On Being Creative {A Series}

Welcome to the homepage for the “On Being Creative” Series!

On Being Creative: A Series for the Hearts and Minds of Creatives Everywhere

 

This has been on my heart for awhile, because of what God’s been doing IN my heart. Writing for this series feels like I’m stretching some shaky, uncoordinated mental and emotional muscles with shaky, uncoordinated words to match.

 

But if you’re willing to walk a tremulous bridge of vulnerability, I welcome you into a deep and secret place where all my thoughts and desires regarding creativity live. May my pain meet yours where it’s at, may hope chase close behind, may my fumbling words say something good (may they say something period), and where you and I encounter my limits, may we see beyond them to the limitlessness of God, the first and greatest Creator.

 

You’ll find links to each post as they’re added. Come back any time! And please, I welcome your own contributions to the conversation. As we’ll see, stories build stronger bridges between us, and yours is no exception.

 

Day 1: Creativity: Practicality + Purpose + Place

Day 2: The Impossible Ache of the Creative Soul

Day 3: The One Word That Kills Creativity

Day 4: Five Tips to Cultivate Creativity

Day 5: Why Believing in Yourself Doesn’t Work {For the Creative Who Can’t Right Now}

Day 6: A Creative’s Playlist

Day 7: Minstrels and Bards {That’s What We Are}

How I Happy: May 2016 Edition

How I Happy is making it’s second official appearance today! To visit the first and most epic introductory post, click here.

So, here’s how I’m happying this month.

 

  1. This Blue Willow tea cup and saucer. tea cupWe actually use my grandma’s set of Blue Willow dishes in general, but this little friend was purchased on our honeymoon at a little antique shop in South Haven, Michigan. Lately, I’ve just been digging drinking some afternoon tea out of it with little cookies on the plate. British style (ish). It motivates me to drink tea instead of coffee, because when I’m not pregnant I’m at a steady 3 cups a day… So, herbal tea it is. (I really like the raspberry zinger kind.)

2. THIS T-SHIRT TANK. YOU GUYS. 

How I Happy (aka this awesome maternity t-shirt)I have never been so enamored with a t-shirt in my life. Ryan and I saw this one by Wicked Clothes while he was looking at various funny maternity shirts online, and I was like, “That is AWESOME AND SO TRUE.” Because literally that’s all I want from him…or anyone.

But seriously THIS tshirtBut seriously.

Even if part of the statement is thoroughly untrue. (And before you think of trying to tell me I’m a petite pregnant beauty and other lies, let me just say that there ARE times when I truly am not pretty right now, people. It’s cool, just tell me I’m pretty anyway.) 

We first came across the shirt a couple of months ago I think, and even though I loved it (let’s be real- Ryan loved it too), we were like, there’s no way we’re paying whatever this shirt costs (if a t-shirt is more than $10 I’m not buying it). Well, blame internet cookies for continually featuring links to this t-shirt on Facebook or just the fact my husband is awesome and loves to make his pregmonster wife happy, but a little over a week ago, he told me he broke down and ordered it for me. #husbandforthewin

I was so happy, I literally talked about it every day waiting for the shirt to get here. FINALLY it arrived on Tuesday!!! I basically threw a party in this t-shirt’s honor in my head. And I think I texted a picture of myself wearing it to like, 3 different people.

If you need this t-shirt in your life, click here(They also have one with a sad bear that says, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” That one was a close second to this one. But definitely second.)

3. These Pioneer Woman mugs.

Pioneer Woman Mugs

Let me just tell you, I am in LOVE with the Pioneer Woman line of dishes at Walmart– that’s right- there is something cute at the Walmarts and it is those dishes. However, as previously mentioned, I already have dishes. But coffee mugs are my happy place…as well as tea cups. So basically, any type of ceramic or glass vessel intended for hot-beverage-drinking. These delightful mugs carry on the floral theme from last month’s post. 

I am a firm believer in the power of an aesthetically pleasing coffee mug. It takes the whole experience of drinking a cup of coffee to a whole new level of delightful.

4. Beethoven. Yup. Just Beethoven in general. I recently made a playlist on Spotify called “Because Beethoven.” And it’s awesome. It’s great for working as well as background music for when my toddler is awake and we’re playing and/or I’m doing housework etc. In my professional undergrad-Fine-Arts-with-a-Music-Emphasis opinion, that guy was like, a super good musician. (I opine so articulately… Wanna know what I think of Dickens? I think he writes words good.) Click here to listen to it yourself!

5. Essential Oils. Guys. I know. I’m super late to this trend train. But my amazing mother-in-law recently gave me several oils, and I’m officially loving them! So far, she’s gifted me with a lovely handful of different kinds from Doterra, as well as some fabulous cleaner made from the OnGuard oil that you dilute with water in a spray bottle and it smells like cloves and citrus and wonderfulness when you clean with it! Here’s what the OnGuard stuff looks like:

On-Guard-Family-of-Products

Also, my favorite one to wear is the citrus bliss oil! It’s summery and citrusy (as the name suggests) and basically makes me smell like I peeled a bunch of oranges and lemons.

6. This post on marriage by Alia at gracetable.org. Girlfriend knows how to write about marriage- here she talks about the “hospitality” of marriage. It is so good and you need to read it like yesterday.

7. This post about how dumb it is to have mom guilt over feeding your kids cheeseburgers. Seriously- punch your mom guilt in the face, friends!

8. Evangeline Grace- because another girl, people! We found out a couple weeks ago that we’re having a girl, and I shared the following announcement on Facebook (because gender reveal parties are so first-child…although we didn’t do a gender reveal party for Lucy either. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Or at least, we don’t.) 

Another Princess 2 CONTRAST

Another Princess 3Another Princess FILTEREvangeline means “messenger of good news.” (Pronounced [eh-van-jel-een]) I love that. And I love that her middle name, Grace, IS the good news. This is as powerful a name as I could give her, and I’m praying it will be something she clings to. Btw, we’ll call her “Evie” (pronounced ee-vee, which maybe you were wondering). 

She’s already having a great time kicking me in the bladder.

Your turn: How are YOU happying this month?

Artist of the Month: Heather Hernandez

I am so honored to introduce May’s Artist of the Month with you! Heather Hernandez is a wife and mother of two, writing about embracing divine joy in every season. We met recently over the interwebs, via our mutual membership in an excellent website called Hope*Writers.

Encouragement flows naturally out of Heather and subsequently her writing, because it is innately part of her. She writes over at rejoicinginlife.com where you can find more encouragement as a mom, creative, and/or human being. Heather was recently featured at (in)courage as well, which is a website devoted to creating a new home for the hearts of women to connect and thrive with God and each other.

You’ll also find some excellent FREE resources when you subscribe to Heather’s blog that will help you embrace the season you are in through faith, organization, and really good questions to ask yourself.

Today, she generously shares how to live a creative and artful life well from a place of purpose and peace.

heather and juan_0018

 

“God wrote, ‘I love you’— he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea.  He wrote his message everywhere!  Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror — to show us what he is like, to help us to know him, to make our hearts sing.”  Sally Lloyd Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible

I was reading this to my son yesterday and it stuck with me.

Because all of creation, all of the beauty God lavishly painted across the sea, the earth, the sky, and the stars, all of his ART…it all points us back to him.  It whispers to us deep in our souls and spirits about who he is.

He poured out his creativity into his creation.  Into us.

And I believe that all of us have that spark.  That divine well of creativity that when we are soaking in His words, His song, His beauty, His creation, enables us to live creative, beautiful, artful lives wherever we are at, in so many different ways.

It’s been almost seventeen years since my father died and it wasn’t until last month when I wrote about him living his life well, that I realized part of why I thought he lived it well was because he was making art with his life.

I think that looks like being present, blooming where you are planted, using limitations for inspiration, doing the things that make you more fully yourself and using the gifts our Creator bestowed upon you.

For my father, that looked like, transforming our little backyard into his own mini farm, woodworking, leather working, hiking, camping, fishing, taking classes in Western history, and writing a book by hand during his lunch breaks and cracks of time.  It also looked like playing, and chasing, and wrestling with my brother and I.

He didn’t have acres of land to farm or the money to buy one.  He didn’t have the ability to quit his “regular” job and write for a living.  But he didn’t let the limitations stop him from using his gifts and pursuing the things he loved.  He lived and loved and died well.  And his life pointed everyone back to the Creator.

I inherited my love of writing from him.  There have been a lot of stops and starts and redirections along the way, but I’m finally feeling like I have a purpose in it all.  That I have something to write about.

But this season for me is one of pregnancies and raising babies and making a home.  And so it looks like finding my cracks of time to write and create and dream.  And remembering to be present with my children and my husband.  To see the limitations as ways to decide what is important and refine my focus.

I think there is this idea that bigger is better.  That we have to be on the NY Times Bestseller list, or reach hundreds of thousands with our words.  That we need to be selling albums, or be a nationally recognized name, or grow our businesses bigger and bigger.

But I think when we measure value by the number of sales, page views, and likes, we are missing the mark.

It is so easy to compare my life, my purpose, my gifts to other people.  Especially the well known ones who do have the big numbers, likes, and followers.  But we are all unique and we are in different places and seasons and God’s purposes for our lives are as vast and varied as His creation.

And the person who is faithful where they are planted, who blooms there as they cultivate and care for their patch of ground, their little family, their little community.  They are doing just as valuable work as the person who is speaking to the masses.

It’s not about the quantity of what we have to offer, or even the number of people we touch.  It’s about offering up our gifts to God and listening to what He is calling US to do and being faithful in that.

In the interest of my love for lists, here are some things I think we can do to be purposeful about living more creative and artful lives.

1. Be Present.  

It’s so easy to drift through life always thinking about the next thing on the To Do list (Ahem, Me!) Try to stop and slow down and be present in what you are doing.  Really take in your surroundings when you’re going for a walk.  Give your children some focused attention and listen to what they are saying.  Dance in the kitchen.  Sing with the kids.  Savor your cup of coffee.  Use your five senses.

2.  Where Are You Planted?  

Take stock of your season and your responsibilities.  What are your limitations right now?  They can change sometimes without us really noticing.  Be realistic about what you have time for.

3.  Use Your Limitations for Inspiration.

Take the parameters of those limitations and think about what you can do within them.  Prioritize what is important to you and your family and refine your focus and purpose for this particular season.

4.  Use Your Gifts.  

What do you love?  What skills and abilities did the Lord give you?  What makes you feel alive and energized?  Write them down and think about ways you can use them in your life.  You may not have room for all of them at once.  Come up with what you can do right now in this season and pick some to add in.  Depending on how much time and energy you have in your season, it may look as simple as writing while the kids are napping, or inviting another mom over for coffee once a week or sketching after the kids are in bed, or playing the piano for your children.

5. How Can You Help and/or Enrich Other’s Lives?  

This goes hand in hand with using your gifts.  Once you decide what you love and which things to make time for, then think about how you can use them to help others or enrich others lives.  Can you make dinners for new mothers? (They SUPER appreciate this, I guarantee!)  Maybe start writing encouraging notes to people, or help in the nursery at church, or do something to raise money for charity.  Ask the Lord to show you opportunities that are a good fit for your season.

6.  Keep Your Well Filled.  

This should perhaps be #1 as well.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness, in the cares of this world and stop dwelling on God and my well dries up, and I feel like I don’t have anything to pour back out.  Anything to fuel that kind of art.

I think that’s why it’s so important to dwell on the true, the noble, the just, the pure, the lovely, the admirable, the excellent, and the praiseworthy.  (Phillippians 4:8)

To seek out the things of beauty.  To fill ourselves up so we have something to give, to create.

To reflect the glory of God.

So remember, you are special and unique and don’t have to be anyone except who God created you to be.  You can live artfully no matter what season you are in and what your particular gifts and talents are.  And everything you have to offer is valuable and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone.

And all of this beauty?  All of creation?

It is his message of “I love you”.

Songs That Grief Sings {For You, Broken Hearts}

This week, two different families I know suffered loss of a loved one. The contexts differed greatly, but heartbreak does not discriminate. I know both families live- for now- in a moment heavy with grief.

As a nervous talker, I feel acutely wary when it comes to opening my mouth around those who are grieving. Especially if I’m not. Or even if I am. Basically, opening my mouth usually seems like a bad idea, and when I do it, I typically only allow a few phrases to come out of it in those situations. Mostly just an earnest “I love you” and a hug.

I love Christa Wells’ song “Come Close Now,” which articulates much better than I can this posture of awkwardness mixed with love when it comes to approaching someone else’s pain.

I love what she says on the bridge:

Lay down our plans / Lay down the sure-fire fix / Grief’s gonna stay awhile / There is no cure for this / We watch for return / We speak what we’ve heard / We sit together, in the burn

A friend also shared with me this incredible song by Jason Gray called “Not Right Now.”

Out of my own place of prayer and pain on behalf of these friends, I wrote my own song. Here is the rough video I took of it:

 

I believe a song of grief is worthy as any we offer in worship, and I believe God is big enough to handle it. He is well-acquainted with suffering. If you’re grieving, I hope these few songs can come sit beside you in your grief for a few minutes, offer themselves as companions while they last, and then be comfortable with the silence when it comes again.

 

Little Big Girl Bedroom!

On Saturday, we moved Lucy into her toddler bed. {Moment of silence and/or me crying and scrolling through all the baby pictures I’ve ever posted to Instagram.}

I don’t know what possessed me to agree to it. Maybe it was the super cute comforter I’d bought, or the super cute canvases, or maybe it was the two adorable pillows we found at IKEA on Saturday… Maybe it was just walking around IKEA on Saturday.

I’m pretty sure IKEA is at least partially to blame. Because when we got to the toddler bed section, for the first time ever, Lucy was climbing onto every little bed and declaring it hers. {Also, they had the pillows I mentioned which, as you will see, go PERFECTLY with the other decor I’d acquired.}

All I know is, somehow I found myself agreeing to let Ryan convert her crib into its toddler bed form and 30 minutes later it was done.

I was in shock, though this did not prevent me from immediately getting out all the aforementioned pretties and arranging them.

Aside from my handful of tearful moments over the whole scenario of my-baby’s-not-in-a-crib-anymore, I had SO much fun planning updates for her Big Girl Bed + accouterments! And you don’t have to break the bank to accomplish an updated room- yay! Pinterest told the truth about that after all…

Wanna see? I’m going to assume you said yes, since you’re still reading this.

Here are two before pictures:

Lucy Room Before 1Lucy Room Before 2

They’re clearly not great quality pictures. But they were quickly taken for the purpose of sharing with family and friends. Clearly, this is before we had a baby shower and received the 8 million toys, humidifiers, shoes, and other baby whatnot that now begs a place in her room…

Ok, now to the after… Brace yourselves. {I know it’s just me bracing myself, because it’s my baby who isn’t a baby anymore. Y’all are totally comfortable with the emotional uprooting this change means for me. It’s ok. I forgive you.}IMG_6259

Looks pretty comfy, right? It is. Ok but let me back up. It gets better.

Big Girl Bed and decor

The bedding came as a twin sized pillow case + comforter from Target because of course it did. I’d spent all this time having fun pinning all manner of Land of Nod bedding options- which are absolutely beautiful and precious! However, they are also a million dollars- for like, the fitted sheet that goes WITH the bedding set you want.

So, a jaunt through Target led me to this set, which I think is downright cheerful, don’t you? And the website says the twin set is 29.99 which is great! But I actually got mine a little cheaper than that because it was randomly on sale in the store- aka I did a really cool happy dance in the bedding aisle when I went to buy it. {Plus, it’s not full of garish characters that assault the eyes like all the toddler bedding sets out there.}

And are those canvas prints not the cutest??? They’re from that store called At Home, which I mentioned last week. Here are closeups of them:

Sun CanvasCloud Canvas

Maybe it would help to explain that my husband sings “You are My Sunshine” to Lucy every night before she goes to bed, like his dad used to sing to him. {If you’re wondering, yes it’s the sweetest thing ever.}

Thus the pillows… Speaking of which.

Big Girl bed Pillows

Don’t they just look friendly? This is what I’m talking about. They were such cheap little pillows that won me over with their adorableness at IKEA and their perfect-matchyness-with-the-canvases. {I think IKEA and At Home called each other and planned the whole thing.} You can find the sun here and the cloud here.

{Side note: If you’ve never had a toddler, apparently there is a whole toddler-pillow transition thing that happens, where they can asphyxiate if a pillow is too soft or something. As if we hormonal moms need more things to freak out about… And then I freaked out because the internet unhelpfully showed me all these really expensive ridiculous things claiming to be high tech toddler pillows and I’m like what the what?! But once I calmed down from my freak out, I decided Lu doesn’t need a pillow right now at all. Why would she? She’s never slept on one before.

So, once she’s comfortable with the bed, maybe I’ll introduce this flat little accent pillow I have, but for now, no pillow = me not constantly checking the baby monitor in a panic and Lucy not caring either way. See? YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO WHAT THE INTERNET SAYS. Do whatever works for you and your hormones and your little one. And as a benefit, the big pillow you’re seeing in the pictures can just go on the floor beside her bed at night and catch her if she falls off. The cloud and sun pillows can do that too! Yay pillows having other uses… Ok. Side note over.}

Big Girl Room Dresser

So, backing up again, this shows you that I didn’t redo her whole room. I really just switched up the bedding and the art above the bed. Let’s look at the other side of the room:

Big Girl Room Angle

So, the other side is in transition. I wasn’t sure where to put the little stuffed-animal-filled crib, but with moving the baby monitor from that corner to the other side of the room, we were able to fit it back there instead. This means that part of the room feels less congested and awkward than before- yay progress! But there’re still some oddities I’m working out- like where to put that little black, cube-shaped ottoman. I’m not sure what’s happening with it, but it houses some toys nicely, so there it sits.

I am really excited about the exceedingly simple yet intentional story corner I created using an old husband pillow and two blankets- one for the floor and one to cover the husband pillow to make it look girlier. Again, this is not a reading nook that you’d find on Pinterest, but Lucy loves it and likes me to sit with her and read books. So I’d say that is a win!

Story Corner

Lumpy but comfy. The Nester says “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” It doesn’t have to be perfect to be functional either. No, the blankets don’t coordinate with the bedding etc. But my toddler is overjoyed to get out her books and read them to her ponies. So, it’s perfect for now.

I wasn’t sure what Lucy would think of her new big girl bed situation. But check this out- this picture is from the first moment she climbed onto the bed after we assembled it.

First Time on Big Girl Bed

Look at her sweet face!! She LOVES it! I was/am simultaneously thrilled and bummed she liked it so much. Because now I can’t pretend like putting the crib back together is even an option… She’s officially a Little Big Girl. {Insert all the hysterical crying emojis here.}

If you have any additional recommendations on cute ways to organize and/or decorate toddler rooms I’m all ears! And/or if you’ve done up your own super cute little big one’s bedroom recently, do share about it in the comments.

Meanwhile, if you’re also emotional about your baby growing up, let’s you and me go grab some coffee… I’ll get the half n half. And the Kleenex.

How I Happy

Welcome to “How I Happy.”

One of the purposes behind this blog is to be fun. FUN. A most noble and worthy purpose yes? I think so. I love this childlike element of humanity that we retain our whole lives. We need fun, you know?

Fun often gets a bad name. Much like leisure and enjoyment. Do those things have a dark side? Sure. Do most things have a dark side? Yes. I mean, the Force has a dark side, and yet everybody still thinks it’s awesome, amirite???

Anywho, this monthly post will be here to put on a show of pointing out the fabulous, the beautiful, mysterious, fascinating, goofy, entertaining, delightful- in short, the FUN things.

This first one? It features all the flowers. To be specific, it features all the flowers I’m loving in my life right now. And none of them are biological flowers, therefore I can’t kill them, therefore they are my favourites with a “u”! {British style.}

I think the apostle Paul would’ve been all about this, if slightly less girly in his list of happy things. I mean, he listed some pretty great ideas about what qualifies as worthy of our thoughts which you can read here. So, here’s to celebrating the lovely, the true, noble, good- and the fun.

As I was saying, I’m just delighting in all the floral things lately.

1. This gorgeous mint green + floral maternity dress from Pink Blush.

FullSizeRender

Here is a picture of a tall, blonde person wearing this dress {who has amazing hair that maybe I’ll have when I grow up…} I am so excited, because this dress is now in my possession, as a birthday gift from my mom!! {Thanks, Mom!!!}

pink blush dress

I’ll be wearing it to a wedding this month… Yay weddings! You can find this dress on Pink Blush’s website by clicking the picture.

2. This homemade chai tea latte recipe!!! I found it on Pinterest, and it was not only thoroughly delicious, but it was fun to make. If you know me, you know making/baking/cooking food tends to bum me out, so this is saying something. Click the pic to go to the recipe!!!

chai

My pictures are significantly less pretty, so I borrowed this one from the gal’s blog who made it. She jokes about spilling the milk, but I still think the picture is lovely.

IMG_6105

See what I mean? Although, I did put the concentrate in a mason jar, which is fancy and pretty. And I did drink it out of my favorite plastic Starbucks cup {favorite for cold drinks… for hot drinks I have like, 7 favorites}. Just my personal preference, but I’d add a splash of half n half and a smidgen of sweetener or sugar once you’ve fixed up your drink. Ok. Moving on…

3. This journal. Be still my heart!!! Don’t you feel like there is something so delicious about a new journal? It’s just full of possibility. Of course, I usually no longer buy super expensive leather journals at Barnes & Noble, but on a visit there a week or so prior to my birthday, I saw this one, and it just called to me…

IMG_6077

…and it was $10. #allIdoiswin

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And here’s a picture that makes me doubly happy because it also features the chai latte I made… which is a type of drinkable happiness.

4. Pie. Mainly, key lime pie. That’s a pregnancy craving I’ve had for the last week…and a half…ish. And they sell these two individually packaged slices in a box, you guys. So, you don’t have to buy a whole pie! {Although, why wouldn’t you want to?}

IMG_6147

This is the brand. {It’s a link to Target’s website, yet another reason why Target should sponsor me… although let’s be real that groceries are cheaper at Kroger or Walmart etc.} 

5. This travel coffee cup I got awhile back for like, $6 at this fabulous store called At Home, which is essentially what would happen if you added explosives to Home Goods and then put it all in a giant warehouse where you could wander happily for years amongst the accent pillows and such.

IMG_6018

6. This picture of my daughter.

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I know there’s a ton of laundry in the background, but LOOK AT HER SWEET FACE AND TOOTHY GRIN. I mean. Can’t even handle it…

7. Paxton Ingram’s performance of “Break Every Chain” from last week’s episode of The Voice.

8. This post by Hannah. She’s such a hilarious and clever writer! And she’s pregnant right now, so I probably like this post extra because I’m pregnant too. {She’s also a fabulous photographer, so all her pictures are lovely!}

So, what’s making you happy right now? What’s bringing you joy? Are you finding beauty or goodness somewhere specific right now? You don’t have to share it, but maybe take some time to savor those things today.