Entries from April 2013

Road Tripping

April 23, 2013

ONTHEROAD

This weekend my sister and I took a road trip down to Austin, Texas for the Girl Crush Tea Party (more on that tomorrow). We drove 6 hours down on a Friday morning and 6 hours back on Sunday. You would think being around each other 40+ hours during the work week and then again every Saturday at our parent’s lake house would leave us with nothing left to say… but we spent our time on the road indulging in the undivided attention we had of each other. We snacked on wasabi peas and dried apples and had the kind of extended conversation only sisters with a lifetime together could have over a long stretch of I-35. We exchanged old stories retold from a new perspective, and shared new secrets and daydreams. Babies, business, travel, blogging, politics, parenting, feminism, food, and fashion… no stone was left unturned. We charged down the open road and mapped out where we’re going next – fully aware that what’s next didn’t really matter when we had right now.

Morning Pages

April 19, 2013

MorningPages

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You guys. I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut. And that can get tricky when you’re creative for a living.

I feel most creative when I’m blogging … My life is my medium and this blog is my canvas. I love writing here. I would do it all day every day, if I could. (And I can – I am my own boss after all.) But lately… I’ve been struggling to find the words. Therefore, I don’t write as much. Then because I’m not blogging as much I feel like when I do it needs to be linkable, shareable, SEO-able, and blow-your-mind amazing. 
That’s a lot of pressure. 
If you get my Letters for Creatives you know I’m on a self-help kick when it comes to what I’m reading on my Kindle. So I recently picked up The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I wasn’t sure it would apply to me. I don’t consider myself much of an “artist” these days. But within the first 10% of the book I became clear that this blog here is my art. And that making art isn’t always a walk in the park. So it was time to get to work and get unblocked.

Okay – so The Artist’s Way is a bit woo-woo. The author uses the word “God” and it makes me just as uncomfortable as the label “artist”. As I’m reading I simply substitute “Universe” for “God” and “blog” for “art” and keep going. One of the first exercises recommended for creative recovery is Morning Pages. It’s basically three pages of long-hand writing done first thing in the morning. I like to do mine at the nook table over breakfast. At times it can feel very “Dear Diary”-ish but at only a week in I can tell something magical is happening on those pages.

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WHAT ARE MORNING PAGES?
Three pages of longhand writing – they are strictly stream-of-consciousness, and what the author refers to as brain drain. It’s not art. It’s not a blog post in the works. It’s pen across paper.

“The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery. As blocked artists, we tend to criticize ourselves mercilessly. Even if we look like functioning artists to the world, we feel we never do enough and what we do isn’t right. We are victims of our internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as truth.” 

Uh… yeah, the perfectionist in me doesn’t want to be so predictable, but the author has me pegged. What Cameron refers to as “the Censor” is what Brené Brown calls “our Gremlins” in Daring Greatly. And morning pages helps you work through that shit. If anything, morning pages gives that censor and those gremlins a voice – it gets them out of your head and on paper. And then you realize it A) isn’t truth or B) doesn’t matter. Either way, if you’re going to be a successful creative you have to go on about your day creating, regardless of your mood or level of inspiration.

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I’m all for routine – so I jumped at the opportunity to pick up a new creative ritual that promised to get my creative juices a-flowin’. When I’m writing my morning pages I don’t have to concern myself with story arcs, grammar, or fragmented sentences. All I have to do is move my pen across the page, times three. What I write doesn’t matter. The act of moving my ballpoint pen across the pages of my 25¢ composition notebook has become somewhat of a moving meditation.

I was feeling blocked because I wasn’t writing as much. Now I’m writing at least three pages first thing every morning. It may be total non-sequitor crap for writing but hey… once I get it out of my system I’m ready to move on to creating something that matters.

I’ve been writing daily in my Morning Pages since April 9th. And in that time: 
• I have been blogging with more frequency – and am not so paralyzed about perfection
• I’ve been photographing and iPhone snapping images for future posts
• I’ve been scribbling notes and ideas in multiple notebooks and scraps of paper within reaching distance
• I wrote & launched a Braid offering I had been sitting on for months
• I wrote an email to someone I admireand she emailed back
• I developed, wrote, and launched Life Coaching for Creatives in a morning (and it sold out in minutes)

What I’ve learned through morning pages is that my creativity isn’t contained to a certain set of ideal conditions (like an organized house, a bright studio, or a good mood). My creativity requires action. It moves through me – like the pen moves ink on paper. The art itself won’t always be “good” or perfect, but the act of creating is never bad or wrong.

So. Check out The Artist’s Way and put some pen to paper. 

Life Coaching for Creatives

April 17, 2013

LifeCoachingCreatives

For a while now, I’ve been feeling a draw towards life coaching. I would find myself devouring Danielle LaPorte’s words and scouring Marie Forleo’s website. I found myself wanting to do what they do. Hell, I found myself straight up wanting to BE them. They make life coaching a business and an art – but without the cheesy stereotypes and preconceived notions one typically conjures up with the words “life coach”. But then a cycle of self-doubt would creep in and my gremlins would give me some serious self-doubts with pointed questions. The most cruel one being “Who. do you. think. you are?”

But here I am. A month into an 8-month long life coach training course with Martha Beck (as seen in Oprah magazine). That means I have a tele-class once a week followed up by lots of reading materials,  homework, and practice coaching. (Those self-doubty gremlins can back. the eff. off.)

So why did I decide to get life coach training? Well, Tara and I are already doing lots of business coaching with the creative entrepreneurs who hire us. But we’ve found that when it comes to being a solopreneur life and business aren’t so separate. Self-limiting beliefs around money can hold a creative back. A spouse who doesn’t “get it” or a bumpy divorce can make a creative feel blocked and scared to move forward. Sometimes self-doubts and insecurities are keeping talented creatives and aspiring entrepreneurs from showing up and being seen. I wanted more tools under my belt to better help my clients work through these very personal blocks and find a bit of clarity as they boldly move forward into the uncomfortable uncertainty that comes with being a creative professional.

One tip I’ve already learned from Martha Beck is this: when you think something is a problem try explaining it to your dog or cat (or any other animal of your choice). This trick doesn’t necessarily solve my problem in a concrete way, but it does tend to get me out of my head and into my heart. It helps me become objective and find a shift in perspective.

I’m qualified to start practicing life coaching now and am working towards becoming a Martha Beck certified life coach. In the future, I may just supplement the creative coaching I’m already doing through Braid with the tools I’m learning from Martha Beck. But I’m ready to dive in and test the waters here now. This here is what the industry calls a “soft launch” – I want to give you guys the opportunity to hire me first. So with that, I’m offering life coaching services for creatives who may feel blocked and need a little more clarity around moving forward – and need to be seen and heard without judgment.

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Life Coaching for Creatives 
$50 for 1 45-minute session
$90 for a package of 2 45-minute sessions
$120 for a package of 3 45 minute sessions

*My typical consulting rate is $125/hr or $250/hr for both me and Tara. This pricing is discounted specifically for my life coach services while I’m in training – these discounted rates and offerings are subject to change in the future. 

What you get: 45 minutes of my undivided attention via phone or Skype. I’ll help you find your areas of least satisfaction and through a series of questions and tools I will guide you towards your own answers and shifts in perspective.

Who it’s for: Creatives who feel blocked, confused, stuck, or scattered and can’t quite figure out why or what to do next. I’m particularly interested in working with creatives who are interested in blogging and sharing themselves online.

This offering is limited to 5 creatives on a first-come / first-serve basis. Email me at kathleen@braidcreative.com to schedule a coaching session with me.

UPDATE: This current offering is no longer available.  

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If you have any questions about coaching, in general, please leave them in the comments or if you think we might be a good fit but aren’t quite sure, email me at kathleen@braidcreative.com. 
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P.S. I also want to be sure to tell you guys about the current Braid ECourse for Creatives offering now open for registration. Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You will be in session from April 25th – May 6th. This ECourse is for creatives who have an abundance of ideas and feel paralyzed about what to do next. This $75 ECourse is available to you guys for $50 when you use the promo code APRIL50SHAPEUP2013.P.P.S. We still have a few spots available for our in-real-life OKC Braid Workshop on May 4th.

A Blueberry Tart

April 16, 2013

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On Sunday nights we have our friends Claire and Bryce over for dinner and a Game of Thrones watch party. Between the four of us we’re a picky bunch to feed. Jeremy and I are mostly Paleo. Claire and Bryce are mostly vegan. Sometimes we’re all eating fish. Sometimes not. Sometimes we’re really into the idea of a smorgasbord of cheese. Sometimes not. Sometimes Claire isn’t eating sugar (including fruits and root veggies). Sometimes we’re not eating at all.

So yeah. We’re those people. But at least we’re those people together. Coordinating dinner can be a challenge but it always promises to be a feast. Claire is not only a juice cleansing guru but also an amazing cook with a background in plant based and raw food – last week she brought over some vegan pho with poached Alaskan black cod. This week she brought some build your own pizza fixins’ complete with a raw vegan dough made from pecans and flax (it was amazing). Simply providing the wine doesn’t work with this crew (because sometimes we’re all alcohol free) – so this week I decided to step it up and make a dessert that would parallel the quality of Claire’s main course.
I settled on a grain-free / gluten-free blueberry tart. It was almost vegan and almost Paleo but sometimes a little bit of honey with a dollop of Greek yogurt makes everything taste so much better.

A Blueberry Tart 
Total cooking + cooling time: 2ish hours 
Yields: 4 small tarts 

For the Crust:
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup almond meal
1 tbs. coconut oil (melted)
1/2 tbs. flax oil
1/2 cup shredded coconut flakes
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:
4 cups of blueberries (I used frozen – they worked out perfectly)
1/2 cup water
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs. Arrow Root
2 tbs. Water
1/4 cup Honey*
1/4 cup Greek yogurt*

*You could used soaked and chopped dates instead of honey and omit the greek yogurt to make this vegan & paleo.

Directions:
Make the crust first by heating your oven to 350F. Combine the sliced almonds, almond flour, shredded coconut, salt, and melted coconut oil in a food processor using the S blade. The dough will look crumbly but should stick together if you pinch it with your fingers. Spread it in the bottom of your tart pans using your hands to pack it into the bottom and along the sides of the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes – just until the edges of the crust are beginning to brown. Let cool for an hour on a cooling rack. 

For the filling – in a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Add 2 cups of blueberries. Let them boil and breakdown for about 5 minutes. Bring down to a simmer. Mix 2 tbs. of the arrowroot flour / starch with 2 tbs. of water in a small bowl. Set aside. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey to the blueberries. Slowly stir in the diluted arrowroot mix. Cook at a simmer for 30-60 seconds until the blueberries thicken (like pie filling). Remove from heat and stir in 2 more cups of blueberries. Fill your tart pans with the blueberry mixture. 

Let cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours until cooled. Top with greek yogurt and some lemon zest for garnish. 

I Don’t Have A Job Title

April 15, 2013

JobTitle

I mean… I do lots of things.

I write. I blog. I consult. I coach. I design. I teach. I brand. I style. I advise. I photograph. I calculate. I vision.

I do lots of things. And while I’m clear on what I do, there is no one job title that could do it all justice. I’ve tried on “art director”, “creative director”, “blogger”, and even “artist” but none of them feel quite right. I’ve even gone more esoteric with “creator” and more utilitarian with “co-founder”. If I get too narrow, my title paints an unbalanced composition of what I do. And if I go too broad the title becomes arbitrary.

I was recently interviewed by the BBC as an expert source on an article they were writing about small business and social media. The kind journalist (who surprisingly, and maybe even disappointingly, did not have a British accent) guided me through a series of questions about the best way to use social media. I could’ve gone on forever about using your authentic voice, sharing who you are, building trust and genuine connections with your readers. I was not at a loss for words and opinions when it comes to my expertise. But then when the journalist asked me what my job title was I got flustered. I wasn’t sure how to respond and went digging for my most recent business card to see what Tara and I had last decided on. It turns out we had decided against putting titles on our cards.

At the end of the day what I do says more about me than the official title that I don’t seem to have. And that’s okay. I’ve never been one for labels.

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