it's time I gave my creativity a paid vacation

I love how the universe works. I truly do. Not only do I find myself expressing this gratitude after positive opportunities for my style business but also later down the road when another moment didn't go "as planned." The disappointments careen in other directions that then benefit, support, and acknowledge my own creativity.

I have worked hard to be someone comfortable taking risks (having the self-awareness to know that the combination of excitement and feeling like I'm going to throw up is an indicator of a risk I should take), engaging in difficult conversations, and trying new things. With these traits and the commitment to my own creativity, I both go after my own potential projects and open myself up to the ones that are placed in my lap (come across an email/come up in conversation). 

I know with conviction that a couple things contribute to this formula of opportunity, and after I have been willing to put myself and my creative work out there. 

  • Authenticity
    • When I am true to this core value, people both know where I stand and for what I stand for. They trust I will bring my whole self to a project and if I cannot, they know that I will voice that. There is never a guessing game, a facade, or for lack of a better word... no bullshit.
  • Boldness
    • If my name is attached to a project then we are playing BIG, making a splash, and doing a complete "about face" from anything "normal," predictable, or safe. Boldness has afforded me just about everything in my life: my style philosophy, my relationships (definitely landed my husband), my vigor, my path to living a life of meaning. Boldness drives me to stand for different.
  • Self Encouragement
    • Other people's complements are great (fantastic really) but no one is going to pump me up in my hardest moments or when I need a stern pep-talk with myself. And it's not their job to. There are moments that I need a random dance party, a killer playlist, to not wear a bra (or pants) and to make room for self-care. More often than not, I have to take a deep breath and whisper to myself "like a boss" to write a tough email, give honest feedback that I know may not land, or just fucking tackle a to-do list for which NO ONE else is pushing me to do.
  • Intuition
    • Tapping into what "feels right" and what just doesn't sit well with me means there are opportunities I have chosen not to take, ideas not to jump on, and conversations where I have had to be the one to say "no thank you." When I have not exercised or ignored my intuition is when I have later kicked myself, run myself ragged, and neglected to stand up for my value and worth therefore I did not receive either from the situation. It's a hard but valuable lesson.
    • Intuition gives another great lesson in not having to explain yourself for why you do or do not want to do something (why's are exhaustive and only create a comparison game where one person's importance is slated against another's). Intuition doesn't need explanation, she needs your commitment. 
  • Humor
    • I can't live without laughter and I can't live a creative life without finding the humor in its peaks and valleys. Humor shifts my sanity and keeps me forward-moving. 

Alright now how do I book this vaycay for my creativity? 

I recently read "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert and gleaned what my unique self needed from her words, her spirit, and her perspective on creative living. Plus she taught me to talk to my creativity like a sassy girlfriend (perfect personification and just the companion I need for my business!). She also uses her curse words effectively and expressively so I felt a kindred connection to her. 

Once I read these words (see below), the biggest shift happened for me in that the weight of forcing my creativity into shouldering my expenses, was lifted.

I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life...

I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or often bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.
— Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth shares how even into her first 3 novels, she always kept a day job. She wrote in the wee hours, during breaks, and made time for writing outside of what was required of her to pay her bills. Believe it or not this is the first time I have heard someone express that you can and should have a day job WHILE still living a creative life.

There is an overwhelming push to turn your creativity into this wildly recognized career fueled by 40K+ instagram followers, brand partnerships, and work so hard creatively that you leave your job as a barista, nurse, teacher, part-time nanny, etc. There is a social (and conversational) pressure to reach a point in your creative work that your entire household can retire today; only then can you have validity in your pursuit and worth in your work.

Elizabeth is right in that my creativity would want to run for the hills, stop taking risks to be seen, become stifled by the burden of stipulations and pushed to exhaustion. This behavior would be a HUGE disservice to organic processes, playfulness of expression, and the sharing of what I consider my gifts. Losing my ability or desire to create is one risk I WILL NOT take. 

Sure its fabulous to be recognized, to gain new followers on social media, and to make money. Hello, that stuff rocks! But I no longer want to tell my creativity to "get its act together" so I can force a year's worth of paychecks out of it. I will keep my day jobs and thus sharpen the skills I glean from the variety of expression. In my own moments I will continue to curate, I will style, I will provide my services (and get paid for it). I will give my creativity the freedom that comes from a paid vacation; perspective, without the fear of the electricity back home being cut off. 

The pressure is off creativity! You can continue to bring opportunities my way and I can continue to live a life of choice. Inspiration not desperation is the space I want to grow and play in.

 

authentic friendships + shared space

I’m coming off of a lot of west coast vibes and meaningful “friend-time” which is not a complaint and absolutely an expression of gratitude (and possibly involves a drum circle).
 
My first trek started in Arizona for a wedding, moved to a wedding and anniversary in Portland two weeks later, quickly followed by a flight out to and five days in California. “Hashtag blessed," some might say. 

Now that I am home and slowly adjusting to the eastern timezone, I am reflecting on the gifts that travel always stows and sneaks past TSA for me.
 

Perspective and gratitude.

 
Deep, unconditional, and genuine friendship was the catalyst for each and every trip. It’s hard to believe that at the age of 27 I have both cultivated and maintained several quality friendships and across many different groups. 

We have seen, experienced, counseled and supported one another through pivotal and trivial moments in life. We can be exactly who we are in the comfort of one another, while understanding and respecting our differences. Each person has taught me how to be a friend and when to be a better friend.

I’m sharing this because I know how hard it is to find these people and I know the work it takes to keep them. I know what confidence in a friendship brings, and I know the security of shared successes and failures.
 
Yes these are quick summations and yes they are positive but this end result required constant commitment to both respect and honesty. Respect for one another as separate people with separate expectations of every experience, separate lenses with which to see and interact with the world and separate ways in expressing ourselves. I felt this the most in California and here’s where the honesty plays its role…
 
This past week I was in San Diego and Palm Springs for a girls trip with Emily and Caroline, relationships we started at the age of 3 and 5, respectively. Despite having known each other for so long, we had yet to take a trip to celebrate just us; there was always another reason (bachelorette, wedding, “home-for-the-holidays”). Throughout the trip we had small moments of big impact. Moments where our expectations and personalities collided, differed, and then shared space. Because of our commitment to allowing one another to both be who they are and express that, we were able to talk with pure honesty.

Honesty isn't always a soft embrace and can often feel like a head-on collision. 

Each of us was willing to be authentic in expressing our true feelings (at one point I did use the term “steam-rolling”) and vulnerable to the unknown and the discomfort that comes with that. Each of us supported one another in justified feelings, emotions, and actions. Each of us held the safe space required to do so; we were allowed to be ourselves with the accountability and support of someone who is different. No one got mad, no one got nasty.
 
I encourage you to take a look at the relationships in your life where you can be your best self. Where you are challenged to be honest, asked to engage, and accepted with respect. Think of the people you can count on and can count on you. Where can you hold space for someone to share authentically with you about the good and bad sides of humanity and of ourselves. Think big by sharing in the small moments. 

Using your Core Values to make Decisions

Last week we talked about taking the time to write, articulate, and get uber specific about values that are important to you. Whether you had a lengthy list or a brief few, I hope the exercise in "core values" was a good interruption to your weekly norm. 

If you didn't take the time, then I encourage you to do so soon. The early bird gets the worm right? And in this case, the early bird gets to move closer and closer tokicking ass
 at setting (and keeping) those boundarieswe've been talking about.

To review: Your core values are strong attributes (adjectives) that make-up both who you positively consider yourself to be and who you desire to be. Core values show you what you stand for and what you do not tolerate; this protects your
 SPIRIT; your unique essence. If we could bottle you, these would be the ingredients listed on the label.

Your list should light you up.
Your list should wet your appetite for a fueled&fulfilled (can I trade mark this slogan? sounds like a tag-line for an energy drank) life.
Your list should be ALL SUBSTANCE and ZERO FLUFF.

This Week: Actively use your list of Core Values to guide your decisions.

Spend time putting your social calendar, a request from work, how you're going to spend your down-time, whether you want breakfast for breakfast or breakfast for dinner...ALL OF IT through the filter of your values. 

ex: If I value flexibility then I'm going to leave room in a vacation schedule for spontaneity versus having every moment strictly planned. If I value deep connections then I won't get together with superficial (former) friends; I'll spend my time otherwise.

OPTION(s)
*What are my choices?

CORE VALUE FILTER
*Does it align with a specific value or set of values? If it doesn't, why am I struggling to say no?

DECISION
*The "best option" will start to present itself & your decision will be clearer

The better you get at using your core values to filter your choices, you will gain confidence and conviction in your decisions. You will learn how to comfortably say no to opportunities that do not make sense for you and stop apologizing for it. 

PLUS! You'll start to:

  • shed feelings of guilt
  • lessen anxiety around being a "good" or "bad" decision-maker
  • gain control of how you spend your time
  • understand your uniqueness
  • care about doing things to lift your spirit versus out of obligation

I'm here if you want to share your list of values, share in your successes & struggles, and sharpen your decisions. 

Establishing Core Values

Last week we started your journey to BOUNDARY SETTING by working on your Personal Bill of Rights; a powerful list of sentences (basic rights) to help you assert yourself while respecting others (ex: I have the right to be healthier than those around me. I do not have the right to tell someone how they feel).

What did you think of this exercise? I can assume some "rights" were easy while others were hard---did you almost not write those rights down? 

Did this exercise come at time when you were feeling taken advantage of; over-stretched, over-worked, over-scheduled, over-over this mess? Perhaps.

It's no coincidence I am beginning this work for you now, during the summer when things slow down. Our work on boundaries over the next few weeks will build you up and prepare you for the next season; a time when kids are back in school, projects are due, events get stacked, and our lives just get busier; more demanding.  

Now that you have your Personal Bill of Rights, let's shift into focusing on your
 CORE VALUES.

Core values are the building blocks that create the substance of who you truly are. They are the means and often motivators through which you can filter decisions, goals, actions, and behaviors. 

What qualities or attributes do you hold dear? What do you stand for in your life, in relationships, in your contributions? What buzzwords light you up and make you think..."I want that to be part of who I am."

Bonus: You can use your PBR to guide this work! Take a look at the list of rights you made and see if there are any patterns in what is important to you. Did you write a majority of rights focused on health? Did your rights show you how much you value alone time and personal maintenance? Look for the patterns and give the groupings a singular word that describes /links them. 

A few of my core values are:

  • authentic
    • it pains me to be fake so I have to share, encourage, and even dialogue from a place that is genuine
  • empowerment
    • positive thinking, uplifting, and the roar!to my spirit
  • relatable
    • I seek to make my voice, words, and insight both easy to conceive and applicable for anyone. I'm no better than anyone else
  • fresh perspective
    • I am most creative when I am looking at things from a different vantage point, playing devils advocate, and trying new ideas
  • vulnerable
    • when I am putting myself "out there" and taking a risk, I know the challenge and occasional nerves are worth it to support this value
  • abundance
    • there is plenty to give, plenty to share, and enough of anything for everyone
  • fun/humor
    • helluuuu! I can talk serious but I can't approach my life that way all the time! I love to laugh and find humor in anything

Think of it as: "I want to create a life of _____________ (fill in the blank). 

Other examples:

  • discovery/exploration
  • gratitude
  • warm-heartedness
  • patience
  • partnership
  • mindfulness
  • adaptability/flexibility
  • creativity
  • integrity
  • spirituality

I'm really looking forward to hearing what core values you come up with for yourself. Try some on and see how they feel. Not of all them will fit & that's as it should be. Go with the values that make sense for the life you want.

 

The Beginning Stages of Boundary Setting

Because I will never do anything I love without gusto, I want to start with a HUGE concept and work to pick it apart while building YOU up. 

It's a pesky, helpful, patience trying, and oh-so-rewarding life tool and skill-set called...

BOUNDARY SETTING

*Gulp!* You either have boundaries, don't have them, think you have them or are afraid/ignorant of them (which is really the same as not having them sister-friend). 

I want to help you learn your boundaries so you can set them with purpose, and keep them with conviction. 

Before you even set a personal boundary, you have to know what your personal rights are; my therapist taught me the mental health concept of
 Your Personal Bill of Rights. 

As women there can be both an inner drive and a social influence to be everything for everyone. As you and I both know first-hand (not an assumption, just common reality) this "push" is exhausting, unachievable, and completely damaging to our self-worth. 


The super-rad part about all of this, is that at any point, ANY POINT, we have an opportunity to turn our "current state" around and get our life on the right track. 

A Personal Bill of Rights allows you to respect yourself while respecting others. This is where you become assertive.

You know what else your PBR (not the beer...still the "rights") does?
 It combats GUILT, SHAME, & COMPARISON.Whaaahooo! Win.Win.Win

Here are some basic Rights:

  • I have the right to ask for what I want
  • I have the right to be healthier than those around me
  • I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can't meet
  • I have the right to be uniquely myself
  • I have the right to change my mind
  • I have the right to be happy
  • I have the right to expect honesty from others
  • I have the right to make mistakes
  • I have the right to my own needs for personal space & time

You can also put some in the "I DO NOT have the right" format:

  • I do not have the right to take other people's problems on as my own (this was a tough one for me for a long time as I had a tendency to ALWAYS be a listening ear, a chronic helper, a fixer)
  • I do not have the right to violate others
  • I do not have the right to tell someone how they feel

Use this week to think of and write down your rights; you will need to be 100% clear on what you deserve. Though not a must, think about the results you want from each right (consider the "why"). Is it more time to take care of yourself so that you're present in your relationships? Is it living a healthier life so you manage your stress better? Example: I have the right to exercise weekly. Now, what's your motivator so you protect this right. Is it... "I sleep better, can play with my kids, and set a healthy example for my family." Truly think about the version of yourself on the other side of these rights:

  • how does she feel mentally and physically?
  • what does she do in her down-time?
  • who are her friends? who is she in quality relationships with?

As you get more specific, put your list somewhere you will see it daily. I had mine on my fridge for several years. By looking at them frequently, you get to decide whether you connect to them or not. Notice how you feel as you read them. If you don't like one...change it! 

I'm here if you want to reach out for help, to share your favorites, or just tell me this work is hard. It is hard, and I promise the more you try to write these out, the easier setting & sticking to them will be.