I feel as if I’m swimming against the tide. And I know I’m not alone. I’m drawn toward self-care: sleep, exercise, quiet reading time, simple snuggles with the kids...a growing introversion as the fall season unfolds. But, it’s back-to-school season: I have more on my calendar than I’d like, even when I try to keep it minimal. Family time and me-time feel so very much in transition. I feel without a groove. Does such a thing exist? Yet, I find myself so desperately seeking one. It feels right to open a conversation about the challenges of self-care. It’s at the root of so many of our struggles...because it’s the foundation for our wellbeing.

Must-Reads for Creatives: The Challenge of Self-Care

Must-Reads for Creatives is a monthly curation of articles + art for thoughtful creative parents. Each post arrives tied together by a gentle thread—because I’m not here to add to the noise. Let’s simplify creative living, shall we? Bookmark these posts. Savor them slowly.

On the Challenge of Self-Care:

I feel as if I’m swimming against the tide. And I know I’m not alone.

I’m drawn toward self-care: sleep, exercise, quiet reading time, simple snuggles with the kids…a growing introversion as the fall season unfolds.

But, it’s back-to-school season:

I have more on my calendar than I’d like, even when I try to keep it minimal.

Family time and me-time feel so very much in transition.

I feel without a groove. Does such a thing exist? Yet, I find myself so desperately seeking one.

It feels right to open a conversation about the challenges of self-care. It’s at the root of so many of our struggles…because it’s the foundation for our wellbeing.

Let’s re-commit to a deeper level of self-care, together. (It’s the united struggle of creative parents everywhere—and women in general!)

This Month’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Oh Despair. Some Sun Has Got to Rise. (If you read nothing else…) >>>

What Nobody Tells You About Self-Care (this one stirred up my Facebook friends!) >>>

Reframing “No” as a Positive Force >>>

The Perfectionist Trap >>>

How to Meditate (a wealth of a resource!) >>>

Artist Raquel Rodrigo (cross-stitch on buildings, to end with a little awe!) >>>

Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives is a monthly curation of articles + art for thoughtful creative parents. Each post arrives tied together by a gentle thread—because I’m not here to add to the noise. Let’s simplify creative living, shall we? (At the end of each post, I share how I’ve been doing just that.) Bookmark these posts. Savor them slowly. This month’s Must-Reads for Creatives help us shift from comparison mode toward greater creative freedom.

Must-Reads for Creatives: From Comparison to Creative Freedom

Must-Reads for Creatives is a monthly curation of articles + art for thoughtful creative parents. Each post arrives tied together by a gentle thread—because I’m not here to add to the noise. Let’s simplify creative living, shall we? (At the end of each post, I share how I’ve been doing just that.) Bookmark these posts. Savor them slowly.

From Comparison to Creative Freedom:

This month’s Must-Reads for Creatives help us shift from comparison mode toward greater creative freedom.

As the fall season nears, we revisit our schedules. What if we use this transition time as a chance to rework our habits, expectations, and goals, as well?

If you’re a parent or student, you may be bracing yourself for a more scheduled fall. Instead, bring your shoulders down from your ears and ask yourself:

  • Do you have to attend every meeting or extracurricular activity?
  • Who are you trying to keep up with?
  • What expectations can you release?
  • Whom can you ask for help and support?
  • When can you restore yourself, with a moment of unstructured family time, a creative pursuit, exercise, meditation, or time in nature?

Together, we can take a stand against busyness and seasonal “should’s.” Step back from unnecessary minutiae that zaps your time and energy. Think wide lens, not zoom lens. You’re freer than you think you are.

This Month’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

You Can Be a Mother and Still Be a Successful Artist >>>

Comparison Among Moms: A Practical Solution / Well Done >>>

Being Too Precious About the Process >>>

Community Building 101 Part Two: Inviting Brilliant People Into Your Life >>>

Psychologist Writes About “Gender Creative” Children >>>

21 Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Fall >>>

“Drawing with Porcelain” >>>  Continue reading

Let’s get creative together this summer. You can bring your kids along. Join the Bring Your Own Creativity Party (BYOC)! Katy McCullough of Greens & Blues Co. had the fabulous idea to start BYOC, a summer creative party. On the first of each month (in June, July, and August), she’ll share a creative prompt, and we’ll share our responses via #byocreativity. I’m thrilled that Katy has invited me to help throw this party.

Join the August “Bring Your Own Creativity” Party

It’s August, summer’s last hurrah.

It’s one more chance to join the Bring Your Own Creativity (BYOC) Party.

See Part 1 (creativity coaching tips + my kids’ projects) and Part 2 (my completed June project—a photo series).

Katy McCullough of Greens & Blues Co. had the fabulous idea to start BYOC, a summer creative party. Katy captures the concept like this: “Summertime is the time for parties. What better way to party than to have a BYO…However this party is a Bring Your Own Creativity.”

Here’s How to Join the BYOC Party:

At the beginning of each month (June, July, and August), I’ll share Katy’s prompt with you.

As Katy writes:

“Interpret the prompt and complete it in whatever way your creativity speaks to you and makes sense. These prompts are completely open-ended and can be interpreted by writing, drawing, sewing, knitting, hand-lettering, painting, taking photos, songwriting, building something, etc. The possibilities are endless!

“On the 25th of each month I, and the other ladies joining me for BYOC, will share how we completed the prompts…and we truly hope you will do the same! The prompts we are using were specifically chosen to allow room for true creative expression. Share how you responded to the prompt using #byocreativity.”

JOINING THE BYOC PARTY ARE (AND WHERE YOU CAN FOLLOW ALONG WITH THEM):

Jenn from The Spare Room Project: website; twitter; facebook.

Emily from Eltscott.com: website; twitter, instagram.

Allie from Allie Explores: website, twitter, instagram.

Gabrielle from A Life of Gab: website; twitter; facebook.

Katy from Greens & Blues Co.: website, twitter, instagram.

Julie from In Tandem: website; instagram, facebook.

“Each of these inspiring ladies practices creativity in different and awesome ways. Take some time to check them out and follow them to see updates about BYOC.”

NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF – TIME TO GET CREATING!

Create something that represents travel – it could be about a trip you have taken, somewhere you want to go, or even something you could use on an adventure!

My Completed July Activity:

I set out to capture and print a photo, to gift to my sister as art for her new house. This was my favorite (which you’ve seen, if you follow me on Instagram):

July "Bring Your Own Creativity" Challenge - A Photo Gift - createintandem.com

My Deeply Personal Reflections:

In an alternate or parallel reality, I’m an outdoor photographer. Mountains, vistas, bodies of water, and verdant hiking trails are my favorite works of art. I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than nature (and real life). Photographs of places can’t fully capture their splendor, but it’s a close second to actually being there. So, photography is my absolute favorite creative medium.

Nature photographs tap into my spirit of wanderlust (in this phase of parenting young children, where traveling is anything but simple). Plus, I live in a climate where winter is the longest season. Of course, winter has its own beauty, but I sustain myself with photos of currently-more-colorful places.

I’ve loved capturing so many photos this summer. I’ve been writing less often. It’s partly because I’m off on adventures with my family, partly because I’ve shifted time into coaching creatives, and partly because my readers are offline and off on their own adventures (good for you!).

Mostly, I needed space to create in a wordless medium. I’ve done deep personal work this summer. The words to capture it are only beginning to form. It’s felt like a period of transition, sensing an upcoming but unknowable transition in my work in the nonprofit sector, gathering the courage to take my coaching practice to the next level, and working with my own coach to feel my feelings in a more embodied way.

Perhaps most of all, photography has been a medium that integrates well with summer family adventures. I’ll be honest that I have gotten love notes from my daughter that end with “P.S. Why are you on the computer so much?” Those comments hurt, of course. More importantly, she has the right to ask for my presence, when I’ve lost my balance.

Oh, that balance can feel so elusive! Ironically, this space I’ve created to talk about creating, parenting, and working in tandem takes me away from my family more. I’ve found ways to make it all work sometimes, but it’s always a work in progress.

Being a mindful parent is essential to me. But, I also want to be a role model for my daughters: a parent mindfully engaged in her community and in her own personal creative practice. My daughters are so naturally and unselfconsciously creative at this young age. I want to help them continue to live out their creative lives. I believe that the best way to do this is through walking my own talk, and having open conversations with my daughters. All in all, writing here serves me and my daughters, and hopefully helps my readers as well.  Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives is a monthly curation of articles + art for thoughtful creative parents.This month’s Must-Reads for Creatives are all about breaking from expectations—whether imposed by our culture or ourselves. It’s a theme that’s been arising in my own life this summer, and in the creatives around me.

Must-Reads for Creatives: Breaking from Expectations

Must-Reads for Creatives is a monthly curation of articles + art for thoughtful creative parents. Each post arrives tied together by a gentle thread—because I’m not here to add to the noise. Let’s simplify creative living, shall we? (At the end of each post, I share how I’ve been doing just that.) Bookmark these posts. Savor them slowly. 

On Breaking from Expectations:

This month’s Must-Reads for Creatives are about breaking from expectations—whether imposed by our culture or ourselves. This theme has echoed throughout my life this summer. (I hear I’m not the only one!)

It’s easy to believe that we meet goals by maintaining high expectations. In reality, that’s just the voice of the inner critic at play. Self-compassion matters most—because our wellbeing comes first. The good news is: self-compassion benefits our creative work. It aids us in remaining open-minded and receptive (and that fuels creativity way more than the inner critic’s “should”‘s ever would).

We face very real struggles in our parenting, work, and creativity. Can we cut ourselves some slack? Cultural forces impact us greatly. We’re all in this together, doing the best we can.

Since our lives are complicated, I want to get to the root issue. I believe that’s how we simplify creative living—by not letting ourselves get distracted by tangents, or scattered outward into too many directions. So, my approach to creativity coaching includes limited productivity hacks and business advice. Because I believe that the most important work is much deeper yet, actually, simpler. It’s shifting your mindsets.

In some ways, your creative life might benefit from lessening expectations (about how the house looks, or how much you accomplish in any given day). In others, you may need to raise them (choosing to believe that you actually are good at connecting with people, or capable enough to put your project out into the world).

Let’s get vulnerable together. Let’s do the deep work. Let me know how it goes.

This Month’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Of Elder-Flowers and Jealousy >>>

How to Know When to Lower the Bar >>>

How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Mom >>>

Get Lost >>>

For U.S. Parents, A Troubling Happiness Gap >>>

Are You in Despair? That’s Good >>>

Chilean Artist Santiago Salvador >>>

Brooke Smart on Illustration and Motherhood >>>

Are You Really Available for Connection? >>>

Living with, and Loving, Your Imperfect Life >>>  Continue reading

Join the July "Bring Your Own Creativity" Party - createintandem.com

Join the July “Bring Your Own Creativity” Party

In June, I shared an invite to a Bring Your Own Creativity (BYOC) Party!

Read the post (for creativity coaching tips + how I got my kids creating too).

Katy McCullough of Greens & Blues Co. had the fabulous idea to start BYOC, a summer creative party. Katy captures the concept like this: “Summertime is the time for parties. What better way to party than to have a BYO…However this party is a Bring Your Own Creativity.”

Here’s How to Join the BYOC Party:

At the beginning of each month (June, July, and August), I’ll share Katy’s prompt with you.

As Katy writes:

“Interpret the prompt and complete it in whatever way your creativity speaks to you and makes sense. These prompts are completely open-ended and can be interpreted by writing, drawing, sewing, knitting, hand-lettering, painting, taking photos, songwriting, building something, etc. The possibilities are endless!

“On the 25th of each month I, and the other ladies joining me for BYOC, will share how we completed the prompts…and we truly hope you will do the same! The prompts we are using were specifically chosen to allow room for true creative expression. Share how you responded to the prompt using #byocreativity.”

JOINING THE BYOC PARTY ARE (AND WHERE YOU CAN FOLLOW ALONG WITH THEM):

Jenn from The Spare Room Project: website; twitter; facebook.

Emily from Eltscott.com: website; twitter, instagram.

Allie from Allie Explores: website, twitter, instagram.

Gabrielle from A Life of Gab: website; twitter; facebook.

Katy from Greens & Blues Co.: website, twitter, instagram.

Julie from In Tandem: website; instagram, facebook.

“Each of these inspiring ladies practices creativity in different and awesome ways. Take some time to check them out and follow them to see updates about BYOC.”

NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF – TIME TO GET CREATING!

Make a gift for someone.

Here’s Katy’s thought process in her own words:

“Many of us give gifts around the winter holidays or on birthdays, but what better time to give one than when it is totally unexpected?

“Your response to this prompt can be simple or elaborate – it’s totally your call. It can be as easy as taking 15 minutes to make a handmade card for someone (don’t forget to send it!) to something much more elaborate such as building a treehouse. Mine probably won’t be that elaborate. 🙂

“I like this prompt because by making something for someone else you are sharing your creativity + you are giving yourself the gift of time to practice your own creativity. Win-win!”

My Completed June Activity:

I set out to create a small series of photos representing summer, with a nostalgic Polaroid-style spirit:

Continue reading

How Creatives Can Enjoy Productivity AND Play This Summer - createintandem.com

How Creatives Can Enjoy Productivity AND Play This Summer

This is one of my favorite Monthly Notes from In Tandem’s newsletter. Usually, I don’t share my notes on the blog, but I decided to make an exception! So many of us feel the summer tug-of-war between productivity and relaxation. P.S. I’ll be back in early July for the next Bring Your Own Creativity (BYOC) Party post!

 

Do you try to work on your creative pursuit or business, but lose momentum when summer’s weather and adventures call? 

I do. This spring, I’ve had weeks where I’ve been motivated and productive, and weeks where I only want to head outside with my kids, or enjoy a good book from my growing to-read pile. I call this the productivity vs. relaxation tug-of-war. For most of us, summer amplifies it!

This tug-of-war takes up so much mental space! Often, guilt crops up when we don’t work. Fear of missing out pops up when we do work. Our anxieties aren’t unfounded. Research shows that we struggle to complete repetitive tasks on good-weather days.

Here’s the good news: sunshine’s mood boost fuels creativity! Of course, any creative pursuit or business involves both repetitive and creative tasks. But, at least we know that all is not lost.

Creativity involves flexibility and what’s called divergent thinking, exploring many solutions rather than limited ones. So, consider angling your summer goals toward creative projects that would benefit from this divergent thinking. Write blog content that blends your past strengths with fresh topics. Experiment with new-to-you techniques and colors in your visual art. Explore big-picture ways to structure your burgeoning creative business and services.

Continue reading

Bring Your Own Creativity Party - Summer 2016 - createintandem.com

Join the “Bring Your Own Creativity” Party + the June Creative Prompt

Let’s get creative together this summer. You can bring your kids along…

Join the Bring Your Own Creativity Party (BYOC)!

Katy McCullough of Greens & Blues Co. had the fabulous idea to start BYOC, a summer creative party. On the first of each month (in June, July, and August), she’ll share a creative prompt, and we’ll share our responses via #byocreativity. I’m thrilled that Katy has invited me to help throw this party.

Katy captures the concept like this: “Summertime is the time for parties. What better way to party than to have a BYO…However this party is a Bring Your Own Creativity.”

I’ll share three BYOC posts here on In Tandem. In this first post, I’ll share how to join the party, why I love the concept, my creativity coaching tips to help you get started, and a peek into how the party’s starting up in my family.

Bring Your Own Creativity Party - Summer 2016 - June Prompt - createintandem.com

Here’s How to Join the BYOC Party:

On the first of each month (June, July, and August), I’ll share Katy’s prompt with you.

As Katy writes:

“Interpret the prompt and complete it in whatever way your creativity speaks to you and makes sense. These prompts are completely open-ended and can be interpreted by writing, drawing, sewing, knitting, hand-lettering, painting, taking photos, songwriting, building something, etc. The possibilities are endless!

“On the 25th of each month I, and the other ladies joining me for BYOC, will share how we completed the prompts…and we truly hope you will do the same! The prompts we are using were specifically chosen to allow room for true creative expression. Share how you responded to the prompt using #byocreativity.”

JOINING THE BYOC PARTY ARE (AND WHERE YOU CAN FOLLOW ALONG WITH THEM):

Jenn from The Spare Room Project: website; twitter; facebook.

Emily from Eltscott.com: website; twitter, instagram.

Allie from Allie Explores: website, twitter, instagram.

Gabrielle from A Life of Gab: website; twitter; facebook.

Katy from Greens & Blues Co.: website, twitter, instagram.

Julie from In Tandem: website; instagram, facebook.

“Each of these inspiring ladies practices creativity in different and awesome ways. Take some time to check them out and follow them to see updates about BYOC.”

NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF – TIME TO GET CREATING!

Your prompt for June is…Create something that represents summer (if you are not currently in the middle of summer, be inspired by whatever season you are currently experiencing).  Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives - Set Boundaries + Use Your Strengths - createintandem.com

Must-Reads for Creatives: Set Boundaries + Use Your Strengths

In June, Must-Reads for Creatives becomes a monthly—rather than weekly—feature.

Why? This allows me to share the most meaningful reads with busy creative parents. Let’s encourage one another to get out and enjoy our creativity (in all its forms) this summer!  

I look forward to delving into more writing projects and to freeing up space in my creativity coaching practice. If you’ve got a creative dream or project that’s just not gelling, let’s have a chat. I’m available via email + Skype (no sales pitches, I just love building creative community). In creativity coaching, we talk about meaning-making, the creative process, emotional and psychological blocks, and collaborative and marketplace issues. Be vulnerable, ask for support, and you’ll be surprised by the shifts it creates for you.

This week’s Must-Reads for Creatives help us clear out the revolving mental clutter. Hint: it helps to set boundaries and make use of your strengths…

This Week’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

You Don’t Owe Anything to Anyone >>>

A Self-Improvement Secret: Work on Strengths >>>

The 4 Differences Between Introversion and Social Anxiety >>>

The Truth About Inspiration + 5 Ways to Cultivate Your Creativity >>>

How to Make Time for Your Passion Projects >>>

Minimalist Photographs That Pick Out the Colour, Symmetry and Patterns of Cities >>>

Borders & Boundaries: Embroidery Art That Highlights the World’s Humanitarian Crisis >>>  Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives - On Self-Doubt + Emotional Health - createintandem.com

Must-Reads for Creatives: On Self-Doubt + Emotional Health

This week’s Must-Reads for Creatives help us work through self-doubt and sustain our emotional health—throughout the creative process.

Suffering emerges from our constantly second-guessing ourselves. We wonder:

  • Am I actually a creative person, or am I kidding myself?
  • Am I capable of follow-through, or am I just lazy?
  • Am I ready to move forward, or am I an imposter?
  • Are my kids suffering because I’m always on the computer?
  • How do I stop procrastinating and promote my work, as an introvert?
  • Is all of this time and energy even worth it?

Yes, it’s worth it, and you’re capable of bringing your creative ideas into form. Self-doubt is simply part of the creative process.

Most creatives struggle with the same behind-the-scenes worries. I like how creativity coach Eric Maisel frames the common creative challenges: “issues related to the creative process, issues of personality, relationship issues, and marketplace issues.” These issues are part and parcel of the creative process. With support, you can move forward with your creative dreams. Read on…

This Week’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Am I Creative “Enough”? >>>

Navigating the Creative Industry as a New Creative >>>

Pete Mosley on the Art of Shouting Quietly and How Introvert Creatives Can Thrive >>>

Working to Feed My Soul >>>

Worrying About Being a Perfect Mother Makes It Harder to Be a Good Parent >>>

Peace Over Perfection >>>

3 Daily Practices of Emotionally Healthy Entrepreneurs >>>  Continue reading

1 Simple + Helpful Mindfulness Practice for Creative Clarity - createintandem.com

1 Simple + Helpful Mindfulness Practice for Creative Clarity

Fear of overwhelm feels like a summer haze that leaves you spacey and immobile.

What fuels the oh-so-common fear of overwhelm? You know, the one that prevents you from even considering a new creative project, or following through on that long-held dream?

  • Is it emotional wounds from past experiences?
  • Is it avoidance of anxiety’s physical discomforts?
  • Is it fear of appearing vulnerable and incapable?

The good news is: we don’t need to decipher that in order to feel relief! Let’s start there. Breathe. Shift out of your head and into your body before we move on!

We’re in good company here. I know overwhelm well, and you likely do too. Overwhelm quickly spirals into inaction. Often, we stop our creative projects before they’ve truly begun (though, often, we’ve researched them into oblivion, so we falsely “feel” like we’ve begun).

Recently, two concepts have helped me to take action on my creative dreams (Wondering what mine are? Frequent stream-of-conscious writing to release thoughts and emotions, and developing my creativity coaching practice with bravery).

Concept #1: Become Aware of Your Decision-Making Style.

Psychology researchers have identified two decision-making styles: the maximizer and the satisficer. Maximizers “take their time and weigh a wide range of options—sometimes every possible one—before choosing” (as Elizabeth Bernstein writes). Satisficers “would rather be fast than thorough; they prefer to quickly choose the option that fills the minimum criteria (the word “satisfice” blends “satisfy” and “suffice”).” (Note: If you’re unsure of your style, try this quiz.)

You can be a maximizer in certain spheres of your life, and a satisficer in others. Historically, I’m a maximizer when it comes to work/career and creative projects; I research, ruminate, and end up stuck in analysis paralysis. What’s your style? I ask you to reflect because it matters.

Research demonstrates greater wellbeing for satisficers. I take that to heart in my work here, supporting others in taking creative action with wellbeing.

In our modern culture filled with choices, satisficing might prove satisfying (as Barry Schwartz emphasizes in The Paradox of Choice). Aiming for satisficing just may help us launch and follow through on our creative pursuits (with a spirit of experimentation and play!).

There’s no hard science on how to shift from maximizing to satisficing, but I love these suggestions from “Field Guide to the Maximizer: Set deadlines, simplify the low-priority decisions, commit to being “all in,” and express gratitude.  Continue reading