How Creatives Can Enjoy Productivity AND Play This Summer -

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.

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Bring Your Own Creativity Party - Summer 2016 -

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 -

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.”


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

Emily from 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.”


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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 >>>

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How to Live a Creative + Resilient Life -

How to Live a Creative + Resilient Life

Last night, I heard creative voices speaking their truths—survivors of sexual abuse, and a powerful spoken word poet. It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. People around the world gather at community events to spread education and awareness, and to show solidarity with survivors. I work for a nonprofit organization as a Survivor Advocate, providing counseling and support groups to survivors. The month of April is always a busy one for me, in attending these amazing community events. It’s truly a privilege to hear voices of resiliency.

Creativity + Trauma = Creative Living

I’ve wanted to write a post about the intersections of creativity and trauma for a long time. These are the realms in which I work, at my job, and in my writing and creativity coaching. But, it’s felt like a massive topic to address. (Honestly, I could write a whole thesis on it. In fact, I did, years ago; my Masters thesis was on narratives of personal and cultural healing.)

I’ve also wanted to write more about creative living. I love the phrase and how it expands our definition of creativity. My manifesta is: everyone is creative, and within all endeavors—in work, parenting, volunteering, home life, community connections, social justice efforts, and more. Creativity appears not only in art and crafts, though those are some of each culture’s most important forms of self-expression. Creative living is speaking our truths, walking our talk, and shaping a world where people can safely share their authentic selves and ideas.

The transformational process of empowering yourself is creative living. That’s true after the “big ‘T’” Trauma of losses, disasters, abuse, and/or mental illness, and after the “little ‘t’” trauma of everyday life challenges. If you’re kind, thoughtful, and doing your best, you’re already living creatively each day. Continue reading

Must-Reads for Creatives - Fresh Perspective for Creative Living -

Must-Reads for Creatives: Fresh Perspective for Creative Living

This week’s Must-Reads for Creatives draw us toward something greater than ourselves—through awe at the world, and connection with others.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae (or our to-do list, for that matter). When it comes to cultivating a fresh creative mindset, a little perspective goes a long way. Soak it in. Then, head off and create something with the time you have—a sketch, a soufflé, an art journal page, a play fort…Dream big, and take small actions steps forward. You’re on your way. Creative living is all about the joy in jumping scope, in shifting from wide lens to zoom lens. That’s the space where fresh insights happen.

This Week’s Must-Reads for Creatives:

Mindfulness Goes Beyond the Meditation Cushion—It’s a Way of Life >>>

Try Something Hard >>>

Pema Chödrön & bell hooks Discuss Cultivating Openness When Life Falls Apart >>>

Photographer Alex Strohl Journeys to Remote Locations Most of Us Can Only Dream About >>>  Continue reading