Your “Aha Moment”

By Carolyn Edlund

That moment of clarity. A sudden realization, a point where everything clicks. It may change your life.


“Possibilities” acrylic on canvas, McKella Sawyer


Back in the early 1980’s I found myself really challenged by how I was going to make my ceramic art business work, and make it profitable.

Then I stumbled onto a short paragraph in an old issue of Ceramics Monthly magazine that gave me the answer I was seeking. It was an “aha moment” that would transform my business from one person attempting to design and create into a busy production studio business that would last for more than twenty years.

That moment was so impactful that I even remember where I was standing on the summer day when I read the paragraph in the magazine’s suggestion column – with the page caught like a photograph in my mind. It gave a simple yet powerful technique for recreating the jewelry I was designing, quickly and accurately. I incorporated it into a system for production that ended up allowing me to sell my work in volume, hire assistants, and become profitable.

Providing consultations to artists on an everyday basis, I speak with many people who also struggle with these challenges. Sometimes there are missing links or not-quite-understood realizations that are simple and right in front of them, or on the periphery of consciousness. They may be so caught up and involved that they cannot see the forest for the trees. It takes the fresh eyes of an objective third party to point them out.

Some examples come to mind:

  • A talented artist torn between her long-time practice in bereavement counseling and the desire to create portraiture found a simple way to connect these two interests. She now has a plan to build the art business she desires while offering even more value to her existing clientele.
  • A young woman frustrated with sales of her art found that that combining it with her writing talents completed a picture of the business she wants to create. Turns out she was already writing, but had put it aside thinking her future was in painting. She is developing a way to do both that will multiply the impact of her work and make a difference in women’s lives.
  • A “wannabe” artist who worked with various mediums and methods determined that her real passion was appreciating many types of work, and sharing them with the public. She realized that it fit her personality to start a gallery and sell the work of other artists – and that she had a space already which would work for her.

Have you experienced an “aha” moment?


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  1. Hello Carolyn > I found your article thanks to a retweet from @StefanLevesque >”RT @ArtsyShark: The “Aha Moment” – when everything clicks. When was yours? ” After reading your article, I realize that perhaps my “aha moment” doesn’t quite fit in the list, but I want to share it anyway.
    There is one moment in my life that definitely comes first. Although I’m 57 now, it dates back half a century to my second year in primary school, age 7. It was overwhelming, and difficult to put in words. To describe it I always call it “Oceanic”. I was standing in line on the inside playground, 2 by 2, to enter class after morning break at school. Suddenly I had to look up in the right corner of the ceiling. I felt as if I was lifted, leaving the ‘here & now’, later I described as ‘if I was passing through a wormhole into another dimension’. In the following 50 years never an equally strong & calling experience has occured, and that was why this left such a deep impression. All this perhaps took a few seconds, but it felt as eternity. Later I became a teacher in secondary school (where I always shared this story with my students), I married, had 3 sons, bought a house, divorced & two years ago I took a sabbatical period & sold everything. Now I try to go back to that ‘wormhole’, trying to put in words what was offered to me there, this “calling”, through my poetry and workshops on Coincidence & Synchronicity. I even started to work on a lifelong dream: creating my own school. I want to create an environment (especially for young people) to share & show this “calling” as an answer to the ever present Darkness, because what I saw/experienced was so beautiful & peaceful, so deep & full of Light that it felt as a sudden look into & a touch by “The Womb Of Creation”. This is my story in a nutshell, this is why I call myself “Womb Poet & Oceanic Shaman”. Through my website you can find out more, my school is called “Antillia” & can be found at, though it’s just a ‘newly born’, as I feel for the moment 😉
    Kind regards,

    • Wow, what a fascinating experience, Rombout. It sounds like a very precious gift, this transformational moment. What are some methods you use to recreate such an experience? Do you use meditation or rituals, or are there teachers you have found who speak about such an experience?

      • Thank you Carolyn > eg: I organize happenings around my Fire Table (originally assembled in South-Africa) > see often magic transformation takes place there & I also invite people on “Coincidence- Walks” where the direction of the journey is entirely depending on what comes to us on the moment itself > this is a healing way to experience what the difference is between a creative path & a destructive one. It is also the way to discover this beautiful “creative womb’ that guides us if we are open to it. I am glad to have the support of Larry Ackerman, pioneer on Identity Discovery > (twitter > @lackerman). The idea of the “school” came up when i started as a teacher myself, when I noticed that a lot of “graduates” didn’t have a clue on what their unique talent was, or, if they did, where not allowed to follow it. (Re)discovering your unique talent is truly an “Aha-Erlebnis”. That’s why I want to create a place where young people can find out what their ‘core business’ is, before the treadmills of society grind their dreams to ‘dust in the wind’. And I hope my poetry & creative work will add a little, as starlight being born 😉

  2. I haven’t had my “aha” moment, but am actively seeking it! I really enjoy Artsy Shark. Lots of great info here.

    • Thanks so much, Jennifer. I don’t think all ideas or solutions come as a lightning bolt – some artists that I know have simply worked very long, hard hours to create their careers mindfully.

      One thing I have found is that often “Aha moments” will occur as artists talk deeply about their priorities, challenges and possibilities – usually about an hour into the conversation. This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed many times, and recently read an article by a life coach who noted a similar pattern. It takes a while to really get comfortable and understand the big picture. Sometimes it is a question that I ask, or the artist will spontaneously have an idea that brings it all together, so that they are able to move to the next step. I’m not sure if it can be “created” but seems to happen organically.

  3. Drawing a face – how to do it? From filling in an oval shape to the puzzle technique, there are lots of ways. As a beginner, it was confusing until I watched a Daniel Greene video. He marks the position of the eyes, then makes proportional marks from the eyes to the top of the head and to the bottom of the chin. When those proportions are correct, he then draws the face from the inside going out, usually starting with the eyes, no predefined face contour, always checking shape relationships. That was my aha moment, the technique that made sense to me, one I could and have followed since then.[img][/img]

    • This makes a lot of sense – learning those “secrets” gives you so much more to work with, doesn’t it?

      Once a customer of mine looked at my work and said “I have no idea how this is humanly possible.” I should have shared the process, and given her an “Aha Moment!”

  4. My Aha moment was when my father passed from cancer, he had just created and patented a product for sharpening chainsaws and would never see one produced in his lifetime. I then realized as a custom home contractor in Lake Tahoe, that I needed to follow my passion – sculpting. What an incredible journey.

    • Ken, what a poignant story. Sometimes it takes a major life event to set us on the right path. From the look of your beautiful portfolio, I’d say we’re lucky that you chose it!

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