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

Must-Reads for Creatives - On Visibility + Vulnerability - createintandem.com

Must-Reads for Creatives: On Visibility + Vulnerability

This week’s Must-Reads for Creatives encourage us to take the beautiful risk of becoming visible and connecting with one another through our common vulnerabilities. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how exhilarating and rewarding the results turn out to be. 

This Week’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

How to Overcome Isolation (And Why You’re Doing It) >>>

Should You Start a Business? 51 Female Entrepreneurs Weigh In >>>

What Becoming Visible Has Taught Me >>>

Raising the Mindful Family >>>  Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives - Constraint vs. Freedom - createintandem.com

Must-Reads for Creatives: Constraint vs. Freedom

This week’s Must-Reads for Creatives shatter persistent myths about the creative process, work/life balance, constraint vs. freedom, and personal development. What’s helped you shatter the myths you’ve held: becoming a parent? Immersing yourself in a new creative medium? Love and loss? Travel and adventure? A good book? I love this batch; bookmark it for when you need a kickstart during the week!

This Week’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Creativity Is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice >>>

The Three Questions You Must Ask Before Taking on a Project for Free >>>

Pursuing Work-Life Balance Preserves the Status Quo >>>

Finding Joy in Constraint: 3 Tips for Flourishing Creatively Amidst a Busy Life >>>

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out >>>

How to Avoid the Trap of Self-Improvement >>>  Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives: Spring Clean Your Creative Process - createintandem.com

Must-Reads for Creatives: Spring Clean Your Creative Process

This week’s Must-Reads for Creatives bring the energy of spring cleaning to your creative process. What mental clutter can you clear out (because your thoughts feel like a broken record)? Say “no, thanks” to the unnecessary, and make space for creative pursuits + adventures with the people you love. Do what gives you a burst of energy. We can approach our creative work with a lighter touch, and tap into the spirit of creative play.

This Week’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Clear Away the Excess >>>

Five Strategies to “Spring Clean” Your Creativity >>>

If You’re Waiting for Clarity >>>

The Importance of Mentally Disengaging from Work and Practice >>>

What I Really Want to Say About Creativity >>>

Continue reading