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Creativity at Work & Play: Living an Amplified Existence

Creativity and Big Magic

“A creative life is an amplified life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I recently finished a book — one of those books where right after you’ve finished it, you feel you could read it again, and again, and be inspired in a different way each time. It was Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I have no doubt that it spoke to me on such a deep level because of its subject matter: creativity — something I’ve built both a business and life around.

Gilbert contends that we are all creative. We all have access to creativity, because we are human. And as humans, it is both our duty and our privilege to act on that creativity.

Which made me take a moment to think about how I’ve acted on my creativity, and how I’ve incorporated it into my life. And how vastly different the creativity I fill my work days with is from the creativity that feeds my spirit outside of my work, but how much I need them both.

Creativity embodied in work & play

While I realize how fortunate I am to have a creative job during the day and a creative passion that fuels me in all the hours around it, I have learned to set parameters around how I use my two creative pursuits so that one feeds the other.

Why do I need to draw this line? Because, as Gilbert presents so beautifully in her book, when you rely on your true creative curiosities to sustain you both financially and soulfully, one tends to “murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”

I never want that to happen.

For me, it’s about using two very different pursuits to fuel each other, so that my creativity is always being exercised, but never too burdened.

Creativity at work

Graphic design and branding is my creativity at work; my logical sustenance. It feeds me on a professional level by letting me use my creative soul to serve others, while making a reliable income that I can support my family with.

I say this with much love: this aspect of my creativity is the responsible side of my being. Although I am exercising creativity on a daily basis with color, texture, layout, and more, I am restricted by technological constraints — computers, software, renderings, resolutions — as well as by demand constraints — I can earn only as much as the client wants to pay, and I am bound within the calling of their brand.

While these constraints do mean that my creativity isn’t exercised as freely as it is in other pursuits, it does mean that I get to use my creative skills to serve clients, so that they can change the world with what they do. I am giving my art on a much broader scale, and can’t help but feel a certain sense of pride when I see it on billboards, grocery store shelves, tourism bureau walls, and websites around the world.

It’s not so bad for logical sustenance, right? But the real fun comes when I get to use my creativity for play.

Creativity at play

Painting is my creativity at play; my soul’s sustenance. It feeds me at my core, and lets me use my creativity to serve myself. Painting is my unbridled, unadulterated creativity. There are no limitations; there are no pressures.

There is absolute creative freedom when I am painting. I follow no rules; I don’t rely on electricity or software; I am bound only by my own, self-imposed limitations.

I am allowed to have this freedom because I’ve built a creative day job that provides that logical sustenance. Thanks to my visual branding work, I don’t have to put pressure on my paintings; I’m not worried about creating the next masterpiece that will sell for millions.

Would I love to spend all of my time painting every day in the south of France, the Tuscan plains of Italy, or the mountains of the Adirondacks? Of course. But if I demanded that my painting pay for my existence, I would not have the sacred experience I get when I paint now — when I gather up my supplies, head out en plein air, squeeze the colors from the tubes, choose my favorite brushes and pallet knife, set my easel up, and observe what’s surrounding me.

Energy comes through me from a higher source when I am totally immersed in this process. It is my commitment; it is my loyalty. I am able to experiment without any restraints or boundaries. It is my Big Magic.

How they come together

I love both sides of my creative life. I am grateful for the balance that they each give me, and how one allows for the other. Without my logical sustenance, my soul would not be fulfilled, and without my soul fulfilled, I could not enjoy my other work nearly as much.

Whether it’s the cover of a brochure designed in Photoshop or the free-flowing brushstrokes on a canvas, creativity has always, and will always, be both my work and my play.

Living an amplified life

To put her words another way, Creativity is a life, amplified. If that’s the truth (and I happen to think it is), then I am living an amplified existence — and I want you to, as well.

Find your passions and pursue them without constraint. Write those poems. Sketch that portrait. Sing that song. Bake that pie. Whatever creative experience you are dreaming of, find the time and make it happen — but don’t put the pressure on it to be your sustenance on every level.

Will you join me in living an amplified life?

Leaping into the New Year

Oh, holiday season… don’t these festive weeks always seem to fly by? Somehow, between the gatherings, the shopping, the decorating, and everything else that comes along with whatever you might be celebrating, the days and weeks pass more swiftly than normal.

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree

In the middle of the unavoidable overwhelm, I love taking a moment to pause. I know what you’re thinking — we barely have enough time as is… how can we pause? Let me clarify: moments of pause don’t mean you have to stand still. Your “pause” might be exercise, reading, grabbing coffee with a dear friend, or getting clever in the kitchen. Whatever it is, it’s important to remind yourself to take that pause — away from the stressors — whenever you feel the overwhelm setting in during this hectic season.

My moments of pause bring me back to the passion that grounds me — my painting. Each year now for the past decade, I’ve brought to life the “12 Days of Christmas” with a brush and paints. It all started with the infamous Partridge in a Pear Tree, continuing on through the Five Golden Rings, landing at this year’s 10 Lords a Leaping. Creating these paintings at

this time of year is the perfect pause for me to bring myself back to balance so I can truly enjoy the holidays.

I’m also particularly excited for this year’s because of two things:

1. Illustrating 10 Lords a Leaping is just plain fun.

2. The Lords aren’t the only ones taking a leap!

Leaping into the new year as a business owner

This time of year isn’t just hectic because of the holidays… these weeks are also stressful because they mean one very significant thing: another year is coming to a close.

It’s December 18th. We now have just 13 days until 2014 gracefully exits and 2015 bursts open.

5 Golden Rings

Don’t let these days burn you out; use them as inspiration. A final chance to make the most of 2014 before we begin with the renewal of a new year. I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have I reached the goals I set out for myself in 2014?

Revisit those goals you set back in January, and throughout the year. What milestones did you celebrate? What did you release? What have you created? Celebrate the wins of all sizes. The goals that you didn’t reach — are they still priorities? Don’t deflate. If they’re still important to you, carry them over. If not, it’s okay to let them go.

2. If there was one thing, and one thing only, that I could accomplish with these last 13 days, what would it be?

Creating a mile-long to-do list for 13 of the busiest days of the year isn’t the best idea — and won’t leave you time for those much-needed pauses. But focusing on one task, project, or idea that you can reasonably implement during this time will help you end your year on the right note.

3. How has my business — and brand — grown over the year?

Your brand naturally evolves as your business ages and grows. What has changed? What has expanded? Is your branding showing up in more places, and is it everywhere it needs to be? Perhaps most importantly — has your business outgrown your brand? Is it still working for you?

4. What am I most looking forward to in 2015?

We must prepare accordingly if we’re going to leap. Where is your business going in 2015? What are you looking forward to creating for your followers? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

The key to supporting your leap

10 Lords a Leaping

Here’s my secret that’s not-so-secret: your brand is the key to supporting your leap. With a solid, true-to-your-business brand in place, the foundation is set for you to focus on creating for and delighting your customers over the next year. Your brand will support you in communicating, promoting, and selling your products and services. And the right brand will expand as you do.

As a holiday treat to you, I’d love to help you figure out if your brand is on track to support you throughout 2015. Book a complimentary Brand Clarity Call now, and we’ll get laser-focused on making sure your brand is working for you!

And please, remember to take time to pause throughout the upcoming weeks. Breathe during the overwhelm. Enjoy your time with family and friends.

Then, when the clock strikes midnight and we enter into 2015, enter in leaping!

Happy holidays! What are you most looking forward to in 2015?

12 Days of Christmas