Free Download: Printables for the Creative Starter

Words have the power to shape our lives, light our paths, and motivate us to do the work we are called to do.

As I get older, and (hopefully) wiser, I’m realizing how important it is to focus on positive things. It’s so easy to feel discouraged and throw a pity party when things aren’t going my way. But when I give thanks for the creative gifts I’ve been given, and choose to push the negative thoughts aside, I’ve found my motivation to push through increases.

That’s why I’ve designed three printables for my home office. Three simple quotes to remind me to push through, keep practicing and keep creating. And I thought others may enjoy a dose of motivation too, so I’m giving them away for free!

 You can download your free art printables by entering your email below:


 

Here are the Three Quotes:

  1. Comfort Never Leads to Excellence – Jeff Goins, Author of The Art of Work
  2. Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun – Christina Rossetti
  3. Dude, You Got This – Not really a quote, just a helpful reminder 😉

Free Download | Printables for the Creative Starter Free Download |Printables for the Creative Starter

Seize the day. Take chances. Be yourself.

3 Things I Learned from Swimming in a Rain Storm

This life was meant to be savored. When opportunities come, in which we can either sit back and play it safe, or jump in and fully experience the joys of this world – I want to be known for the latter. Let me tell you a story.

It was the last day of a weekend away with an amazing group of people. Some have been friends with my wife since elementary school and others were brand new to the group. We rented a house in St. Pete Beach, Florida and all convened upon it for a weekend in the sun, playing, laughing and taking time out of our busy lives to re-connect.

As it goes in Florida, afternoon storms were slowly rolling in and threatening our pool time. Thunder rolled in the distance and we slowly began to congregate in the sun room next to the pool. There was a great, long table there with plenty of room so we sat around it, chatting as the rain began to fall and the wind began to pick up.

And the skies opened wide.

It was pouring. Like, really pouring. The kind that makes you stop and stare for a bit, like looking at a fire or a lava lamp or something. Most of us were transfixed on the rain as a thought occurred to me: We’re all wearing bathing suits.

Without further thought, I caught my wife’s eye and asked if she were up for a frolic. She lit up and said yes and out we ran into the torrential rain. It was a shock of cold water on our backs in the humid Florida air, and I tensed up and screamed like a little girl. After running around like kids for a second or two, we both jumped into the pool, a surge of warmth washing over our bodies.

And then something amazing happened.

Out of a door at the back of the house one friend came running full speed, jumping into the pool. I came up from under the water and another friend appeared next to us. I didn’t even see her enter the pool. And then the sliding glass door of the sun room burst open as about another eight friends came bounding for the pool, rain still pouring down in sheets. A volleyball went up in the air and we tried to keep it up, having trouble seeing because the rain was so heavy.

And there we stayed. A group of about 15 people, aged 30ish, laughing and playing like children, with no place to be but here, in this moment.

The moment finally came to a close when lightning lit up the sky. But no worries, our hearts were already so full. And I’d hear for the next few days from others that this moment was their favorite of the weekend. It was mine too. Which left me pondering: What could I learn from this story to apply to my creative life? Well, turns out there’s plenty.

1. Remember to Be Yourself

When I first asked my wife to play in the rain like a child, I wasn’t fully thinking. In a good way. Had I thought through it, I may had decided I didn’t want to look silly in front of people I didn’t know too well. But I remembered doing this as a kid, and the fun that was had, and decided I could have the same fun, right now, at age 33. Sometimes, when you just be yourself and do the things that make you happiest, it gives others permission to do the same. In a sense, we gave others the permission to look ridiculous, and enjoy the rain.

2. Remember to Seize the Moment

Carpe that freakin’ diem, my friends. We could have just watched the rain and had a pleasant enough time chatting at the table in the sun room. But when would it be storming again without lightning in Florida? It was our last full day there together, so we might as well make the most of it. Maybe not every opportunity you face will be so childish, but sometimes life presents you with chances that have no perceived “benefit”, like more money, more time, more chores done. But experiencing joy is what makes all those other things more enjoyable. Enter into the moment for the joy of it.

3. Remember to Trust Yourself

I wasn’t trying to craft some amazing experience when I headed into the rain. But it happened. People followed and we had an amazing time together. Remember, you have good ideas. Especially the ones that suddenly fly into your brain that you think are silly. Entertain them and trust the instinct, it may have been put there for a very specific reason.

I still smile as I tell this story. It reminds me of moments I’ve read about in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, where moments are recognized as the grace and gifts of God and thankfulness leads to a richer life. I’m so thankful I got to share this moment with some amazing people and we didn’t let that storm go by without entering into it.

Have you had any moments like this one? Let me know about it in the comments!

3 things I learned from swimming in a rain storm

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Setting goals begins with this one question

One Question That Can Dramatically Impact Your Future

Every once in a while, life presents you with a defining moment. Some may even call it an epiphany. But if you’re not aware enough to identify it as such, you could miss a major growth opportunity.

I wrote in an earlier blog of one of those moments, when I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’d like to share another one I experienced on the road to discovering what I was meant to do. This one is related to the other, and it involves my wife.

Making Room to Dream

It was the end of March and the weather was finally warming up. Atlanta in the spring is truly one of the most beautiful places to be, and my wife and I love taking advantage of the outdoor opportunities the warm weather affords.

This year it also happened to be a really busy season for us and we were feeling (especially my adventurous wife) a strong desire for something different. We wanted to get away, if only for a night, and be near the water. So I got on AirBnb and started looking around at some options. After some searching, I manged to find the perfect place for our getaway: a docked sailboat on Lake Lanier.

How cool is that?

We had such an amazing time. We got burgers to-go at a nearby tavern and ate them on a secluded beach while watching the sunset. Then we just sat on the back of the boat, drinking wine and listening to music. Many boats around us had string lights on as their occupants did the same. We were having a great time reconnecting, away from all the distractions.

Then my wife asked me this question:

What do you want?

See, my wife has this God-given ability to cut through pleasantries and go deep in conversation, creating a vulnerability that fosters connection. And there she went again. And it truly took me by surprise and I was having trouble answering at first.

But this one question forced me stop and focus on something I had not asked myself in a long time. What do I want? Why can’t I clearly articulate it? I needed to change that.

At the time, I said there were a number of things I wanted. A family, the freedom to spend time with them and to serve God with my talents. But In the months since it was first posed, I just keep coming back to this question and what it’s teaching me:

1. You need time to focus on what’s important

Life was crazy when we did our sailboat getaway. We recognized the signs that we needed some quiet time, out in nature. And often when you’re faced with the beauty, peace and scale of things like oceans, lakes, mountains and stars, you’re naturally left pondering your place in the world

2. You need to ask good questions

I know I’m often guilty of letting moments go by – both with the relationships around me as well as myself – without being intentional. In the same way that it is hard to really know someone without taking the time to really talk to them, you can’t fully understand what you want in life without a little self-talk. Get alone, ask questions and listen. If that’s difficult for you, set aside some time with a trusted friend to help begin the process.

3. Knowing what you want helps you define why you do what you do

This is a big one. Setting goals naturally acknowledges a direction you’re headed. It also creates accountability for your life. If your goal is to open your own bakery, you’ll be spending many hours practicing your craft, researching locations and learning from others. The goal dictates what you focus on. Without a clear vision of what you want, your time becomes free to roam where it wants, leaving very little leftover for the things that may bring you closer to the life you desire.

This all takes practice and it will develop over time, as it has been for me. But it’s so worth it. So take some time, either alone or with a friend or your spouse, and ask the question, ” What do I want?”

Please let me know what you discover by leaving a comment!

Setting goals begins with this one question

The One Simple Thing You Can Do To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

We live in a world where comparison comes easily. Because of social media, we have windows into the lives of just about anyone.  If you’re not careful, one scroll through Facebook and Instagram can leave you feeling like your life is pretty much the most boring of them all.

Beaches you’re not relaxing at, delicious meals you’re not eating, things you do not own and art you’re not creating. Each post becomes another nail in the coffin of monotony that is your life. Am I the only one who feels this way?

If you’re an artist, like me, you tend to follow many other artists on these social networks. It really is a great way to find inspiration and grow ideas for you’re own work. And if you’re also like me, you can so easily fall into that trap of thinking you’ll never be that good, talented or known.

So why even try?

I have those days where I don’t even want to try to do anything creative or meaningful with my life. It seems like the world is doing just fine without my little contributions already. Better just sit on Facebook and watch funny videos. That’s far more entertaining than trying, anyway.

But you know what I’m learning that changes everything?

Wait for it.

Wait for IT.

The only person responsible for where I’m at and where I’m going is me.

If I want to see positive change in my art, my marriage, my life – it’s up to me. Thinking this way helps me change my perspective. It helps me choose what thoughts and activities will get my attention. Because I am the one responsible for my own story. Instead of thinking about how far behind I am compared to others, I think about the work I am doing, the progress I have made and will make. And I choose to be thankful for it all.

And that brings me to the greatest weapon for fighting comparison.

Beating Comparison with Gratitude

It’s hard to feel jealous or sorry for yourself when giving thanks for what you have and where you’re at. Gratitude can take all that negativity and flip it on its head. Instead of thinking I’m a crappy photographer, I can be thankful I have the resources to become a better one. Instead Of being jealous of that beautiful new car I don’t own, I can be thankful I have zero payments on mine and it works perfectly.

And when I see people doing amazing things when I’m not, I can be thankful for the amazing experiences I have had in life and choose be inspired to fill my life with more of them.

And this feels so good. Because when you take responsibility for what your life looks like, you create ownership of your story. You are no longer a victim, but the hero. No one wants to read a story about someone who never overcame anything but just blamed everyone for their problems. We love movies where the hero wants something and overcomes the odds to achieve it.

So when comparison creeps in to tell you how bad you have it, think of just one thing you’re thankful for, and get back to work being the hero you know you are. It’s your choice.

When you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t match up to others, what’s one thing you can be thankful for? Let me know in the comments.

The One Simple Thing You Can Do To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

 

Finding what you're meant to do involves listening to your life.

How To Find Your Calling: Listen to Your Life

Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. – Parker J Palmer

I know that there is a purpose for my life and I’m determined to find it. If I can embrace mystery, and be ok with the not-knowing, I can discover my life’s work.

Two months ago, I didn’t have a clue where to start. For years my own fears of failure and unknowns led down a path of inaction. But still, the stirring inside remained. There has to be more.

Thank God for the internet. While scrolling through my Instagram-feed, feeling sorry for my lack of self purpose, a book cover caught my attention. The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, by Jeff Goins.

I had never heard of Jeff Goins, but that title intrigued me SO much. I went to his site and clicked around and found he was giving away the book for the cost of shipping. Whoa… an author AND a marketer. I like that. And so I bought the book.

And it’s been opening up a world inside of me. Taking something so lofty, like finding your calling, and bringing it down to where I was at. The ideas were simple, yet so empowering. He does this through multiple stories of ordinary people, like me, who have discovered what they were meant to do.

One thing that has been a major milestone for me, is what Goins describes as “awareness”. It’s the first stage of discovering your vocation, or calling. If we can take the time to look back on our lives, we can realize that we already have a sense of what are called to. Our lives have been speaking, but it’s up to us to listen.

I spent about a week thinking about that. As I went through my day to day, I began to take notice of the things that I loved, the work I love to do, and not just recently, but all the way back to my childhood. It still felt so ambiguous and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I enjoy so many things, like design and photography, that I felt overwhelmed at knowing which step was the first step.

Then the clarity came

I was driving home from work one day, listening to a podcast from Dale Partridge, an entrepreneur and founder of Sevenly. I can’t remember who he was interviewing. It doesn’t really matter. But I remember being so inspired by hearing the host talk to entrepreneurs and the creative businesses they’ve started. With 15 minutes left in my drive and no more podcast to distract me, I began to pray, and a thought entered my head:

I am an entrepreneur.

My eyes welled up with tears, as is typical when my heart agrees with somethings God is trying to tell me. I said it out loud, “I’m an entrepreneur”. And it just felt right. Just saying the words, agreeing that part of me, instantly laid a foundation for the future to come.

And as I looked back on my life with this new lens I began to agree more with it. I was always the kid knocking on doors to rake peoples’ leaves or shovel their snow. I remember the feeling when I made $80 one snowy day when I was 10. In middle school, I learned to string lacrosse sticks, and I soon hung up flyers in the locker rooms advertising my service, charging less than the local store to do it. I’m proud to say I’ve been a member of eBay since 1998, buying and selling things since high school. In college, I did a project where I created caricatures of the members of the band I was in. I thought they looked cool and that others may want their own, so I made a website where people could order theirs, called DrawPhoto.

My life was strewn with these moments. I’d often find something I enjoyed doing on my own, then figure out a way to make money from it. It was just natural. Inside of me.

My Grandparents

One other thing I was reminded of was my grandparents. For most of my life I did not really recognize that they too were entrepreneurs, but looking back now, I can see how much they impacted me. They were antique dealers, with a basement full of treasures that would some day be sold. I loved looking at the random things they’ve found and I can still picture exactly what their basement looked like, homemade shelves of Rubbermaid bins lining all the walls. I would watch them buy lamps at garage sales for $800 and then they’d take me on trips into New York City as they auctioned them for $5000. Who knew those things were Victorian?!

I would help them with antique shows at the West Side Piers and I loved walking around and seeing the booths of the rare things people had for sale. I always loved the old advertisements and campy things like ray guns from the 50’s. It was an amazing world to me. And as I look back I can now see that the entrepreneurial spirit within me was being awakened and confirmed. It was all kind of making sense to me now.

And that scares the crap out of me

So I’m an entrepreneur now? What does that even mean? What’s my business? What will I do and how do I start?

I have more questions than answers, and that scares me so much. But at the same time, I feel a foundation has been laid, and my direction is just a little more clear. And I understand that without recognizing what my life had been telling me, I would be that much more lost. Things are now making more sense as I look through this lens. I feel one step closer.

I’m an entrepreneur.

What do you think your life is telling you? Take some time to reflect on it and let me know in the comments below.