Dear Creative Rebel,

Image result for let's have a conversationLiving the life of a creative isn’t easy. Sure, there are amazing days where you are in the zone and creating for hours on end, brainstorming idea after idea for the novel you’re writing, and connecting with other creatives.

But there are also lots of other days.

The ones where you feel stuck, out of ideas, or just plain depressed or anxious about your work. We all have those days, and just because I coach rebels like you to overcome those obstacles, doesn’t mean I still don’t have them myself.

One of my creative heroes, Elizabeth Gilbert, talks about how when you decide to pursue creativity in your life, you’re also agreeing to take the “shit sandwhiches” that come along with it. Did you have two glorious weeks of painting, then three days of “I can’t do this, who do I think I am?” That’s the shit sandwich. The important question is, What do you love doing so much that you don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes along with it?

You don’t have to go through the shit sandwich phases alone. 

Together we can get through your creative blocks and fears, and design a creative life that makes you excited to get out of bed every day. 

Let’s have a conversation and see what we can get accomplished! 

Do You Create Just for Yourself?

unnamedHow often do you create just for yourself? I know I don’t do it often enough. Usually when I have time to sit and create, I think about who I am creating for. It could be for a specific person like a card, or for a group of people like something free to give away on my blog.

Rarely do I sit down and think, “I’m going to write out that weird short story I’ve been thinking about, just to see how it turns out.” When I write it’s usually FOR something. To sell a novel, or a workbook for creatives, or anything else that’s specifically for someone else.

If we’re always sitting down with a plan in mind, we’re not leaving ourselves open to explore new ideas and curiosities. Maybe that weird short story I want to explore will turn into something bigger…something I can publish. But for now, wouldn’t it be fun to just write it without a plan in mind? (Yes, Rebel, yes it would.)

A simple way to remind yourself to create for just you is to schedule it in. I have a daily planner that I use for little tasks. I spend a lot of time sitting at my computer working and writing. If I don’t write down the ideas that pop into my head as they come, they’ll be gone. Writing in something like, “work on my short story” is trigger enough to get me to sit, even for five minutes, and write just for myself.

The photo above is something I made a few years ago. I suddenly got into drawing cirlces on a canvas, then coloring them in with Sharpies.  I spent night after night working on these canvases just for me. Then, because I’m me, I started thinking of ways to give them away. I ended up making a dozen black and white ones for kids in the cancer ward at our local hospital. I thought they could color them while having chemo. I contacted the hospital and brought them in.

I’m really glad I did that, but after I was done, I’d lost my mojo for creating them for myself. This is the only one I made for me that I kept, and whenever I look at it hanging in our bathroom, it reminds me of being in my own little world for those few days, listening to music, drawing, and coloring.

Do you create just for yourself? If not, why not start?

Why I Need to Stop Meeting New People

Image result for diveI’ve always done what I call the Drop and Dive. I drop a project I’m working on to dive into something new and shiny. And I finally figured out one of my triggers for doing that.

It’s not that I’m lazy and just don’t want to finish, or that my new idea is the best thing ever. It’s how my new ideas come about. 

I love making new friends and meeting people. And, frankly, I’m good at it. I’m interested in what people do for a living, if they’re happy, and what more they want out of life and why they’re not going for it. I like to hear about their kids, and where they live, and see what we have in common.

I’ve met some of my favorite people at random places. My friend Elisa and I met at the beach about eight years ago while waiting for other friends to show up for a picnic. My son and I were playing in the sand when I noticed her and her two little boys. We made our way over to them and talked and played. As they left, I ran after her and gave her my number to get together. I’m so grateful she called.

A few years ago I met a girl at the mall play area where our kids were playing. We hit it off and became Facebook friends right there. We don’t hang out, but we follow each other on Facebook, and I stop in to see her at work once in a while. She is a sweetheart and I’m so glad to have her in my life.

Last Fall the kids and I were hanging out at a park when I noticed a mom with kids, one of them older. Whenever I see older kids on a school day who aren’t in school, I usually ask if they’re homeschooled. I love meeting other homeschoolers and my boys are always looking to make new friends. She is a homeschooler and we also became Facebook friends that day.

These are the good stories. The ones where we met and struck up conversations because of our kids. I love these moms and I’m so happy to have met them.

The people I have to slow down on meeting are the Creatives. My people. My tribe. 

When I meet someone and we hit it off because we both have (or want) creative businesses, I know I’m in trouble. Not only do I want to ask them a million questions about their life, but I usually want to create something WITH them. A book, a course, a podcast, a group…anything that will combine our creative minds.

This is my crack.

Brainstorming with someone just as hyper and excited as I am, and coming up with ideas on how we can work to serve others together.

And when I do this, I drop whatever project I’d been working on.

Half-way through writing a book? It’ll still be there after I do this new, shiny thing with my new BFF. Spent hours and hours building a website to launch? It can wait a few more weeks while I create a YouTube channel with someone I just met.

This doesn’t mean I can never connect with my creative soulmates again. It just means I need to slow down, take a step back, and remember I already have a project I’m working on that must be finished before I dive into something new.

Unless I DON’T have a project I’m working on (which is unlikely). Then I can jump right in!

 

Inspiration, Originality, & YOU!

14063085-256-k765911Did you ever see a movie or read a book and think, “Hey, I had that idea last year (month, week…)! They stole my idea!” I have two things to say about this:

One, if you don’t jump at the chance to make something when the idea comes to you, it’ll move on to someone who will. I believe when we get ideas, it’s Inpiration tapping us on the shoulder. It’s saying, “What do you think of this? Should we try it?” If you ignore it or say no, it’ll move on. If you jump at it and say yes, you’ve got yourself a new project.

The second thing is, it’s important that you know no ideas are original, but they haven’t been done yet by you.  If you get an idea and think, “Ah, it’s been done before,” think again. It hasn’t been done by YOU.

You and I could be given the assignment to write a short story about a boy who falls in a well and his dog helps rescue him. We’d think, “Well, that’s like Lassie, right?” (I’m actually too young for Lassie, but I’ve heard that’s how the stories went). My point is each of us won’t write the same story as the other. Yours might be a story about the love and loyalty between a dog and his boy master. Mine could be about an evil boy who tried to hurt his dog and ended up getting hurt himself, with the dog saving him. We both had the same rules for the story, but we wrote two totally different things.

When Inspiration sneaks up on you and suggests you two have some fun together, it’s okay to say no. But don’t say no out of fear of originality. And don’t be upset when you see that same idea come to fruition down the road through somebody else.

 

Self-Care Weekend

img_20161204_145502I had a stomach bug this weekend, but that’s not all I was feeling bad about. Being an empath I not only take on other people’s feelings when I’m with them, but I pick up the same types of emotions from TV or reading.

I’m currently working on a non-fiction book about our time as foster parents. I want to tell others thinking about becoming foster parents the stuff that we wish we knew going in. As research, I downloaded a wonderful book written by foster parents called Welcome to the Rollercoaster. There was story after story about their children and their cases. I found myself crying and nodding along to so many of the stories. I got it. I remembered it well. After ten years and 40 kids, how could I forget? Our kids will be etched in my soul for the rest of my life.

I cried for their children and cases, and for our own. For not knowing what happened to any of our kids, and knowing we probably never will.

We started fostering in December 2004. Our first baby came in February 2005 and we almost quit. Two adoptions and 37 kids later, we quit in the summer of 2015. We had been doing emergency foster care for the last two years and were completely burned out. Our last little girl who left broke our hearts.  Add that to the stress of being on call 24 hours a day and not allowed to say no, we were done.

But I didn’t think for good. I never thought for good.

Over the past six months I’ve brought up opening our home up again to my husband. Each time our conversation ended quickly with a reminder of what we went through when our little girl left. I still had hope, though, because he hadn’t said no.

As long as we reopened our home before the summer of 2017, we wouldn’t lose our license. They give foster parents two years to take a break and decided if they want to come back. After that, they have to do training all over again.

I imagined us calling foster care in the spring to get the ball rolling again. I imagined us telling them we’d take a baby and wanted to adopt again. Possibly two babies. I didn’t let myself think about losing them or going though what we’d been through time after time.

As I finished reading the foster care book, it hit me. We were done. I knew, deep in my soul, we couldn’t go through it again. The pain of losing a child we loved. The frustration of our foster care and court system, not to mention the overworked and underpaid caseworkers who barely had time to return our phone calls.

I had known all along my husband wouldn’t handle another baby leaving well. But I thought I could do it. I’d be strong enough for the both of us. Again.

Realizing that we wouldn’t foster again was a crushing blow to me. There would be no new babies in the house. There would be no more adoptions. No daughters for us, sisters or brothers for my boys. It goes without saying how much gratitude we have for our having our boys. I don’t know where we’d be if we hadn’t been able to adopt them. We love them more than life. But just like parents who want to have their own kids, we wanted more.

Since I was home sick all weekend anyway, my plan was to do a fast first draft of my book on foster care. But it didn’t work out that way. I was in a deep depression and funk all weekend. It was like the stomach bug I had was a minor side effect compared to how I felt. I grieved the loss of the babies we’ll never have. My husband said to me today, “I think when Isabella left, I knew for certain we’d never foster again. But you’re just realizing it.” It’s amazing how I saw only what I wanted to see.

I didn’t beat myself up for feeling the way I felt this weekend. I cried a lot and today I laid around for hours binge-watching Mad Men, and I’m starting to feel better. I realized it’s okay to feel the pain and sorrow I’m feeling. Feeling this way takes nothing away from the extreme joy and gratefulness I have for my boys. The best thing I could have done for myself these past few days is take care of myself.

And that’s just what I did.

Cardio Fix a.k.a. This is Painful

This hurts to put up. But I am sick of being out of shape, so here it is. Day 1 of Cardio Fix with my friend, neighbor, and sister wife, (& Beachbody coach), Kristilynn. We did yoga right after this. And I can barely walk.

A little background….I weighed 110 almost my whole life. Then I hit my mid-forties and BAM…peri-menopause put a stop to my quick metabolism. I gained 50 pounds and stayed at 160 for about two years, feeling disgusted with myself, but to lazy and uncommitted to do anything about it.

Then a new neighbor moved in who was very successful at losing weight. After forcing her out of the house (there was a her-dog-killed-our-guinea-pig incident that forced her back in for a few days, but we got her out again), we’re inseparable, along with our other neighbor. The goal is to work out together every day, but sometimes alcohol wins.

Because of these girls, I am on my journey to being physically fit. They’re my biggest cheerleaders and best friends, and I’m so lucky to have them in my life.

Okay, enough mush and procrastinating. On with the horror, I mean video.

(Weight 157.2 & there was some healthy orange drink mixed in there)

Handling a Slip-Up Like a Mother Hucker

I came home from my neighbors house today and accidentally-on-purpose binged on Doritos and M&M’s. It was like something took over my body and could not stop myself. Mostly because I didn’t want to. Until I started feeling sick. Then I forced myself into the shower where I silently shamed myself and decided to give up on being healthy for the rest of the day.

Because that’s what the Old Me does.

Vegan and ate Doritos? You shithead, now you just have to start over tomorrow. But instead I decided to start from where I was. So I ate Doritos and M&M’s? It sucks but it’s not the end of the world. I can just pick up where I left off and keep going.

This is major for me. It’s so much easier for me (and anyone, really) to just give up all together. And, not only did I commit to eating clean the rest of the day, but I’m going to do yoga with my neighbors. And the yoga part I really wasn’t going to do, since I feel like crap after eating all that junk.

But yoga is just what I need.

*Footnote: We ended up not doing yoga, but having a glass of fizzy alcohol instead. We did laugh a lot, which I’m sure worked our abs.

So there’s that. 15283909_1837947249757318_3263638275097886935_n

 

So You’re a Writer. Big Deal.

I’ve been writing forever. And if and when most people do ask about my writing, it’s usually with a glazed look in their eyes, hoping my answer will just be something like, “Good,” so they can move on with the conversation.

And you know how we writers are. Give us an inch and we’ll tell you all about why our mc avoids stepping on grass, or Continue reading