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Life of the Creative

Inspiration Productivity

A Summer of Abundance and Growth

September 25, 2015

Paintings by Ursala Hudson

Waves of monsoons resulted in a lush, thriving summer that offered abundance in all areas of our family’s life. I like a state of constant movement — analyzing, brainstorming, and producing. I generally try not to think about how much is getting done because otherwise I get anxiety that I’m not creating enough. Therefore, it wasn’t immediately obvious if we’d even accomplished much over the past three months, but as I began listing the projects that Drie and I completed, I finally felt like I could take a deep breath and relax. Here is the recap of the projects we worked on this summer.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Paintings & Collages

I started the summer by returning to my oil painting, but oil painting requires patience and rotating through paintings while the others dry, and sometimes I just want instantaneous results! So I turned to painting in acrylics and making collages. It was so refreshing, and I just might keep it up until my little girls are bigger and I get larger chunks of time at my easel.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Ghost Rabbits dress-up 

Drie has collected quite the stockpile of amazing vintage garments over the last year, and it completely fills her entire guest room. One of our favorite past-times with two of our best friends, Betsy and Emilie, is over-dressing for parties and events. Emilie and Betsy (sisters) were both in town this summer, so Drie jumped at the opportunity to have a dress-up party, even though we had nowhere to go. The four of us rummaged through Drie’s racks and shelves and took photos for her blog that accompanies her vintage Etsy store, Ghost Rabbits. It was a little hard to part with the pieces I modeled, but I’ve scored some other beauties off of her in the months since. See the Ghost Rabbits blog post for more photos.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Charter school touring

I’ve been working on opening a K-12 charter school with a group of parents here in Pagosa, and this summer we were able to travel around Colorado and New Mexico, visiting innovative schools to gain inspiration before we wrote our own academic model into the charter application. The above photo is from a Montessori farm school in Española, New Mexico, that centers its curriculum around growing food.

Charter schools are public schools that do not discriminate nor charge tuition, and they are exempt from many of the state regulations that conventional public schools must follow. Our school won’t be opening until the fall of 2017, because the charter application takes about a year to write, and then the school takes about a year to open, but our group is right on track! Follow our adventures on the Pagosa Charter School Initiative’s blog by clicking here.

This charter school project has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve experienced in my life, mostly because it’s showed me that the first step in a creative project is usually the toughest: committing. And then, as long as you have a work plan, you have a pretty strong chance of succeeding.

aerial

Aerial

Drie has been doing aerial training for a few years now, picking it up at Cirque School LA. When she returned to Pagosa last winter she had assumed she’d be sacrificing certain luxuries by moving here, including an aerial community, but almost immediately found out that she wasn’t going to have to give up on the silks after all. Her friend Sariah, whom she took her yoga teacher training from, offers non-formal aerial training at her gym where Drie also takes yoga classes.

Aerial is a fun, unique, and graceful way to stay in shape, and I’m just a tad bit envious at Drie’s strength and commitment to it. Drie is innately dedicated to caring for her body and mind in ways that express her individuality and femininity, and this summer of rekindling her love for the silks is just the beginning of what’s to come.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Art with the daughter

One of my fondest memories growing up in this little town I [still] live in was submitting my artwork into the county fair each August. At our county fair you can enter one item in every category of their display competition, but since this was Amelie’s first year, we focused on making one quality piece of work. She carved an Easy-to-Cut “suicide” block print with my guidance, and I only directly helped with the printing. When we saw the blue ribbon hanging from the frame after judging, we were both pretty proud.

We also did quite a few other art projects this summer, mostly creating huge messes of tiny cut-up paper, and a couple collaborative paintings. Read more about painting in acrylics with children here.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Folk festival 

This year my long-time buddy and graphic design colleague, Jacque, invited me to take photos for Folk West at the Four Corners Folk Festival. I haven’t taken full advantage of this local music festival in the past, but this year I had a back-stage full-access pass, with late-night shows and all meals included, and I fell completely in love. I went wherever, whenever I pleased, and heard the bands play from as close to the stage as was possible. The late-night performances were my favorite because of the small audiences and less formal set lists. The above photo is the fiddle player from the Oh Hello’s, who had all the young girls in the crowd swooning. I sure hope I get invited back next year!

vintage dress restoration

Vintage restoration

On her road trips Drie finds all sorts of delectable treasures, but oftentimes they have been discarded due to damage. The price makes them hard to pass up, so Drie takes them home and works her magic, restoring them to their previous glory. Restoration is time and research intensive, but always a rewarding experience. The amazing dress above was completely tea-stained before Drie spent a couple days giving the dress tender-loving baths and drying it in the shade. Other restored items are mixed in with her other treasures in her vintage store.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Gardening

Growing food at 7,000 feet above sea level is really fucking hard. In some climates you can just throw seeds around and pretty soon there’s stuff growing everywhere, but there’s only about 3 months of a growing season here in Pagosa. We have all four seasons, drought, the intense sun, and the wildlife that all require extra measures to be taken. Last year I managed to get a pretty abundant garden going before the deer ate 2/3 of it by mid-July. It was pretty heart-breaking. So, this year my dad helped me build a hoop-house. We clamped plastic to the ends, and put a shade cloth over the top, and not only has it kept the animals out, but nothing got fried by the sun! The shade cloth lets in most of the rain too, so I really only watered while my seedlings were coming up. Next spring I’m going to put plastic over the top to prolong my growing season by a couple months, but I’m not quite ready to water through the winter yet, so the shade cloth will be coming down any day now.

Stone Currents projects

This blog has been one of our largest projects this summer, as anticipated at the start-up. Drie and I were experiencing a minor disconnect, with her living *gasp* eight minutes away, and the babies napping seemingly all day long. Our blog projects and adventures force us to stay in contact and encourage us to create cool stuff both together and individually. Here were the summer projects we previously blogged about:

With the goal of inspiring our readers to reflect on periods of creativity, I plan to do more seasonal project recaps in the future. This sort of compilation of achievements is a great method to bring awareness to areas you neglect while simultaneously honoring your accomplishments. It can be a motivating and a mindful way to enter new phases with updated goals and a clearer vision. What have you produced recently?

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!