Awaken Your Creative Capacity

There’s something liminal about December.

Here in the studio, we’re wrapping up one season and preparing for the next. In a few weeks, we’ll all be moving from fall into winter (or spring into summer, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere). For me, personally, I’m completing one solar return and moving into the next with my birthday next weekend. And, of course, with our home renovation, we’re hoping to finish up the biggest project of our lives and move back home.

One of the things I love about these in-between times is how they give us a chance to shake things up, to break things up and to find new ways. When the path trudges on, day after day, with no break or disruption, it is harder to make a change. I’ve seen this with so many clients who have tucked into their regular life with devotion for years and then, when they feel the need to make a change, it seems impossible to do so because of ‘the way things are.’

You have a hand in creating the way things are!

You have been given this extraordinary gift of a creative spirit and that can show up on the page, in the studio and in your life. Yes, we all have what I call ‘given circumstances.’ These are the elemental truths of this moment in time, both limitations and blessings. What will you make of them? What will you imagine and create?

In Mindful Mondays, we start each week by imagining what we would like it to be and then we go about doing our level best to create it.

I want a week filled with creative play! How will I make it so?
I want a week with more ease! How will I invite that in?
I want to be brave this week! I will follow where that leads me!

Little by little, week by week, with our imaginings, our choices and our actions, we steer our lives in the direction or our soul. Little by little, week by week, our life aligns with our heart.

It’s easy for us to forget that we have this magic within us. We fall easily under the sway of ‘The Way It Is’ spell, believing that we are just a small being in a strong current and cannot make a difference, not even in our own lives. This is not true.

Our creativity shows us our magic every time.

Every time you knit a sock or make a meal, every time you make a painting or a collage, every time you rearrange your furniture or change your hairstyle, you have impact. With each creative act, you demonstrate your ability to change your life and your world. You experience your capacity to make something where there was nothing or to transform one thing into something new.

If you can do it on the page, on the canvas or in the kitchen, you can do it in your life.

You can bring ideas that make a difference.
You can make choices that make a difference.
You can take action that make a difference.

You have the creative capacity to make a difference in your life and in the world.

I’m here to remind you. The studio is full of classes to support you. Awaken your creative capacity and discover what’s possible. Bring your magic to the art, to the life and the world that calls you. Do it now.

Unexpected Blessings of Running

I’m power walking/running again – and it’s such a gift. Yes, it’s hard to get back to it. Yes, it’s easy to get down about backsliding but instead, I put on my running shoes and started.

As my body made clear what I’d been missing, I felt the whole world cheering me on. I found myself beaming at simply being outside. I watched the glory of the big ball of sunlight slipping down into the empty trees. In the first minute a friendly rottweiler gave me an enthusiastic hello! A little while later, I saw a Grandma and her grandkids intently watch the power and process of the garbage truck mashing – and the way their enthusiasm lit the garbage collector up. And when I finished, I looked for #todayscheerleader, as I always do. Today I found a penguin. Who knew?

Going out for a run reminded me that I am a part of this world, something that’s easy to forget when I’ve got my head down, working. Maybe I even made someone else feel the same way. Maybe someone I smiled at is beaming too, thinking, “That was so nice, that slow-running lady in the pink hat smiling at me. It reminded me there are friendly people in this world!” I sure hope so.

Nothing Can Replace the Power of Practice: Interview with Artist & Entrepreneur Jeanne Oliver

Jeanne Oliver is one of those creatives who does it all. She’s an artist, an author and an entrepreneur. She runs a site that hosts a plethora of creative classes, some taught by other artists and some taught by Jeanne herself. She leads exquisite retreats, is a dedicated mom and keeps a stunning home. She is also one of the kindest and most generous people I have met in the online creative world.

A while back I interviewed her for the Creative Living with Jamie podcast and now, inspired by her new Creatively Made Business program, I’ve interviewed her for the blog. There are a lot of people teaching online entrepreneurship but Jeanne is the only person I know who is doing that from the place of running a successful art-based and instructional business. If you have dreams of developing that kind of work yourself, I suggest you check her new program out. I haven’t taken it (and I’m not an affiliate) but I have done one-on-one business consulting with Jeanne and have always found her to be insightful, direct and incredibly helpful. No matter where we are in our creative journey, it’s so powerful to keep growing and learning from one another!  I know you’ll learn a lot from Jeanne!

Hi there, Jeanne. I am so excited to have this conversation with you and to hear about all the creative energy that percolating around you! Let’s start off with you sharing a bit about yourself and the work you do in the world.

Thank you so much Jamie for the opportunity to talk with you and share more about our business and what we are about.

I am Jeanne Oliver, the owner and creator of Jeanne Oliver Designs. Our business officially became more than a hobby 12 years ago and what was once creations of wood and scrapbook paper are now online art classes, live business and art workshops, artisan products, original and reproduction art, beautiful collaborations and travel. I feel like our business is the perfect example of the power of starting before you are ready and that we have second and third chances to walk out our gifts.

You teach many art classes and also run a beautiful hub rich with inspirational creative classes. In your experience, what’s the greatest hump people have to get over to fully embrace their creative gifts?

I love that you are asking this because the whole purpose of our creative network is to make it easier for people to connect with their creativity. I feel like we could talk for hours about this topic because we hear more about this subject than any other.

I would like to suggest that we stop treating our gifts as the reward for the day to day of life. That we stop saying when we finish the laundry, dishes, bills, mopping the floors etc. THEN I will connect with what makes life rich, beautiful, meaningful like painting, baking that pie, tending your garden, playing the piano, cuddling up and stitching, learning a new instrument, having coffee with a friend, reading a book with your child. Can you imagine how beautiful our days would look and how connected we would be with our gifts if we didn’t treat them like rewards?

As an artist, what was essential for you to discover your unique creative voice?

Nothing can replace the power of practice and figuring yourself out. Nothing has been more rewarding than knowing I have practiced myself into my own style. Nothing has made me as proud when it comes to my art as someone saying, “I knew that was yours before I knew it was yours”. Practice and through that making lots of bad art to also make good art.

I know that you also have a major new offering coming up, one that is based on running a creative business. What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

I wish someone had told me that they were so proud of me for following my gifts and that they didn’t think for a second it made me less of a mom or wife but more of everything. I wish I had had cheerleaders that told me all I was showing my daughter and all I was showing my boys. I may have lost early years in my own life to pursue those natural gifts but I am so thankful that our children will have the most beautiful early understanding about who they are, where they are strong, where they want to grow and the out of the box life they can live if they choose to. I am so excited for them and all of us that get to be their cheerleaders.

Tell us more about your new Creatively Made Business course. Who is it for?

 

Creatively Made Business is a 6-month online course that takes you step-by-step through the tools your business needs to succeed and your creativity to thrive. This online business workshop is for any business owner no matter if you are in the dreaming stage, building stage or needing fresh ideas stage, this online course will help you create a plan for what is next.

Through monthly modules, video training, podcasts, downloadable worksheets, printables, live Q+A and monthly book discussions we will share tools your business needs to succeed and your creativity to thrive. This is not just for artists! This is for anyone that wants to create a plan to create a more intentional life and business.

We have been sharing online business content for over 7 years now, doing one-on-one consulting and also leading live business workshops and we knew it was time to update everything and bring it to business owners no matter where they are in life and business. We wanted to make it doable for busy creatives to take their businesses to the next level.

Creatively Made Business will begin February 3, 2020. You can find out more here.

While I have you here, there’s one more thing I have to ask you. It’s clear to anyone who follows you that one of your gifts is creating beautiful spaces. I’m in the midst of a major home renovation. I’d love to hear any advice you might have for creating home.

Everything starts and ends at home for me so I love talking about this. Creating home for me is about creating a warm and inviting space first and foremost for our family and then taking that gift and sharing it with others. People are longing to be invited and so many are missing connecting and gathering. Home is one of the sweetest ways I know to walk that out. I just don’t want anyone to not open the doors to their home because it is not done enough, clean enough, or put together enough. We just don’t have enough time in this world for that.

Thank you so much, Jeanne. It’s always a delight to chat with you. You’re an inspiration and a light.

5 Minutes of Creativity


How much time do you need for your creativity? An afternoon? A weekend? A lifetime?

How many of us leave our creativity languishing in the wings while we wait for a glorious expanse of time? What are we missing by not simply doing what we can when we can with what we have where we are?

As I go through this massive home renovation, I’ve managed to keep writing but art making? Not at all. I notice it each week as I check in with my Focus Pages in my Studio Yearbook. Not only has the “Art” section been consistently empty but a couple of weeks ago I completely cut it from the mix. I thought, I’m just not getting to it. Maybe it’s too much with all that’s going on. I’ll get to it later.

There’s only one problem with that.

Art is a part of me. It’s not something for later. It’s something for always.

Years ago I went through a wonderful Expressive Arts training program. Each week we painted, sculpted, wrote, danced, sang and played theatre games. A couple of weeks after the training was over, I was talking to my sister Shannon about the horrible mood I was in. She gently and sagely said, “Do you think it has anything to do with not having regular creative time anymore?”

*blink* *blink*

Why yes. Yes, I think it does.

It still does.

So instead of my original plan of shunting art aside, I’ve started a little practice. I’m calling it #5minutesofcreativity. I have an 8 x 10 storage box from the dollar store. In it are all sorts of paper cut-outs and scraps. (I’ve learned to gather not only images I love but also textures, colours and shapes.) It’s all dumped into the box, willy-nilly. I also toss in a sketchbook, scissors and a glue stick. With that, I have everything I need for a 5-minute burst of creative fun.

At least once a day I open up that box and give myself five minutes to make a collage. I have no plan. I sift through the papers looking for something to catch my eye. When it does, I cut it into a shape or put it on the page as-is. Then I let it inspire me to look for the next piece and the next. Before I know it, something’s appeared on the page.

I don’t stress about getting it right because what is ‘right’ after all? I just want 5 minutes of inspiration, 5 minutes of creative expression, 5 minutes of me time, 5 minutes of possibility. In that 5 minutes, my body relaxes, I stop thinking about the worries of the day and I breathe. When I’m done, I take a picture and share it on Instagram stories and then I put everything back in the box ready for tomorrow.

I love this little practice. I feel so much better for it. And yes, I still long for Art Days and expansive creating but here’s the news: I get to have both – and so do you! Saying yes to small moments of creative bliss doesn’t mean giving up on longer creative play dates. If anything, it paves the way, building momentum, keeping you in creative shape and reminding you of just how important your art and creativity really are.

This week I invite you to join me and take 5 minutes for your creativity. Collage, doodle, dance, sing – you choose. If you decide to share, tag me and use the hashtag #5minutesofcreativity. I’ll be cheering you on.

 

Find Inspiration: Creating with Care

Looking for inspiration is a constant creative practice. When I find something that moves me, I let it sink in and then I think about what it is that moved me so deeply. * In Nick Bennett’s video of potters James and Tilla Waters, I am struck by two things.

First is the sensuality of the pottery experience. As though we were the potters themselves, we feel the light in the room, listen to the birds, feel the clay in our hands and the heat of the fire. We appreciate the pleasing visual shapes, subtle colours and interesting patterns. We can imagine the weight of the mug in our hands. What a beautiful reminder that the arts speak to all of our senses.

The second is the level of care put into this piece, which no doubt represents the level of care put into every piece these potters create. In this I am reminded of devotion to one’s craft and also the willingness to slow down time in order to be present with the task at hand.  Suddenly I feel less like rushing and bounding between projects and more like pouring my soul into one thing.

We all find different inspirations. In looking at the title of the video, I see the director was inspired by the sense of satisfaction that is created when this care and work is done.

What about this short film inspired you?

*This is the way I gather and explore Inspiration in my Studio Yearbook each day.  This practice invites me to engage in the world creatively and to discover what it is that calls to my creative heart. I

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Becoming an Energy Wizard (a Strategy for Empaths & Highly Sensitive People)

This week I was at a party and a woman spoke to me about how she struggled as an empath, particularly in this world where so much is so distressing. She was deeply disturbed by the news and also had an activist’s heart. She wanted to make a difference but how could she when she felt consistently emotionally overwhelmed?

Here’s a strategy I offered to her and that I use myself. I hope it works wonders for you.

If you are an empath or a highly sensitive person, you already know the power of energy. You do not need to be convinced of it. You have experienced it. You have experienced the way your heart rate goes up, the way tears appear, the way you have a tangible reaction to the world around you.

This is not a one-way channel.

In the moment that you are receiving the anger, the heartbreak, the terror, the joy of a particular situation, crowd or individual, if you can find and stand your ground, you can send back love, peace, calm and hope through the connection between you. The experience will take on a different tenor, at minimum for you and perhaps for all.

Have you ever seen a fantasy film where an evil wizard or a dragon pours out fire in the direction of their foe and the good wizard responds with water or ice? Their magic connects and you watch the red glow and the cool blue meet and meld until one dissipates. Working your empath energy magic is like that.

Now, it takes time and strength to be an energy wizard. You need to tend to the practices and habits that keep you healthy and strong (e.g. good sleep, nourishing food, meditation). You also need boundaries and strategies for when the energy coming at you is too strong for your current state. But also remember that your sensitivity to energy is a super power. We tend to think of it only as a receptive power but it is also an active one. If the energy we receive can make a difference in our world, the energy we send can too.

There is a reason that so many creatives are highly sensitive people. We are tuned into the depth and breadth of what it means to be human. That is glorious and it is challenging too. Like a wizard, there will be days when we need to be alone, to be quiet and attend to our studies but there will also be days when we can use our magic to turn fear into hope and frogs into butterflies.