October: Beauty


I never realized how much I underestimated the soulful need for beauty.  Of course, I had clues that I needed it through the crazy amount of sunset and tree photos I have taken, the weekly trips to the woods, the imagery in some of my art… 

But these last two months I have had a daily existence of working outside in a beautiful landscape and it is having a significant impact on me.  

It is mostly internal.  A slowing of my inner pace.  A mindful presence. Stopping to find the bird that is chirping in the tree, feeling the breeze on my face, watching the change in light across the land...  

This has been translating in positive ways to my outer work.  With the slower pace and part of my days filled with organic farming, I simply cannot act on every idea I have.  I have had to increase my timelines. I have to be clear about priorities.  

The transition to this space was scary at first.  Fear of not doing enough. Fear of letting other people down.  Fear that my business will fail. Lots of fear.  

But I got beyond the fear to a delicious space of calm.  To a space of trust. To a space that all is working out as it should as evidenced by the perfection of the natural world around me.

What fears keep you too distracted to see the beauty around you?  How do you find ways to fill your soul with beauty?

September: Changing Landscapes

On August 4th, after three days of driving, I crossed the border into New Mexico and into a landscape I have never experienced before.  The bouldered mountains, the red earth contrasted by the green bushes everywhere, the expansive sky with a rain storm off to my right and the sun relentlessly shining on my left created such a visual feast.  I was literally brought to tears, absolutely in love with suddenly being in a whole new world.  

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The next month was full of me marveling at creatures and plants and landscapes that I have never seen.  Every morning I woke up and told the mountains how beautiful they are! (I have a hard time believing that one ever “gets used to” living by magnificent mountains...)  I watched in horrific amazement as a Tarantula Hawk dragged a Tarantula across the sidewalk. I lived and worked within a community of creative, generous, expansive, inclusive people who were also down-to-earth, silly and confronting their own challenges.  I easily fell into soulful friendships with people who came from all over the world, but somehow all loved to watch Friends which we did together on several occasions.

Every moment was precious and I arose every day with the intention of soaking it in.  Nothing was taken for granted. Everything was appreciated. Everything felt meaningful in a playful, curious way.  Joy was found in every task. Adventures were both planned and spontaneous. And somewhere in the midst of it, I felt my inner landscape change into a whole new world as well.  

I felt healed in ways I didn’t know needed healing.  I felt space and slowness. I felt a new kind of abundance and trust.  I looked at my path differently. I looked at my art differently. I looked at my business differently.  I looked at my relationships differently. Clarity became a constant friend - more of a flow than a momentary burst.  I sunk into myself in a whole new way, feeling more grounded than ever despite not having a permanent home.  

Before this, I have mostly relied on changing my inner landscape in order to see my outer world differently.  What a gift to experience on such a profound level that it also works the other way around. And what magic it is that we can choose to change either our inner or outer landscape at any point in order to create our lives into the masterpiece we envision.

August: Creating A Difference

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I think a lot about what it means to “change the world.” This idea that I could change the world was a theme from a young age reinforced by supportive people, the books I loved to read, the movies I loved to watch and the work environments I gravitated toward. I’ve been both inspired and overwhelmed, energized and completely burnt out on my journey of learning what it means for me to “be the change.” And now, with so much energy going into starting my own business, I am wondering about it in a whole other way with a whole new perspective.

Because of all of these experiences and phases of my life, I have come to really love that this question can be pondered and applied in as many ways as there are human beings on this planet. And I have found that most people are pondering it on one level or another. Some devote their careers, some devote their free time, some see ways to weave it into their daily life in ways big or small. I think it is a part of being human.

I am currently writing this from a little town in New Mexico where I am staying with a creative community who has a strong mission to be of service. You can feel it in how they receive you as a guest, their generous nature, warm smiles, nourishing food and meaningful activities. Upon arrival, I felt a belonging, an acceptance, a yearning to give as much service as I could in return.

As the same time, there is not a sense of exhaustion and no sign of a rat race. Their is a lot of joy in creating and being together and finding ways to bring that into the world. It is inspiring at this time in my life where I think about the balance, where I practice aligning with purpose on a daily basis, where I wonder how I might expand my gifts to reach a little further. And, then, I delightfully imagine what the world could be like if we all just expanded our gifts from a place of joy and togetherness.…

If you would like to investigate these exciting possibilities, I invite you to join us for Creating A Difference, a creative online retreat on August 24th from 10 am - 12 pm CT. It is an opportunity for each of us to contemplate how we can expand our impact in authentic and fun ways whether you are an activist, stay at home mom, corporate employee, entrepreneur, retired, student, etc. Hope to see you there!

July: Creative Courage

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I have always loved the quote, “Creativity takes courage,” by Henri Matisse. And, now (thanks to Dawn Ali) it even sits in a beautiful frame on my desk!

Creativity is an innate part of being human.  We are all Native Creatives. Even people who do not identify as “creative” leak it out in how they cook a meal, present a new idea, craft a new beer…

So why do so many hesitate to call themselves creative and why does creativity require such courage?

I was listening to Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and, in a part of her research, she asked people to tell a story of being shamed from their childhood.  Half of the participants shared a shame story around creativity!  

Someone told them they couldn’t draw, a teacher said they would never be a professional dancer, a family member ridiculed them for writing poetry, etc.  I have been told countless similar stories by people throughout the years and it broke my heart every time.

I view creativity as the natural expression of the soul.  And that expression is never meant to be judged or compared to another’s expression. Period.  If a person wants to play with a new process or learn a technique, awesome. But art-making isn’t just for artists.

I have taught art for many years and, for me, it was about recognizing each student’s expression.  And encouraging them to keep doing so in a joyful way as a means of seeing and understanding themselves and their world and sharing it with others.  When a child asks you if something they drew is good, the majority of the time it is not an invitation to tell them about their technique or how it compares to some famous artist. What they really mean is, “Do you see me?  Do you see what I felt in my heart and experienced in my imagination?”

This brings me to another reason why creativity takes courage.  You are sharing your heart. You are offering up your soul. You are putting forth, sometimes with shaking knees and trembling hands, an idea or product or creation that came from inside you.  And it is now in a space outside of you where others can judge it or reject it or ignore it or want to change it…

It can trigger so many of our fears, bring up insecurities and stimulate copious amounts of negative self-talk.  The judges on the outside just reflect the judges in our own head and make them louder.

For these reasons and more, it’s easy to see why many folks feel creatively blocked or think they just don’t have it to begin with.  Yet, in every one I have ever met, I have always seen the desire to create. It may be the quietest of whispers, but it is there as long as someone is breathing.  And in some of us, the urge is a raging river that we have to learn how to bravely ride. 

Why though? Why does creativity persist?

Because at our core, we are creators.  We are a part of creation. A creative process brought our very being into this world and that capacity lives on within us. It doesn’t just go away. Harnessing that power to literally manifest things for ourselves and others is deeply satisfying soul work. 

Whether you create art, a business, a child, a meal, it is a process of growth, of becoming more than you once were.  You are creating yourself as you create. You become more of your best self as you sift through unknowns, learn through failure and experience sweet moments of clarity.  Then, you get to stand back to view what you just made in amazement because it came from inside you - because it now exists when it once did not - because somehow, along the way, it fulfilled innate human yearnings to be seen, heard, understood and connected to something bigger.

Creativity is innate and it is a tool we all need to nurture for our self-development, professional development and change agent toolbox.  So, how do you become more empowered as a creator?

First of all, if you don’t identify as a creative, I invite you to start.  You become what you decide to be. It all starts with thinking and saying, “I am creative.”  We are all natives in the land of creativity.

Then, I encourage everyone to actually make a list of the ways you are creative.  Where did you put a bit of soul into something? When did you stir up something in your imagination?  How did you try something in a new way? You will be astounded to see all the ways this part of yourself is flowing out each day. 

Lastly, take a moment to dissect what that process is like for you.  What inspires you? What environment nurtures your process? How do you like to capture it? What do you need from other people? How do you best express it? All of that is a part of your unique expression and path of creation. Maybe you want to create something artistic. Maybe you want to create a new lifestyle. Maybe you want to create a new procedure that is more efficient.  No matter what it is, your creative process can unlock it for you.

If you need any help, I am always an email, message, or phone call away if you want support in achieving your creative dreams.  You can become a Patron on Patreon and for just $12 for the year, you will receive tools to empower as well.  

I hope you know see just how much that word “creative” encompasses and embrace this power inside of you for your highest purpose and the highest good of all.  I would love to know what this makes you think about in the comments below.

June: Discipline!

June 2019 Newsletter

I’m inspired by the exploration that the Studio Light Apprentices have been doing around the concept of Discipline this past month.  Coming from a teaching background, the word has some pretty negative connotations for me. The word “discipline” brings up concepts like punishment, negative consequences, obligations, feeling like I have to make myself do something unfun, etc.

Recently I watched a video in which Will Smith defines discipline as self-love because, he explains, you are doing things for yourself or not doing things for yourself in the short-term in order to achieve and become what you truly want in the long-term.  

I love how this definition changes discipline as something dictated by forces outside of us to something that we do for ourselves and in service of ourselves and of those people, causes, goals and dreams that we care about.

I have read articles where successful artists and writers credit much of their success to discipline.  They make sure they are in their seat to write or in their studio to make something at a certain time, usually in the early morning, and they work all day long, as if someone (themselves) was asking them to clock in and out.  Living as a creative person doesn’t just mean you have inspiration and, therefore, motivation all the time. It means regularly showing up for the process and cultivating a space for the magic to happen each day.

And sometimes we have slumps.  I had a few challenging weeks where I over-scheduled myself and didn’t leave enough chunks of creative time. This is very draining for me.  Ultimately, I was not disciplined in how I organized my time and I paid for it.

After questioning why I felt like I was in a funk, I did find the discipline to do some things that I know bring me back to an energized, creative space.  I hit the reset button instead of letting myself swirl farther down the drain. This reminds me of how one of Studio Light’s Apprentices, Egle, defines discipline as “coming back” which resonates with me especially after this experience.  It’s showing up again after you fall off your own discipline wagon. It’s knowing that failing is a part of the process. Each time you learn new lessons and can adjust your sails a bit.

A big theme throughout all my conversations with the Apprentices, was the need for help - both recognizing the need for help and being able to ask for it.  Many people can identify with a belief that we are less-than in some kind of way if we can’t commit to and follow through with the things we want to do all on our own.  This can even lead to a place of erroneously thinking that perhaps we didn’t really want it enough or deserve it enough.

All I know is that the more I practice asking for help from others in the things I want to be disciplined in, the more success I am finding.  Sometimes just sharing my goal is enough. Sometimes I need a check-in. Sometimes I want someone to do it with me. I’m learning to ask for what I need and I’m also learning to ask what they need because, chances are, they could use some support too!

Another one of Studio Light’s Apprentices, Amanda, is a mom, teacher and illustrator.  She mentioned that, for her, sometimes discipline means regularly taking time away from mothering and teaching to enjoy making something for herself.  That statement in-and-of-itself made me realize how I held a deeply rooted belief that disciplining yourself is making yourself do something you don’t want to do.

You mean discipline can be fun?!  A part of me knew this, but I have only just begun playing with the idea.  I mean just watch any kid who is excited to do something. They will spend HOURS learning about it, trying it out and talking about it.  I want to do things that are good for me AND I want to do it in an enjoyable way. It is so helpful within my larger practice of finding ways to be joyful in all I do which all adds up to a joyful life.

So let’s find more ways to have fun with the things we want to be disciplined in!  This brings up questions in my mind such as, “How do I make scheduling fun?” HA! Share your ideas on how to make discipline fun in the comments below and let’s inspire and support each other in the discipline it takes to make creative dreams come true.


Inspiring Stories Podcast: How can you be more financially savvy?


In this Inspiring Stories episode, Beth Burns gives you some straight-up helpful financial advice that you can implement immediately! We also dig into why being financially stable is particularly hard for women and have some good laughs along the way. Beth is incredibly passionate in her mission of financially empowering others as a financial wizard and a personal coach.

May: Busy-ness/Slooowness

May Newsletter Link

Today I want to talk about busyness/slowness.

Here is what has been happening lately in my life since I have decided to investigate the reason for my busyness on a deeper level. As I’m in business (busy-ness! Ha!) for myself, I want to set myself up for healthy growth and my work life dominates all else right now. As always, if I put something out there, the universe is only too happy to conspire!

It all started with a conversation with my coach (Adam Fleming – Woot!) about how I never take a day off. So I did something nuts and I took a weekend off! I witness how my thoughts returned to my work over and over again. By the time Monday came around, I was de-motivated by the to-do list I had built up all weekend long – ick!

I finally found my stride only to discover that my digital drawing stylus quit working and I had to order a new one. I also got really sunburnt (I was caught off guard by the hot sun in the same week I was scrapping snow off my car.) and it made me move so much slower and rest a bit more. Lastly, my internet was crawling a few days this week and so I tethered my phone which then used up my data plan and now my phone will be crawling for another week! 

Part of me wanted to the frustrated victim and maybe I would have succumbed to that had I not consciously decided to learn how to be slower. Instead I chose to open to what was being shown to me. I walked into the slower life that was being offered instead of trying to “fix” it immediately. I read a 400 page novel (my first read by Isabelle Allende and I must read more!), I continued my de-cluttering process which I am finding de-clutters my brain at the same time, I sat with my ideas longer and savored them and watched where they took me, I made clear lists of only three priorities for each day, I spent far less time on social media, I decided to trust that everything was happening as it should and relax more into my day. 

Lots got done and lots didn’t get done, but I was less stressed than if it all had gotten done.

As my sunburn fades (and peels), my drawing stylus arrives, and my phone data is renewed, I am exploring how to keep cultivating that slowness, how to keep choosing the slower life that keeps me in touch with my creative source from where all the inspired action can flow without force or fatigue.

I would love to hear about your explorations of slowing down in the comments below. If you feel inspired to do so, you can also join me in my next creative online retreat on May 25th called Slooow on the Draw. Click on the link to find out how to attend these two delicious hours of you-time.


Featured Podcast: Dystopian Steampunk Adventure!


Satchel Pong and the Great Migration by Adam Fleming is now available on Amazon!

Satchel Pong is a big-shot Meteorologist with a secret: A rising heat wave threatens to destroy Turan City. Listen as Adam and I discuss this dystopian steampunk adventure and all the unexpected places creativity can take us in episode 5 of the Inspiring Stories podcast.

Listen on Studio Light Illustration.

Listen on Libsyn.

New Podcast Episode: The Power of I Am


Episode 11: Interview with Dawn and Malik Ali is now up on our Inspiring Stories webpage and Libsyn page.

In this interview, we talk about their children’s book, I Am Whatever I Say I Am, which will be coming out later this month! Listen as we talk about the power of I Am, the practice of affirmations and the abundance that comes from leaps of faith.