I'm thinking through the concept of busy work and I want to share some of my thoughts with you. Before I really started thinking through this topic, I might have guessed that I was not a fan of busy work because you've probably heard me talk about my desire for meaningful, deep connections, meaningful conversations, and meaningful work to do in this world. I surprised myself by realizing that there are aspects of busy work that I believe can be of value.
I'm thinking about the concept of craftsmanship.
We live in a world that is largely dominated by instant gratification, and quick, easy solutions. In so many ways, I really appreciate these things, and we are lucky to live in a world of such riches and convenience. I also realize that there is a price to pay for this quick turn approach and it makes me realize that value of craftsmanship.
What is craftmanship? Typically, I think of it as something that is produced by hand. I would expect excellence and an attention to detail. An object of high quality, into which deep care was invested into its creation. When I think about craftsmanship in the context of the work that I do and the art that I teach, I realize that it's incredibly important.
There are two parts to what I teach and advocate. There is the art itself, which is handiwork. There is a tangible outcome and we're making things with our hands. Secondly, there is a mindset and approach that goes along with the act of creation. That latter part is actually the most important to me. When I consider where I would seek to apply deep skill and sustained practice over a long period of time so that I really become familiar with the materials and the process, I realize that that elements of craftsmanship would apply to both parts.
In my artistic practice (it's really just a life approach), I am seeking excellence in and deep knowledge of resilience, transformation, joy, happiness, and peace of mind. I'm practicing sovereignty over my own life, seeking the knowledge and the agency that I can have over my own decisions.
Understanding those concepts and then practicing them and creating artwork that explores and upholds those concepts is how I am operating as a craftsman in this area. It's a process in which I'm seeking deep knowledge and excellence and then applying it.
A craftsman has developed a relationship with the products and process, and is continually working to evolve those relationships. It's an ongoing process.
Learning and leaning in. Tweaking the smallest details. Craftsmanship is incredibly important in today's world, and it's incredibly important to me in the context of the art that I do. The skills that I'm nurturing, refining, and deepening over time are a deep engagement in my own life coupled with tangible ways to express my inner world to myself and to others as I go through my life.
What does excellence look like? For me, excellence means developing a sense of playfulness, experimentation, curiosity, passion, and engagement. If I am fine-tuning my craft, I would slowly and steadily be getting better at it or sinking deeper into it.
I would see an increase of those characteristics I just mentioned. I would notice that I can rest in joy and passion and playfulness more often, and that I know how to get into that state of being more easily.
I'd like to encourage you to think through your life, and your creative practice if you have one, to consider:
- Where is it that you would like to deepen your skills?
- Where can you add some consistency and repetition in the actions that you take so that over time you are creating a solid foundation and you are moving toward a state of excellence for your particular craft?
I'll see you next time. I'm heading to the studio table to practice my craft.
that camping trip
my fiftieth birthday
all those Saturday nights
actually, none of that
hurts more than knowing
I chose you and kept choosing you
for far too long
that the first time we sat next to each other
with bbq wings for company
I knew you were smooth glass
the tiniest bird beat its wings
inside my chest
my own clear voice said
not this one
I stepped forward and took your hand anyway
you were never anything but flat
I should have known
by the way you washed your car
the way you kissed
that you read headlines, not heartbeats
I, up too late journaling,
steeped in moonlight
dreaming of roses and laughter
wanted so much more than that
and lost myself in hope
Being creative, taking the time to calm our mind, quiet our nervous system and let our thoughts, our fears, our anxieties, and our joy rise to the surface is something that our busy world doesn't allow on a regular basis for most of us. We're running around, going to jobs, raising families, going to the grocery store, doing so many things in such a short period of time that it results in a sense of urgency in our brains and a fragmentation of our thoughts. I experience this all the time. My creative practice helps me bring everything down to a level foundation and to hear what it is I really want, what I really think, and what I really need. This is important. This is a skill that will affect how you live your life and how you experience every single day.
This is your precious, beautiful life, friend. This is important because being present, being mindful, and being aware during the moments of your life is really all that we have. This is how we experience moments which add up to a life. A creative practice can help you do that in so many ways. When you have an idea and you translate that to another medium - paper, paint, music, clay - , whatever you choose, that connection between your head, your hands, and your heart is really, really powerful.
We are a society disconnected from our bodies. This practice of creating of doing something tactile, of bringing something unique and new into the world is a really excellent way of reconnecting that - of hooking back into our physical, spiritual, and intellectual bodies.
This is so, so important and so valuable. Finally, I believe that there is a language, a way to express ourselves in this world, that doesn't easily lend itself to spoken language and creative work can help us to cross a bridge from one side to the can help us to express our feelings in a way that is healthy, safe, and solid.
Once we express our feelings, our and our fears,, then we have something to work with. They're much easier to handle if we have processed them and placed them somewhere safe onto paper, into a journal, or into a song. Creative practices can help you live a better life by making it a more mindful and aware life.
Here's my challenge for you this week, take a moment to just try it. Don't overcomplicate it. Don't make it a big event. Just sit down and doodle, empty your mind and see what rises to the surface. If you need help getting started I'm here and I love to help people get started.
I want you to tell me the stories on your skin
Your first kiss with Chris or Brian or Brenda
The way you once lost your temper over billiards
And now you’re never sure if you can completely trust yourself
How your pulse flickers in your left wrist then lights up
Like a siren in your ears when you’re excited
Let me feel your dreams
How can a workshop help you to discover your deepest dreams & desires? Fill your life with joy, curiosity, and passion? Establish a regular creative practice?
A workshop can establish the structure for you that you might not get if you are working on your own or just starting out with some of these topics. I teach an eight week workshop entitled A Call to Create (design your life intentionally). In this workshop, we create a safe and exploratory space for all of the participants to sink down and dig deeper into all of these things. To listen for the voice they may have been silencing or tamping down.
Our time together is focused on helping each individual participant achieve their own goals. It's tailored to what you want and what you need. If you feel a pull to dig deeper into your creative practice or to begin one, please know that a creative workshop is a wonderful place to start.
The results of working together in a workshop are finding a sweet sense of courage & calm, establishing comradery and community with others that are like-minded and working through the same process. You don't need experience to start. You do not need fancy supplies. You don't need a ton of time. What you need is a desire to start and a commitment to yourself that you will prioritize this.
It's actually very simple and participating in a workshop can make it even simpler.
A workshop is for you if you sometimes feel stuck in a rut, if you feel like you've done a lot of things in your life, but sometimes you struggle doing things for yourself. Maybe you've be laser-focused on your kids, your family, or other people for a very long time and you'd like to balance that better.
You'd like to come home to yourself.
A workshop is for you if you'd like to implement a practice in your life with proven health and wellness benefits, if you would love to understand more of what you truly desire in life and craft a very targeted plan to get yourself there. A workshop is for you if you just love art and you want to connect with other people and make beautiful projects.
Implementing a regular creative practice in my life has truly changed it so much. - it has transformed my entire life.
Another benefit of being a part of the workshop community a little bit more accountability and the regular cadence of content and events. We meet weekly and we have projects to work on throughout the week - that can help really get that momentum started and create the integral habit that is needed to see transformation and results.
A workshop is a really great way to get started and feel supported in your effort. If you are interested in trying a creative workshop, I would love to have you in A Call to Create, we will open the doors soon, and I hope to see your beautiful face there.
I know, I know you don't have time to be creative, right?
Your life is too busy. You're running the kids around. You're finishing college. You are trying to cook dinner. You want to take a walk to stay healthy and in shape. You've got some books to read. I get it. You have to go to the grocery store. I understand all of those challenges and they are real, so I will not even try to minimize them.
What I want to tell you is - you do have time to add creativity into your life. It might not always be exactly like you pictured and it may not be in luxurious five hour chunks of time, but you can do this. So, let me give you a couple of tips.
First of all, start looking at creativity as just an element of your life.
It's not an extra add on thing. You don't have to set aside two hours and you don't need to get out all of your supplies. Just start thinking of yourself as a creative person, as an artist. and then look at your life through this lens. As you go about your day, look for opportunities to be inspired or to create new things, new thoughts, new feelings, new decisions, and yes, some new artwork perhaps - creative writing or sculpture, a collage, assemblage, whatever it is that you like to work with, but don't overcomplicate it.
Especially when you're getting started, be okay with creating in very small doses. You can prepare for spaces in your life. We all have moments in our life where we are caught, waiting, thinking, tapping our foot at a red light and all of these little spaces, if you make a habit of using them, can be opportunities for creativity. Obviously, many of these moments don't allow you to have paints and glue out.
No matter what, you've always got your brain. You can think and plan creative projects. Capture your thoughts using voice texting or an audio app on your phone. You can just work in your mind and seek to make your mind more nimble, more creative. Read or listen to books that inspire new and different thoughts.
Another big tip: stop having an all or nothing mentality.
I know I do this. I . I often think that if I don't start something on a Monday, which is for some reason the appropriate starting point in my mind, then I can't start THE THING until the following Monday. In my mind, the narrow window of starting time has passed, so I lose an entire week of whatever it was I was trying to do. I hope you noticed that starting on Monday is a self-defined rule that isn't even real all. Monday or nothing can be a way of procrastinating.
We do this with many things in our lives, including creativity. Sometimes people think if I don't have time to sit down and create an entire painting, then why bother? It's not worth this mess. I don't have anywhere to create. I don't have a big studio, like some of these artists. So forget about it. I can't do it.
The truth is, you can create anywhere.
You can create in a very small. You can pick your things up later and put them away, then get them back out. Save a large piece of cardboard to use for your studio desktop; when it's time to put things away or make more space, just pick the entire thing up at once. You don't have to have every new shiny bell and whistle from the art store. You can use papers in your house and a glue stick. I promise I've been doing it for years.
You can fit in art and creativity and you will be so happy that you did.
I encourage you this week to give it a shot. In fact, a starting point might be, don't even try to actually do it yet. Just take a look at your life and identify where you may see a few little spaces.
Another tip is if you watch a lot of television, no judgment, but that's a lot of time that you're spending. You could do one of two things:
1. You could create while you're watching television. In my opinion, not the best option because the kind of creativity that I'm advocating for is one that encourages thinking and clear mental space - openness in your mind. However, you could try if the television is important to you.
2. The best option, in my opinion, is to trade out some of your television time for creative time.
The last tip that I'd like to offer you is to set appropriate expectations. If you're interested in establishing a creative practice, but you haven't done it before, and you don't have a lot of time, don't expect that you will suddenly be able to find four hours a week to do this. Don't set yourself up for failure.
Set your bar low, be patient with yourself, and let the practice develop over time. Let it evolve. Part of this practice is related to less expectations, less judgment, and more freedom. Please, be kind to yourself and exercise those principles as you begin your practice.
Today, I offer five ways to prioritize your creative practice.
I know that many people struggle with finding time. I understand conflicting prioritizes and a persistent busy-ness. I hope that some of my suggestions result in more ease as you build a beautiful healing, transformative, creative practice into your life.
1: Use what you have.
How can you use some of the resources that you have in your life? One example is technology. We all have our cell phones with us all the time and so, as you are going about your day, as you are taking the kids to school, on your commute,, walking through the neighborhood, as you're at work, whatever you're doing in your regular life be on the look out for beauty in the everyday. Objects or scenes that inspire you, colors that light you up, patterns and shapes that are beautiful or visually striking then take a picture of those things. Use them later to inspire a drawing, a painting, or a poem. You can also snap pictures or jot yourself a voice note of words and phrases that you notice.
2. Carry a notebook everywhere you go.
I do this. I have a small notebook that I carry in my purse everywhere I go, because I often have ideas throughout the day. These random throughts which are triggered by the events around you are difficult (if not impossible!) to recall later.
Also, the practice of opening up your notebook and writing things down connects your mind, your heart and your body in a different way than just observing.
3. Carry a teeny, tiny portable studio.
It doesn't have to be big. Those zippered pencil bags for children for school are the perfect size. Put some paper in there, tiny scissors, some pens, pencils, a glue stick papers.
Create, small collages as you're waiting in line or sitting on the bus. I have done this so many times and some of the most beautiful things come out of it. One of the best things about creating on-the-go is that often it starts conversation with other people.
This made me very nervous at first, it made me feel very self-conscious and I wasn't sure that I loved it, but now I do. If I take my portable studio out in public and I'm sitting on a park bench or somewhere, sometimes someone will ask me, what are you doing? What are you drawing? And I have never had anything, but positive feedback.
I usually end up having a really wonderful conversation about the power of creativity. Hooray! I love connecting with other people unexpectedly.
4. Schedule it.
Another way you can prioritize creativity is by scheduling it, literally put it on your calendar. If you need to, speak to the important people in your life and explain to them I'm trying and experiment, it's really important for me to access my creative side.
5. Ask for help.
If you are struggling to establish a creative practice, you can ask for help from those around you. You can send me a message; I have so many ideas to help implement this and I'm happy to share with you.
What I'm talking about is a mechanism in your life to help you establish more mental peace, wellbeing, health, more resilience, and ways of managing things in your life.
This is a big deal. It's okay to prioritize things like this in your life.
(((((((You deserve that.)))))))
As you implement this creative practice, you will find that it will call you back again and that's because as humans, we are meant to be creative.
Today I would like to remind you that you do not need experience to create beautiful, fabulous, valuable creative work.
Didn't go to art school? Don't understand all the fancy art terms? Me either! It doesn't matter. I know that the world (hello, internet!) places expectations upon us.. Other people tell us and judge how we should look, how we should feel, how we should parent, how we should be as a friend, a partner, and how our beautiful Instagram perfect homes should look.
But I am here to tell you creative work does not subscribe to those expectations. Creative work, the kind of work that I value and the kind that I teach and advocate for has nothing to do with any of those things. You don't need to go to art school. You don't need formal training. What you need is courage, a little bit of time and some very, very simple art supplies.
Guess what? Inexperienced is fricking awesome for this kind of work because when you're inexperienced, you don't censor yourself. You don't place expectations upon yourself. You don't compete with others in the world. You go deep, you learn. You can focus on getting started and enjoying the process. IMPORTANT NOTE: this mindset isn't just for beginners - it's where I strive to be every single moment that I'm creating at my studio table.
So, my friend, if you are inexperienced, if you're a little bit nervous about starting a creative practice or doing creative work, you are precisely and exactly in the right place! If you feel kind of silly and you think you're not qualified, or you're not any good at it, please believe me when I say you are in the perfect spot for this.
You, my friend, are the bomb. Let's do this.
All you need to do after this video is get out some paper, get out a pen. If you have art supplies already (paints, chalk, markers, anything you've got) just sit down and create something with no judgment. Don't worry about it what it looks like. Don't worry about what you'll do with it later.
Don't worry about anything.
Just assure yourself that you are indeed an artist. You are an artist right now, already.
Oh, hello there!
I've got a guarantee for you. Even if you've never been creative before, even if you think you don't know where to start, even if you absolutely 100% don't have time for that nonsense - friend, a creative practice can help you in so many ways.
It's like a muscle. When you first start out, it's a little weak; you're not sure how to do that particular exercise at the gym. You can't lift all of that weight, but the more you practice, you begin to feel strong and powerful. You begin to feel like a badass. YOU ARE A BADASS. And that is what a creative practice can do for you as well. Creativity is less about what you make or what project you're working on. It's ALL about who you're becoming and what you're learning about yourself as you're going through the process.
A regular practice, is a form of meditation, but it's much more active than most forms of meditation. It's a way to really look deep within and understand who you want to be at this very moment in the world and who you'd like to be in the future. What we understand about ourselves affects the decisions that we make and our experience through life.
All of us, myself included, are sometimes on autopilot and we're making decisions based on goals, criteria, needs, or wants that we. do not fully understanding within ourselves. The more you understand these drivers and get deeper clarity regarding your voice, the better you can make decisions to align with those, which will ultimately put you on a trajectory toward where you want to go.
Creativity is a way of rooting down deep, but it's also a way of branching out. If you've been a little isolated in your own mind (and we all do this), it's a bit of an echo chamber in there. You will rationalize and nod in agreement at the things that you think - it's human nature. Creativity offers us a way to take a more intentional, deeper look at that.
It's a way to think more broadly and choose to think differently and make different decisions. Creativity is about connection with yourself, with others in the world, and with the universe itself. Awareness of those connections changes the way that you walk through your days.
I want to encourage you, if you don't have a creative practice, start today. It's easy to start one. It doesn't need to be intimidating and I can help you. Check out this free download, Begin to Create, which will give you a quick start.
Thank you so much for being here. I hope you have a beautiful and creative week.
Who am I?
I’m a systems engineer and creative coach living in ABQ, NM. I believe that we can intentionally design our lives to align with our deepest dreams and desires.