Monday, February 28, 2011

Lessons in Living a Creative Life

Free Spirit Spotlight Graphic
I'm so excited to share another Free Spirit Spotlight with you.  Katina Wright is a mother, writer and artist who shares all kinds of creative exploration and genuine reflections on her blog, Wright Story.  Kat's compassionate spirit and positive energy is what I love most about her.  Enjoy her honest look at what a free spirited life looks like for her and get ready to be inspired.

Photos provided by Katina Wright.

How did you come to a place in your life where you fully embrace yourself as a creative person?
Struggling with my health the past seven years has encouraged me to look at who I am and what is important to me.  Being a daughter of two musicians and having been encouraged to be creative I'd always enjoyed creative activity, even done creative jobs but not fully embraced myself as a creative person until more recently.  I doubted my skill, worried about not being good enough and imprisoned myself with expectations.  When you're forced to be still because illness has given you no other choice it makes you look at life differently; appreciate the moment, be grateful for the small things and turn inwards.  I'd always wanted to live life creatively and I knew I had to make that a reality in whatever way I was able to.  Now creativity permeates my every day.  Being creative helps me mentally, physically, spiritually and is not a separate part of my life, but instead integral to it.


What's your favorite art medium for self-expression?
Writing and words have always been an important form of self-expression for me.  I've kept written journals and scribbled fiction in notebooks from a very young age.  I joke that some days I'd be unable to get out of bed if it weren't for journaling my thoughts, ideas and worries.  But also since childhood I've expressed myself through music, art, crafts and photos.  In my early adult years I stopped using these forms of expression but in recent years I've started to explore all these ways of being creative.  At the moment, I feel I'm still stretching and exercising my creative muscles through various mediums. I'm allowing myself to branch out, learn and have fun.


What is a free spirit to you?
I feel a free spirit is someone who allows them self to be who they truly are.  When we shed our own and others expectations we are free to express ourselves fully.  Unless we live in isolation, it is hard not to be influenced by others.  However, the way I am learning to trust and express who I am is by taking regular quiet time, listening to my intuition and by having lots of creative fun.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Funnily enough I recently wrote a blog post with the answer to this as my submission to the Inspiration Avenue Weekly art challenge.  I think inspiration can be found in everything, everyone and everywhere if we consciously allow ourselves to fully experience the moment we are in.  But, as all creative people know, there are times when we feel blocked from appreciating or expressing the inspiration we see.  For instance, you may crave a perfect sunset to paint or write about.  But often a rusty tool, your children playing, someone on the bus or the latest chart music - the everyday stuff - can provide great creative prompts.  My favorite muses though are my children, people in general, music, words/books, nature (especially trees & water) and craft/art materials themselves (especially ribbon & the various colors paint/ink/pens are available in).  I'm lucky enough to have been part of a supportive writing group for the past 9 years that has mutated from not just exploring writing but also all forms of creative expression.  Their friendship and inspiration have been invaluable to me.  More recently I've gained so much from the online connections I've made with creative individuals who are kind enough to share their work.  Sometimes though, when I'm stuck, I just need to find quiet, turn inwards and rest.  I think it's important to recognize that our creative selves need this time to reenergize, reconnect and stock up on creative energy.


How do you manage to find time and make space for your creative projects?
Ha!  With young children and an illness that zaps my energy this can be a momentous feat in itself.  My health is unpredictable and children have their own ever-changing lives, needs and emotions.  So I'm learning to take each day as it comes and not stress myself with expectations of what I should achieve.  I don't separate my creativity from the rest of my life and I grab the chance to create whenever and wherever.  I also try and include my children in creative activity encouraging them to work on their own creative projects alongside me or in fun art/music/storytelling joint ventures.  I learn and grow as much, if not more, than they do during these times.

It is hard to find space and time when we all lead busy full lives but for me the breakthrough came when I started to plan moment by moment and acknowledge the importance of my creative work as a priority.  So my home is generally cluttered with art materials and half finished projects.  But when I've been feeling very poorly, trust me, I never once wished to get better so that I could do housework and have a tidy home!  So now I try to be grateful for every moment I'm able to create and enjoy my family.  Like everyone, I catch myself wishing for more time but I remind myself to make the most of the time I already have, in the ways that mean most.


What would you say to those who want to live a creative life and find their artist within, but don't know where to begin?
If you long to live a creative life and find your inner artist then you should waste no time in living your dream.  From my experience, fulfilling the creative urge can bring improved wellbeing and health.  It can bring joy not just to you but to those around you as you begin to become the person you want to be.  So if you feel guilty because of money, responsibility, housework needing doing or whatever - then don't.  You will be a better, happier and healthier person if you allow yourself the room to express and grow.  And where should you begin?  Pick up a pen and paper and doodle or write with no expectations or judgments.  Get a huge piece of paper and some cheap poster paints and make a huge colorful mess. Cut out pictures you like from magazines and get gluey fingers while creating a collage.  Take photos of anything you find interesting.  Dance, sing, play get the idea.  To live a creative life you have to actually be creative and the best way to start is to just do it.  If you already create regularly then turn inward and meditate on how you wish to incorporate your creativity more fully into your life.  Join local or online groups that are interested in your creative medium.  But most of all get to know and love the true you. Offer yourself the space to grow and trust your intuition to carry you forward, moment by moment.  


Thank you, Kat, for sharing your beautiful words of creative wisdom with us!  You have reminded me that each moment, no matter how big or small, is precious and to be appreciated.

Your Personal Reflection:  Are you waiting for the "perfect" time to live your creative dreams?  What can you do NOW to start creating and appreciate each and every moment?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Loving Life

the best
Most photos taken by Chris Duh.

There's nothing like playing on the beach to rejuvenate your soul!  We spent this past week in Southern California, and although we saw our share of rain, getting to run around barefoot instead of wearing snow boots was just the boost we needed to get through the rest of our midwestern winter.

kes on the beach

This was the first time Kestan's toes have ever touched the sand and as you can tell from this photo, it was pretty darn exciting.

feeling free

What a complete joy to run around the beach with my boys.  We had so much fun on our adventure out west, and getting to feel the water and smell the ocean was definitely a highlight for me.

us on the beach

modern talent

Speaking of highlights, we had the special opportunity to visit the set of our favorite TV show, Modern Family.  (If you don't watch it, you should!)  Many months ago we purchased a silent auction item to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City. The auction item included 2 nights in a North Hollywood hotel and a chance to see a taping and visit the cast of the show.  Eric Stonestreet, who plays the hilarious Cam, donated the gift.  He happens to be from the Kansas City area, so it was fun to show up the day of our visit and see him wearing a K-State t-shirt.  (Even though I went to his rival school KU!)
walking into set

We showed up just after casting call around 7:45 in the morning.  This is the front of the stage and behind these doors is where the filming magic takes place.

close up

I'm ready for my close-up...

modern family set 3

We spent most of our day in these chairs, listening to headsets and watching monitors of the days taping. On this particular day they were shooting the mother's day episode.  We were lucky that the scenes being filmed were of a gathering with the entire family at Jay and Gloria's house, so all the cast members were there.

modern family set

We had fun taking a tour of all of the houses.  This is the Dunphy couch in their kitchen.

modern family set 2

Here we are in front of Mitchell and Cam's fireplace.

modern set family 4

This is their dining room and the place where Mitchell and Cam film their camera interviews.


We had the chance to see the entire cast, but actually got a little time to visit with Eric and Ty (who plays Phil).  Although, I have to admit, I wish we could have had a longer time to talk with them and ask questions.  (It's like they were busy working or something!) I'm happy to share that both Eric and Ty are super cool and down-to-earth.  We talked with Eric off and on throughout the day, and even met his mom and cousins who were in town visiting from KC.  I was excited to get this picture, as these guys are my favorite actors from the show.  (I really heart Phil and he's as nice as can be in person.)  

hanging with friends

In addition to our jaunt in Hollywood, we spent some quality time in Newport Beach with my best friends in the world (who we haven't seen in four years).  

the family

We mostly just hung out at their house while the boys played, but braved a chilly morning to take a ferry ride to explore Balboa Island.

balboa beach

On our last day we made a spontaneous visit to Disneyland when we found out that our friend, (who happens to be the new official voice of Mickey Mouse) was going to be at the park that day.  


We had so much fun and discovered that our 3-year-old is quite the thrill seeker.  He LOVED the rides - especially the rollercoaster in Mickey's Toontown.

happy ashton


Our trip to California truly was inspiring on so many levels.  The raw, vegan food we ate furthered my interest and excitement about sacred cooking.  After getting a taste of the warmer weather I came back with a deeper appreciation of the change in seasons.  I was reminded that good friendships are a treasure.  I was gifted with quality family time away from the computer.  I learned that sometimes you just gotta seize the moment and not hold back.  I broke free of our daily routine and really enjoyed being fully present with each new experience. And I was reminded of the most important thing of all - that I am so in love with my life.   

mommy and ash in cali

Your Personal Reflection:  Have you stepped away from your usual surroundings and regular routine in a while?  Are you in the mood for a change of scenery?  Even if you aren't planning to travel far from home, see if there are small ways you can change up your usual day by trying something new and notice what you discover along the way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lovin' Love

winter heart

You must love yourself before you love another.  
By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy. -Unknown

Happy Valentine's Day!  I've spent the day packing as we are leaving this snow behind for a vacation in sunny California (although the forecast says rain, rain, and more rain)!

I hope you celebrate this day of love by being a little extra kind to yourself.  Showing yourself love helps you invite more love into your life - and we can never have too much love - don't you think?

I'll be back in a week.  Love ya!

Your Personal Reflection:  What are some ways you show yourself love?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Choosing to LIVE FULLY NOW

sledding with kes

Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.  
~Henry David Thoreau

Happy February!  Um...where did January go?  Seriously, I know it's such a bore to repeat the phrase, "Time is flying by!"  But, man seriously, time IS really flying by!

As promised I'm here to share some words about big changes I'm making in my life...and although I don't really feel like I've got quite a grasp on how to explain them...well...I'm gonna try.

After a month of listening more, journaling more, painting more, and reflecting more, (as well as stumbling, making mistakes and taking on too much), I've noticed some messages in my heart that are ready to manifest - and those messages have inspired me to prioritize my intentions for this new year.  

Intention #1:  
To Live Without
My quest last year to Reduce Clutter; Create Space has helped shaped my new mantra for this year - To Live Without.  I get a magazine each month called Living Without, and it shares tips and inspiration around living a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle.  I have to admit I've never liked the title.  It sounded so depressing to me.  Who wants to "live without?"  I mean, come on, isn't that kind of limiting?  I want to live life to the fullest (and eat pizza) - shouldn't I get to have it all?

And then it hit me.  I've always had an issue with lack.  That I knew.  But, I kinda thought I was over it.  I mean, I used to think I wasn't good enough, or that I didn't make enough, or that I didn't have enough.  I couldn't possibly start teaching, coaching, making art, or writing because I didn't know enough.  You get the idea.

So the phrase, Living Without, was actually bringing up old feelings of lack for me.  I also think it's probably why I have a hard time staying within my weekly grocery budget and continue feeding my Whole Foods addiction, because I want to prove to myself we now indeed do have enough and I'll never have to live without again.

But...something has changed.  My year of reducing clutter has helped me get to this moment, where I not only am embracing living without, but I'm feeling happier and freer with less.  And I'm actually starting to experience a whole new meaning of wealth that goes way beyond a dollar amount.

So this year I'm letting go of more stuff (mental, emotional and physical junk), so that I can expand beyond things and allow space for the infinite possibilities that await.

sledding with ash

Intention #2:
Build Foundation - One Step at a Time
The fourth session of my Inside Out e-course ends this week.  And while I ask the explorers in class to dig deeper and dream bigger, it's only fair that I do the same!  It's the first class I've led while having two children and I have to say, the transition of working from home with a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old has had its set of say the least.  There are days when I think I'm crazy for trying to manage a career and mommy-hood.  But, again, after trial-and-error over the last month (and some tears), here's what I'm learning...

I need my creative outlet and connection to community just as much as I need to stay home with my children right now.  I also know that I have to continue striving to be present during both.  When I work, I need to focus on work.  When I'm with my children, I need to focus on my children.  It's that simple.  HA...simple?  Yay right.  It's anything but. Yet I'm willing to try, explore, fumble and discover ways that work best for my family and me.

So I am looking at this year as a time to build foundation - for my family and my careerI'm choosing to stay home with my children while they are so young because I want to be fully present with them during these foundation years.  This will require that I learn how to simplify my lifestyle even more, and find the balance that allows me to have dedicated work time during my week.  When I try to work around the children I feel crazy, frustrated and irritable.  As a creative person with more ideas than there are hours in the day, this is going to be a challenge for me.  But I know that I must be patient, and that what I really need right now is space.  This is a precious stage in my life and my children won't be young forever.  


Intention #3:

Sacred Kitchen - Sacred Life
I'm reading a book that is changing the way I prepare, eat and think about food.  It's called The Sacred Kitchen: Higher Consciousness Cooking for Health and Wholeness by Robin and Jon Robertson.  They have reminded me that my energy goes into the food I cook.  So if I'm cranky and resentful because I have to make dinner, then that cranky energy will pass on to my family through the meal I've prepared.  It's a fact that we have to eat every day so why not look at making dinner as a celebration?  I also really love exploring my creativity in a whole new way through cooking. 

organic food box

I am determined to stay within my grocery budget, eat organic, wholesome food and explore new recipes, as well as make my own!  I went ballistic on my kitchen this past week and cleaned out the pantry, fridge and all the cabinets.  I donated every last bit of plastic and items I never use.  I've been reading about canned foods and have switched to dry beans, and I'm now on a mission to digitize my recipes on my iPad so I can eliminate the paper and cookbook clutter, too.

Working to create a solid foundation in my kitchen seems to compliment conscious living in all other aspects of my life, and if nothing else, it just feels so darn good.


Intention #4:
Return to Stillness
I took a great e-course during the month of January called Picture Winter with Tracey Clark.  Each day I received a new photo prompt that inspired me to look at things in a new way.  One assignment was to capture an everyday household item.  The example in Tracey's photo was her coffee maker.  It got me to really pay attention to the items I use the most throughout my day.  Then I captured this picture.

Meditation Cushion

NO...this is not a household item I use every day!  In fact, it has been sitting in the corner of my bedroom just waiting for me.  It quietly speaks to me at night..."come sit on still...enjoy this quiet time after a long, busy day.  I'm here for you."  And I quietly reply back, "I'm too tired tonight.  Tomorrow...I'll sit on you tomorrow."

The household item that I use all the time is my iPhone, and in capturing this photo I had to be honest with myself and ask, "If I can find many times throughout my day to check Twitter, Facebook, and my email, then why can't I find just 5 minutes to sit on my meditation pillow?"

And that's when the shift for this new year started to manifest in a much greater way.  I'm making shifts like this one, taking time for meditation every night (although I still fight the "I'm too tired" excuse), and checking my phone WAY less, so that I can eliminate the chaos, clutter and insanity!

And you know something?  I realized that our society does not value "downtime."  We look up to and respect the people who do it all, have it all - the type-A, multi-taskers, go-getters, over-achievers, moneymakers, breadwinners, jet-setters.  Meditate?  Do nothing?  Just be?  Live in the present?  Rest?  Slow down?  Live without?  It may not be what mainstream America values, but I think there's value in stillness, and by god, I'm gonna try my best to get me some.

So with one small step at a time, I am embracing the authentic parts of me - the creative-entrepreneur-wanna-be-painter-art-maker-yoga-pants-wearing-zumba-dancing-breast-feeding-baby-wearing-mommy-loving-married-loving-dark-chocolate-eating-coffee-drinking-Modern-Family-watching-e-course-making-soul-searching-sacred-kitchen-making-deeply-connecting-stillness-craving-living-without-foundation-building and willing to make mistakes along the way.

Yes, life is moving by at a rather rapid pace, and I don't want to miss a thing.  I believe life is worth LIVING.  I'm choosing to take steps every day to live it to the very fullest.  And I'm pretty convinced now that I don't have to do more, be more, and have more to live a full life.

Playing in the snow

Most importantly, all this deep reflecting has helped me prioritize what's truly important to me.  I'm choosing to live the life I want to live NOW, and whether it's cooking in the kitchen, teaching a class, picking up toys, sitting in stillness, or playing in the snow - I'm gonna have fun doing it.

Are you with me?

Your Personal Reflection:  What small steps can you take, starting right NOW, to fully experience YOUR life?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Get Your Paint On

I want to apologize for being away from my blog over the past few weeks.  I have been really busy putting my attention towards a new group of Inside Out explorers (which has been AMAZING) along with balancing mommyville (and playing in the snow)!

But there's TONS that I want to share with you.  I've been digging deeper and have had some new "aha" moments, along with lots of new inspiration, but I find that I'm swimming in the process of change right now.  I just don't have the words.

So until then, here's a little art journaling inspiration for you.

Like the music in the video?  Visit my brother's site HERE.

wishBIG icon

AND, go check out the sneak peak of Wish BIG E-camp!  I'll be teaching a course along with 9 other awesome teachers and registration opens February 14th.  It's time to "gather 'round the creative fire" and get your paint on!

Your Personal Reflection:  How is the New Year treating you?  Have you been sticking to your resolutions or intentions?  Any "aha" moments you'd like to share?