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Posts tagged ‘creative practice’

Free Inspiration Download: Postcards from the Monday Post

Postcards from the Monday Post

Each week’s Monday Post image and quote are intended to inspire and connect you to your creative path. To further serve that purpose, I’ve created a PDF of 85 favorite Monday Post images and quotes, gathered for your easy perusal. Whether you’d like to start your creative practice with a new quote each day, or you’d like to keep the PDF on hand in case you feel creatively blocked, this PDF belongs in your creative toolkit.

If there are any images that you’d prefer to have in jpeg format to use as a desktop background, screensaver, or whatever else, feel free to visit the Monday Post album at the Studio Mothers Facebook page, where you can browse and download anything you like.

I was hoping to be able to offer the file without making you provide an e-mail address — as I’m personally annoyed by freebies that require personal info — but at 19MB, the file far exceeds the WordPress size limit. The download is available via e-junkie, for which you do need to enter a name and an e-mail address — but I assure you that I’m not collecting this info and won’t be adding you to any mailing list (or sharing your address with anyone else) unless you check the subscription box.

Click here to access the free download.


Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ July 14, 2014

Louisa May Alcott quote

Last week at this time I was traveling from Massachusetts to Washington State — along with my family, three cats, and large dog — and as the days leading up to our relo were too full for me to make time for the blog, we missed last week’s Monday Post altogether. Apologies if you came looking for it! In the coming weeks, I’ll be giving Studio Mothers some much-needed attention.

So, the Monday Post. A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!


If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

Annette: Creative Practice is Fertilizer for Your Soul

Editor’s Note: I’m delighted to introduce you to Annette Varoli, a smart and talented creative mother who I connected with during Jennifer Lee’s Right-Brain Business Plan course last year. Annette is the real deal. When Annette recently told me that she had firmly committed to a daily creative practice — and that her practice was life-changing — I asked her to share her journey with Studio Mothers readers. Enjoy.

Annette Varoli: I am the proud momma of 6-year old girl, I’ve been married 11 years to a guy who is a modern day “MacGyver” and I’m in love with my cat, Coco. I’ve lived half my life in New York and recently returned to my birth state of Maryland but I love traveling, having been to over 100 cities in 20 countries. I am the artist of my life. My mission is to live my life in FULL color and inspire others to do the same. This has taken the form of architect, project manager, and holistic health coach to name a few. Currently, I’m a budding entrepreneur, exploring the next best fit for my creative expression. Three themes that have run through the course of my lifetime: making heart-to-heart connections, the creative arts, and abundance. This is what inspired my new blog. Check it out!

Fertilizer for Your Soul

Recently, my six-year-old has been asking me to keep her company in the bathroom, specifically for “number 2’s” — and not just for the wiping part.

Although I don’t particularly enjoy the aroma, I know that this is the time of day where she either imparts deep wisdom or where she philosophizes about life, so I go willingly. I sit on the floor of the bathroom ready to listen to what my little Buddha will teach me each time.

Yesterday, she did not disappoint. She assumed her position on the throne and within a few seconds, she says in a voice that sounds like when you rave about your favorite dessert, “Mommy, why does pooping feel soooo good? It just feels sooooo good. Why is that?” Her angelic face alternating between an inquisitive look and a squinching one, whenever she unloads her bowels.

She’s dead serious so I do my best to contain myself and say, “Well, sweetie, it’s because it’s a great release and a way for your body to get rid of the icky stuff… imagine if you couldn’t poop, then all of it would get STUCK inside you.”

That’s when it dawned on me that doing daily creative practice is like having healthy bowel movements… it just feels soooo good. It helps you get unstuck and feeling like yourself again. Like taking all the crap in your life and turning it into fertilizer for your soul!

I know this for a fact because over the past 15 weeks, I’ve been doing a daily creative practice and it has been life changing. Although most people know me to be a creative person, it feels like it took me a hundred years to arrive at this particular place in my life. One where I finally understand how essential regular creative practice is to my life, my success and personal happiness. But how did I get here one might ask? Allow me to share a bit of my creative journey.

Creativity Controlled

As a toddler, I got spanked for drawing on walls and climbing up on the bench so that I could play the keyboard (not before they took a photo for posterity like the one at right). My parents wanted clean walls and feared for my safety if I sat on the bench unsupervised. They meant well but that marked the beginning of my creativity being controlled.

Later in my early education, elective classes and extracurricular activities fed my creativity. I loved anything music and arts related.

However, I didn’t realize at the time that my creative pursuits were being filtered through my young, naive, brain. The one that bought into the idea that these activities were called extra or elective because they were outside of the normal curriculum, optional… in other words, “not really important.”

At the same time I was an academic, excelling in my normal subjects. Unfortunately, my achievement in what society deemed “serious subjects” led me to pick a major using only my head and not my heart. It was a decision based on this equation, “I’m good at math, science and art. What does that equal? ARCHITECTURE.”

With that decision, I entered my first semester in architectural school and quickly learned that they frowned on extracurricular activities, wanting the students to focus solely on architecture. Thinking I was taking a vow for creativity, I willingly followed the rules, not realizing that I was trading in my 18-year-old creative self for a creatively stifled 50-year-old.

My inner child decided to leave the building, while the school’s climate and a few misguided professors helped grow my inner critic.

Everything became very serious, very quickly. Ironically, all the creative passion that I threw into my portfolio which in fact, got me accepted into the college would be exactly what the school intentionally wanted to strip away. My passion for mixed media, vivid colors and freehand drawing was replaced with ink line drawings and white box models. Color was forbidden.

Once, I was getting a desk critique from a visiting professor, whose teaching style was unlike the majority at my school. He looked at my sketches and looked at me and then said, “You’re a young woman, why don’t you draw like one? Be more young and free in your drawings.”

The school had successfully controlled my creativity. I made drawings that finally fit the mold and yet I didn’t recognize myself in any of my drawings and neither had the visiting critic. I had failed at being myself but my true creative spirit didn’t leave me. She just ended up biding her time in once again “elective” classes, taking every type of dance class offered.

I’ll admit that architecture school allows more individual creativity in the latter part of your education, but by then for me, it felt too late. One of the only places that my authentic self overlapped in the architectural world was when a few students and I formed our own acapella group and sang at architecture events.

My education culminated in me on stage at the graduation ceremony singing “Blackbird.” I had partied a little too much the night before drowning my sorrows in disbelief that my education didn’t feel more fulfilling. The next morning, I actually woke up without my voice and barely squawked out, “Blackbird singing in the dead of night… take these broken wings and learn to fly… You were only waiting for this moment to be free.”

I don’t think the universe could have sent me a clearer sign that my creativity was stifled. Read more

Writers: How Far Can You Get on Just 250 Words?

I’ve interviewed creative women with young children at home who are desperately unhappy because they can’t get their creative work done with any kind of regularity, or even at all. Probing more deeply, I often learn that so-and-so writer mother can’t consider working on her novel if she doesn’t have four hours to herself. When I suggest trying to be more flexible with work opportunities, she resists. So then the question becomes, gently: “Do you want to get your novel written on your own terms, or do you want to get your novel written?”

It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. Eventually, she will again be able to enjoy four-hour stretches of solitude for writing. But if that’s not feasible right now, and the creative work is how she makes meaning, it’s more important to loosen up on those ideals and develop skills that enable more spontaneous and flexible creativity.

It’s not terribly hard to write 250 words a day. With the exception of mothers with newborns, most of us can pull off 250 words without making a major time commitment or feeling like we’re neglecting our family. The four paragraphs you’re reading right now total exactly 250 words. If you wrote 250 words a day, you would have a full-length novel written in just over a year. Does that sound like a long time? It’s not. And if you don’t write those 250 words a day, the year will pass anyway, novel or no novel. Word by word!

This piece was reprinted from the last issue of the Creative Times, our monthly newsletter. Click here to subscribe!

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