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Creativity for Emotional Wellbeing

June 29, 2015

ursalahudson

I haven’t been making time for art. Instead of picking up my brush at night I’ve been escaping to Instagram or Netflix or simply cleaning up my house. The guitar hasn’t sounded sweet enough in my hands, cooking has become a chore, and my concepts on my canvases feel insufficient. My temper’s been short and I haven’t sat with Amelie to collage or draw. To be honest, life has felt very dull these past several days; there’s a low vibration in my body.

When was the last time you were here? Waiting to “feel it”? Creative slumps are such a catch 22; you feel too low to create, but you’re low because you’re not creating. The difficult thing to remember is that art doesn’t need you to do anything except show up, and then it simply flows out. And the slump is a distant memory.

Even though I’m in this sort of depression, I’m familiar with the escape-route.  I was fortunate enough to have found my center at a young age: to be familiar with the grounding effects of art-making. My parents “unschooled” me by simply working alongside me, running their businesses, making their art, and answering any questions I had along the way. My mom is an artist and my dad is a jack-of-all-trades, so something was always being made. By being unschooled I basically learned how make art and then sell it. Yet, the most valuable tools I came away with from my unique upbringing were certainly not tools for economic success. They were tools for maintaining emotional wellbeing.

By remembering the lessons clarified below, I’m reminded of the closeness of high-vibrational living via art-making. Contentment is literally at our fingertips.

Creativity for Happiness

Art Shows the Soul

Art makes possible the visualization of the things that previously had no form. The things we feel but have no words for, the dreams we’ve had, subconscious memories. Therapists have children draw to reveal things that can’t be said, because making art allows them to reveal their poetic depths.

Even when a work of art is a totally realistic representation of the world, there is a life-long journey that must be carried out before the idea is sparked within one’s mind.  Making art is one of the easiest ways to get to know yourself.

When you’re busy being your own authentic self it’s more difficult to find the time to compare yourself to others. Contentment and acceptance of others begins to replace the comparison and judgement.

Creating Feels Good

The act of creation, be it through art, music, cooking, sewing, photography, or knitting,  actually releases dopamine, just like sex, sleeping, and heroin.

I am personally significantly happier when I have several artistic projects going. Luckily for me, my day-job requires me to be creative, so I usually don’t go through withdrawals.

Detachment

When I first began working in clay I quickly learned that kilns have a way of taking a large chunk of the creative process out of your hands. Sometimes things blow up. Sometimes a glaze comes out thin, or a very different color than anticipated, or it makes your pot fuze to the bottom of the kiln. With more experience you gain control over the outcome of the process, but you still must learn to accept unanticipated outcomes and enjoy the experience of uncertainty. The journey becomes the joy as you detach from the end result.

Detachment doesn’t mean that you don’t give a crap about anything. It means that you can see past the grief of loss and appreciate the greater experience. It also allows you to take more risks and not live in fear of loss or inadequacy. Less fear = more love = happiness!

Infinite Perceptions

Each work of art is the direct regurgitation of someone’s reality at that moment in time. Everyone has very specific associations related to their 5 senses that is never replicated, so a resulting work of art is a true snapshot of the soul.

When critiquing someone else’s art it is easy to see its surface-value… yet, to remember that the finished product is the product of someone’s unique experience is very humbling.  When a landscape is painted from observation, a photo, or the imagination, no one will ever replicate it.

Respecting that we are all having different experiences allows us to acknowledge the value of our selves.   This not only encourages compassion for ourselves, but for those around us. It’s harder to take things personally, and it’s easier to let go of the things we don’t understand.

Personal Responsibility & Taking Control

A mistake within a work of art can be “fixed” 99% of the time. Sometimes “fixing” the “mistake” involves completely changing the direction in which the work was initially headed, but art never has one answer.

When this mentality seeps into daily life we are inspired to take action and change the things that no longer serve us. Many people feel that they are a victim of bad luck and circumstance, but the creative knows that there are infinite possibilities to try and experiment with to manipulate time & space in order to manifest a reality worth living.

Centeredness & Meditation

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dedicates his life to studying what makes people happy.  In his his Ted Talk below he explains that activities that bring out a state of “flow” not only provide momentary pleasure, but lasting satisfaction.

“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” – Csikszentmihalyi

Flow, or the act of creation, produces effects within the body that are similar to Meditation. Science has shown that meditation can, among other things, reduce stress and fight/flight responses.

Meditation is a practice that reminds your body, mind and spirit what it feels like to come back to the middle. If you remember what the center feels like, it’s easier to return there when you are confronted with stressful or obnoxious situations.

Create this July

In an effort to experience the positive effects of art-making as a community, this month we challenge you to take creation into your daily life with us. Each day, try to spend at least a few minutes on something creative.

Here’s a list of 30 non-committal projects to inspire, in no particular order:

  1. Doodle your family members as animals
  2. Start an art journal
  3. Crochet x-mas presents
  4. Paint your emotions
  5. Make a puzzle & send it to someone small
  6. Instagram artistically
  7. Make outdoor art
  8. Make co okies without a recipe
  9. Write a poem to your bestie
  10. Color in a coloring book
  11. Make Shrinky Dink earrings for all your ladies
  12. Learn how to do nail art
  13. Build a rock wall
  14. Learn to play the harmonica
  15. Take a photo per day of yourself or your kids
  16. Draw your bedroom
  17. Arrange a bouquet of flowers
  18. Write new kid song lyrics to a pop song
  19. Learn to embroider
  20. Choreograph a dance to Spice Up Your Life with your niece
  21. Find an ecstatic dance venue and go
  22. Make prayer flags
  23. Dress up for the 4th of July
  24. Carve potatoes into stamps: design your own textiles
  25. Sit down with your favorite little and scribble as fast as you can, with as many different colored pens as you can, covering as much white of the paper as you can within 3 minutes
  26. Make your own memory card game
  27. Paint rocks. Or sticks. Or both.
  28. Collect like-objects, style them on the floor, and take a picture.
  29. Get some Model Magic and go wild
  30. Make a flower garland

An Instagram Challenge

If you would like to join us on Instagram (and/or Facebook), we are moving into July with a daily-inspiration list that is so vague that you can make each day work for you within your means. Take a photo (or lots) of what you’ve been working on and tag #SCcreatejuly to share with us! It doesn’t have to be related to our list, we just want to see what you’ve made.

Instagram Art Challenge

Body & Mind Little Souls

Teaching Gratitude

June 24, 2015

Teaching Gratitude

When you practice gratitude, you open yourself up to that bursting feeling of happiness, which may otherwise get stifled or just go unrecognized. Being more conscious of the things you are thankful for makes it easier to recognize how much happiness the little things give you throughout the day, and reminds us of human interconnectedness. Studies show that giving thanks makes for more happy, resilient, healthy, and less-stressed-out individuals, but being thankful takes practice, and training. We can give our children a beautiful, lifelong gift by teaching the importance of gratitude.

When I was little I used to consciously refuse to say “thank you”, and I wonder how great of an impact it had on my perception and happiness while growing up. Now that I hang out with tiny people often, I see that the ones who are happiest seem to have no problem letting you know that they appreciate you and the things that surround them. Although my daughter says “thank you” and gives gratitude kisses more than I could have hoped for, I still want to do everything I can to encourage thankfulness throughout her lifetime. After much brainstorming, I came up with this little list of ways to set a good example and encourage lifelong gratitude. Some are things we currently practice at home, and some are things we could really work on…

Thank the people around you.

Show your appreciation when people help you (even when doing required work or chores), when they surprise you, and even when they quite simply make you feel happier with their presence. This reinforces the fact that the role they play in your life is a miracle in itself.  Learn to take compliments graciously too—  as it completes that cycle of positive intention.  Demonstrating this respect to positive interactions by way of words is the easiest way to be a grateful role model.

Send snail mail.

Show your loved ones that you are thinking of them by sending relatives pictures, and postcards to friends.  This reminds our children that simple acts can easily brighten peoples’ days and helps encourage empathy when they remember how grateful they feel when getting snail mail themselves.

Give and share with friends and neighbors.

Donate old toys or clothes, share meals with friends, and give presents when it’s not a holiday.  Giving is the easiest way to build up the ego, and feeling confident and happy with ourselves only gives us more reasons to be grateful.  Sharing nourishes from the inside out, and helps remind us what we value in our old friends, encouraging a natural reciprocity of love and affection.  Taking the time to pick out a gift forces us to step in to the individual personalities of our loved ones, in order to find that special symbol of appreciation for their own unique qualities.

Say “Goodnight Moon.”

Say goodnight to your house, and all the simple things that went overlooked for the day but still served you well. Personifying inanimate objects helps to appreciate them as important energies that make our lives more comfortable.

Bless your food.

Even the littlest blessing helps solidify thankfulness for not going hungry.  In our house we all just hover both hands over our food and say “yummmm” in harmony.  Everyone looks at everyone else, smiling (it’s inevitable), happy to be sharing the meal together, and we’re sending “the yum” into the food.  Simple and beautiful.

Recount your favorite parts of the day.

Lay together and pick out the day’s highlights, which encourages more conscious gratitude in the days to follow. Also recognize the tough parts— acknowledge the challenges and be grateful for them, as they teach you so much, and allow you to grow. Appreciating the challenges alongside the highlights makes it difficult to be hard on yourself for your “shortcomings”, and reminds us that the rainbow comes after the storm. Fostering this thought process at an early age is an invaluable gift.

Body & Mind Inspiration

The Dawning of the Introvert: Expressing Your Inner Goddess

June 16, 2015

underwatergodess

I have been absorbed with social media like crazy; as a millennial I’m hooked on juggling my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Social media outlets are notorious for moving our tangible daily interaction into cyber communication, but this virtual environment creates a comforting space for the introvert to inspire and be inspired. It’s a place where creatives can find their own venue and share their ideas and gifts. Social media is not just for networking.

Introverted Inspiration

This all came to me when following a lovely lady on Instagram, Happy Sleep Folks, who shares beautiful, illuminating posts daily with the world. She’s a young new mom named Kristen who is an amazing writer, meditation teacher, and doula. She labels herself as an introvert, yet she has 13,000 followers that are inspired by her daily.  How can you be introverted when you are so socially active through social media and have a huge following of friends that are not only motivated by you, but have become your supportive network? When more amazing ideas are being shared, the fact that introverts can have a extroverted realm by way of the internet is such a beautiful thing.

kristen 1

A Place To Share Your Inspired Creation

I am an “ambivert”, according to this quiz, meaning that I fall in between introverted and extroverted.  This is probably because I can be extremely outgoing on the dance floor, but when it comes to small talk with strangers, I just don’t know what to do and I get extremely awkward.  It’s not that I don’t have much to say, it’s just that I’m not very interested in small talk.  Blogging is one of the ways I can express myself.  Through blogging and Instagram I have become a better writer, more outgoing, and I am inspired more and more everyday to share my inner creativity and authenticity.

No matter what negative aspects we find in social media, the internet has allowed all of us to provoke, support, promote, and exploit compulsive, inspired creation. The age of introverts has come!

 

Body & Mind Productivity

Practicing Mindful Productivity

June 11, 2015

mindfulproductivity

The biggest challenge for most self-employed creatives and/or stay-at-home parents is staying motivated and on-task.  Being your own boss can be tough on productivity when you can say, “Fuck off, I want to spend all day lounging in the sun with my girlfriends, so I’m gonna.” But even if you’ve got the drive, if you’re not mentally on task then your work and the people around can suffer for it.

For me, I get caught up thinking about anything but the activity on-hand. I notice this the most when I’m spending time with my children. I’ll be making cookies with my daughter but thinking about work, or sitting the baby on the potty while checking my email on my phone. I’m all about incorporating my children into my at-home work life, but how are they benefitting from it if I can’t ever be present with them?

It’s not like I have too much shit on my plate, I’m just not managing my tasks efficiently. By attempting to multitask, I am actually hindering my productivity, let alone depriving my children, my work and my projects of quality attention. When I check my email while making breakfast I’m not actually saving a significant amount of time by responding to my clients right that second. Work can wait, and if it waits until I’m ready for it, then the quality will be higher as well.

Mindful Productivity

I decided to try an experiment, to see if I could be more present while remaining productive. I scheduled my days into intervals listing things that may sound ridiculous to have to write down, ie: wash up, make breakfast, clean up kitchen. I put my phone out of reach during large chunks of the day– specifically when I’m with my kids. Then I followed my schedule to the T, even though it is really just my every-day routine. Knowing that I have these lines drawn of when a task starts and ends allowed my mind to free up. Work had a specific time slot, and I didn’t have to think about it during any other time of the day.

The experiment’s results were pretty grand: my 5-year-old isn’t throwing tantrums (because she has all the attention she needs from me), I have more free time because I start & finish a project without getting interrupted, and I don’t go to bed feeling guilty for neglecting my family or my work. I didn’t have to alter any part of my day drastically, I’m now just practicing being mindful and appreciative of my pre-existing routine.

Is multitasking getting the best of you? Here are my tips to make a change:

Being present while remaining productive

Turn off your phone, turn off the computer

Set your phone to “do not disturb” during tasks where having a phone is not necessary. During “work hours”, it’s probably good to have your phone on. When you’re making breakfast and eating with your children, you probably don’t need your phone. Also, while working on the computer, turn off the WiFi so you’re less likely to browse the web.

Meditate

Meditating doesn’t require a fancy pillow or smudge sticks; meditation is just the practice of mindfulness that provides results with just a couple minutes per day. Meditation relieves stress, improves focus & self control, and it’s good for your body! If you don’t feel that you can fit two minutes of meditation into your day, try doing it while you wake up or fall asleep.

Schedule your day the night before

Planning your day the night before not only clears your mind for a restful night’s sleep, but imposing deadlines and time-slots on your day makes you more productive and enhances performance. Schedule in a “free” slot, where you can fit in tasks that maybe took longer than anticipated, or things that come up last-minute.  Maybe some of the tasks are specific and others are open-ended. For example, I wrote down “Kids”, which has a bunch of options under it that include swim lessons, grocery shopping, gardening, hanging with friends, etc. Make it work for you.

Stick to the schedule

This is probably the toughest part of any mindfulness practice: discipline. Divert your thoughts away from ideas that will not serve you in your current activity. If something comes up, recognize its presence, maybe write down the idea, and continue on according to schedule. Remember, you still have your “free” slot where you can fit in unanticipated tasks, but only choose to fill that slot if it’s necessary.

Motivation

Reward yourself each day with something fun and relaxing. That might be dancing to World Cafe with the kids, journalling, drawing, reading, or watching TV. Write down your your motivational reward on a piece of paper or in your daily planner.

Rejoice!

Watch as your life transforms and feel the weight lifted off your shoulders!

Beauty Body & Mind Productivity

30 Day Challenges

June 1, 2015

In May I started 30 day challenges because I was feeling guilty for not doing the things I wanted and needed to do with my son while I was trying to grow my own business and work on other creative, fun ventures and adventures.  Ursala had recently done a 30 day yoga challenge and really enjoyed it, so I thought to myself, “why not challenge myself to 30 day challenges so I could successfully do the things I need to do as a parent and the things I want to do independently for self-love?”  So it was on! I’m extremely competitive and I love a good challenge, plus this was a great way to not procrastinate, and learn balance and time management in my new mom life.

jucingveggies

My 30 day Challenges

  • Yoga everyday. I jumped into my 30 day challenge with Ursala on the full moon by attending a Yin Yoga class with traveling duo Maredith Rom & Michael Zeligs.  They were then on an awesome tour together called the Vision & Voice Tour.  I then found two 30 day yoga challenge videos on YouTube to follow for the remainder of challenge.  They were short, so I did both videos to make my practice longer.  I did yoga with Adriene and yoga with Erin Motz everyday. (FYI Erin Motz yoga ended up having ads in between the yoga sessions half way through.  I was not happy about this.)
  • Juice at least twice a week.
  • Contortion training at least twice a week. I followed along with Fit and Bendy with Kristina Nekyia for the month.  I took her class a few times in LA at Cirque School and loved it!  As soon as I found out she released a DVD I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and do stretch training at home.  Her classes are amazing because she enforces strength for flexibility which is immensely important.  This stretch workout hurts in the best way! I bought this DVD as soon as I got pregnant and now baby Wyatt is 15 weeks and I can start training again.
  • Read at least every other day with the babe.
  • Tummy time with the babe every day.
  • Nature walks with the babe every day.

30 day challenges exist heavily for health and fitness.  It’s easy to do a diet and get abs if you challenge yourself to do it everyday.  30 day challenges make me feel like I have to make the time no matter what.  But why don’t we do these 30 day challenges for other things in our lives we wish we had time for but never do?  Check out this article about the pros and cons for fitness 30 day challenges.

I found if I combined my challenges the better my time management became and the more successful I felt. I later read an article explaining how 30 days creates a habit and ideas for 30 day challenges.  It also gives you ideas on challenges if you need help finding a challenge.  Idea #26 is combining your challenges. This article also has a great Ted talk on 30 day challenges.

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What I learned

Make it work for you.  I’m a new mommy and becoming a mom was a real challenge because my freedom was no longer there to do what I want when I want.  My baby boy is my main priority so I would just work around him and his schedule. However, I realized that in order to get my challenges in I needed to wake up before him, or incorporate him into my tasks.  It was difficult to find time to blog, work on Ghost Rabbits (my vintage store), and do my challenges on top of being a mom while not getting frustrated.  I had to learn to be OK with finishing something I started later in the day, or crunching challenges together.  It’s usually suggested that you only pick one challenge so you have a better chance to succeed, but I picked a zillion. This worked for me, because not all of my challenges were daily, which helped me succeed and feel accomplished.

A daily planner. I’m not necessarily trying to start a habit with any of these challenges but in a way they are my weekly planner. Eventually I’d like to get a tangible planner, but knowing that I had a checklist that I had to accomplish every day or so was a way to work me into using a real planner.

Competing with myself.  I’m a highly stubborn and competitive individual especially against myself and the best way I’m going to juice twice a week and read every other day is to challenge myself.  Psychologically that works for me even in my mini daily rituals.

How my 30 day challenges went

My love and I were on the road for two weeks in the middle of the month. He was tattooing and I was working on my online vintage store, posting items and shopping to find new treasures.  Sooo… I had to take my challenges on the road.  I made sure I continued all of my challenges everywhere we went which wasn’t hard since we stayed at friends that had magical yards to do yoga and explore nature with the babe.  The hard challenge to keep up with was juicing. I didn’t have my juicer on the road so I just had to buy juice (and I don’t know if that still counts).

My body feels great from all the yoga and flexibility training. I am planning to keep these challenges up to a yearly goal.  I want to have the splits and scorpion down by the end of the year!  I also feel like I’ve been a good mom making sure I read, do tummy time, and explore outside with Wyatt everyday.  I’m still going to juice as much as I can but I’m not going to challenge myself, I just hope I’ve created a little habit that will continue.  The overall experience went well and I have to say it was even easer to keep up with my challenges when I knew I had to blog about it.

I’m compiling new challenges for this new month to create a new “weekly planer” and encourage you to also!  There’s no excuse not to do those things you wish you always had time for or are scared to do!

adrienne_young

Body & Mind

Vegetarianism for your Health and the Environment

May 31, 2015

When it comes to meat, most of us are aware of the cruel factory farm conditions that our livestock is being raised in. It’s easy to turn the other cheek and put those horrific images out of your head when you bite in to a delicious Big Mac— but the cruel reality of raising meat doesn’t stop at the farm. The harm that meat production has on our bodies and our environment is becoming more and more evident, and perhaps considering vegetarianism (or even reducing your weekly consumption of meat) sounds like an appealing— AND EASY— way to give back to your body and the environment.

Vegetarianism for health and environment

For Your Health

Eating red meat is strongly tied to cancer. When meat is cooked, carcinogens can form on the surface of the meat. Carcinogens increase risk of DNA damage in our cells, causing the uncontrolled division of cells which causes cancer. Processed meats (salami, hot dogs, bologna) usually contain nitrosamines which are all carcinogens. Eating an alkaline diet (mostly vegetables) has been strongly linked to preventing and even fighting cancer… which means no meat.

When studies were released that saturated fats in red meats lead to higher blood levels of artery-damaging cholesterol and subsequent heart disease, many people were prompted to eat leaner meats and more skinless poultry and fish. This led to a nationwide reduction in coronary death rates with a drop in average serum cholesterol levels. Eating red and processed meat is also associated with elevated blood pressure.

About 80% of antibiotics sold in America are used on livestock, and those antibiotics get passed down to us. The stomachs of cattle aren’t made to digest grain— but feeding them grain versus grass means that they’ll gain weight more quickly. This causes numerous health problems, thus the administration of antibiotics is routine. The really crappy thing is that the FDA hardly regulates the antibiotics used on livestock, so we don’t really know how detrimental the effects are, even on humans. This lack of regulation also keeps us from having any idea how wide spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria are in our supermarkets.

hamburger

For the Environment

Meat has makes more of an environmental impact than any other food we eat because livestock require much more water, food, land, and energy to raise and transport than plants. The global livestock industry also uses dwindling supplies of freshwater, destroys forests and grasslands, and causes soil erosion, while fertilizer runoff and animal waste create deadzones in coastal areas and smother coral reefs. Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching to a vegetarian diet is more effective than switching from a standard car to a hybrid.

Raising animals requires butt-loads more water than growing plant products of equal nutrition. The biggest contribution to the total water footprint of all animal products comes from growing their feed. 68% of the grains produced in the U.S. are used for animal feed. Most livestock aren’t raised near their food source, which is usually grown in places without an abundance of water, ultimately depleting the global amount of potable water. When we eat a measly quarter-pound hamburger, we’ve just taken over 52 gallons of water from the Middle East.

Even though manure has huge environmental benefits when deposited responsibly, it is currently poorly managed in livestock operations and causes severe water contamination. Livestock grazing has negatively affected countless streams and riparian habitats, resulting in increased phosphates and nitrates, decreased dissolved oxygen, increased temperature, and reduced species diversity. Waste release from pork farms has been shown to cause large-scale eutrophication of large bodies of water in the U.S., including the Mississippi River and Atlantic Ocean. Eutrophication is when nutrients in water increases rapidly, causing an overgrowth of algae, depleting the water of oxygen, and causing the death of other organisms, such as fish.

Then there’s farting. Livestock produce 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities, which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change.

Make Your Impact

If you aren’t quite ready or your body doesn’t want to give up on meat all-together, perhaps just try to cut down!

Meatless Mondays

The Meatless Mondays movement is pretty inspiring, and spreading quickly. Making a come-back from WWI’s family meat moderation days, Meatless Mondays is helping spread awareness of the overconsumption of meat… and becoming a standard fare in corporate cafeterias, restaurants, schools, and home kitchens.

“If all Americans did not eat meat for one day a week, they would save 99.6 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. This would be the equivalent of removing 46 million round trip flights between Los Angeles and New York, or taking 19.2 million cars off the road for a full year.” — Huffington Post (read more about equivalents here)

Buy Local

Another great way to make your impact on your health and the environment is buying your meat local— plus, it supports your local economy! Local livestock farmers are usually involved in their animals’ lives from birth to slaughter, as they graze free-range and eat small amounts of corn. A local butcher cuts and wraps the meat and the animal has traveled under a hundred miles to get into your freezer. That’s not much of an environmental footprint per quarter-pound. Plus, the animals are much less likely to need antibiotics, the meat isn’t injected with dye to make it a deep red color, and it’s not full of preservatives.