is when you’re absolutely exhausted, worn so thin you have no perspective at all and you find yourself asking a big life changing question like:  “Am I even good at my job? “

Whoa. Stop.  Before you start down this road.  This is what I call a time of “no evaluations allowed”–which means no evaluating questions either.

Sometimes a good question itself is more valuable than the answer.

When I was 19 on an internship in Washington D.C. (the most miserable summer of my life)  I was asked by someone I had just met—“Julie, are you happy?” To this day this questions remains as a beacon of light.  What changed my life in that moment was not the answer, but the realization that I had not been asking myself that question, no one had.

“Holy shit, how come this question has never even been in my Universe before?” This one question opened me up to a whole new slew of questions and a new beginning in life.

Qualities of a “ding” question:  

  • It gets you out of your mental loop- your stucknesss and opens up new ground.
  • The question itself is often not in the same emotional field as the problem.  “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein
  • It comes from a place of love, or perhaps irreverence, but definitely not from judgment.  Ask yourself if you are “with yourself” or “against yourself” as you ask the question.
  • Sitting with the question gives you as much or more than the answer.  And sometimes “I don’t know” is the most valid answer.

A good question can hang around for years, working its magic

Right now, if you were your closest friend and you were tired of hearing the same story over and over again, what question would you be willing to ask yourself?








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Getting Physical with Paint

by Julie Claire on February 20, 2015

liz painting adjusted smaller copy

Tired of thinking? Need a break from working on “yourself”? Feel like “moving your energy”?


Picking up a paintbrush with the intention of moving and being physical can be a wonderful way to enter into your creative process and leave thinking behind altogether.


One of the gifts of intuitive painting is that there is no formula, no one way to paint. We don’t have to always make “meaning”, or even images. Sometimes you may simply want to play with physical movement and experience the sensuality of paint and canvas.


The visceral experience of painting can include the act of smearing, scraping or brushing the paint. And then there is the smell of paint…and the sound of the palette knife against the canvas/through the layers of paint. And how the paint feels on your hands and fingers.

There can actually be a bit of bliss getting your hands wet with paint.

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We can paint through the body and experience kinesthetic joy.


The body knows how to move, and paint knows how to flow. Sometimes you may find that by letting go of intentionality and understanding altogether you will be led through the world of color and into a mysterious kind of spontaneous play.


Into the woods you go…


Some tips for painting from your body:

  • Use a bigger brush (2”, 3”…..)
  • Choose your music, or your silence, with movement in mind
  • Give yourself a big enough canvas, no smaller than 30 x 30
  • Don’t worry about how much paint you’ve got on your plate, be willing to throw some out at the end
  • Have tools to scrape and/or smear with—pallette knife, rag, sponge..
  • Get your hips into your movement, awakening your lower body energies
  • Experiment with different kinds of movements and paces…from slow to fast…from flowing to staccato.


In the last week I have had the pleasure to work with several individuals who have declared their desire to paint from their body…allowing the physical act of painting to carry them through.


One woman dancing, moving her arms in large sweeping movements across the page as she painted, free from caution and “smart”.


One woman scraping into the canvas so that the noise itself created a feeling of freedom, release and sound…ahhh….


Another woman stayed with a big paint brush for the whole session, breaking free of her circular thinking and work-mind in such a way that she was physically tired at the end of the session…like a workout.

 I’m a big believer in expanding your creative choices. 

The physical act of painting can be so cathartic. If you’re someone who always works through emotion or ideas when you paint, try approaching painting differently for a session. Your body knows how to paint. See what your body has to say.




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Find your energy.  Follow the flow.

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photo credit David Coleman As January 1st came and went I noticed that I had a lot of “shoulds” in the air around my business plans for 2015 and not a lot of genuine energy there.  Way too responsible.  Way too reasonable.   At the same time I discovered that when I spoke about my […]

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Sometimes I distance myself from ideas of what my dreams are in life, because I want to be present to what is already magnificently showing up in my life.  At these times, the talk of “dreams” turns me off.  So often, so quickly, the conversation about dreams becomes too externally oriented–too “thingy”, too disconnected from […]

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You’re half way through your painting and you don’t like what it looks like, now what?

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You’ve always wanted to express yourself creatively.  You decided to try intuitive painting.  You’re hoping something beautiful might somehow come out of you and become a painting. At first it’s a blast.  You’re using a big paint brush; You’re following your body’s rhythm; You’re painting! So much color, so much beauty.  It’s everything you thought […]

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