The Practical Mystic Show with Teresa Funke, Author of Bursts of Brilliance, and Janine Bolon

Teresa Funke – Bursts of Brilliance23 min read

Janine Bolon: Hello, and welcome to The Practical Mystic Show. This is Janine Bolon. Today’s guest is Teresa Funke. She believes that there is an artist in everyone, and her newest book, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life. She basically is helping readers ignite their creative spirit and rediscovered their passion, their purpose, and their power. This highly reviewed book is based on Teresa’s popular weekly blog that has been running consecutively since 2014. Teresa is the embodiment of the modern artist and entrepreneur. She’s the owner of Teresa Funke & Company, Victory House Press, and Bursts of Brilliance. She has authored seven award-winning novels for adults and children set in World War II, including a few of my favorites, Dancing in Combat Boots and War on Sunday Morning.

Teresa is a community catalyst speaking widely and running programs that support history, education, literacy, writing, the arts and personal development. She is a frequent podcast and radio guests and a popular panelists on topics ranging from creativity, innovation to entrepreneurship, to the arts advocacy. Teresa is the proud mother of three amazing grown children and a goal to visit a new state or country every year. Hey, welcome to the show, Teresa. Great to have you.

Teresa Funke: Thank you, Janine. It’s nice to be here. Thank you so much.

Janine: Yes. So with this show, with our Practical Mystic Show, what we love to do is being able to help people who are highly intuitive, highly creative in their own right, and many of them have these extraordinary gifts, even though they see themselves as living in a very ordinary life. So, talk to us a little bit about kind of your “ordinary life,” but yet you have these bursts of intuitive flash has that helped you with your life. So, talk to us a little bit about your story.

Teresa: Yes, that’s a great way to put it. I am a very ordinary person. I grew up in Boise, Idaho. I live in Colorado. I have a history degree. For 30 years, I’ve been an author and an entrepreneur. I think when I was younger, I had a sense, that I had intuition, but growing up in a really practical state like Idaho, I’d never knew anyone who was at all intuitive or spoke of being intuitive. So it was fascinating for me when I came to Colorado and I started becoming more interested in exploring my own intuition. How once you open up exploring your intuition, you just attract lots of people who are much more aware and in tune and can kind of teach you and help you.

So I started to realize how my intuition comes through for me, and one of those ways is what I call Bursts of Brilliance, and that’s the name of the book, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life. It’s also the name of my weekly blog and the concept of Bursts of Brilliance is that moment where you get that inspiration and it lights you up from your
toes to the top of your head and you are just filled with energy. So it’s that moment before the inner critics and the outer critics step in and squash your brilliant ideas when you really believe you’re a genius, and you run upstairs and you fling the door open from your basement office and you say to your husband as I do, “Oh my God, I’m a genius. Why don’t you hear this?’ and I wanted to figure out a way to protect those Bursts of Brilliance and to support others who were trying to protect them too. Because I do believe that their gifts. I believe that we were gifted these Bursts of Brilliance, these ideas and that’s why they let us up so much with energy. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have been what the direction we were supposed to take.

So, that was the purpose of starting the blog was to support people, to trust their Bursts of Brilliance, to honor them, and to pursue them. So that’s what Bursts of Brilliance means.

Janine: One of the things that I love talking about with creators of any kind, were there artist, illustrator, writer, dancer, doesn’t matter, whatever. Whenever you’re in that creative mindset, we all talk about flow. We all talk about that space where you get in the flow and like you said, you feel like a genius and it’s more than feeling it’s like with a “K”, that what you’re doing is totally in your happy place, totally where you want to be. So talk to us a little bit about how you moved from writing a blog to moving into writing a book. I mean, there’s a transition there, there’s a whole story, you had seven years of writing weekly on this blog and that all of a sudden boom. Okay, why become an author at that point? I mean, you were writing, other books were very successful at writing these books on World War II and telling other people’s stories. So then you decide, “Okay, let’s move out a history. Let’s move into a modern topic of this Bursts of Brilliance.” So talk to us a little bit about that transition because that’s a story in and of itself.

Teresa: Yes. So as a writer many of my friends had told me for years, I should start a blog and I thought every writer has a blog. I’m not starting a blog until I have something unique and different to say and something that will inspire me enough to want to write it every week. So when I landed on this concept of Bursts of Brilliance, I knew that that was going to be it and so as you said, I’ve been doing the blog for seven years. After about five and a half years, I realized, “Well, I have some really good content here,” and I wanted to take the best blog posts from the first five years and put them into a book.

So, what was really challenging about that is that there is not a lot of editors who work on blog-to-book projects because it’s not a very common thing to do. So I had to find an editor. Basically, what I did is I took my favorite of the blogs, a lot of them, and I sent them to you and I said, “I know there’s things in here,” but I intentionally do not write to themes. I do not write to trends. I do not write for the keywords. I don’t write for product placement. I write what I am inspired to write that week. So I’m sure there’s things in there, can you find them? And she did.

So she found seven chapters with the themes and then I realized we needed an eighth chapter, which the last chapter is actually how art takes you to your higher self. That’s the last chapter. So it was a very, very interesting process and I was really lucky to find her because, as I said, “blogs two books are not common and typically, they are nonfiction.” So somebody’s been writing for years about say nutrition and they want to put it into a book. That’s a little easier to do. What we were doing, was trying to find an inspirational book within a blog. So that was a really fun process. Thank you for asking that question.

Janine: Well, I have found with a lot of folks, whether you’re a shaman, a tarot card reader, hypnotist, NLP, whatever, healing modality you have, there is a story that guides you to where you are, to where you open your doors to your clinic, or in your case, totally shifted the genre that you were writing on and as a fellow author, who writes in multiple genres, I know that that shift has a story to it. That it’s not just a simple thing. It’s not just a single decision. It is a multi-step process to shift your focus from where you were and what you were writing about for 20 years. That’s kind of my story and then, boom, all of a sudden my writing about other things.

So talk to us a little bit, if you don’t mind, about the eighth chapter because that’s what The Practical Mystic show is all about where ordinary people like ourselves, all of a sudden have an extraordinary clunk[?] on the head, a Burst of Brilliance to use the title of your book. All of a sudden, we just know, we’ve got to write about this thing, or we’ve got to start a business about this thing, whatever your thing is. So I’d love to learn more about your eighth chapter.

Teresa: Yes, I think for me, I mean, I did 27 years of writing historical fiction about World War II, and so it was, it was a shift. At the time I didn’t think that I was necessarily moving entirely away from World War II, but I didn’t think it, but I knew it. I knew that that’s what was happening, but this part of my brain still needed to think after 27 years that I was still going to possibly write something else about World War II, but the way I structure those books are all based on real people that I interview. It’s been a very amazing process and the people that I wanted to interview were passing away.

So it also felt it was time. It was time to do something different and I felt very supported in that by the universe and by friends. So when I decided to make Bursts of Brilliance into a book, I also decided it should have its own website and its own social media so that we could put some really inspiring social media up there for people and that it would become kind of sit next to the other work that I do, which is really fascinating. But the concept of art taking us to our higher selves, to me, is really interesting because I’ve been an arts advocate for 30 years, but I was the kind of arts advocate who was an advocate for artists being paid with their worth and for art being valued, not just monetarily, but valued more for art, not leaving our schools, which it was doing. I was that kind of an advocate and all of a sudden I realized there’s conversations that were not having about how art takes you to your higher self.

Yes, art connects us which is super important in our society, in our world right now. Art is that thing that connects us and creates that safe place where we can have those challenging conversations, but art also takes us to our higher selves. So when we’re pursuing our art and we’re tapping into that inspiration and that passion and that sense of purpose that comes from somewhere else, I think it’s really fascinating. So, I started noticing how many best-selling authors or famous actors would sometimes in interviews admit that they felt and they felt like that inspiration for that poem was channeled through them or they felt like that performance came alive because something came into them. I was like, we talked about this on a surface level, and we think it’s fun and kitschy to hear it in an interview with somebody who’s famous, but there’s something much deeper going on.

When we’re creating art, we are working in conjunction with our guides in the universe. So, I just thought I wanted to look at that in the book.

Janine: I’m glad that you did because that was something that I’ve noticed in my own interviews as well as those that I’ve listened to or watched on other people. One of my favorites is with Jim Carrey, mainly because he doesn’t always have the type of humor I appreciate, but he is a physical comedian and that is something as a lover of Vaudeville that I totally can get behind. One of the things he talked about is after he finished up one of his last movies, he moved into the art realm and he had an awakening. He doesn’t even call it that way. I can’t remember his exact words, but he talks about how he totally had a revolution in his own mindset about what he wanted to do, where he wanted to go, what he wanted to be, had days like a cycle finish. Then he had this whole new burst of “where I need to go from here,” of reawakening if you will.

So if you don’t mind, tell with us a little bit about when you had your own reawakening, like you felt the time was right. The people that you wanted to chat to were starting to pass away, but there was like an inner, maybe I’m putting words in your mouth and educate me if that’s the case, where you had this inner clock, that kind of went click, click and not even at a conscious level. So talk to us a little bit about that decision making because a lot of times the mind wants to control things and your higher self is like, “no, I’ve got this,” and that’s where you were saying, “I know.” That’s like that “K”. No, you’re not thinking, you’re not feeling, you know. So if you don’t mind, share with us a little bit about your story on that.

Teresa: Yes. A friend of mine always says, “you know what you know.” She’s an intuitive to and actually, she just said it to me the other day and I thought it’s so true that you do know what you know, but it’s also true for someone like me, I’ve always been very much in my head constantly thinking, constantly evaluating, looking at things from every angle, questioning myself. So part of what I became interested in several years ago, when I started meeting more people that were intuitive was how do you do that? How do you get past that thinking brain and learn to trust that you know what you know? Because I did I’ve had many experiences in my life literally, profound exciting experiences where I knew thoroughly what I was supposed to do.

I felt it in my body, I felt it in my soul, but then there were other times when I would get an inkling of I know what I know and I would immediately start questioning it. The mind would take over. Once the mind takes over, the energy starts to dissipate. So reelevated for me, part of the you know what you know, had to be okay, stay here, stay present in this excitement, in this energy, in this purpose. Stay here for a while because this is what you know, and your mind is going to try to analyze it. So that was a big part of one question people had for me at the beginning of the blog was, “Oh my God, a weekly blog on inspiration. Like are you sure you’re going to be able to come up with something inspiring every single week to say?”

I’ve written 365 blog posts over seven years. So no, I’ve never worried about that because I know on Friday mornings when I write my blog that something will come to me and that that inspiration will come and I’m trusting that process. I’m trusting that I know what I know and that it will come and I will be able to write it every week. So that was a big part of the shift for me into this type of writing was trust. It was just saying it’s one thing that written books that were based on research and interviews and imagination and knowledge of World War II. It’s another thing to trust that you’re going to be inspired in your writing every week. So that was a big, big part of it.

Janine: Well, and you’ve touched on several things that are my absolute favorite nuggets to talk to people about. The first one is the schedule of things. A lot of creatives like to talk about flow and that they’re very free for all and nothing is more important than their freedom, right? They need freedom to be able to express themselves and to feel safe in that expression of their freedom. But the other thing that I like to share with people is the reason why folks like Teresa Funke are so prolific is because of their schedule. They have a schedule that is set up for that inspiration to land in a safe place, in a consistent space. That’s another thing that I think a lot of folks don’t understand is that the more successful folks like yourself who have media campaigns and you’ve set up this whole thing.

So there’s three things. The first one is you set up a time to write, you expect inspiration to hit, and the third thing that is absolutely delightful. As you’re sitting there waiting, you have a separate space for it and I think that was so smart on your part because you were like, I need a separate media campaign. I need to make sure I have memes for this. I need social media to be separate from this and you created this nest for this inspiration to be explored by your community. So talk to us a little bit about the structure. You built this beautiful nest for this creation to happen and you nurtured it in a way very few have that kind of mindset for and I see that over and over again and successful creative. So if you don’t mind sharing a little bit more about that process.

Teresa: Okay, I’m going to tell you why I love this question because I’m a seven on the audiogram and freedom is key to me and if you tried to impose a structure on me, you would get nowhere. So people would say, I don’t think of myself as a structured person because if I did, I think that would annoy me. I think of myself as like, “oh, each day is a little different and I do different things, and I like to have that spontaneity,” but you’re right that I do, I write my blogs on Friday morning and it’s because we post them on Saturday morning and I need to have some time to get them up there. So, knowing that Friday morning is my blog time to write, during the week, it doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about the blog. It doesn’t mean that it’s not in my head. Ideas come and go, and inspirations come and go. I’m observing.

All week long I’m observing what’s going on around me and how I’m feeling, and by Friday, I just kind of know what it is that I want to write about because I’ve spent the week observing and that observation piece is not structured. We just do that and that part is really fun for me. So there’s a combination of structure. Yes, Friday is my writing time and you’re absolutely right. It has to happen, but the unstructured time is all the rest of the week when I’m observing, thinking, imagining, and that’s the fun part. Then you sit down and you write it down, which is also fun, but in a different way. So, I think with the social media, people knew me as the World War II lady, right? So I had to do something to differentiate and we wanted the social media to be really inspiring for other people that when it wasn’t about me and it wasn’t about my books, it was about how do we inspire other people to lean into their Bursts of Brilliance.

So it was developed in a very different way intentionally, then the social media for Teresa Funke & Company, which is about World War II. It’s about the writing advice I give and that sort of thing. So, yes, you’re absolutely. I love the word nest because that is exactly what it felt like, creating a nest where these ideas could learn to fly. So I love that.

Janine: Well, there’s a lot of- to use the owl analogy. There’s a lot of branching that has to happen and I don’t know what people know about baby owls, but they just don’t take off and fly. Baby owls have to branch. They have to hop from branch to branch and they don’t get too far from the nest and all that kind of stuff. So, I like to talk about new businesses in that way of, you’ve got to branch to test out these ideas, and you see what works, but at the same time, it’s so important. I love the way you phrase this about, you had to stay true to your message. You wanted to write the book your way, blog to book, and you knew there were themes in there, but you needed a different set of eyeballs.

Looking at your writing to say, “Oh, here are your themes. Oh, and by the way, we need something else here,” and you’re like, “yeah, we need a chapter 8.” I’ve heard that over and over again from people who came at book writing with that mindset of, “I already know I’ve got great content, XYZ here,” and over and over I hear author say to me, “Yeah. Then I had to slap on this chapter at the back,” and some say, “I really didn’t want to do it, but it was almost pulled into that. Like, I was almost not forced, but lovingly pulled into an arena that I wasn’t necessarily writing about to begin with.” So you want to chat with us a little bit about that force that you almost feel when you’re writing something that’s new?

Teresa: Yes. I know what you’re talking about because I’ve definitely seen that happen to friends where they are they’re told, “Okay, now you have to write specifically another chapter that will close this out.” I did have a tiny bit of that in that she said, “well, if you want to end the book on intuition, you need to write a post about what is intuition,” and so I did have to actually write a couple of new post specific to that ending of the book, but for me that it’s not that she missed that as a theme because it was always there. It was always in the blog and I written about those things intentionally. I’d written about our connection with each other. I’d written about how art takes us to our higher self throughout the time, I was writing the blog. It might have been hesitation on her part to. So specifically, go to such a “woo[?] place,” right?

Janine: Exactly.

Teresa: The rest of your book is kind of practical. It’s about the artist’s life and how art connects us and how art advances, social issues. Now you’re going to check on this piece at the end about intuition and that might have seemed a bit, woo-woo[?] to her maybe. But for me it felt like this is how, this is what these books have been progressing towards. I’m making all these arguments in favor of why art is important, why it’s really, really, really important that we do our art and I’m going to end by saying you’re going to do all this good with your art for yourself, for others, for your community. Then for your higher self. So it’s possible that she missed that themed for that reason, but it was there all along and it was not hard at all for us to shuffle around and find it in the end. So didn’t feel forced at all in that sense. But yes, it did take intentionality to figure out how to end that book.

Janine: Wonderful. Well, Teresa, I can chat with you all day but I’m going to wrap this up and I would love for you to give us some parting advice on those who want to do the same thing. They want to protect and to their own Bursts of Brilliance, so do you have any last tidbits you want to share with us today?

Teresa: Yes, I think a big part of it right now especially coming out of such a challenging time that we’ve all had. A lot of artists and even people who are hobby artists felt their creativity wane. I mean, we just went through a pandemic in a really challenging year in 2020 and I saw it happen with a lot of artists that their energy kind of dissipated a bit. There was even the question of is our art really that important right now given everything that’s going on. But what we’re hoping to see now is a bit of a renaissance in art now that we’re coming out of all of this and we’re starting to get our energy back because I think we’ve all learned a lot about ourselves, about art, about our processes during this last challenging year and a half.

I think and I hope that we are going to see a renaissance in art where we all start to produce something, maybe even different than what we were doing before because we’ve changed and what we care about changes and our passion and purpose has changed and that’s okay. Like we don’t have to do what we did before and we can try something new and we don’t have to be really good at it. Like maybe you’ve gotten really good at a certain type of art, but it isn’t calling to you anymore.

It’s okay to start over, it’s okay to be new. It’s okay to not be great in the beginning and I think that’s what I’m really hoping we’re going to see now is artists taking some new chances and allowing themselves like I did to go in a new direction even though it’s kind of scary to do it.

Janine: I agree when you start first start branching into those new arenas, it can be a little scary, but at the same time, you’ve been there before, you’ve been a noob[?] as we like to say, right? You’ve been a newbie before you can handle this. You got this, you’ve got resources you didn’t have before, you’ve got people in your life you didn’t have before and you have an audience, just loves you for your own personality and they’ll support you. Even if you go in a direction that isn’t necessarily their big thing, they’ll still support you. They want to see you grow, right?

So Teresa, thank you so much for being with us today.

Teresa: Well, thank you, Janine. It was great.

Janine: That’s Theresa Funke. She happens to be talking about her newest book, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, who can be reached in a multitude of arenas. But Teresa, please tell us where you would like us to go to learn more about the creative life.

Teresa: Well,, that’s bursts with an S, of and then you can find us in most of the social media channels, like Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and even on Medium. So, yes, check us out there and hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration in what I’m writing and it will connect.

Janine: Wonderful. Have a great day. Today folks, as you go about your own intuitive guidance, remember to keep meditating, keep your feet on the ground, but don’t give up reaching for those stars. Have a great day. We’ll see you next Wednesday. I’m sorry. We’ll see you next Friday.


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