self-discovery and my path to living creatively

hello magpie + barrel of monkeys + victoria buckley jewellery

I’m doing some much needed packing-up-the-house, DIY, creative recharging this week so I’ll be sharing a few guest posts with you! The first is from Evelyn Reeve of oh my word!

like so many of you, i have been inspired by the latest scoutie girl posts on living creatively. hearing the stories and reading the comments prompted me to take a step back and reflect upon what living a creative life really means to me. what I learned were that there are three basic fundamentals that help me find happiness, balance, and growth in my life – my recipe for personal success. getting them written can now become a gentle reminder to follow my own advice when things go squirrelly. i wish you success in self-discovery + living creatively!

one. find a happy balance.

have you ever worked for nine or ten hours just to find yourself asking what you have to show for it? maybe you had worked for countless hours designing, printing, and cutting out fresh business cards and didn’t make a penny all day or maybe too many hours were lost bumbling your way through a new pattern creation. perhaps it was designing an ad for a client who, in the 11th hour, decided they would rather have some clever in-house person “give it a try.” i have had those days, working from home, when you work through lunch, work until 1 a.m., and expend so much creative energy that you’re too tired to have fun…oh yes. i’ve been there. we all have. it’s our blessing and our curse as creative-types, especially if we’re self-employed.

but one day recently, after working past midnight, my husband went to bed without me. again. i had to stop and ask myself, “is this worth it?” wasn’t the whole point of working for myself to increase my own standard of living through happiness and harmony? (clearly, it’s not for the money.) and here i am, working harder than ever, for next to nothing, but i know without question, that i am following the right path for my life.

frankly, i love every minute of it all, but what i am frequently guilty of is finding that harmony, that balance between being an artist and entrepreneur, a business owner and life partner, eco-friendly and cost-effective, earning and giving back…it’s all a daily challenge, but one i am willing to take. I am learning to prioritize, to say no when too many things come up – whether business or pleasure, to reexamine if a process is working, to not be afraid to change things when they are no longer working the way i want them to. you see, we set the rules for ourselves in our lives. we are the change we are all waiting for. just remember love what you do, even when it’s hard. especially when it’s hard.

two. connect with people.

now that i am on a mission to take control of my life, i realize i’m becoming dangerously hermit-like and a bit of a martyr for change advocacy, while trying to do the absolute minimum (shame on me). then i remember that there are people on the other side of these four blue office walls. and those people are pretty nice. and i can learn things from them. lots of things. i love twitter and blogging and am warming up to facebook, but i am guilty of disconnection and remembering that those are real folks on the other side of that avatar. chances are, if you like folks online, you’ll like them in the flesh. in the last couple of weeks, i went out and met with a few friendly faces that i just happen to have met online. i utterly love these people! we are cut of the same cloth. i had to ask myself…why did i wait so long to connect?

maybe you’re guilty of the same thing…simply not coming out of your shell. i challenge you to not only network online, but get out in your community. meet locals like you. build your own support system. give back to your community. volunteer. make friends. be a better neighbor and citizen of our planet. we all need help and a smiling face now and again, but, most of all, we need to encourage one another’s successes and celebrate small victories because those small things add up to big change. we all love the blogosphere, but it’s not a replacement for a handshake and a cup of coffee with a new friend. remember…we are the change. make it happen. own it. love it.

three. be your biggest fan.

this is the one that has taken me years to believe: no matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone all the time. it’s an uphill battle and you will lose. but rather than let that upset or depress you (or even, like the old me, work harder and still end up disappointed), become your biggest fan — your loudest, A+ #1 cheerleader. it’s okay if not everyone likes you or your personal choices. art and life – whether it’s in clothing, art, work, music, quilting, cooking, parenting, whatever – is made of personal choices. all of these things are built of the little things that make you unique, a manifestation of how you see things, your beliefs, your abilities. commit fully and whole-heartedly to believing in yourself and see what happens. for me, i stopped longing for approval. i just trusted that what i was doing would either work or fail, but it was my journey to take and keep my fingers crossed that my small ripples may cause bigger waves down the river. i am learning to accept either outcome and not looking at failure as a negative.

without failure, no one tries. without trying, no one learns. without learning, there is no growth.

it sounds simple, but i really believe in the “i think, therefore i am. i do, therefore i live” approach to life simplification.

so, there you have it. the three biggest motivators that keep me living creatively. thanks for letting me get on my soapbox. if you’re near central Ohio, let me know because i’d like to meet you for coffee, shake your hand, and see how we can change the world together.


oh my word!

14 thoughts on “self-discovery and my path to living creatively

  1. THIS – “for me, i stopped longing for approval. i just trusted that what i was doing would either work or fail, but it was my journey to take and keep my fingers crossed that my small ripples may cause bigger waves down the river.”

    I have just come to this in the last few months and it is a Beautiful thing! For me, the key word is journey, or process. My goals and dreams are still huge, and maybe still too perfectionistic, but I am So much more comfortable with the journey there. This frees me to worry a ton less, fear less in general, and get more done. Thanks!

    1. elizabeth – i’m glad you’ve felt this realization and it is indeed a beautiful thing. “work or fail” are truly the one two options there are when it comes to creating something new: whether it’s a business, a brilliant idea, a family, or just a weekend painting project. and really what’s so wrong with failure? gah. it’s nothing. just an opportunity for more good stuff down the line.

      thanks for reading!

  2. Fabulous article – well written, well thought out. Thank you SG and thank you Evelyn Reeve of “Oh my Word!” I know so many of us are our own worst enemies. I feel like I am not alone. And that feel liberating! Someone understands me!

  3. Great post, Evelyn! I love these fundamentals and relate to each one. I think #3 is the one I struggle the most with – not caring so much what others think and not taking failure as a negative. This seems so important in terms of trying new things and being authentically you. Thanks for the reminder that it is pointless to try to please everyone and that my own biggest fan is looking me right in the mirror every morning (or should be!) :)


  4. I’m currently working on #1 – finding balance. In April I went on a much needed vacation to visit my family down south – there I did NO crafting – I read books, relaxed in the sun and caught up on a few chick flicks I’d meant to watch.

    When I got home I resolved to completely clear off my work table and give my studio a clean from top to bottom. Previous to this break I’d been binding books almost compulsively, trying to prepare for the summer, and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough…I gave myself permission to take a break – as long as I needed – from my projects.

    I started papercrafting again a few weeks ago, and I feel a lot lighter about it, I feel like I enjoy it again. Finding balance is definitely essential.

  5. Thanks so much for this well-written, well-thought-out article! I could relate so much to what you said — all three points. I am in the process of designing the life I want, and will keep your words of wisdom in mind as I do so. I’m sure I’ll read this article often, to keep me grounded to my desires.

    Kind of wished I lived in central Ohio instead of Southern California — I’d be proud to buy you a cup of coffee (or lunch!) and shake your hand!

    1. Hi Cindy! I hear you on the SoCal – Ohio thing, but most days, I wished I lived in SoCal!

      How you wrote “in the process of designing the life I want” — that spoke to me. We have such a tendency to go through life without much conscious thought, but when designing something, well, the thought is built right in! Not every design works out the way you had hoped…but never let those strays from the path be a burden, but allow them to be opportunities to grow more! You can do it, you really can.

  6. What a lovely post!
    I am truly inspired by “work or fail”. I’ve been thinking along those lines as I plan my own crafting business, and doubt starts to set in. It’s so true.
    It is also so true that we do need to get “out there” and meet actual people.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. I find that when I come upon the moment when my heart is so full and the creative flow is so abundant… that it is essential to this flow to pause and become truly aware of what it is that is creating this surge. And then make note. So when the time comes that the negative begins to creep it’s way back into my life and the creativity gets low, I have those moments to come back to and get back on track.

  8. Thanks for encouraging us all to strive for that balance in our creative & personal lives. I’d love to meet and chat but southern CA is a bit far to “pop” over for coffee and meet but the thought’s there.

  9. To say that my heart has tripled in size, from all of you amazing folks who left these poignant comments, to those who emailed me, and everyone who read this article — well, it would be an understatement.

    I wish you nothing but the best, the most creative, the most fearless journey. Please keep in touch. I want to hear all about how you became the master of your own domain :) Goodness knows I’m bumbling along my own journey, but I can’t help but feel like I’m on the brink of something big. What a grand feeling :)

    Tara — thank you for letting me guest post. I want to hug every single one of these people and, without your trust in me, I never could have made these connections. I owe you one!

  10. Evelyn, this post really resonated with me!! (oh and btw…I’m a fellow Ohioan…although I’m in cleveland I come down to columbus quite a bit – would love to do coffee :)!!

    I struggle with #1 & #3 ALOT! I’m having the hardest time right now finding balance in my life as I try and open an online boutique. I’m working full time, trying to open a store and try and spend time with my family. It’s hard to balance all that so thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!

    And I love how you said “be your biggest fan”…I worry and am so fearful all the time that I forget to be my biggest fan! Thanks for the reminder!!

  11. My latest favorite saying is “Balance is overrated.”

    I don’t think it’s possible to be balanced and start a business. At least, not in the way society tells me I am supposed to be balanced.

    Personally, I seem to be happiest when I am head down, charging into the breech. And I’m starting to resent it when people tell me I shouldn’t work so hard.

    I *like* working hard.

    It’s fun.

    And I refuse to be ashamed of it any longer.

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