The Magic We Find in Books

My mom got me my first library card on my second birthday.

That was the earliest the library would let you have your own card. Right away, I used it extensively. In every childhood bedroom I remember, there was a spot on my dresser for library books – a pile for those to be read and a pile for those to return.

Books were one of the first places I encountered magic. There were the stories themselves, like The Witch’s Buttons by Ruth Chew, The Cuckoo Clock by Mrs. Molesworth* and the tales of Narnia too. Less explicitly magical but magical nonetheless were books like The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre.

I learned that reading itself is magical. When I opened a book, I stepped into a different life and found new places where characters became companions. I had many amazing adventures while never leaving the living room floor. (For some reason curling up on that white shag carpet was my favourite place to get lost in a book.)

As I grew, I discovered that books offer a transformational magic. We can be changed by what we read. Sometimes, this can be difficult. In high school, it took me a year to recover from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In the best scenarios, books change us by giving us a new understanding of ourselves, the world and one another, particularly people, places and times that were hitherto unknown to us.

Now I find the books that bring me the most meaningful pleasure are the ones that remind me of the beauty and magic in everyday life, like the memoirs of May Sarton or The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl, which I read at this week’s Reading Hour.

All of this magic is why I included a monthly Reading Hour in The Studio: Your Year of Creative Magic. In this fast-paced world of doom-scrolling and dopamine hits, we can settle in for a time and remember the magic of reading. Perhaps, we will be lucky and that magic will spill into the world and our lives in all sorts of wonderful and unexpected ways.

with love,


This is an excerpt from Letters from My Studio. You can subscribe here.

Three Ways to Welcome Creative Flow: Creative Living with Jamie (eps 294)

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 294:
3 Ways to Welcome Creative Flow

As creatives, we long for creative flow. In this episode I share some thoughts on how we impede it, how to work with it if you are an intuitive or intentional artist and three concrete ways to welcome it in art-making.

Resources & Mentions

BONUS Content

I’ve made an accompanying ezine to go with this episode – complete transcripts, an accompanying exercise and links to all! Download the full transcript ezine here.

Transcript Excerpt

Today I want to talk to you about the relationship of intention and intuition when it comes to you as an artist and you and your creative magic. Let’s go!

This weekend in my newsletter, I shared a little bit about how some of us tend to be more intuitive artists and some of us tend to be more intentional artists.

Intuitive artists are people who really love to pursue the mystery, who love to have lots of spaciousness, who need a lot of freedom in order to express themselves. They like to be in the process. They like to watch it happen. They like to pay attention as it goes and let the work lead.

Now, the other thing they do is they can get really shut down if things get too tight and too rigid. If the demands are too harsh, if the consequences are heavy, there’s just a way all that energy goes kaput. “I am not showing up. I’m not putting myself in that position. It’s too uncomfortable.”

Also sometimes they can feel a little insecure about whether they’re actually getting anywhere. They can feel a little bit like they’re just playing around and they worry that they’ll never reach a level of achievement that makes them be able to say confidently, “I am an artist.”

Intentional artists are sort of on the other side of the scale. They love to do research. They love to make plans. They love to make schedules. They like to plot things out and problem solve. Making plans and doing all that research is half the fun!

Now, their challenge can be when they don’t have some form of structure, they can feel a little lost. If things get a little loose, that’s when their energy dissipates. Whereas with an intuitive, if it gets too tight, their energy shuts down, with an intentional artist, when things get too loose, they get globby. They’re like, “I don’t get it. I don’t know what to do. I feel lost.”

Then they can start feeling like, “Oh, there must be something wrong with me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go. I must not be a creative because when it gets into all this intuitive stuff, I just get lost.”

One of the things I’m here to say is that we, as artists, as creative souls, as creative spirits, we have access to and need of both of these energies.

Download BONUS CONTENT complete transcript ezine here.

A World of Creative Magic: Creative Living with Jamie (eps 293)

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 293:
A World of Creative Magic

Turning creative ideas into living things is the work of a creative magician! It means finding inspiration, learning to wrangle time and so much more. I learned that (again) as I found my way to making the biggest venture I have ever created – and I hope you’re going to love it!

Resources & Mentions

BONUS Content

I’ve made an accompanying ezine to go with this episode – complete transcripts, an accompanying exercise and links to all! Download the full transcript ezine here.

Transcript Excerpt

I want to share with you something about the way my creativity works and how that’s sometimes reflected by the things that come out in the world. I tend to see all the things that want to be created through me all at once. Like, they just arrive and I know, “Oh, okay, we’re going to do that.” And what needs to take place in the material world is then I need to figure out time.

For those of you who’ve done Planning Day and for those of you who’ve done Devotion, you know this is something I talk about all the time. As artists, as creatives, we take this energy that shows up, something that wants to be created, and we move it from the ethereal realm, from the realm of air and imagination and ideas, and we move it bit by bit down into the material world, into the creative world, into the hands or the physical world where other people can see it and understand it and engage with it.

That’s a part of our job. I always think of it like the Magician card, one hand up, receiving and then one hand down, creating. We’re that kind of channel for creative energy.
There are some people that really love this idea phase, this airy phase. It’s so comfortable up there. Everything feels possible. There are a million ideas. It’s fun. It’s light. And then some people up there in the ethers feel like, “Whoa, this is confusing! I feel so ungrounded. I don’t know what to do. There are too many choices.”

Then down here in the earthly realm, some people are like, “Okay, good. Now I can do something. Now I can make a plan. Now I can use my hands. Now we’re dealing with some tangible things. I know how to do that.” And other people are like, “Oh God, here it feels so heavy. It feels so limiting. It feels crunchy. I feel so contained here in the earthly realm.”

And so each of us is looking for a sweet spot on the spectrum where we can actually bring those ideas into being. That’s a process. It’s something that we as artists learn over time and with practice. And I want to tell you that sometimes it’s really uncomfortable. There’s always going to be spots in the creative process that are uncomfortable. Often it’s that switching point. It’s that place where Air and Earth are meeting and they’re negotiating. They’re discussing with each other how much is air going to give up for something to come to earth and how spaciousness is earth going to give in order to hold what air wants to say?

And so, for me, that negotiation happens as I try to understand something in time, as I try to have a realistic view of how much can be done over what period of time.

Download BONUS CONTENT complete transcript ezine here.

Introducing The School of Creative Magic!

I have been dreaming up something wonderful and it’s finally here, The School of Creative Magic!

This project has been transformational not only for the work but also for me personally. And that’s because…

What we create creates us.

We simply cannot enter a time of deep creating without emerging forever changed. Most often that change is a deepening of or a fundamental return to who we truly are.

Every bit of building The School of Creative Magic pushed me to articulate and align with what I believe. Every day it asked me to show up and step up. Its spirit called me to claim the magical parts in myself more fully and to remember the world I believed in as a girl.

The School of Creative Magic fueled the fire of my commitment to help people unfurl into the magical creatures they long to be, free of the fear that their gifts will forever lay dormant, their creative spirit not fully expressed and their art never realized.

Even when it was a slog, even when it was a hair-pulling fit of frustration, even when my brain shut down from decision fatigue, even when I couldn’t find the way through, every step affirmed this path.

Let me tell you about one of ways creating The School of Creative Magic showed me the way.

I love the photo that I shared with you today. It’s a moment captured be my sister Suzie, who took virtually all of the photos of me on the site.

What you can’t tell from the photo is that this is me getting changed in public!

I brought three changes of ‘costume’ for the shoot in the ravine just north of us. As I pulled my full-length skirt over my pants before peeling them off, a couple came down the walkway right beside me. There were many moments like this. A woman walking her dogs stopped to say my zebra print jumpsuit was chic. A boy with his mom saw me raise a cardboard crown to my head and laughed at the absurdity.

Do you know what I felt in those moments?


There is an energy that comes with being an artist pursuing a vision, no matter how odd, unusual or out of place.

I didn’t feel weird. I didn’t feel awkward.

I felt like myself.

I was in the world, being true to me, my vision and my work.

That feels like freedom to me.

It’s a freedom I want for you too. Whatever it is you dream of creating – no matter how absurd or practical, mundane or magical – I want you to make it with courage and delight.

That’s why I created The School of Creative Magic. It offers paths and programs that support that artistic aliveness in you, your life and your work. You’ll find the Studio Yearbook there and Devotion. (Both are available now for the coming fall.) You’ll also find a new offer, a program called The Studio. It will be a magical year of practice and community and I hope you’ll join me.

Click to Open the Door to The School of Creative Magic


How to Read a Dreamboard Like a Tarot Card: Creative Living with Jamie (eps 292)

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 292:
How to Read a Dreamboard Like a Tarot Card

I recently opened up the opportunity for Studio Yearbookers to submit their dreamboards for a ‘reading’. In this episode of Creative Living with Jamie, I go through four dreamboards, sharing what I see and offering techniques for how you can learn to read your dreamboard like a tarot card! I also share how backing out of a commitment kept me in integrity.

BONUS CONTENT: I’ve put together an ezine of the transcripts, includes a summary of strategies for interpreting your dreamboard like a tarot card!  Download here.

“WOW, Jamie. I’ve been doing SoulCollage©️ since 2012, and taken classes from a number of facilitators, and yet watching your process was amazingly inspirational for enriching my SoulCollage readings. Thank you so much for sharing your way of unearthing such richness, depth, and insight.” Carol R

Resources & Mentions

BONUS Content

I’ve put together a PDF of the transcripts in a  magazine style. It includes a summary of the strategies I shared for interpreting your dreamboard like a tarot card!  Download the full transcript ezine here.

Transcript Excerpt

: I promised something a little while ago and it’s taken me a while to get to it because I’ve had technical difficulties. Hopefully, fingers crossed, it will go well today. I’m trying to trust that there’s something in the energy of today that is ready to come through that maybe wasn’t before. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

So what I’m doing today is I opened up the opportunity to people who participate in the Studio Yearbook to submit their Full Moon Dreamboards (it’s something we do in our yearbook every full moon) for a bit of a reading.

The reason I did that is in the studio we have a three-point process for creating dreamboards. The first is to do some reflection, and we do that with the inspiration of the energy of a particular full moon. Many of these are from the Full Worm Moon, so it was about what’s emerging, what dreams are trying to break through and be seen. It seemed a really good one to work on.

We do a bit of reflecting and then with that in our minds, all the thoughts that have been stirred, the question that’s been asked, we gather images that call to our heart. We glue them in our Studio Yearbook. Then when we are done, we go back and look and say, “What do I see here?”

The reason being is a dreamboard is really a two-way conversation. You know, out there in the world, when people talk about vision boards, they’re really often talking about one-way communication. “Here’s what I want, Universe. Let me show you what I want.” And that works. But here’s something that is so rich and deep, and I’m doing this so you can really explore this aspect of what’s available.

The richness that’s available in a vision board or a dreamboard is to go back and see what it’s telling you. What is it telling you? When we pick images, there’s something happening energetically. There’s something that’s calling to us. It’s in part rooted in what we know we desire, but it’s also rooted in the unknown, and that’s why I think this is such a crucial step and I wanted to share it with you today.

Now before we start. I want to do something that I do in all my classes, which is light a candle. This is a way of us bringing our intention and our energy present. It’s a way of calling back in all the parts of us that are somewhere else, that are listening to me but also scrolling on Instagram, that are listening to me but also worrying about what’s for dinner.

Instead to say, “Okay, hold on. I want to invite some magic in so let me signal that invitation to my heart, my spirit, my body and the powers that be by lighting this candle and inviting this moment to be full of magic.”

So I’m lighting this on all of our behalf, an invitation to intuition, an invitation to inspiration, an invitation to one penny dropping, a moment when you realize something you never knew before. I’ll leave that there. Even though it’s such a bright day you can barely see it, it’s there to guide the way.

Okay, let us start. I am going to look at four dream boards, two in more depth, and two with a light touch. They just had a couple of themes I wanted to pull out for the people that submitted them.

Let’s start.

Download BONUS CONTENT complete transcript ezine here.

We Are Capable of Creative Magic: Creative Living with Jamie (eps 291) featuring artist Lola Yang

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 291:
We Are Capable of Creative Magic

In this episode of Creative Living with Jamie, I share how creating shows us what we’re capable of. Plus I interview mixed media artist and Devotion alumna Lola Yang about how she approached being an artist as a mom of a young child and also how she made her dream of a minivan art studio come true! We hope you’ll be inspired to pursue your dreams too.

BONUS CONTENT: I’ve put together a PDF of the transcripts in a bit of a magazine style. It even includes a little creative assignment for you to keep the inspiration going and the creativity flowing.  Download here.

FREE E-BOOK: The Dreams Do Come True – and Yours Can Too e-book is also available to studio members! Join the studio and you’ll find the book in the studio resource page.

About Lola Yang

Lola is a self taught mixed media artist inspired by nature, she enjoys living by the sea and working in her mini van art studio by the sea.
She makes collage art that reflects what a gift it is to be alive.
She journals to find her inner voice and sketches to capture the beautiful moments of everyday life.
She also leads creative workshops for those who believe in magic like she does.
Born in China, currently living with her husband and her 3 year old daughter by the sea in Israel.
Visit her and her mini van art studio journey on instagram @Lolayangstudio

Resources & Mentions

BONUS Content

I’ve put together a PDF of the transcripts in a  magazine style. It even includes a little creative assignment for you to keep the inspiration going and the creativity flowing.  Download the full transcript magazine here.

Transcript Excerpt

Jamie Ridler: Everybody, I just have to share, recently Lola and I celebrated 10 years of inspiration, connection. I’m so excited to bring her here on the podcast. Lola, why don’t you tell us all a little bit about you and about your creative life?

Lola Yang: Okay, so my name is Lola and I was born in China. And right now, I’m living in Israel with my husband and my three-year-old daughter. My creative life looks like every morning I wake up around the sunrise and I take a short walk by the sea to my minivan studio. And when I arrive there, I light a candle and then I start my morning routine. Usually, it takes about two hours and it’s movement and meditation and tarot card reading, plus journaling. If it’s a new moon or full moon I would do my new moon reflection practice and full moon connecting. All of this takes about two hours.

At 8:30 I will go back home to have breakfast with my husband. Then after that I come back to the studio again, spending time with myself until the lunchtime. Usually, these three hours I’ll be working on something I chose in Devotion, the projects that I chose in Devotion. And then the afternoon, I usually spend the time with my girl. And if that evening I have Devotion, I will be in the studio again a bit more. If not, I would just spend the rest of the day with my family.

Jamie Ridler: You’ve touched on a couple of things that I really want to dive more into. One is I for sure want to ask you more about what it’s like to have a minivan studio, but also, I want to mention for people who don’t know what it is, Devotion is a program that I have. It’s a three-month immersion into embracing yourself as an artist, into creating your artwork. I also have a mentorship program afterwards. Lola did Devotion and now is in the mentorship program so that’s what she’s talking about, setting a goal, a “something” you want to create for your season, and then spending intentional studio time for that. It’s been and continues to be a joy to have you in that program, Lola.

Lola Yang: For me, Devotion is my self-care. Once I joined it, I think, “Why, why don’t I take care of myself better?” It’s nourishing me. It’s just giving me energy. It really boost my immune system, I would say, to be with you, all of you.

Jamie Ridler: One of the things that makes me– Oh, I’m going to just have to go all over the place and follow all these threads because there’s so much inspiration here. I’m going to come back to the minivan studio, so don’t let me forget it. But one of the places I wanted to take you was, I know that when you came to Devotion, one of the challenges was, “How do I be my full creative self? How do I be an artist and also a mom of a young child?” And I know on this side of it, so much has changed for you. Tell us a little bit about that journey.

Lola Yang: I look back, really in the last 10 years, and I would say my biggest challenge is really three years ago that my time and my space was– All of a sudden, because I become a full-time mother, I’m wondering, “This full-time artist, where is she?” I mean, “Where is her time and her space?”

This is why I always believe challenge can bring me gift. The space that I lost, I got a minivan now. And the time, I didn’t know how to make it and now I have Devotion. So this is my two biggest gifts from the challenge.

Jamie Ridler: What do you think it’s like for your daughter? How is it different for her now that you’re saying, “I’m a mom and also, I am an artist”? What do you think the impact on her is?

Lola Yang: Hmm. I think when she was two, I really felt that I couldn’t fully spend time because whenever I have a moment, even if she’s sleeping, I can do my thing, but I’m around her and any moment somebody can tell me, “Stop.” I really never been interrupted like that before.

So, I came to Devotion and in the beginning it’s difficult for her because she didn’t understand how come you suddenly need to hide in a room for one hour, two hours? Also, I can still hear she’s crying. It takes time, but for her it was pretty fast. I feel like almost one month she’s starting to understand that I have a date with Jamie. It’s a bit before she go to bed because of the time difference. It’s around 8 to 10 o’clock. So she’ll wait me until I finish and then she’ll hug me and we’ll go to bed together. And I think that there is this one month that she need to get to understand.

But now for me, it’s such a blessing every time she remind me, “Hey,” (or even we have the breaks between Devotion, she would remind me) “Why you don’t meet Jamie?” It’s sweet. It’s just, I don’t know. I feel my heart is… Now with her and her support, I feel this is really a gift, all the challenges I felt.

Download BONUS CONTENT complete transcript magazine here.

When Everything’s About to Change: Creative Living with Jamie eps 290 featuring artist Sam Tucker

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 290:
When Everything’s about to Change

I am so excited to move forward with a vision I have had for a long time: a video version of the Creative Living with Jamie Podcast. It’s a work in progress and there’s a lot to learn but it is such a joy to make a start. Here’s the very first episode, which features an interview with artist Sam Tucker, who uses words and images to tell the stories of her life.

About Sam Tucker

Sam Tucker is a storyteller in words and images.  She is currently immersed in a long-term project, an illustrated memoir and storybook chronicling her journey through the grief of losing her partner while wandering the country on an epic road trip.

For years, Sam kept her creative dreams hidden in the shadows of her vibrant business consulting practice.  The journey to embracing her artistry, the essence of who she is, was a long and meaningful one that included journaling, visual journaling, book binding, collage and various forms of writing.

The turning point for Sam, that point where she finally stepped in and claimed her artistry was nearly two years ago.  Sam was part of the initial offering of the artist residency program, Devotion with Jamie Ridler.  That was a game changer!  Today, Sam divides her time between traveling the U.S. and finishing her memoir, Lost in Bentonia.

Connect with Sam at her website

Resources & Mentions

BONUS Content

I’ve put together a PDF of the transcripts in a  magazine style. It even includes a little creative assignment for you to keep the inspiration going and the creativity flowing.  Download the full transcript magazine here.

Transcript Excerpt

Jamie Ridler: Hey, there. It is Jamie Ridler and I am so excited to be here with you today. I am starting something new and I’m so excited about it and I hope you’re going to be excited about it too. For years, I have hosted the Creative Living with Jamie podcast and it has been a joy. I have interviewed some amazing people, including Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, Brené Brown, people that are lights on the creative path that really have inspired us all.

I’ve also always paid attention to artists at every stage of the journey, whether it was people starting their own creative business at home, people who are creative with their kids, people who are writing and publishing their own eBooks. Because one of the things I believe deeply is that we artists benefit so deeply from showing up for one another as artists, by engaging in creative conversation, by sharing strategies and tools. And so, I’m going to continue this process, but with a bit of a shift-a-roo. And that is I am making the show video and I am expanding its scope.

Now Creatively Living with Jamie is going to draw in other shows that I’ve done. The Creative Living Bookshelf, the Behind the Scenes, as well as these interviews and so much more are going to become segments of this show. I’m going to share it with you on video, and I’m going to share it with you as a podcast. Most importantly, I’m going to share it from my creative heart to yours.

This is new and there’s going to be a lot of growth involved, and that will mean crunchy bits and exciting bits and change and wonder and adventure, and that is what living a creative life is all about. So, I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Today I’m going to share with you my very first interview in this format with the marvelous Sam Tucker…

Sam Tucker: Well, hi everyone. I’m so excited to be here with Jamie. I’m Sam Tucker. I have landed on the descriptor that I am a storyteller, and right now that’s in words and images. And who knows? It’s an ever-evolving thing for me.

My creative life right now is completely (and has been for a couple of years) immersed in a book, and that book is a memoir. It’s illustrated and it’s also a storybook. It’s from a, a very special time in my life where I was wandering the country for a year, effectively just landing in a spot for 30 days, moving on and collecting people’s stories, moving through the grief of losing my wonderful husband and working remotely and exploring.
It was an outer exploration and an inner exploration. I think that’s why this current creative project is taking a while because it’s tender. You know, it’s a tender time. It’s my story. And it’s trying to honor the stories of the people I met on the road who I fell in love with. So that’s kind of what’s happening with me.

Jamie Ridler: I know that, too, this year you have been doing some adventuring and moving through the world. I wonder for you, what’s the relationship between– I’m going to come back and ask you more because I know everybody wants to hear about what it was like doing that. What do you think for you is the relationship between that sense of movement or that sense of place and your artistic self?

Sam Tucker: Beautiful question. I’m a Sag too.

Jamie Ridler: Me too.

Sam Tucker: We have that horse energy. You know, for years I was stuck behind a desk and felt a piece of myself kind of dying inside and that was doing non-creative work. Movement for me– I don’t know where it came from, Jamie, but I intuitively knew I had to leave Los Angeles after Freddie died. When I have things that need to move through me that are so deep that go to the core of my being, I need physical movement too. And I’m quite aware it’s not about running away from anything. I take myself where I go. I’m very, very self-aware. But there’s something about new expansion, pushing boundaries.

I knew if I stayed. I could, I could really pretend that everything was okay and I could keep going with the things that weren’t working for me, and I just didn’t know where this was going to lead me. So physical movement in a strange way, it does ground me by uprooting me. It’s an enigma.

Jamie Ridler: Yeah, I get it. And I can see it. I can see it in your body too. When you express yourself, it’s through that whole body movement. And that’s what they talk about when we’re talking about embodiment. It’s like you’re embodying your journey, your feelings, your truth. I wonder, I get that piece of both that it was expansive and I imagine challenging at the same time as it was nourishing

Sam Tucker: Every day.

Jamie Ridler: Yeah, tell us about that because I think a lot of people are like, “Wow, what would it be like to just get up and go for a year? To process my own experience for a year? To be in my own self for a year?” What was that like? Tell us.

Sam Tucker: I just read a chapter about one aspect that shocked me in here. You think it’s like freedom, you know? You think you’re a free spirit and you’re going off, like, I choose a city across the country and book an Airbnb for a month and immerse myself in it. But getting there, I wanted to control. I wanted to know where I was going. I wanted to know the end. And the whole purpose of this is to unfurl from that! (Thank you Meghan Genge for the word I use all the time!) And so that, that was at odds.

I don’t think I realized it until I was writing the book. It didn’t dawn on me that I was still trying to hang on to some semblance of who am I. What is my world? I purposefully ripped it all apart and started over in a totally new way, while holding the memories, the love, all of that with me. But I needed something new, absolutely.

Jamie Ridler: What do you think– I think that sense of control is a part of the way we manage that. We know that transformation is coming and there’s a part of us that wants to embrace it, but… Right?

What would you say to somebody who can feel they’re on that cusp of a whole body transformation, whole life transformation. What would you want to say to that person?

Sam Tucker: Oh, I’m so excited for you. Breathe. Please breathe. And truly know– I’ve been on this planet a few decades and I know at this point it’s all going to be okay. You know, we think the world is ending. We think that we can’t push one more boundary, open one more door to the unknown. We can and it’s beautiful and expansive. You will never have those experiences, that growth, those relationships, sometimes even that careers, you know, life-altering experiences, unless we keep moving. It doesn’t have to be big and grandiose. It can be one baby step at a time, but don’t give up. Don’t give up, just keep moving. If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me.

Download BONUS CONTENT complete transcript magazine here.