Without a doubt, my all time favorite movie has to be Santa Sangre, a surrealist horror. This description from Rotten Tomatoes sums it up perfectly "Those unfamiliar with Alejandro Jodorowsky's style may find it overwhelming, but Santa Sangre is a provocative psychedelic journey featuring the director's signature touches of violence, vulgarity, and an oddly personal moral center."
I love this movie, but I don't know very much about the director so I looked up Alejandro Jodorowsky and was surprised/saddened to see that he only made 2 other movies and a failed attempt to make a movie of Dune - which would have been amazing. He also writes sci-fi comic books. Perhaps most interestingly, "he has also written books and regularly lectures on his own spiritual system, which he calls "psychomagic" and "psychoshamanism" and which borrows from his interests in alchemy, the tarot, Zen Buddhism and shamanism." Cool.
Oh, this book! I remember the first time I read Cloud Atlas, I was completely blown away. I was like "What...you can do that?" It's a fascinating series of nested and interralated stories that spans generations, beginning in 1850 and the central story is set in post-apocalyptic Hawaii. I'm reading it for the second time right now and loving it all over again. I'm getting near the end and I find myself slowing down, so it won't too soon.
This band, fell off my radar until recently when I wrote blog post about a long lost project that I'm resurrection. I saw Acid Mothers Temple play a couple of times back in San Francisco. They're amazing live! I guess I'd describe their music as psychedelic Japanese noise rock? Anyways, it's great and when I looked them up for my blog post, I made the happy discovery that they'll be playing in Bellingham May 9th at The Shakedown. I'm there!
Hey there friends, I wanted to share a recap of some of the awesome resources that I've discovered recently. Enjoy!
Don't miss this interview with writing coach Kate K. McCarthy. We talk about callings, creative process and what to do when you hit a wall. Kate also shares some great advice for non-writers who want to find their voice. A couple of weeks ago I stated Janelle Hardy's memoir class: Personal Mythmaking. The writing prompts are fantastic and the words are flowing effortlessly. Janelle offers all kinds of workshops about creative process and getting unstuck.
I've been thinking a lot about systems for work and life lately. The book Work Clean is about using the The French culinary concept "mise en place" which means "putting in place" and applying it to work outside of the kitchen. I finally started using Asana, a free online project management program. This post by Leo Babauta of zen habits does a great job of outlining how systems can bring simplicity and ease into the everyday.
Sarah Von Bargen from the lifestyle blog Yes and Yes offers free mini website reviews. I sent her my url and she responded right away with 3 super easy, actionable things I could do right away to improve my online presence. Another awesome freebie is Caitlin L. Horton's Free 30 Day Focused Brand Challenge.
What resources have you discovered that have made your life easier? Please share in the comments!
The inspiration for this collection of prints comes from the sinuous forms of the Art Nouveau movement and the subtle, sophisticated patterns in traditional Japanese textiles. A connecting thread between these two seemingly very different design movements is the use of highly stylized paisleys, which I've happily incorporated into this collection. The dream home in which I imagine this decor being used is a modest, Mid-Century Modern home with a beautiful Japanese style pocket garden. The color scheme includes muted shades of pink, lavender, yellow, orange and green.
The items available include: bedding, pillows, wall art, tote bags, mugs and more. To see the whole collection, please visit my Society6 shop:)
It's hard to believe, but I began this project 15 years ago. What the heck is it? Well, that's changed a bit over the past decade and a half. When I started working on this I was in 24, renting a room in a house full on strangers, recovering from a bad breakup, working a crappy job, trying to figure out if/how to go back to college. I would come home from work head straight to my room and start working on projects. Nothing in particular. One day, I took out my old journals. Seven years worth! I started reading them and I remember wishing we would shed our thoughts every seven years, the same way we do with our cells. This project is sort of a physical representation of that idea.
I started by ripping all the pages out of all of the journals. Every few pages I would paint with a wash of color. After everything dried, I cut the pages into diamond shapes and glued them onto sheets of clear plastic. That summer, the family I was staying with went on vacation and while they were gone I took over the garage. I laid out my sheets of collage on the floor and coated them with mold-making rubber. As they dried, I hung them up on the walls to make room on the floor. It was quite a scene! The two car garage covered from floor to ceiling with this weird, slimy, scaly skin. I love to work this way; diving into a process and surrendering control of the outcome. The neighbors hated it though! The chemicals were stinky and Acid Mothers Temple was playing at a ridiculous volume.
After everything dried (mostly!) I packed it away, not sure what exactly to do with it all. I had hundreds of feet of this stuff, it was a bit overwhelming. My vision at the time for this piece was to turn these panels into a loooooooong dress, filled with little sparkly lights hanging in the atrium of some beautiful building. Not an easy feat to pull off and needless to say, that didn't happen.
Over the next many years, life happened! I fell in love, moved out to "The Compound" with my sweetie, I finished my degree and got married. My husband and I packed up and moved from San Francisco to Washington and spent a few years as 'industrial nomads'. The project stayed packed away, improperly cured mold-making rubber doing its thing.
We rented a house and I used the garage as my studio. It had been a while since I took a peak in that giant pile of trash bags that housed my crazy project. I opened it all up, just to see what the state of the thing was. My heart sank! The mold-making rubber was sticky on so many of the panels. Ugh. After a little freakout, I figured I would cut my losses and just throw out the sticky pieces and work with whatever was left. Happily there was a fair amount that had cured just fine. I cut the pieces down into 1'x1' squares. I envisioned sandwiching these between plexiglass and back-lighting them.
Another few years passed. More life happened! My husband and I bought a house and had a baby. The kiddo is now almost 4 and I'm just starting to have some time to myself again. Gotta admit, it feels a little weird...self-indulgent even! But that's ok, I'll get used to it;)
I pulled out this project again after all these years and decided to go ahead and really make something with it. The plan now is to do a series of encaustic panels. Each one is 8"x8" and there will be 50 total. They will be laid out 10 across and 5 down. There will be continuous, subtle imagery over the entire piece and a really great quote in the bottom corner: "Because the question for me was always whether the shape we see in our lives was there from the beginning or whether these random events are only called a pattern after the fact...do you believe in fate?" from All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy.
Today I'd like introduce you to my friend Kate K. McCarthy! Kate is a writing coach, visionary and total sweetheart. Personally, I can't wait for her summer writing retreat. Anyone else need a little creative R&R? Read on!
Tell me about your business and how you help creatives.
I am a copy makeover artist and mentor for soulful entrepreneurs. I’ve been called a voice doula and a fairy godmother for your words, but, really, I consider it my mission to hear your heart and help you hear it better, too. I do that through my copy polishing packages, one-on-one mentorships, online workshops, and in-person retreats.
On a practical level, I help my clients to craft messaging – copy, content, and connection – that feels and sounds like them, communicates the depth of their experience and value, and sings – straight to the heart of their dreamiest clients. On a deeper level, I help them hone in on the heartbeat of their business and the mission and magic that pulses through everything they do. That means brushing away the self-doubt and “should’s” that so often creep into our businesses and confidently stepping into how they want to show up in the world.
I know that a while back you had a totally different business. How did you know you needed to change? Was it hard to switch gears?
Truthfully, letting go of my previous business was one of the most aligned and natural decisions I’ve ever made. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I had launched the beta registration for a mini-course for my health coaching business. I had created the materials and edited up the sales copy. When I went to push the button to launch, all I could think was… I hope that no one signs up. That’s not want you want to feel in your business.
It took a couple of months, but I closed up shop and haven’t looked back.
Have you found your calling?
I think that I’ve definitely found a piece of it. My business continues to shift and evolve as I learn more about myself and what really lights me up. I’m finally at a place where things are flowing and fulfilling, even on the days that really challenge me. I love that I’ve built a business that satisfies on different levels. The writer in me loves that I get to hone my craft, both in my own business and through my copy polishing packages. I get to stay connected and harness my natural gifts – as well as my experience – through my mentorships, and I get to create really beautiful and transformative online and in-person experiences through my workshops and retreats.
I have no doubt that it will continue to shift and expand, but I’m deeply in love with where I am now.
What is the vision you have for your business 5 years from now?
Oh my goodness, that’s a tough one! My vision for my business is to be one that ebbs and flows with my creative spirit. I want to solidify my reputation as a wholehearted leader in my field and continue to seek out experiences that allow me to grow and expand.
I love everything that I’m doing now, and I would love for those to just deepen and clarify over time.
What is your creative process like? What steps do you always take?
My creative process ebbs and flows. It’s nourished by fresh air and time spent outside, and I’ve found that – while there are some months that I create and write non-stop, there are also months where nothing new shows up. I used to feel a lot of shame around those slow-periods. Now, I’m recognizing that they’re a part of the process.
Practically speaking, I have spaces that inspire creativity for me. My breakfast nook. A favorite coffee shop. This little cabin that’s perched over Skagit Bay. I like to sit, feet on the floor, and light a candle. My creativity shows up most often in my writing, and I like to start with a story in mind. One that’s true, real, and current. From there, I feel into where the story is taking me.
I’m currently practicing how to sit in the muck that sometimes shows up. I have found that I have a habit of shining things up, always trying to find the silver lining, and sometimes, it’s just powerful to not have an answer and allow myself to just feel my feelings.
Do you have any creative prompts, tricks or rituals to use when you're in a slump?
My favorite ritual is a long walk. Something about combination of the rhythm of my feet on the pavement with the fresh air feels meditative and invigorating for my spirit. I also have found that coffee with a good friend or a conversation with a business soul sister will stir up some creative fire in me.
Other than that, I’ve found that even writing, “I don’t know what to write…” allows me to free myself from that block and move forward.
What advice do you have for visual creatives who struggle to find their voice in writing?
Well, first of all, know that many of us literary creatives would give our left arm to be able to do what you do. Your work speaks when words can’t, and that’s so powerful.
If you struggle with finding your voice through writing, I would encourage you to simply practice. Find writing prompts that inspire you and write regularly. You’ll find that your writing practice will deepen, your words will become truer, and your voice will reveal itself. Writing doesn’t have to look one way. Poetry. Prose. Love letters. Stories. Just like with visual creatives, writing looks different for each of us.
If you’re writing for a business, I’ve found that it can be helpful to actually work backwards. Start with video or a voice memo, speaking to your ideal client using your actual voice. Then, transcribe it, word for word. You’ll begin to hone in on the words that you instinctively use and reveal how you most naturally communicate.
This post was originally published on the Being Boss blog on September 7th, 2016.
Life has a way of throwing some wicked curve balls. Things can be going great—the family is happy, business is growing, the home is cozy. Life is good. And then BAM. The ax falls.
This happened to me about a year and a half ago when my little boy was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis. The seam in his skull that runs from ear to ear had fused prematurely and his brain didn’t have enough room to grow. He would need a major reconstructive surgery.
During my postpartum period, I had a hard time adjusting to life as a new mom. I kept piling my plate higher with projects and clients, driving myself and my husband totally batty in the process. I knew that I would have to handle this new situation differently. I needed to clear my plate and unplug.
Coping With Difficult Emotions
The four months leading up to the operation were fraught with fear and worry. Within a few days of getting the bad news, I went about putting my business on hold. I set my Etsy shop to vacation mode and created autoresponders for incoming email. I had a couple of client projects on my plate that I was able to wrap up. As a side gig, I work as an editorial assistant for a wedding blog, so I contacted my colleagues to let them know I would be offline for at least a month.
Of course, everyone’s situation is unique and putting business completely on hold may not be an option. It’s a good idea to delegate wherever possible and minimize any stressful or emotionally charged interactions. For me, I was feeling pretty lackluster about wedding invitations and emotionally drained by the customer service aspect of the work, so hitting the pause button felt right.
My son’s operation went very smoothly, and we were lucky to catch the problem in time. However, the recovery period was incredibly challenging. The experience was emotionally traumatic for my son, and he ended up regressing developmentally quite a bit. (If your child or the child of a loved one is facing synostosis repair, please don’t let this scare you. Developmental regression is rare, and full recovery generally happens relatively quickly.)
In the weeks just after we came home, he was on heavy pain medication. He and I spent all day every day lying on the couch together. This was a strange time for me. All kinds of funk started to bubble up from the depths of my psyche. So I went on a little bit of a self-help bender.
These are the gems that I found most helpful:
- When Things Fall Apart
- Radical Acceptance
- Heart of Forgiveness
- Start Where You Are
- The Miracle of Mindfulness
- The Power of Now
As great as all that introspection is, it can get a bit heavy. Mixing things up with some fiction is a good way to lighten up. Here are a couple recent favorites:
The Importance of Self-Care
Being a caregiver is very demanding. Practicing good self-care is a must! For me, this started at a pretty rudimentary level: self-talk. With no distractions around, I became painfully aware of how negative my self-talk was: from my life-long struggle with a crummy self-image, to the sinking feeling that the timeline of my life was not shaping up as I planned, to the guilt I felt about having unwittingly passed along a heavy genetic burden to my sweet little boy. Up until now, an undercurrent of self-abasement was kind of an unquestioned given in my thinking. Being able to take a step back and acknowledge that was a big deal all by itself and over time by practicing mindfulness, I’ve been able to keep that tendency in check.
Resources I found most helpful for self-care:
- This ecourse offered by Vital Medicine that changed the way I think about my health.
- The Vitality Map by Dr. Zucker
- Superfood Kitchen cookbook
- These journaling and writing prompts
- Woman’s Comfort Book
Overcome The Anxiety Of Not Being Productive Enough
Taking a leave of absence from business has been hard, but I had to do it. Prior to my son’s operation, my business focus was primarily custom wedding invitations. Talk about a tough customer! I knew I couldn’t deal with client work during my son’s recovery, but I still wanted to feel like I was making progress and being productive. I took some fun ecourses for textile design, stationery business, Illustrator for print production, and a paper/book arts class.
During this time I read Firestarter Sessions and Desire Map. The timing was perfect! I was completely uninspired to get back to custom wedding invitations. These two books helped me to reconsider my goals and as a result, I decided to revise my business model. I found licensing opportunities for my stationery and textile designs (Society6, Zazzle, Spoonflower) and decided to focus my energy on fine art, especially book arts.
My family is lucky in that we can get by on my husband’s income, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone and the loss of income can be devastating. But there are some crowdfunding platforms to help raise money for emergencies:
After about a month of being completely offline, I returned to my side gig in a limited capacity. Minimizing social media interactions and focusing more on behind-the-scenes stuff helped to stave off overwhelm. For bosses who are unable to put their business on hold, the best advice I can offer is to delegate and automate as much as possible. I found the care packages from Cranio Care Bears to be extremely supportive during this time. And for the early days after surgery or childbirth, a meal tree can be a life-saver.
The Silver Lining
It’s been about a year and a half since my son’s surgery and in some ways, he’s still recovering, but the worst is behind us. He’ll be in preschool four days a week this fall and I’ll be getting back to work. This experience put a lot of things into perspective for me. I know with every fiber of my being that my sweet family is everything to me and putting my creative ambitions on hold for a while is not that big of a deal. I managed to face and befriend some of my own personal demons. I also have a much clearer vision of what I want to focus on creatively. I’ll be licensing out my design work so I can focus on fine art. I have a ton of ideas for fine art projects and I can’t wait to get in the studio! As luck would have it, I just happened to discover the Being Boss Clubhouse and have found it to be incredibly supportive.
If you’re struggling with a hardship, my heart goes out to you and I hope that what I’ve shared here can be of some help.