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. This month’s Must-Reads for Creatives are for those with wet eyes, angry fists, big hearts, and a messy, searching hope amid the current cultural atmosphere.

Must-Reads for Creatives: On Wellbeing Amid Injustice

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 Wellbeing Amid Injustice:

This month’s Must-Reads for Creatives are for those with wet eyes, angry yet eager hands, and big wounded hearts amid the current cultural atmosphere.

Many of you—as parents, creatives, healers, community volunteers and activists, and generally caring people—struggle with grief and anger after the American election. You’re searching for meaningful and effective ways to create social justice. You’re holding concerns for yourself, your family, your community, and the world at large.

These times have me reflecting on how personal wellbeing and community wellbeing intersect (and are often inseparable). Any comprehensive discussion of wellbeing must acknowledge that, even though we’re still figuring out how to support their intersections.

On Personal Wellbeing:

Let’s re-write our definition of personal wellbeing along the way; it’s a form of self-love. And, as Krista Tippett has written, “Love, muscular and resilient, does not always seem reasonable, much less doable, in our most damaged and charged civic spaces.” Self-care is more than bubble baths (though they may help). We need to turn the lens of self-compassion upon our thoughts and goals. We need to intersperse mind/body practices across our everyday lives. We need others to support us, in order to be well; no woman or man is an island.

On Community Wellbeing:

Let’s also re-write our definition of community wellbeing along the way. We cannot create true inner or outer change without activism. We can’t meditate our way to a better world (though it helps us to act from a more present and insightful place). We can’t parent, work, create, or play with true freedom within the social structures of oppression. But we must not burn out our flame in the process. We have the right to live our lives with love and play, whenever possible, and in spite of injustice.

It’s so much for us to be and do, in tandem. The good news is: to live a creative life is to contribute your part toward the whole.

Together, we can keep the candle lit.

Together, we will continue to raise the tone of our voices.

Together, we will embody and unify our creative visions for a more just and healthy world.

 

This Month’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Self-Care Tips for Those Who Are Terrified of Trump’s Presidency >>>

How Women of Color Are Practicing Self-Care in a Trump World >>>

Amaal Said’s Portraits Shed Beautiful Light On Women Of Color >>>

What It Means to Be a Writer in the Time of Trump >>>

We All Have Our Reasons. >>>

Kimberlé Crenshaw: The urgency of intersectionality (a must-view!) >>>

Continue reading

It’s human nature to turn away from suffering. These times call for a different response. A response also rooted in human nature, but one that arises intermittently across American history—standing in our discomfort as we sustainably continue the struggle for social justice.

As You Struggle to Swim This Current of Suffering, Seek Sustainable Social Justice

It’s human nature to turn away from suffering.

These times call for a different response.

A response also rooted in human nature, but one that arises intermittently across American history—standing in our discomfort as we sustainably continue the struggle for social justice.

I say “sustainably” because:

  • Momentum can be lost quickly.

  • Activists and helping professionals burn out easily.

  • American culture quickly steers potential allies back to consumerism and a model of perfectionistic parenting, rather than a life of giving and social activism.

For the most part, if you’re white, middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual, and/or Christian, you have privileges—reserves of time, money, energy, and support. You can use these privileges as you educate and act in the name of equality and justice.

You have power and privilege to bolster you and amplify your voice; put them to good use and be ready to give them up. Now is the time to be a true and active ally for the long haul. Don’t lose this momentum in a week, a month, a year, ten years…

Sometimes, you may need to tend to your personal wellbeing and to take breaks from the stories of suffering you hear and read.

Please return soon, though. We need you.

Learn to hold the suffering of others and act to alleviate it.

If you’re a person of color, LGBTQI2-S, Muslim, with disabilities, without documents, or of any other oppressed group, I wish you justice, respect, safe spaces, and wellbeing. You deserve to have people fight for justice beside you, as well as on your behalf when you need to restore yourself after facing hate crimes and microaggressions.  Continue reading

On the eve of this definitive American election, and on the cusp of the holiday season, this month’s Must-Reads for Creatives are about finding our essence. I’m reading Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s about “making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” To create healthy families, meaningful social change, or beautiful creative projects, we must find a way to prioritize them. The rest is noise.

Must-Reads for Creatives: Make Time for the Essential

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 Making Time for the Essential:

On the eve of this definitive American election, and on the cusp of the holiday season, this month’s Must-Reads for Creatives are about finding our essence. I’m reading Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s about “making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

To create healthy families, meaningful social change, or beautiful creative projects, we must find a way to prioritize them. The rest is noise: saying yes to each imposition on our time, giving in to busy work (at work or at home), keeping up with the Joneses, or distracting ourselves with shopping. All of these things sap our time, energy, money, and mental energy (fueling what mindfulness teachers call “the monkey mind.”).

Deep down, we all want to reserve the best of ourselves for our children, partners, passion projects, and causes. This season, let’s advocate for less materialism and greater minimalism. Let’s find the strength to speak our minds, share our stories, and support one another, above all. Because, what could be more essential?

This Month’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Are You Taking the False First Step? >>>

The Profound Joy of Completion >>>

Materialism Doesn’t Work: Self-Care Without Stuff >>>

Stop Waiting to Feel Inspired (or Motivated) >>>

Break the Silence, Sister. Your Story Matters >>>  Continue reading

Living a creative life—with wellbeing—can be an act of minimalism. Often, creatives thrive when we do less, not more, with our time and energy. We lower our unrealistic expectations and judge ourselves with less frequency. We acknowledge how much we do (and do well) already. We winnow our priorities.

Breath as Metronome: How to Transform Creative Obstacles

Living a creative life—with wellbeing—can be an act of minimalism. Often, creatives thrive when we do less, not more, with our time and energy. We lower our unrealistic expectations and judge ourselves with less frequency. We acknowledge how much we do (and do well) already. We winnow our priorities.

Then, we can breathe! In that space, with fresh eyes, fewer worries, and renewed intention, we meet the blank page or canvas, the dust-covered musical instrument, or the amorphous idea in our heads. It’s not about planning and productivity. We learn to say “no,” “I deserve rest too,” “I’m not taking from my kids, I’m being a creative role model,” and “I’m enough already, but this sounds like a fun creative experiment.”

I share this because it’s a relief, and it’s empowering. Yet, we often forget that minimalism, mindfulness, and breathing can support us. Instead, our culture bombards us with off-base and ineffective creative and business advice. Sometimes, the tone seems harsh and judgmental (I don’t know about you, but I’d rather “practice” my craft than “hustle.” If you wouldn’t word it like that to your kid, or your best friend, should you aim that language at yourself?).

Where does that harsh advice leave you? What thoughts do you hold about where you “should” be in your life right now, and what you “should” be doing? I have a feeling you know them well; you think them dozens of times each day! Step back and put it in context: how exhausting are these thoughts? Fortunately, there’s a healthier way.

Mindfully Work with Thoughts, Feelings, + Sensations

Notice that I shifted from sharing reassuring thoughts to asking what thoughts get in your way. That probably brought up some emotions for you. Hang with those uncomfortable feelings for a moment. Maybe you can notice shallower breathing, a constriction in your throat, or a swirly feeling: all signs of anxiety.

The biggest obstacles to getting our creative work done are not lack of clarity nor logistical issues. The obstacles are our thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

It’s human nature to want to turn away from discomfort and toward comfort. Have some self-compassion; you’re only human.  Continue reading

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