positive pychology

A little boost of positivity in the form of a delicious chocolate

I recently took a class with Coursera (an amazing FREE resource, btw) on Positive Psychology and I loved it. Though I've long believed that positivity was the key to creative output and better relationships, I always love finding science to back up and explain my experiences.

In the course and in her book, Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson explains her theory of why humans have evolved with positive emotions, which she calls the 'Broaden and Build' theory. According to the theory, negative emotions prepare us for one specific action. Fear prepares us to run or to fight while anger prepares us to confront someone. Negative emotions narrow our fields of view to deal with the problem at hand, but positive emotions do the opposite. Positive emotions help us broaden our awareness and build resources for the future.

To me, this kind of open mindset is the key to creativity. When we're open to the world we take in more information, try out more ideas, and see more of what inspires us. Fredrickson explains that this is more than just a nice metaphor - it has been tested vigorously in numerous studies. (more…)


So much creativity was unleashed at my Easter egg decorating party last weekend

Link list posts sometimes feel like sort of a cop-out so I hesitated about posting one. But then I thought, is there ever a better time to cop out than right before vacation? These should keep you busy for awhile. (If you're not subscribed to my newsletter then you won't know that I'm heading to the Middle East for 3 weeks next Thursday. SO excited. If you want insider updates on my process and what I'm up to, sign up using the form on the right of the page.)

This is a great project idea, with a huge following. If I was here I would consider doing it just to be a part of something so big - the connections and inspiration gained would be amazing.

Creative blocks can be caused by many different things. Here are 7 of them - with tips for overcoming each one. (more…)


"What is creative living? Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." Elizabeth Gilbert

My boyfriend and I like to go back-country camping. We hike into the woods for a few hours then set up camp far far away from other humans. It's glorious. Our favourite part is exploring the area around our camp. We usually camp in the mountains so there's always plenty of scrambling and hiking to be done and we feel pulled by a deep sense of curiosity. What's at the top of this hill or this spillway? What's around that next corner? What are we going to find? The photos in this post are from a camping trip last summer where we didn't really know what we were getting into, but dove in anyway.

I'm sure you know the feeling of being magnetically drawn towards something that you want to know more about: an unexpected package that arrives at your doorstep, or a new piece of public art that catches your eye. (more…)

learned in theatre schoolA lot of people I know who got Bachelors of Arts were kicking themselves after they graduated because they didn't get a more "useful" degree. I didn't have that problem - I knew that studying drama wouldn't put me on a fast track to mega-success, but it was what I most wanted to do. I had always planned on going to university (all learning, all the time? You couldn't keep me away if you tried). And drama was what I was most passionate about at the time.

Afterwards I decided not to pursue work in theatre and there are times when I wonder if I wasted those 4 (okay 5) years.

Then I remember everything I learned about creativity, productivity, and life. And I feel better. (more…)

where to start

“Trust that still small voice that says, “This might work and I’ll try it.” Diane Mariechild

So. You want to work on being more creative everyday. You want to establish a creative practice, you want to jump in on those projects you've been dreaming about. But you have no idea where to start. Should you take a class? Should you start a 30-day challenge? Should you ask your friend for help? Should you just start messing around and see what happens? The choices spin around in your mind and, day after day, you do nothing. It's too hard.

Starting is the hardest part of any project or practice. And when there is no clear starting point, it's even harder. Here are some ideas on identifying what exactly is making it so hard to get started, and what to do about it. (more…)

library books

I've instituted a monthly "spa day" for myself where I spend an entire day not working and doing whatever I need to re-energize and rejuvenate. For February's spa day I went to a public library and wandered the non-fiction shelves for an hour, because this is an incredibly energizing activity for me. I see so many interesting topics, ideas, and images and I am often almost overwhelmed by inspiration. The photo above is one shelf of the nature/science section and I swear I wish I could read every single one of those books, they all look that interesting. (more…)

creative role modelsI'm starting a new series where I write about the people that inspire me to be more creative every day: the people who live and breathe creativity and are using their passion to make the world a better place. You can find more inspiration posts here, here, and here

Who is Lisa Congdon?

She's a successful artist and illustrator based in San Francisco (thought she's been mentioning moving to Portland), and I've been following her blog and her Instagram. According to her website, she does commissions for all kinds of big name companies like Martha Stewart and MoMA. She has also written some books, including Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist and teaches courses on Creative Bug and Creative Live. (more…)

embrace imperfection

My contribution to the Unfinished Painting Challenge

“A certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Yesterday I came across Lisa Congdon's Doodling Manifesto. In it she talks about the importance of making a mark just for its own sake, and how every creative thing we do - no matter how messy or imperfect - is important. It gets us closer to who we are and to who we want to be. This struck me as a really important point. To be creative, we must learn to be imperfect. And not just imperfect: we must learn to make awful, terrible, ugly work just for the sake of making something. The more we make, the better we get.

I often find myself butting up against this idea. I get caught thinking that I only have time to make stuff that meets my high standards, that's good enough to sell. Often playing and messing around feels like a giant waste of time. (more…)

loving winter

I have relatives that live in California and every time I talk to them they try to convince me to come live there. The main draw, in their eyes, is the perpetually mild weather. Who wouldn't want to live in a place that's sunny with an average of 20°C all year long?

I wouldn't.

I live in a city that spends almost half the year under snow. And I love it.

Don't get me wrong, I love summer. I love walking around without a coat, the long daylight hours, the feeling of grass under my feet. But I love the changing of the seasons too much to live in a land of constant summer. What would I do without the golden months of fall, or the freshness of spring, or the sparkle of winter? (more…)

staying organized

One of my biggest goals last year was to increase my regular creative output. I knew that I was capable of getting more done and I went on a mission to figure out how. Along the way I discovered that my organizational system played a huge role in keeping me on track. Finding something that works has made a world of difference in my mood, my levels of anxiety, and how much I can get done each week.

I don't know about you, but I tend to obsess about this stuff, stressing over every detail until a system works smoothly. I'm learning to let go of perfection and trust the process and am being rewarded with new ideas and increased productivity. Some of you might find this post incredibly boring, but if you're like me and you like peering into other people's routines and systems, then I think you'll love it.

I'm still refining it, but here are some of the methods I use to get and keep the creativity ball rolling: (more…)