Gathering inspiration, momentum, and ideas.

It’s been a while since I brain dumped ideas here, mostly because Pinterest is so easy or because I’m focusing on really defining a Why for my creative life, but I’m still collecting ideas and I’d love to share.

I entered a competition with Lilla Roger’s Studio and it’s stretched me beyond anything I thought I could ever (even possibly!) accomplish, do or dream. I’ve been asked to create a playground themed journal cover as if Paperchase were a client and all of those words in one sentence have been a dwindling fight in will power and creative energy for me.

The good fight.

Yesterday I finally went from my sketch-book to watercolor and when it was all said and done I thought to myself “Well, at least I got that over with.” As in, that was exactly as awful as I was expecting it to be. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get to it.

Here’s a few other ways to get from A to B in your current situation that seems to be stumping you or bullying you into thinking you’re never gonna get it (that bully is wrong, by the way, Get it girl). And I’ve found that the path from A to B usually involves a few subtext categories like A1, A7 and A109. But you will eventually land at B.

Go away.

Literally just go away. Leave the problem on paper, make a paper airplane if you need to and toss that sucker to a high and mighty place, with out you. You need a break. You can simply go for a drive, jump on a trampoline, take a shower, lay in a hammock, draw/doodle/color, fly a kite or pack up for a night and escape to the far yonder calling you.

I mostly drive or shower – those are the ways I subconsciously work through tangible problems that the ink on my journal can’t seem to dilute into a clear path for me.

Do something you used to do for fun.

Before we entered those years of “being a grown up” without actually knowing what that meant, at all, we had a lot of fun. Criminal amounts of copious fun. Before I was married me and the boyfriend went to Chicago almost every weekend. Adventure was only line-item on the itinerary. We snuck into hotels to swim, we climbed trees and drank expensive coffee but ate ramen noodles and donuts and somehow found balance. The pressure was off. We were allowed to have fun.

I call bull-shit. We still are. I can’t make a habit out of Chicago-bound road trips, but we have amazing beaches near-by. We own a tent. Maybe a new journal and a set of charcoals with a hike and a picnic basket of nourishing foods would feed my soul the way gas station beef jerky and skinny dipping used to. I’m willing to bet on it.

Collect something.

Memories, words, magazine clippings. I follow some amazing collectors on Instagram – and they follow Typography and Branding – but they find it in the most beautiful places. A night sky, the sidewalk, drainage grates. Trees are a language all their own to me … so I collect pieces of trees. Mostly in photos, and the sky line. Bark, nests, feathers. Grab a baseket and a friend, bring your iPhone or camera or your little adventurer with crayons and go find something that makes you look again. Keep those things, they’ll find their way into what you do before you even know it.

Watch and Read.

Nothing inspires me quite like a Ted.com video marathon, a backlog of my favorite blog’s to catch up on, or a book that was recommended to me. On the flip-side, nothing drowns me quite like these things either. If I’m standing still and all I see are the forward movements of the leaders I admire: I watch in dismay as they talk about, do, capture, work on or deliver the ideas I’ve been percolating and investing in. Problem is: I’ve been investing in the ideas quietly and alone.

You have to drive the boat. In fact, you are driving it, whether you see yourself in that seat or not. It’s awkward at first to say something you think about out loud. Especially an idea you hold passionately close to who you are. Those ideas, those conversations? Those are your movements. And if you’re not sure how? Watch and read. You’ll learn.

Maybe, but what if.

Untitled

This is a new kind of struggle. I can often feel, or be tricked into feeling, like I’ve given the best part of me away already. To my husband, to my kids. To past works. As if I’m sitting here in my life, watching the rest of it fly by and I have nothing left to offer.

On our drive home from Florida there was a stretch of road in Tennessee where I was driving, ear buds in and cranked up and I wept over and over and over again. Everyone else in the car was sleeping or busy, not really paying attention to me. I had my sunglasses on and every song that played and the wide open road and the place my heart was in: it was an overwhelming peace.

I got honest with some demons, I was thankful for others, I was open to being this emotional and heavily imbedded spirit in my own life. I am a spiritual being (we all are, if you want my opinion) and I’m awake to it. I operate in it, I thrive there. I dream there and love there and live right there. And this stretch of road carried me, just for a few hours, in a reality where I was welcome to do so.

Since being home and back to the regular demands of life, I’ve cried and wept more. But they’ve been angry and sad, hot tears. Impatient tears. Not thankful, not full. I’m tired here and I know exactly what I want but not how to get there. I’m afraid to say it out-loud, or ask for help. I don’t think failure is the lure that keeps me waiting, it’s no being worthy to say the things I want to say or offer the expertise I want to offer, or even art, because who am I?

And aren’t the real artists, poets, writers, photographers, authors, dreamers, teachers, coaches, travelers, life-givers already doing it? Aren’t they all already being everything you want to be?

And in my sad open places where seldom I’m brave enough to show it, the answer is; maybe. But what if?

Sunshine

Take it as it comes … then go get it.

It’s been a busy season of life and somewhat circular. I don’t enjoy the busy badge, it’s not something I wear or display with vigor. I love intentional interaction, personal conversations … I’m trying to find more of them, more often.

one of the lucky ones to make it in

We had the pleasure of going to the very first Failure-Lab show this week.

Ummm. I’m a huge fan. The entire night felt like one epic poem all to the common theme of what failure brought the seven storytellers.

There was even Kazoo action, a harp, and dancing. At each seat there was a program – the format of the night was; Performance, Storyteller (7 minutes), one minute of silence to reflect/write a note or tweet, and repeat.

The idea of the Storytellers, from what I gathered, was for them to tell us of a failure but not the lesson they derived from it. That was up to us, and that’s what the one minute of silence was for. I’m an over thinker, so I’ll just go there – but it was like an intentional space to actually connect to these people beyond the words they were giving us. We were invited into their lives, often some of the most vulnerable moments of failure – and then we were asked to feel something, or better, learn something.

So, yeah. This is my thing. I loved everything about Failure Labs (and how much of a non-failure it was). I’m really excited to hear what they do and where they go from here.

Funny thing is, we were asked to hand in our programs (with notes) at the end of the show. I gave mine up after I took quick photos of my notes, I wanted to remember it too.

Here’s my take away:

What I learned at Failure-Lab

Asking for help can change everything … maybe for the first time ever.

Reality of a dream is sometimes the muddy ground you thought you were finally getting away from.

Take it as it comes, then go get it.

You can’t do it all. Unless you’re good at it.

Art, some times, needs more structure to reach the mass of abstract.

What are you guys learning lately?

Do you ever?

Do you ever have all the momentum you need, but none of the resources? Do you ever have a plan, but no action? Are you ever buried under the dream of what’s to come but can’t find a way to make reality pay attention?

No?

Then it’s just me.

It’s not a fear of starting – I love to start. It’s a fear of not knowing how to finish.

And after the finish line? Well … then what?

There’s always a bigger plan with less action. Always a bigger dream with much larger realities to topple.

Always more over there, less right here.

Or is there?

Patience is a virtue, one I learn over and over and over and over again. I need it, I’m thankful for it. But at what point am I the only obstacle I can’t get over?

And when that’s finally decided – and there’s no one thing left to overcome, I get to stare at my ambition in the face and it always asks me:

Now what?

Interrogation of motherhood, and the essay that follows.

Before I was a mom, I knew exactly what it meant to be one.

Before I quit working, I knew exactly what it meant to manage my time: I knew what was valuable. What was worthy of the hours I spent at home.

Before …

Wait. I was 21 when Jessica was born. I knew nothing. The ideas I had were fastened to my psyche because that’s how I saw the world. Through a narrow, very misleading little lens about what happiness meant, what it cost. And what the word “worth” or “worthy” actually meant.

It’s been a radical 8 years, let me tell you.

The guilt I felt for not loving every single second of being a stay at home mom? Drove me to do MORE! Cover up that feeling, this isn’t what it’s supposed to feel like. You can’t get a job, change your mind, ask for help!!! That’s the WRONG idea. And yet, I truly do enjoy being home. I also, literally, need breaks. Often. Scheduled. Away from children.

I couldn’t relax enough to read a book while my kids played until recently. If I didn’t know EVERYTHING about what they were doing at any given moment, offering instruction or guidance, I felt like a failure.

I used to interrogate my friends who seemed so much more at ease with their Motherhood, how did they let it go? How did they open their back door, let their kids out and then not stand by the window watching every move? Instead, they got stuff done. Like the dishes, or laundry. Or maybe even a phone call to a friend. They were organized and had systems and, although still human, seemed to be running the show with confidence.

I knew I could do it, there were windows of time when I felt comfortable in the shoes I was wearing. Running a household, raising a family and even taking care of the relationships that meant most to me (including the one with myself).

But scarcity was always around the corner. The feeling of leaning into the role I had taken on and succeeding seemed to be a short lived victory. I would always end up back in the place of fear of failure.

I was failing my family somehow, I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t know how or why. I was failing my kids, I just knew it. I was a terrible mother. I was failing my marriage, this I seemed to understand, and yet – I was bonded to the idea that this kind of life, this fate – was my destiny.

I know exactly when all of this changed. It continues to take shape in my daily life. I continue to sit with, and some times struggle with where I am. But the smallest of steps forward sends me into a fever of thankfulness.

Let my kids out of my sight? Let them bicker a little longer? Ask them to solve this one on their own (because I know they can, they have everything they need to discover their own tiny victories in relationships) … and I find myself glued to the aftermath that we didn’t fall apart.

That letting go of the reigns, giving some slack to my expectations, allowing even myself the time it takes to learn something new, is actually doing the opposite of my worst fears.

It’s bringing us together. Like a puzzle piece of our lives, woven every so slightly together – we all fit, with our talents, struggles and imperfections, into this masterpiece of Family.

Who me? Yes, you.

Bee-boop. Bee-bee-bop.

Sunday morning space videos.

And as it turns out, it always has.