Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


On quitting the dayjob, making everything creative, and starships: A Podcast

I am so honored to be today's guest on one of my most favorite podcasts, Creative Living with Jamie.

We talk about

  • quitting my dayjob (the steps I took to make that happen)
  • making everything an exercise in creativity
  • why I hang out in a Starship

It was SO fun to do the interview and I'm happy to share it with you!

You can  listen or subscribe to the podcast here.

(I recommend subscribing! I'm subscribed and I listen to it weekly while I wash the dishes…talk about making a boring job more creative!)

PS. Wanna interview me for your podcast, website or newsletter? Just shoot me a note with a link to your thing!

Happy Birthday, Gene Kelly!

Why yes, it is that beautiful man's birthday.

Gene Kelly

In honor of his birthday, we're throwing a craft-along.

You can join in by sharing your GK-inspired craft (all mediums welcome!) in the Flickr group. There's no deadline, there's no rules, just a bunch of crafters in love with the dancing man.

For me, the crush started the first time I saw Singin' in the Rain. I was 8 or 9 and we rented it from the library. I'm pretty sure it was the first musical I ever watched. It's definitely the first time I saw dancing like that.

I was completely transfixed…until the weird staircase scene (the woman, with the length of fabric…I just don't get it. Still.)
The most quotable scene, this one! (Long people, have short faces and short people have long faces…)

It soon became my watch-when-sick movie and it's never failed to lull me to sleep or make me forget about how icky I feel.

Which is why it was tragic when it was one of the movies stolen when  our house was broken into.

It was also the very first movie we replaced (just a week later Jay came home with another Singin' in the Rain. And a Wayne's World. But that's a story for a different craft-along.)


But confession:

I've never seen another Gene Kelly movie. Clearly, this is to be remedied. I've got Summer Stock and An American in Paris on hold at the library (so retro!) and Xanadu (never seen it! my child-of-the80s-cred is in question!) and (thanks to Rachel!) Anatomy of a Dancer cued up for tonight on Netflix Instant.

And for the craftalong?

I'm thinking an amigurumi Gene (like my Wimpy Kid) or perhaps a series of yarn, one for each movie I watch?

What will you make?

PS. Wanna OD on GK? Check out this great YouTube Playlist while you read the posts from the other craft-alongers: DianeRachel
(share your link in the comments and I'll add you here!)

Craft Film Club

Do you know about the Craft Film Club Mercedes started?
It's not too late to join!

This month I'm the hostess, which means I get to pick the movies and encourage y'all to share your thoughts, creative inspirations and projects.

March's Picks:

Amelie (on Netflix, on IMDB)
Umbrellas of Cherbourg (on Netflix, on IMDB)

Ok, the French major in me has to point out that their titles are SO much more fabulous in their native French! So if it's not terribly pretentious , I'm going to refer to them by their French names.

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain

I first saw this gem on January 4th, 2002 as an enthusiastic sophmore French major with my adorable boyfriend (who grew up to be my husband) at a little art theater in downtown Dayton. The Neon only has 2 screens, but they have a fantastic coffee bar, wine beer and fancy popcorn and plush velvet seats.

I remember feeling delighted (and a little shocked) throughout the whole movie. Who knew movies could be this drenched in mood and color and bonhomie?

I was smitten.

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

I've only seen this movie once, on the recommendation of Jane Brockett in The Gentle Art of Domesticity. Coloful, bright and yes, a musical. Completely, delightfully bright (and parapluies is just a fun word to say). Parapluies!

Why these movies?

I picked these two movies because of their use of color to illicit mood (and because in 7 years of studying French I watched a zillion french movies and want to share a few of them with you). I also think that Amelie had to  be inspired just a little by the magically musical world of Parapluies…and maybe a bit by Catherine Deneuve's style.

I can't wait to see what crafty projects they inspire for you!

I plan on making at least a yarn inspired by each of them…what are you going to make?



Postscript:  An update for you who have been waiting!
I'm deep in writing mode on the Guidebook for everything-I-know-about-marketing-your-handmade-goodness (yeah, I don't have a name for it yet). You can get first dibs on it (along with getting it first, you'll also get to help me write it) by signing up here.

Note: If you're in the Bake Sale Marketing class, you're getting it as part of the class.

The Cycle of Creativity

I have a theory:
Creativity is cyclical.

In my own work/life/business, I have these crazy full-of-ideas periods, followed by amazing get-stuff-done periods, followed by…today.
Stuckness, tiredness, I-don't-wanna-ness.

The cycle affects individual ideas (let's make a Learn to Knit kit!) and my  general, day-to-day creativity.

It starts with an idea, then a flow of ideas, then I get in the flow of making the ideas happen. This revving-up is my favorite part of the cycle. I would live here if I could.
I would camp here and do nothing but generate ideas and journal and plan all day long.
But then I get anxious to DO, to implement.

At the apex of the cycle is not just the flow of ideas, but the production, the work, the actual doing. In other words, creating.

But after that apex, as the projects continue to roll forward and the rush of ideas turns into a rush of details, sometime in the midst of doing, I slow.

And soon, the slowing is the overwhelming characteristic. No longer creating the thing, I'm either brunching (introducing the thing to the world) or I'm slowing down in the middle of the thing.

Following the slowing, comes the fallow period.

Despite being raised in the agricutural heartland, playing in cornfields, my days measured by the height of the corn: I haven't recognize or respect the fallow period until recently.

What does fallow even mean?

  • cultivated land that is not seeded for one or more growing seasons
  • undeveloped but potentially useful

I tried to ignore it.

Who wants to be “not seeded”?
Who wants “undeveloped”?

I tried to go right from the slowing, back to the doing.

But something in me resisted.
The ideas dried.
The inner pushpushpush halted.

I thought about napping.
I read for hours.
I baked, cleaned, strolled.

Before I recognized that this is a stage in the cycle, I kept pushing.
Pushing to get ideas.
Pushing to work on projects.
Pushing to work work work.
Pushing to get out of the un-doing and back to the doing.

But pushing got me nowhere.

Inexplicably, inexorably, unequivically the ideas came back.
First, just a trickle, then a stream and then a rush and I am back.
Back to doing, to planning, to creating.

Whether I push or not, my creativity cycled.
And, as Teresa said on Twitter today:

When you stop pushing it creates a vacuum that will fill back up with better ideas than you'd been pushing for!

When I recognize the fallow period, when I respect it, when I rest in it, I create a blank space, a well that is soon filled with ideas and energy.

Today, this week, I'm in a bit of a fallow period.
But it's ok, it's just part of the cycle.

Inspiration Monday #8: Creativity

I just started reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit last night and stayed up much later than I should have, enthralled by the concept of a creative habit and preparation for creativity. More on this as I get through the book and have some time to process it all.
Creativity keeps popping up:

I'm also thinking a lot about knitting with my own handspun. I can't seem to get up the courage to dye and spin the 24 oz of Merino I received as a gift over 2 years ago! I've yet to settle on a project that would meet my demands that 1. It be a project that I can see/use a LOT, not just during the (short) winter months and not so bright and “homemade” that I just wear it around the house. Nothing sloppy 2. It be doable and finishable – no intricate lace shawl with cobweb weight 3-ply! I've been perusing the following links, in hope of inspiration:

After seeing see this sweater, it all clicked: I need to knit a comfy, wear-everywhere hoodie out of my handspun! Nothing too bright, just muted, slightly stripey handdyed, handspun hoodie!

Creative Mojo

Ok, first of all, it's hard for me to talk about *mojo* without using my Austin Powers voice (yeah, baby) but my loved ones don't find that funny, so I'll resist (oh, behave).

But in reality, I am feeling the mojo. I've been reading, devouring, savoring Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write a little bit each day, journaling my impressions. That bit about resting in a creative idle, well it really sunk in and started to work some magic in my creative life. After a weekend of emptying list of ‘shoulds' and ‘musts' .. I woke up with a buzz Sunday morning. I had a burning desire to create, to make, to flow.
Luckily there's a stash of yarn next to my bed, so I grabbed the first ball and needles I found and just started knitting. It doesn't matter what I knit, or even that I knit…but what matters, what really spoke to me, was that I wanted to.
I had bemoaned that my interests and inspirations never make that jump into passion-in-action but through reading this book, I realized that it was because I wasn't showing up for it. Brenda (we're on a first name basis, now) encourages the writer (or artist or whatever) to show up everyday, ready to write, ready to create. I had been feeling inspired, but I wasn't commiting to showing up whether inspiration struck or not. Just the commitment itself has become inspiration, spurring me on to action.
I'm not entirely sure I'm explaining this as clearly as I'd like, but I plan on writing about this more, with my journal by my side, because it feels important to get this right, to figure out this part of my creative life. To understand and maybe to capture it…

Creative Idle

I am not an idle person. Or patient. I love efficiency. Practicality. 10 year plans. I long for goals and lists and checkmarks.

And yet.

Creativity comes in those moments where the brain has a chance to wander. To wonder. To drift.

Maybe it wonders to un-creative, daily things: the grocery list or if the dog's been fed yet. But in those in-between moments, when I abstain from forcing efficiency; when I stop writing the list and start doodling in the margins. Creativity. Inspiration.

Barbara Ueland refers to this as “moodling”. She called it being creatively idle. Sitting in front of the tyepwriter (for writers; the canvas for painters, the yarn for knitters) every day, giving space and time for the something that is uniquely you to pour forth onto the page.

I've heard it a thousand ways: Allowing the muse to speak. Waiting on God. It appears in many of my beliefs, in the literature and theology I love to study, this idea of waiting. Waiting for the words to come, for the solution to present itself. Contentedly, mind you. Not in a rush, not forcing it, not listing pros and cons. Sitting ready. Waiting.

And yet.

And yet I make lists: things to write about, things to knit, things to sew. I sketch sweater designs, embroidery designs, grocery lists. Wondering why I don't feel impassioned to do any of the things on my list. I'm not stopping to wait.

But that's what I want: to idle. To create space and room for not just creativity, but for the passion to actually do.