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.
Today, I'd like to offer five easy ways to get started with your creative practice.
The first one is the most important, and if you only remember one thing today, this is it:
You have to start.
Don't overthink it. Don't worry about it. Don't wonder what you need, just immediately start. Look around your house right now. You don't need extra special supplies. In fact, at its simplest, you only need a notebook and a piece of paper.
Start writing anything at all - poem, essay, brainstorm, random stream of consciousness. All of these things can later become seeds for something else.
Number two: don't overcomplicate it. You don't need the fanciest supplies. You don't need a rock solid, iron-clad plan, you just need to start thinking differently. When I talk about a regular creative practice, this can definitely include really cool creative projects but MORE IMPORTANTLY -
I'm talking about different ways that you can live your life and interact in the world. The term creative means making something new that wasn't there before. You could be creating new habits, new relationships, new boundaries, new ways of operating in the world, or new thought patterns.
Don't make it hard. Just pick one thing and do it.
Tip number three: find a partner. Sometimes when you're trying to start something or maintain something all by yourself, it's hard to keep the momentum going. If you can find someone - a friend, an acquaintance or a family member, or someone online that is of the same mind and that you feel you would enjoy spending some time with, you can reach out and explain what you're doing.
I'm starting a new creative practice. It's new for me, or maybe I've created before, but I'm doing it in a new way. I want someone to partner with, and I want some accountability in that process. Would you be interested in doing that with me?
I have partners and accountability friends in many areas of my life. People love to do this because it's a reciprocal relationship. They're not just doing it for you; they're getting the same thing in return. So partner up, it's an excellent way to get started and keep going.
#4: get inspired. If you're not sure exactly what you want to do, or you feel kind of stuck - you know you want to do something, but your idea is sort of vague and not concrete, seeking external inspiration can get you moving forward. There are so many places that you can find inspiration online that I won't even list them. If you need a good starting place, visit my Instagram then click through the accounts that I'm following. You're bound to find a good jumping off point there!
Walk outdoors. Look up museum exhibits and make a plan to attend.
I find a ton of inspiration just by going outside and walking around my neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods that I don't see as often. You get yourself out of your comfort zone.
Reminder: everything you make doesn't have to be 100% original. A lot of art is inspired by other people. That's perfectly fine as long as you don't try to sell art that you blatantly and wholesale copied off of someone else. Be sure to thank and give credit to the original artist, especially if you're posting on social media.
Tip #4: join a group. There are so many groups out there that are organized around creative activities nd a lot of them have events. In fact, I have a writing workshop tomorrow morning. It's every Saturday for eight weeks and I love that because it pushes me a little bit during the week to create more work and to do some of the assignments that have been given to us. I get the opportunity to collaborate with a bunch of other people who are working on similar projects.
Bonus tip: aim for consistency with your practice. That doesn't mean you have to do it every day, but do it on some regular cadence because if not time will slip away. It's tricky like that!
I know that you can do it, and I cannot wait to hear back to see how this goes.
How can we use our creative practices to feel strong, happy, satisfied and just feel good in the world?
I make a lot of big claims about that and you know what? I stand by it. Establishing a regular creative practice or just existing in the world in a more engaged, creative, curious way, truly can add joy and passion into your everyday life.
The experience can be different for everyone, but the concepts and foundations stand true for each of us. When you really embrace a creative practice in your life, there are so many fantastic and unexpected things that come along with that. One of them is a creative community. Don't underestimate the power of like-minded people who are seeking similar things -
- more curiosity
- deep learning
- connection with others and with themselves
For me, community has been an incredible an unexpected result of really embracing and leaning into my creativity. Then there's also a deeply personal, internal piece. This is the part that you alone can experience and it has to do with becoming more grounded in yourself, knowing who you are, what you want, and what you don't want.
It's really important.
Just realizing that you have so many resources within yourself to regulate your emotions, to make better decisions, and plan your life. You'll also get better at winging it sometimes, knowing that you are capable of navigating all of that.
Language can be defined as a means of expressing thoughts or ideas. There are written and spoken languages - the one I'm using right now, and there are other types of languages. There's a narrative happening within yourself, within all of us - some of it can be articulated in words, but I think there's a huge piece of our internal lives and landscapes that don't immediately translate into our native language.
They are really hard to express that way and lose nuance. Creativity, whatever form it takes, can be used as a channel to take that forward. As you're creating, you are also learning and establishing an internal language of your own, a way for you to take the things that are inside of your head and inside of your heart, acknowledge them, become aware of them, and then translate them. These translations can be into a common, spoken, easily understood and articulated language, or in some cases, we may wish to handle them differently. You can begin to learn how your internal language and the language of creative work interact together for you. How that looks and sounds for you person. in whatever your chosen medium is.
I use various mediums - spoken and written word, art journaling, collage, painting, and mixed media artwork are all a part of my creative practice. When I first started, it was really hard and even a little awkward. That's exactly what happens when you learn ANY new language. I'm actually brushing up my Spanish right now. Sometimes I wonder if I'm cut out for it and think I'm not that good and then there are days when it just starts to flow. I think accessing your creative internal language is the very same. It's like a muscle. The more you use it, the more you strengthen it, the more familiar and comfortable you become with it.
It will begin to seem like just a part of you - an extension of you and your existence in this world. You'll realize that is was there the entire time, just below the surface. We all possess different types of knowledge and wisdom, and much of that gets lost because we experience stress, pressure hurrying, and the world's constant seeking to accomplish things. These lead to a dampening and quieting of our internal voice.
Creativity is an avenue toward joy, happiness, strength, and stability in the world. This isn't just an ethereal concept that I'm talking about. It's a real thing. This is huge and it's powerful. I invite you today to consider how you can begin a regular practice or deepen an existing creative practice.
Just dive in. Don't overthink it. Forget about what the art looks or sounds like and really focus on how you can attain some of those good things that we've been talking about.
Hello, friend. More times than I can count, I’ve heard people say – I can’t do art and almost 100% of the time, it’s because they are intimidated by it. I speak from my own experience when I tell you that just the thought of creating something can trigger big fear and resistance. It’s perfectly normal and it makes complete sense.
Why is that? Because it’s way more complicated than just the physical actions needed to slap some paint on paper or write a song. The act of creating based on what is in your own mind and heart is incredibly personal. If I could tell you that being a creative is always easy and fun, I would but I’m committed to honesty and so I want to tell you how it really is.
Bringing something new into the world that didn’t exist before, is inherently a teeny tiny bit risky, especially in a culture in which appearance matters and it sometimes seems that critical judgement and finger pointing is the order of the day. But I want to tell you that the result of being creative is 100% worth it. And guess what? For me, the risks associated with being creative hardly ever come to fruition. Let’s talk about those risks a little. What are they?
• That someone won’t like your work
• That someone will say something critical or mean about you or your work
• That YOU won’t like what you made
These things alone aren’t necessarily bad, they just ARE – it only starts to feel bad when your emotions get involved. It's the possibility of one of these things occurring makes us feel something negative and uncomfortable. Worried, anxious, fearful, embarrassed. These are all just feelings and take my word for it, they will pass. QUICKLY! This is how emotions are meant to work – they are signals to your internal landscape but they aren’t meant to stay forever. Creative work will help you process them and allow them to move along.
Did you notice that I said the possibility of these things occurring? This means that in many cases, we're investing a lot of strong emotion is a scenario that hasn't even happened. It's a story we're telling to ourselves and we can choose to give those stories less attention and weight.
You’ll find that pushing past the barrier is easier than you think and that it gets easier each time you do it. Plus, you don’t have to share your creative work unless you want to. It can just be between you and your own self if that feels best. The whole point of doing the kind of creative work that I teach is the PROCESS of it. The reaching and diving deep. When you learn to do that, you’ll also, by default, be practicing and strengthening some the critical skills of managing your fear along with risk (real or perceived), and becoming more comfortable with who you are inside. This is the super sweet hidden gem. This is the jackpot of a prize. This alone is worth any risk, real or imagined.
You don’t need to be intimidated by creative work because there are no rules unless you create them yourself. The process or the finished product don’t need to look or be any certain way. You don’t need to share your work unless you want to. Fancy supplies are not required. You can do it for 5 minutes at a time or spend an entire afternoon. YOU MAKE THE RULES and success is only defined by your criteria. If you find yourself a little intimidated, you’ve likely assimilated someone else’s expectations. I encourage you now, today, to drop those. Write them down if you need to then crumple up that sheet of paper. Then re-write the rules and make them easy and simple. Or maybe have no rules at all!
I’m heading into the studio, which might just be under a shady tree in the backyard today. I hope you find a peaceful place to explore today. Let’s commit together that we won’t let the expectations of the world push us around this week. xoxoxoxox
Have you ever found yourself a little adrift?
You are going through the motions. You're getting up in the morning. You're getting ready for the day and you're moving along.
But somewhere inside you wonder what is all this for? Are we really meant to muddle through the days, the weeks disappearing in a blur? Or maybe you've experienced a different version of this - time has slowed down. You fill your days somehow, but it's a struggle. You find yourself feeling bored and unenthusiastic. In either case why get excited? Tomorrow will just be a slightly different version of this day after day, week after week.
And you can already see how the years will pile. I believe that humans are the happiest when we feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Of course, we all have things in our lives that drive our actions - families, friends, jobs, sports yards, we need to plant tomatoes, mow the lawn - whatever your version of these daily tasks are.
These anchor points in our lives, they're GOOD. They're all compelling reasons to get up in the morning, but I've found that I actually need a spark of meaning that is personal. That's not for someone else, not undergirded with responsibility or expectation, or even given to us by someone else's expectations, but something that is all ours.
This meaning can be found in many places, including creative work. Consider your entire life as a creative project. Now that I look at my entire life as a grand creative project, I notice how engaged I am. Everything is an adventure. I am insatiably curious. I can't wait to get up in the morning started.
Of course, I still have to carry out mundane tasks, like go to the grocery store. In fact, I'm headed there right after our little chat today. But now my life is interspersed with fascinating things. Now I am more interested and dare I say, I think I'm more interesting. As an example of how this might look in practice:
I work during the day and I find that if I don't put some effort into planning meals for the week, they become haphazard and they're not as healthy or delicious as I would like so I usually do some planning for the week so far. Doesn't sound very creative. Right? In fact, I hear you. You're thinking that sounds pretty darn boring.
I know, I know, but stick with me. I planned my meals and then I compiled the shopping list to carry it out but I sought to do it in a way that was a little imaginative. I added two new meals that I haven't tried before and I'm excited to cook and eat them. A few weeks ago I tried a different version of adding creativity to grocery shopping and meal planning. I rode my bike to the market instead, and then I challenged myself to only buy what would fit in the basket, In the past, I've intentionally gone to different grocery stores, just to switch things up a little. I know these things sound small, but they aggregate over time.
The tiny differences that little changes make really do shake things up. You might have a chance conversation with a stranger that echoes with you for days that you never would've experienced had you gone to the same old grocery store and stuck with the very the same process that you always use. You might see the world - or just a little slice of the world- in an entirely different way, from a different perspective.
And that's incredible. That's a gift. So I've given you an example about grocery shopping, but this idea can be applied to anything in your life. What you read, how you spend your time, how you conduct your professional life, and even your thoughts and your relationships. I do this little experiment pretty often.
I ask myself - why do I think that about a certain belief or idea that comes up for me? And then I challenge myself to find proof or evidence that the idea is valid. Some are perfectly reasonable and stand up to scrutiny but others are flimsy. The point is, when you examine your thoughts like this, you have an opportunity to intentionally modify them.
Instead of operating on autopilot, you can choose to create new thoughts. That's an unbelievably impactful kind of creativity. It affects the way you think and the way you live your life. There is no quicker or easier path to a more meaningful life than to have an active and engaged mind. A different version of this little experiment is to question yourself about responses in conversation or in relationships.
You can do this with your children, with your spouse, with people that you work with, Before you react, do a little experiment and ask yourself, how can I respond in a way that's a little different than what I usually do. Just the act of challenging yourself to do things differently changes things imperceptively and these shifts add up to big results over time.
So we've been talking all this time and I'll bet you've noticed that I haven't yet mentioned the creativity that you've probably expected me to talk about from the get-go - painting, poetry, prose, sculpture, composing music. These creative endeavors 100% and absolutely support and feed the concept of seeking a more meaningful life.
In my opinion, creativity multiplies upon itself. Isn't that incredible? It means you can start in small ways, one tiny change at a time, and build momentum. It means you don't have to do it all or nothing. It means there is no right way to do it. What a gift! It's just yours for the taking! You can choose to seek a more creative life.
Getting started does not require money. It only requires your willingness to start. It doesn't require that you change the way you do everything or that you toss everything out and begin anew. Nope. You can go slowly. You can build confidence and experiment. One sincere warning - it is super addicting. Once you dive in, you will find that in the most wonderful way, nothing looks exactly the way it did before. It's transformative and energizing.
So let's do this together. Shall we start this week? This is my invitation to you. Shake things up in your life a little or a lot, whatever feels comfortable to you. Shift things around just a smidge to loosen something. As always, I would love to hear how this goes for you. You're welcome to drop me a line.
If you're a really brave soul and you want to start a creative project, bravo, sweet friend! Working on art is pure magic. It can connect your head, your heart, and your body. I'm sending love and creative vibes. xoxoxo
(after Climbing by Lucille Clifton)
Each morning I rise
hungry for the race
52 feels like 22 except
now I stretch
don’t drink myself
I know that the end
and it also isn’t far
along this rutted trail
I have wanted
oh, how I have wanted
love falling deep
crashing like a waterfall
I have wanted more time
maybe I should have
It wasn’t the black water
or the yawning hum,
not the solitude,
the floating questions
I could not name.
It was the cattails,
as if shelter depended
but this open sky,
sunshine slipping through
to rest awhile.
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.