After nearly two decades as a creative entrepreneur and writer, I’ve come to find some of the best hacks and apps for your creative career (including great tools,  and software) that make my days run smoother. And when I find something great, I love to share! But it’s been a while since I’ve done a roundup of tools and hacks, so I thought I’d send you a list of some of my favorites today.

In this post I’ll cover: graphics software, getting sh*t done tips & tools, my favorite bookkeeping tool, social media automation, email marketing recommendations, and ways to shore up your mental reserves and stay motivated to build your creative empire! I hope you find some gold nuggets here.

Here we go: Some of the Best Hacks and Apps for your Creative Career

DIY Graphics Software for Non-Designers

If you should have the need to create some graphics for your brand and you don’t have the budget for a designer, here are a couple of great options:

Visme is an online tool for creating a variety of graphics and fancying up information for things like printables, infographics, documents, social graphics, and presentations. It’s all online within your browser so you don’t need to download software. They have a variety of design templates and elements to choose from. It can really help you get your brand looking polished for a pretty minimal price.

Favorite features:

  • User-friendly, logical design templates
  • Quick tutorial videos to get you going fast and provide guidance for the less design-inclined
  • In their top package ($20/mo) you can utilize custom URLs, track views, upload your own fonts, create a brand palette, and much more.visme graphics editing

Canva is also a good tool, but not as robust. Like Visme, it also has a free basic membership that you can try out before committing. I feel like Canva is more geared toward making print materials like posters, cards, photo collages and social media images.

Favorite features:

  • User-friendly design templates
  • It’s a little cheaper if budget is a concern

Getting Sh*t Done

I often use E.ggtimer.com to set timers to motivate myself to finish tasks more quickly. It’s amazing how a little timer can motivate you.

Evernote is an awesome tool for keeping notes, thoughts, and ideas organized and available anywhere. I’ve used the desktop version for years and a few years back starting using the mobile app as well. It makes it super easy to jot down notes, ideas, even type up a draft of a chapter or blog post at the doctor’s office. The app and desktop version sync so I can keep my ideas handy wherever I am. And even the free version is pretty robust.evernote app

Batching. You may have heard me talk about this before, but as much as possible I try to batch alike tasks to save time and mental energy. So for instance, I generally only check mail once or twice per week, check email at set times (instead of incessantly all day), etc.

Communicate. I’ve been working from home since my kids couldn’t walk. And even though everyone says “it must be so easy,” you have to protect your time and space. Carving out dedicated, uninterrupted hours is key. Having a door to shut is equally important. And finally, a lot of chaos and tension can be solved by communicating with loved ones that your work time is important. Sometimes family gets frustrated when I’m not available to chat during work hours, but if I split my focus my work suffers and so do my deadlines. This isn’t a set it and forget it kind of solution by the way, it’s an ongoing reminder to folks that you take your work seriously.

More getting sh*t done tips are also here.

Bookkeeping

For me, this is a necessary evil. For years I used QuickBooks and an excel spreadsheet. I did all of my client contracts (once I learned the hard way that I needed them, lol) in Word and spent a lot of time on redundant activities. About ten years ago, one of my developers recommended a new online accounting software called Freshbooks. Welp, I’ve been with them ever since. It’s not perfect, but it fits most of my needs and helps me streamline my workflow so estimates, invoices and payments are so much easier. If you’re looking for a simpler, more user-friendly solution to your invoicing and payment process I recommend checking it out. (Full disclaimer: I use the legacy version–not the All-New version they recently came out with).

freshbooks app

Favorite features:

  • Easy online invoicing & online payments (via PayPal, Stripe or others)
  • Can see when a client has viewed an estimate
  • Can track your time worked on a project and bill for it easily (same with expenses)
  • Clients can see their entire account history with you
  • Easily integrate hour-tracking and invoicing with sub-contractors

Social Media Automation

Buffer. I really like Buffer because it’s easy to schedule posts ahead of time and make sure they’re at the best time of day. To me, it’s the simplest, cleanest social media scheduling software out there at the pricepoint of only $10/mo. for their basic package.

buffer social media appFavorite features:

  • Schedule up to 100 posts at the optimal times in advance (or more if you have a biz acct)
  • Content Inbox! Easily setup a feed of content from your favorite sites and simply click to add those shares into your mix
  • For those who aren’t designers, they also have Pablo integrated which makes it easy to find shareable images and add text to them to help your posts pop.
  • Automatic posting to Instagram (a lot of other schedulers don’t do that)

Email Marketing

I have two top favorites here: ConvertKit and Mailchimp.

ConvertKit is what I now use myself and recommend for many clients who want more robust features than Mailchimp but don’t want the complication and price of some of the other email marketing providers.

Favorite features:

  • If you want to understand your email list folks on a more granular level, you have a lot more flexibility on what and how to send emails.
  • Sign up forms are easier than MailChimp
  • Setting up sales or sign up funnels are the easiest of any email marketing software in this pricepoint.
  • Customer service rocks and so does the company–great values and people!

convertkit

Mailchimp is great too, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of money (free starter package) and want a pretty simple solution.

Favorite features:

  • Basic email automatons are simple to setup
  • Visual drag-and-drop email (& template) creator is very user-friendly
  • Women-run business! They were one of BinderCon’s first sponsors.

Mental Health & Motivation

Connect with other humans. As a creative human, you know that your work enriches people’s lives–or at least you should. (I’m telling ya!) But sometimes pursuing your creative dreams is hard and lonely. It helps to get out and find similarly minded folks, whether that’s in person (best) or online. Knowing others are experiencing similar challenges and joys and learning from their experiences is gold. Volunteering (if you can swing it) for an organization you care about is another great way to help others while also building your network.

Speaking of connecting with other humans. I’m a part of an online community for creatives called Wandering Aimfully. Founders Jason & Caroline Zook are kickass, unconventional, zero bullshit, creative entrepreneurs and their community includes a wealth of resources, courses, software and more.

Take mindful breaks. Okay, we all have THOSE days. For me, it’s easy to work all day on the computer, only taking breaks to drink water and use the restroom. But this is not healthy. Not for my eyes, or my mind. I try to make a point to take a legit lunch break–non-working and get outside if possible. It also helps to have an app like Calm on my phone where I can just take 5 minutes anywhere and regroup.

Morning Routine. Since I’ve been traveling around visiting folks a lot this summer, my morning routine has pretty much flown out the window. And my headspace suffers from it. If there’s one practice I can say makes the biggest difference in my mindset, stress level, and mental clarity, it’s taking time for myself in the morning before I do anything else.

Do you have some additions?

I would LOVE to hear about any hacks or software/apps that really help you in your creative career. Leave a comment below.


 

I was heartbroken to learn of Aretha Franklin’s death yesterday. It was the kind of loss you feel based on some wish that I’d had a chance to get to know her. Like now the (irrational) opportunity was definitely gone. I’ve always kind of seen her as a mama bear. As a kid I listened to the Oldies and Aretha was a big part of my soundtrack. There were definitely R-E-S-P-E-C-T singing sessions in front of the mirror. 😉 What I hadn’t known about until yesterday was just how hard Aretha Franklin’s life had been.

She just had that power, confidence, and strength to her voice—something I did not feel like I had.

When any famous person dies, we all know that there will be a deluge of all things Aretha for a month or so. While I don’t hold any secret knowledge of her, yesterday I was struck by a few facts about her that I hadn’t known before.

There is no question that Aretha had reached heights so many dream of. Many of us have our own personal connection to her songs. But I am always interested in the personal lives behind massively successful celebrities. I mean, I guess we’re all interested in that or there wouldn’t be so many biographies and shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, right? Americans are especially interested in how the wealthy and successful live.

I’m not so interested in that part though. What interests me is what she did to make her dream happen, while life was still pounding her with hardship.

The truth is that Aretha was very private. So maybe I’ll never know how her own mindset really fed into her career and life. But there are a few facts about her life I hadn’t known before her death, things that make me think.

A few milestones in Aretha Franklin’s Life:

Her parents’ relationship was strained and her mother left when she was only six.

Her mother died a few years later, just before Aretha’s 10th birthday.

Aretha was a pre-teen mom. 

She had her first child at twelve-years old. And her second at fifteen. Can you imagine what may have led to two pregnancies when she was just a child? I don’t know and I won’t assume, but it’s a helluva thing to be a mom when you’re still a child.

Despite losing her mother and becoming a mother so very young that she was able to set sights on her dream and continue to pursue it at such a young age. Her first album came out in 1956, when she was only 14. That was IN BETWEEN having those two children. Wow.

Her first husband abused her and their marriage ended in divorce.

Anyone whose been through a divorce knows how devastating the ripples of that shit-storm can be, let alone when abuse is involved. But she kept going. And not just in her career…

She was very active in the civil rights movement, even while her career was just taking off.

She and her family were friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. and she toured with Harry Belafonte to raise money for the movement. Her commitment to activism despite a life of complications, pain, triumph, and complexity astounds me.

When she signed on with Atlantic in 1967, she adamantly took creative control over her work.

She made sure that she had the final say on all lyrics and that no producer could usurp her vision for a performance.

Not only did she have an incredible gift that she used to the absolute fullest, but she fought for things she believed in, and kept going despite myriad of setbacks and personal pain that would knock any one of us on our asses. To me, that is even more incredible than her voice.

Her backstory—or rather the little bits of it we have access to—both inspires me and scares the shit out of me. 

I’m deeply inspired by her commitment to her dream and the incredible things she had to overcome to keep going. But I’m also daunted by her seemingly superhuman abilities.

On the one hand, I look at my own life and the things I’ve had to overcome (teen motherhood, abusive relationships, financial issues, mental health issues, etc. etc.) and feel a kinship in her story. A sort of, if she could overcome what she did, than I can overcome my own stuff, too.

On the other hand, I think we all have different gifts and abilities, and frankly, desires. I know deep down that there are certain things I don’t want bad enough to pursue come-what-may, while there are other principles that I would die for. Maybe my road and my capabilities are different than Aretha’s were—okay, not “maybe”—but I know what I want and what I’m willing to do (or not do) to pursue it.

The thing is, if we give up the things we aren’t really willing to give up in pursuit of our dreams we won’t be genuinely happy. Conversely, if we try to keep everything we want, we may endanger our dream by never stepping out of our comfort zones and making necessary sacrifices.

So I ask you (and myself) this:

What do you want so badly that you won’t allow anything to stand in the way?

What are you willing to give up, let go, or compromise for it? And what aren’t you willing to compromise on?

I think this is one of those considerations most of us avoid thinking about—like taxes, or your final will and testament. I think it’s also a major reason many people don’t pursue their dreams. They get stuck in the murky, sticky, paralyzing indecision phase so long that all of the sudden they’re 65 years old and wonder why they never pursued that dream that was so important to them.

There are always reasons or excuses to NOT do something. It takes faith and guts to risk in pursuit of dreams, but also decisiveness and a knowledge of boundaries.

I want to keep running confidently in the direction of my dreams. There’s a freedom in knowing ahead of time what you’re willing to compromise on, and what you’re not. Maybe that’s the only security when it comes to pursuing something that seems impossible—knowing what you’re willing or not willing to do.

I’ve been thinking about this and will continue to do so. I encourage you to do the same. Spend some time getting clear on what you really want, and where your boundaries are with what you’re willing to do or not do. Even if you’ve decided in the past, it’s good to revisit and adjust.

We only get this one life, so in the years we have left, how do we accomplish the dreams we hold most dear while still juggling the struggles too?

I believe it starts with figuring out where our boundaries are and just how badly we want to pursue the things we care about. And then, commit to them.

Decision Fatigue Can Rob Your Creativity

Have you heard of capsule wardrobes? Or entrepreneurs who eat the same exact thing for breakfast every day? There’s a reason they’re doing this. And I’ve totally been resisting it. But I think it’s time to change that.

Did you know that American adults are estimated to make 35,000 decisions per day? Holy shit. No wonder I sometimes feel like an incoherent blob the end of a hard day.

Research shows that we have only so many good decisions in us, on any given day. This phenomenon is called decision fatigue.

decision fatigue robs your creativity

Any given day we choose what to eat, wear, buy, believe, how to work, where to go, and the list goes on. As the day wears on our willpower and ability to make quality decisions deteriorates.

And yeah, it’s totally worse if you have kids, a disability, others to care for, a household to run, deal with discrimination, have health issues, etc. (more factors=more decisions)

This is where tools like the capsule wardrobe come in.

Leaders and entrepreneurs like President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Nicole Richie have adopted capsule wardrobes because it reduces the need for another creative decision in the morning. The theory is that the less good decision-making “credits” you use up the more reserves you’ll have left for important choices throughout the day. Have one navy suit, two ties and two white shirts? Boom, you know what to wear, with little to no consideration needed.

Now I’m not proposing you throw out 90% of your clothes. A capsule wardrobe, or eating the same thing for breakfast everyday isn’t going to change your whole life. But imagine the results for your creativity, or career if you consistently did this kind of thing with a bunch of daily tasks and removed the need to make a bunch of arbitrary decisions. Now that may make a big difference.

To be clear: I do not currently utilize a capsule wardrobe or eat the same thing every day (though I often eat avocado toast). I actually like to joke that because of my years of being a sometimes broke single mom, that I’ve had an involuntary capsule wardrobe for the past ten years. 😉

Seriously though, as I continue to tweak my lifestyle to fit my dreams, I want to cut the fat and optimize my life and career the way I really want it to be. I don’t want to waste precious time on things that don’t matter to me.

Chances are you know what it’s like to pursue your dreams in the midst of real life lobbing doozies at you at any given moment: extra bills, sick kids, job loss, or whatever you may struggle with.

These are events that are often outside of our control–inevitable roadblocks, bumps, potholes on the road. They require more decisions that can potentially rob us of our ability to accelerate as fast as we’d like down toward our dream life. Sometimes they even run the risk of knocking us off the road completely.

Paring down decisions can be one way to help you keep momentum when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. They can help you hold on to your creativity and ability to make better decisions on a daily basis.

What to Do About It

So, below are some ways to reduce decision-making in your daily life. Obviously, not all of these things will work for everyone. For instance, I would get bored of eating the same thing everyday, while someone else might love it.

As a creative multi-passionate person I also have huge resistance toward- what I like to call -“a boring old routine.” But I’ve also found that a balance of routine and free time really helps my focus and progress on my projects. So here we go:

  • Plan the week’s meals ahead, buy everything and meal prep on Sunday (or whatever day starts your week off).
  • Eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch or dinner everyday. I won’t, but you know, you can. 😉
  • Convert to a capsule wardrobe
  • Set a clear work schedule (especially if you work from home) and stick to it as much as possible
  • Set a clear creative project schedule. Treat your creative project as important as work, or exercise–or whatever you naturally have an easier time prioritizing.
  • Embrace (or try for a month) a morning routine–time for yourself in the morning where you do the same thing every day: get your coffee, write your morning pages, take a shower, eat your avocado toast, do yoga, etc. whatever works for you.
  • Set your clothes out the night before.
  • Batch time/decision wasters: check email 1-3 times a day at set times (instead of incessantly all day), check the snail mail once or twice a week, do laundry only on certain days, etc.
  • Outsource mundane tasks (if you can) like cleaning, laundry, dry cleaning, design, bookkeeping, errands, etc.
  • Use IF/THEN decisions: “If it’s 5pm, I quit working for the day; if I have a glass of wine, I have a glass of water.”
  • Prioritize big or important decisions or tasks for the beginning of the day. Keep your To Do list short and execute like a bawse!
  • Ask if there’s a simpler way. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in options or “best case” choices. I’ve literally deliberated over types of milk in the grocery store for 10 minutes, before. It’s ridiculous. So more often lately, I’m trying to remind myself–what’s the simplest solution here? The least stressful?
  • Remember, done is better than perfect. Sometimes you just need to finish something. You could even possibly come back later when you’re fresh.
  • Stick to one task at a time until it’s finished. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been working and  save a big graphic file on my computer, that might take 30 seconds (max) to save, and I feel the urge to go check on some other project “while I’m waiting.” 30-frickin-minutes later, I realize I’ve actually wasted more time by switching tasks.
  • Meditate, do yoga, or something mindful each morning (or any time you’re feeling overwhelmed) to start your day and strengthen your good ole prefrontal cortex (aka the good decision factory).

When it comes to your creative business (or writing career), here are some additional ways to help get your best decisions made before you begin to burn out later in the day.

  • Set aside time to put together a real brand and marketing strategy once or twice per year. Knowing what you want to achieve, by when, with measurable tasks can then be then broken down and used as checklists, rather than having to remind yourself repeatedly what to do next, or decide on what the next promotion will be.
  • Take time to go deep and get a solid understanding of what you really want, what you want to be known for and what steps you may need to get there. I’ve found that a great deal of entrepreneurial decision fatigue develops when you’re not solid on what you really want to build.
  • Do the research and brainstorming it takes to really get to know your ideal cusomers/readers. Once you understand them on a deeper level, marketing, advertising, pricing, etc. decisions will become a lot simpler. Plus you won’t be tempted as much by the latest “miracle” marketing bullshit.
  • Keep a Creative Ideas folder on your computer/mobile device (or good old hard copy). This way, when you get great ideas (that you can’t necessarily act on right now or you’ll distract yourself) you know they’ll be in a safe place, waiting for when you have more time. I have both a physical folder and digital for this. Plus I also use Evernote.
  • Reduce or distill your larger 6 month/year goals down into monthly, weekly, daily goals. Smaller chunks, when written out, will help you just follow the list rather than feeling like you need to decide what’s next.
  • Plan out your week, every week in advance–schedule in specific time for tasks so you can just follow along (for the most part) during your work week.
  • Organize your creativity and/or business supplies in a way that works for your brain, makes things easy to find, and helps you stay in the flow.

Do you have any tips for evading decision fatigue and keeping your creativity flowing? I’d love to hear them.

 

There’s a blurry video from 1986 making its rounds on Instagram lately. Have you seen that old video clip of Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes interviewing Oprah?

In December of ’86 The Oprah Winfrey show had just launched and our beloved icon was just stepping on to the national stage. She discussed how to not allow failure to define you in one pithy answer.

In the segment, she says something I think we should pay close attention to.

Mike: So this show that’s just getting underway, nationally…

Oprah: It’ll do well.

Mike: And if it doesn’t?

Oprah: And if it doesn’t, I will still do well. I will do well because I’m not defined by a show.

Ya know, I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat other people.

It would be wonderful to be acclaimed as this ya know, talk show host that’s made it. That would be wonderful. But if that doesn’t happen there are other important things in my life.

Wow, right?

Just the other day I was talking with a friend, and full disclosure, I was being a real Debbie Downer.

“If in 10 years I still don’t fulfill my dreams then I’ll give up and crawl into a hole.” Of course, that statement was fueled by stress and being overtired, but it was total bullshit. I’m never flipping giving up, dammit.

Then I watched this video again and realized my focus was in the wrong place.

Imagine shifting our mindsets so that this thing we’re trying to do doesn’t define us completely. That it becomes only a part of who we are.

It’s Easy to Get Caught Up in Defining Ourselves by Things.

In my quest to follow my dreams of becoming a writer, speaker, and changemaker, I’ve gone through an evolution. There have been times when things don’t go as I’d like them to and moments like the one I just described above where I’m negative or overwhelmed. This is because I’m putting too much weight on numbers or “things” and not the daily work of who I am and how I treat others.

My dream is bigger than one thing. And like Oprah, I know (even though I don’t always feel it) that I’ll be okay. More than okay, I’ll do well.

I want you to know that you will be okay, and you will do well too. Regardless of the outcome of whatever you’re doing now.

I believe that if we’re going to do well, we should take a quick look back at the last part of what she said. “I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat other people.”

For me, the way I treat myself is often the part that falls apart. For others, it might be the other way around. In any case, there’s a balance there and some deep truth, not only about the value of a human being, but how we pursue our dreams. 

One of the biggest misconceptions of personal branding is that it pigeonholes you into being defined by something (a business, genre, service, product, etc.) that is too small to hold the wealth of your intricacies. Click To Tweet

You don’t have to be constrained by one thing that you’re doing. Even if your book doesn’t sell, or your artwork doesn’t get in a gallery—or whatever your personal version of success might be—you can still do well.

Part of that “doing well” mindset is defining yourself and your personal brand by WHO you are and not just the work you’re doing.

Your personal brand is your foundation. You build, demolish, rebuilt, remodel but the core of your values and vision for your life ground you in your truth. Truth that can adapt to whatever is next in your life or career.

Don’t believe me? Think of Oprah. This woman has had a personal brand from the start, she’s done a lot of different things and sometimes failed. But she is a force, an example of what someone with a clear, working vision for her life can do. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the odds that were stacked against her as a black woman in America, one who had to prove herself more times than she should’ve had too.

But she did it, because she knew where she wanted to go and she kept at it. Even if she failed, she’d do well. And well she did.

The Other Side of Our Humanness

One of the things I love about Oprah, is despite her sometimes showwomanship, is that she breaks through and shows her true self, her vulnerable, flawed, and beautiful self.

So while that segment of the interview contained powerful truthtelling, I’d like to show you the context of that question and answer, a little before and after. (Don’t worry it’s only ~2.5 min).

A couple of things stood out to me. First, Oprah’s open insecurity about her weight, her appearance, and all she had to overcome in order to get her own show in 1986. And then Mike Wallace’s dick comment about a “fella” and Oprah’s visible discomfort at having to publicly define her love life. At having to guess at when her knight may come. And the weight comes up again.

Maybe it’s because I’ve gained 40 lbs since setting out toward my dream, but I so feel her struggle there. We all have our demons we’re wrestling, but weight is one of those not so easily hidden as others. As a woman, there are many times where I feel like a fraud because of my weight—like why should anyone listen to this chubby girl? Like I have to explain my weight gain, or call it out before someone else does, or like Oprah, wonder if [insert thing I want] will come along, once I lose some pounds.

Of course, that’s where her reminder—how someone treats themselves—comes in.

It’s also what’s so beautiful about this longer version of the video. She is clearly a badass and she is clearly human.

You can be both.

So I’d like to break down her wisdom and vulnerability into a quick list of affirmations for us (for the next time we’re tying our worth to a thing):

1. I am not defined by this _____________ (book, show, job, etc.).

2. I have other important things in my life (friends, family, travel, helping others, etc.).

3. I’m not perfect. I’m human.

4. I am defined by how I treat myself.

5. I am defined by how I treat others.

Let’s let the power of love and purpose define us as we run like hell toward our dreams.


This week we watched the long-awaited Incredibles 2 and it got me thinking about what will it take to change things in our world, and our own lives. 

Fourteen years after the original film, I wondered how this new addition would be different. After all in 2004 (when the first film came out), things like smartphones, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook weren’t really a thing yet, Trump had only just started a new TV show called The Apprentice, and George W. Bush had just been re-elected.

Boy, those were the good ol’ days, huh? Bwahaha.

The Incredibles sequel did not disappoint. It was a great film. While it touched lightly on a couple of specific political and societal issues—including our current obsessions with screens and escapism—it definitely danced (with skill) around some pretty deep philosophical struggles as well.

With all that’s going on in our world right now, I sometimes struggle with balancing what I need and want in my own life versus the chaos and very real threats to others. Indeed, this is a moral and ethical dilemma that many an open-eyed human has been wrestling with since humanity began.

And one that the Incredibles struggle with in the film, namely:

How do you save the world while still keeping your own family safe, fed, and cared for? And if you have the power to change things, how can you NOT use it?

Without giving away too much, there was a primary argument in the beginning that I’d like to unpack a little bit, because I think it’s important right now (and always).

Early on in the movie the Parr family is faced with their ever-present struggle to do good in the world while in that very act (of using their powers) is illegal. (If you’ve never seen the Incredibles, superheroes are outlawed and must live like regular people, unable to use their powers). Parents Helen (Elastigirl) and Bob (Mr. Incredible), wrestle with whether breaking the law by fighting crime, in order to prove why the law should change is ethical, and whether a law’s morality is a big enough reason to defy it. In essence, how far can a law go before we defy it? And where do we draw the line?

On top of that, what happens to their family if they get in trouble for breaking said laws? Who will care for their equally super children?

I believe the U.S. is in the state it’s in partially because too many of us have been too apathetic, naive, or privileged, for too long. But also, and this is important, because those in power want to keep it that way.

Now I don’t want to go down a political spiral here, and I’m not advocating for going out and breaking laws. What I want to do is bring this back around to how we think about our lives, our creativity, and our money-making endeavors. Because all of this is actually governed by what goes on between our own two ears.

I hope you’ll forgive the borrowing, but as the saying goes “If you see something, say something.” This follows not only for the horrors of human-trafficking, and children being ripped from their parents at the U.S. border, but for all of our very lives.

What I see and what I must say is this: we need more compassionate, driven people to continue to step up, break some boundaries (maybe even laws) and build lives, businesses, and true leadership around the value of life, in all its… Click To Tweet

For too long, we’ve followed the rules of how we “should” do things. It’s time to make our way into higher levels of thinking (and doing).

This can be hard if you’re struggling just to handle your own life, finances, and family. Like it is for so many of us!  I get it. Boy, do I get it. Sprinkle in some anxiety or depression in there too and you’ve got a recipe for paralysis. Naptime, please!

But let me tell you something that’s saved me over the years—through some serious shit. Something I didn’t have a name for, didn’t even know I consciously had until a couple of years ago when I read Carol Dweck’s Mindset, The New Psychology of Success.

It’s called a growth mindset. And while I’ve totally struggled with a negative or limited mindset a ton, I’ve had enough of this growth mindset to at least get me this far.

In her book Dweck explores what she has observed and studied to be two basic mindsets that folks have: either growth or fixed.  As Maria Popova puts it in her excellent overview, the book is, “an inquiry into the power of our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, and how changing even the simplest of them can have profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.”

Our beliefs about limitations, abilities, and even laws shape how we live our lives and determine where and how far we will go.

A fixed mindset dictates that our intelligence, personality, creativity, and overall potential are pretty much set. In other words, we can make some changes, but essentially, we are limited by what we were born with.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, loves a challenge and looks at failure not as evidence of our ineptitude, but as a tool for growth, a way to learn.

As you might imagine, those with a growth mindset tend to be more successful, have better relationships, and are generally happier.

Now, if like me you have a mix of the two mindsets, your first thought might be, “well, hey we have to be realistic about what our limitations might be.” To that, for now, I’ll say, read the book.

But then your next question might be, “Okay, but can I actually change my mindset?”

Of course that question is the fixed mindset talking, but yes, yes you can. And in fact, shifting your mindset can really free up your life. Dweck writes, “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

And there’s where we shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot. The more I try to prove myself competent the further I move from actually improving myself.

So what does this have to do with the Incredibles?

We are beginning to open our eyes further to the things that must change in our country and world, the laws, the practices, the atrocities; which is very important.


But what about the invisible laws at work within our personal lives? Unspoken personal laws, like:

I can only make a living at a 9-5 job,

I’m not smart enough to go back to school,

I’m too busy to write that book,

I’m too fat/ugly/boring to find someone to love me,

or someday when X happens things will be different.

Or this card that perfectly sums up some of my own moments of negative self-talk:

Available at EmilyMcDowell.com

 

What are the corrupt “laws” in your life that keep you from living up to your dreams?

Is it worth defying them? What will it take to change things? And is breaking those “laws” part of making your (and possibly others’) life better and more fulfilling?

I believe that real change starts within our own hearts and minds and if we’re going to change the world we must change ourselves. Conversely, though the time we’re in might seem dark, we must believe that things can change, that life is not limited by the self-centered rants and raids of megalomaniacs, that goodness can prevail.

Because if we don’t believe that, what’s the point? We must reclaim a growth mindset.

It’s the gift that has gotten me through some of the darkest times in my life. The belief that things can change, that our lives are not yet written, that we can still grow. Click To Tweet

I encourage you to watch Incredibles 2 and think about what your own superpowers may be—because you do have some. I also encourage you to read (or listen to) Mindset, The New Psychology of Success and think about what laws in your own thinking must be broken in order to live the life you truly want.

 

Post Photo by Alejandro Alvarez on Unsplash

​There are two stickers in my office that I received at last year’s Craft + Commerce conference which say, “Create Every Day” and “Teach Everything You Know.” I find these two mottos so important to how we writers and creatives establish ourselves and how we go about being the champions of our own work.

Teach Everything You Know.

Teaching is a great way to help others. But I find that teaching is also good for your own creativity and confidence. Not only do you help others with the knowledge you’ve gained, but in teaching you come to realize that you likely know a lot more than you thought you did.

But there’s something especially vulnerable about the “everything you know” part of the above declaration.

teach-everything-sticker

It can seem scary. Because if you teach everything you know, will there be any use for you in the market? Shouldn’t you keep some stuff for yourself? As protection against becoming a commodity?

 

And herein lies the sleeping monster. The inadequacy monster. The voice inside that says, don’t tell them what you know, they’ll steal it. They’ll do better than you. They’ll steal everything you’ve built. But this line of thinking stems from the sub-level belief that you’re just not good enough, or you’re just inadequate.

I know that voice intimately, though I’ve learned how to better tell it to shut the hell up. Not always of course, I’m human. And I have my triggers. But the point is, there’s hope for muting that voice.
I've found that when your worth is based on the amalgam of who you are and not just what you do, that's something no one can take away from you. Click To Tweet
Now, I’m not saying you should tell everything to everyone. Obviously, if you have an idea you want to protect that’s fine.

Maybe I’m wrong, but the “everything you know” part is more about sharing the breakthroughs you have, or the methods. Or even choosing who you want to teach that “everything” to.

Think of authors or artists you admire. Even if Mary Karr taught me everything she knows, I would not become her. Even if I knew all of her philosophies and methods, the work I’d produce would either be a bad copy of her work, or something uniquely my own built using methods she shared. You can bet if Mary Karr wanted to teach me, I’d be there, ready and willing, but always with the knowledge that I still have to do the work and that I still have my own voice in the world.

Now of course there are those who are just copycats, who steal and duplicate. And it stings when they do it to you because it is a wretched thing to do. But they will never BE you. They will never have your dare I say god-given talents, perspective, and creativity.

They operate from a place of lack (lack of resources, lack of confidence, lack of ethics). And when someone steals from you, it’s normal that the inadequacy monster screams in your ear to get back at them, or do the same. But you don’t have to. Because there’s more to you than that.

Imagine what would happen if we creatives spent a bit less time worrying about losing our worth and channeled that power into deepening the value of our work and who we are. Click To Tweet

We would be more successful. We’d create work that is uniquely ours, untouchable by other hands.​

This is the heart of my philosophy when it comes to branding, selling, or marketing yourself: the more deeply rooted you are in the healthy soil of your own craft and self-worth, the easier it will be for others to see it and be attracted to it. And that’s where the create everyday comes in.

what to do when you feel inadequate

Create Everyday

create-every-day

I also have a t-shirt from the conference. 😉

While we may not always have time to write or get creative EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s still an important habit to strive for–even if that creativity doesn’t exactly have to do with your designated projects.

I think it’s especially important to indulge in creative play every day, whether that’s dancing, or writing free-form stream of consciousness stuff you’ll never publish, or painting ceramics, or planting in your backyard. These types of unfocused creativity can be mindful practices. And mindful practices open up space for us to make breakthroughs in creative work.

Some would even say that it’s in that regular practice of our creative work that our muse, genius, or best ideas come.

And that’s when another voice shows up, your own untouched soul voice, the one that is unphased by life’s barbs, the one that says, great job, this is good, this is important, you were put on this earth to do this. The more this voice is active, the better and more ‘you’ you become.

It’s a powerful thing to fulfill your purpose(s).
There's a feeling like no other that comes from sloughing off the dark death of inadequacy and lack and moving about in the light, flexible warmth of doing the work you're meant to do. Click To Tweet
I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about that. Maybe even sit down in a quiet place and make a list of the things that you like about yourself and your work, and then another list of what you want to get better at and possibly a third, of ideas of how you could make creative play a bigger part of your life.

In the end, we have a short time on this planet and I don’t know about you, but I want to make the fricken’ best of it.

 

In Seth Godin’s latest book What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn) he talks about how the radical cultural and economic changes of the past 10-20 years have created room for a very different type of work to emerge. With increased access to tools that once didn’t exist, we artists and dreamers have more opportunities to shine while also making a living.

But with increased digital resources, why do so few of us actually commit to living out these dreams? And I mean REALLY commit to it.

Sure there are the hangers on to days gone by, the ones who refuse to flex to history’s flow and stay rigidly rooted in their ruts, but what about the rest of us?

As with most limitations I think it comes back to fear, fear of the unknown, of failure, or even fear of success. However, there’s another facet: what it actually means to live in a state of tension.

When I think about it, there’s one thing we often run from in our modern society, it’s tension.

We don’t want to endure the tension of waiting to find out if we got likes on that Facebook post so we open the app for the fifteenth time today; we don’t want to wait for the finale of our favorite TV show so we binge watch, and we don’t want to sit through the news to hear the key headlines so we go online and consume, consume, consume.

Seth asks the question, “What happens to your work if you’re able to wait a little longer?”

Think of the last great novel you read or movie you saw, do they work because the tension is relieved in the first chapter, or scene, or because it builds throughout and resolves only near the end?

I’m totally guilty of avoiding tension, or at least I have been historically. I’m the type of person who decides, then does, and wants immediate results. It’s in my nature, or the very least my habit, and it’s part of what makes me a go-getter. But it’s also hurt me when I’m too impatient to see something through. Sometimes I need to pace myself, or remind myself that there’s also value in the in between.

In fact, most of our lives are lived in the in between.

So I ask, what might we miss out on if we only ever take the easier, more immediately rewarding path, or grasp at only low-hanging fruit?


While I don’t think we should view our creative work in too precious a light, I think there’s a lot to learn about the art of living from the natural course of nature.

Me, age 17, at thirty-six weeks along with my son. 1998, Michigan. Also, why did I pose in front of a giant white teddy bear?

When I was pregnant with my first child (my son) a nurse gave me the news that pregnancy isn’t really nine months like everyone says, it’s really more like ten–if you think about the fact that it’s 40 whole weeks, that is. Of course this is wonky math, but when you’re headed down a road where this being inside you hijacks your digestive, hormone, endocrine, and immune system for almost a year, you start counting weeks.

I was seventeen, newly married, and living in BFE—or rather Michigan—far from my family in California trying to imagine just how long nine months would feel. During my first trimester, I was barfing around three times a day and could barely keep the occasional saltine down. I was also working full-time as a preschool teacher, while my then husband went to school and also worked.

At my one of my first checkups, I sat on the crinkly paper atop the table waiting for my midwife to step into the exam room. I studied a nearby poster with illustrated renderings of each month of pregnancy.

At ten weeks along,  I learned that my baby now had the beginnings of little feet and hands and even a heartbeat, though he was the size of a bean. The largest illustration on the poster was a cross-section of a uterus containing a baby so big that it seemed to defy physical probability.  I wondered where the heck would my intestines and bladder go once this monster baby took over my torso. 

I was excited about my baby, but worried about how this long journey, and feats of internal physical contortion would pan out. The thought that grounded me was this: women and babies had been partnering in this dance for tens of thousands of years. We would both be okay.

With a knock on the door, my midwife walked popped her head in. She was a kind-eyed black woman who just exuded the feeling of calm. I felt better just seeing her face. She had this maternal way of being that helped the lonely seventeen-year old me relax a bit.

Asking how I was feeling she pulled out a heart monitor device out, rubbed it against her hand to warm it up and placed it low on my belly. I heard my heartbeat first and then a faster, lighter beat. To that point, having a baby felt mostly like sore boobs and round the clock nausea and not much else. But in that moment, it got real. My baby was real. That was the moment I became a mother.

In the coming months, I worried a lot. About things I had no control over, like first whether he would form correctly, until the ultrasound confirmed everything was normal, then I worried about whether he’d have a giant birthmark across his face or something awful the ultrasound couldn’t detect.

I felt kind of helpless but also in awe that my body and my baby’s body knew what to do. Even if I didn’t.

Of course, I could control what I put in my body and what I exposed myself to, which I did, with vigilance. But everything else was up to the workings of two bodies partnering in a dance that nature itself had perfected.

Just after he was born. Me and my son. You can thank the Nineties and scrapbooking for the beautiful design of my couch and the background, respectively. 😉

As much as I yearned to hold my baby boy in my arms and see his little face, I knew nature must run its course. I knew he had to stay in until he was done baking. And he did, even stayed in an extra week for good measure. Lucky me. Then he emerged fully formed, perfect. Indeed, lucky us.

Maybe our dreams, our goals, the good work we aim to do in this life can be viewed through a pregnancy analogy. Things mature in their own time, or become fully realized as they’re meant to. The problem is, we don’t always know when the appointed time of our dreams birthing. Sometimes you have to push hard at the right time, but there’s also a beauty in the expectation and tension of something truly wonderful materializing through perseverance.

Life is anything but predictable, and sadly just like pregnancy, things don’t always go the way we want. Sometimes, we do our best and things still don’t work. Sometimes, it does.

The truth is we don’t have control over outcomes, only the grit and work we put in. At a certain point we must dust off our hands and acknowledge when we’ve done our best. We’ve honored our calling. And leave the rest to nature, or the Universe, or God, or whatever you believe in.

I try to bring myself back to this when I feel myself vibrating at light-speed, revving for action right away, or when I’m down on myself, feeling like I’ve failed yet again. Tension isn’t necessarily comfortable, but I’m working on allowing it to move through me as opposed to allowing it to knock me down.

Sometimes it’s better to just take action and get shit done. Other times its worth it to work on something for as long as it takes to get it where it needs to be. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or a loser, or lazy. It’s one of those mysteries of life that we must hold with open hands.

As I set my intentions each day, I’m going to be working on being more at peace with the natural tension it takes to create something worthwhile. I hope this idea helps you right at the moment you might need it.

In the spirit of apparently being in almost every pic in this post, here’s me with Seth’s book. You should go buy it. 😉

I want to talk about something I’ve been thinking a lot about this week, namely: perceptions of reality. You know, something light and airy. 😉

Seriously though, as writers and creative-types we are often so intimately oriented with our own work that we have trouble articulating why someone else should care about it. Okay, maybe you’ve never felt this way. But I know I have.

Maybe you’ve feel like the inherent virtue of your art should be obviousI mean you love it! Everyone should! Or maybe you can’t even imagine how someone could appreciate our work. You like it, but you can’t help but see the flaws. Or maybe you think that you’re the only one who would like this kind of thing.

Or maybe—and this kind of thinking is even more insidious—you think that it can’t be both True Art and commercially viable.

In any of these scenarios, there’s a problem of perception. Whether we think highly of our work, find it always lacking, or wrestle with making True Art while trying to pay the bills—we’re focused on our own reality. We’re looking down at our own work in our own little bubble-world, trying to find a solution there, meanwhile the real solution doesn’t live there. It’s out there in the world, where we aren’t looking.

Introspection is important; and I would argue that it’s essential to understanding why your work is valuable. But sometimes we need to burst our own bubbles and try to step into another’s perception bubble so we can gain insight.

One of the biggest challenges I see writers and creatives face is how to get people to buy-in to what they are creating.

Where the Answer Isn’t

Much of the time, I think we’re looking for a formula or tip or trick to connect with a larger audience. Like if only our Instagram was better, or we did live videos on Facebook, or whatever, that would be the missing key to stardom.

I don’t think the answer lies in formulas. That’s not to say that you can’t learn how to be a better Instagramer, or utilize effective tools to get out there in front of the right people. It just means maybe we’d gain a whole lot more insight by understanding how our ideal market thinks and sees the world.

How Different We Can Be

My ex-husband was a philosopher and when we were still together a loooong time ago, he studied philosophy at Berkeley. Over many a family dinner, and the subsequent wiping off of our toddlers faces and sweeping up of floors after they ate like adorable human tornadoes, we often discussed existential conundrums and the very nature of reality itself.

To him—and let’s face it, if you take philosophy studies to their logical end points—there is no such thing as an objective reality. This eventually led him to a more nihilistic and hedonistic life-in-practice.

My ex was and likely remains—I’m sure he’d admit—a man of extremes. But I will say this, he lived what he believed, for better or worse (mostly worse—​you’ll understand when my memoir is finished, haha). This was one of the things that initially most attracted me to him, but ultimately one of the things that tore us apart. Without sounding like a complete ex-basher, it seemed to me that he felt his perception of reality (and the lack there of) was Truth, even though that according to him also did not exist.

And of course, I thought that my perception of reality was the more correct one. As a young stay-at-home mom of two toddlers, my reality of stuffed animals, runny noses, dirty diapers, park play-dates, and laundry looked very different than his reality of graduate school classes, commutes listening to audio books, and late night study sessions.

I had no use for reality as a philosophical construct, I was living it in the scrubbing of the bathtub, in the soft cuddles with my babies’s sweet little bodies, in the changing of diapers that smelled like garbage burritos, and in the giant, beautiful eyes of my children that looked at me each day with pure love and expectation to give them the very best of myself. I was living in the world of the visceral, corporeal, and sometimes even somatic.

As much as I don’t  want to drag my ex into anything, I tell you this snippet from my life because I want to acknowledge how different two perspectives can be—even in a relationship between two people who live in the same home.

And when two very disparate perspectives are not bridged, relationships can be torn apart, art doesn’t get appreciated,  and megalomaniacs can get elected to office. 

Okay, okay I’ll get back on track…but you get what I mean.

~

Balancing Perspectives and Who You Want to Be Around

The older I get the more I realize I don’t want to waste my time with people who are at odds with my core values. Maybe that’s an asshole thing to say, but it’s what I feel. And yet, I also see this deeply divided America (and world) and try to figure out ways to reach out and heal our communities, and understand each other better,  without compromising my own values.

When it comes to our art, our work, our business, I think there’s definitely virtue and even a call in trying to connect with new audiences, but I think it’s often more helpful to start with the people you really want to work with, or help.

In other words, I believe our time is better spent working to connect with the kinds of people we want to work with or be around, rather than trying to appeal to everyone.

How to Get People to Care About Your Art

As an artist, if you/we want to get people to care about your art, you must do the hard work of stepping outside of your own perspective bubble and consider what it’s like to live in another body, another life. I think this kind of experimentation isn’t just useful for helping us connect more effectively with our ideal customers and readers, but for our own edification as human beings, as well. It’s not always an easy thing to do, however.

If you’re interested in thinking and learning more about this idea of working to understand other’s perceptions of reality I encourage you to check out these two episodes of NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. As ever, your perception of reality will expand simply by listening, but there are also some valuable ideas on how to step out of your own narrow rut of thinking in order to see what others might see. The more we understand how others think, the easier it will be to communicate the value of our art/work.

If you really believe in the power and/or value of your work, I encourage you to find ways to help others see what you do. But paradoxically of course, being able to do that requires standing in their shoes, and attempting to shed your own perceptions enough to view at least some of how they perceive the world.

And here’s the thing, it’s never like you’ve arrived and now understand everything about how others perceive the world. But the more we make an attempt to understand what it’s like to live in someone else’s skin, the more we become better humans.

We become more compassionate, understanding beings who create better, more insightful, powerful ‘doings.’


If you’re having trouble connecting your work with the right customers or fans, I’m here to help. Of course, there are plenty of free resources here on my blog and site (and weekly email list), but if you feel like you could use some one-on-one time to work through this challenge, I offer both à la carte one-on-one consultations, and longer-term one-on-one coaching where I can help you discover new ways to break through the confusion and start reaching your amazing audience, right where they are.


 

I love a ton of @lewishowes stuff! But this recent “5 Tips to an Amazing Year” Instagram post felt, well, like something geared toward someone who is already well on the path (or has their shit together) and not someone who maybe is struggling with some big life-shattering things, but is still trying to live their dreams. Since I’ve been in that horrid place more than once I wanted to give something to those who find themselves there right now.

lewis-howes-amazing-year-instgram

(Lewis Howes’ Instagram post that inspired this)

So with total mad respect (still think you’re awesome, Lewis), I humbly submit my altered version for those who are just trying to stabilize first, then kick ass:Andrea Guevara 5 tips to better year for people going through it

 

1. One “Big” Health Change

It’s true that when we’re in our best health, mentally and physically, we can do SO much more. But if you’re under a ton of stress, or are sick, or have some big hurdles that just make being in your best health almost impossible, do ONE significant thing this year for your health. And when I say “big” I don’t mean try to do it all. Whatever will help you get on a healthier track—do that. Use it as a stepping stone. Maybe it’s eating meat only on the weekend, or walk three times a week, or go to therapy. Whatever it is, start small, the rest will come later.

2. Shift Focus & Stop Comparison

When you’re under major stress, loss of focus is one of the first things that sabotages your ability to move on, or find solutions. Comparing yourself to others is right up there too. I encourage you to focus on the things that bring you the best results with the least strain. Maybe that’s hanging out with friends who get you, rather than trying to make the other ones to understand what you’re going through; or maybe that’s reading instead of watching TV to calm your brain at the end of the day; or maybe that’s taking a damn nap instead of cleaning the living room. And for F’s sake, don’t look at anyone else’s life in comparison to yours—just keep your eyes on what’s next for you.

3. Two-Step Vent

You have to let your stress, hurt, and frustration out. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll vent to a trusted friend (or therapist) and get it all out and then, when you’re done, find something good in your life that you can grasp back on to. This two-step will help you recover faster and speed up the process of ridding your mind of the negative loop of thoughts we all get caught in.

4. Be a little nicer every day to you

(To yourself that is) Maybe you’re in a marathon situation, one where you must work to keep the roof over your head, or must be there for a loved one at all hours, or whatever. You can’t really take a proper break. If you are in this situation, take micro-vacations. I’m talking 5 minutes here, a half an hour there where you do something completely for yourself. Rock out to a favorite song, do a meditation, get a pedicure, or take a nap. Did I say “nap” again? You get the idea. Doing even a little secret thing for yourself each day can help you keep your head.

5. Follow your dreams

There have been times when I wanted to give up! All I could say for myself is that I didn’t. I felt like shit—like dying, like running away—and boy-howdy did I let some people know about it. But after I threw my fit and bawled my eyes out, I kept going. Your dreams are yours for a reason. Don’t give up, no matter how bleak the outlook is. Sometimes you can’t do much, but do something every day/week, in the pursuit of your dream, whether it’s as big as taking tangible action, or as little as writing down, “I promise, I will not give up on this dream.” You’ll get there.

~

You can be the hero of your life this year by doing your best to keep moving forward, despite whatever it is you’re working through. Sometimes, it’s enough that you fucking survived!

Don’t compare yourself to the person who seems to have it all together. You never know how different your challenges are. Also, you may have noticed, I didn’t have a super cool pro photo of me for this. What I did have is a picture of me happily posing by a trashed old car—metaphor for the personal crap I’ve been through? You betcha.

If you agree, let me know below or add your own insights and share with a friend or two who might be inspired.

thoughts on being thankful for those who are going through hell

A few years back I stood up in front of my aunts, uncles, cousins, children, parent, grandparent, and extended family at the Thanksgiving table and volunteered to say the dinner prayer. I didn’t usually volunteer for something like that. But that year, just a few months before we’d secured an apartment. In September, just a few days before my kids would start school my brother and I had snagged a cheap two bedroom apartment to share with my children. My kids and I had just spent the summer homeless. We weren’t on the street, but we had been sleeping in my mom’s living room for over two months. It might not seem that bad if you’ve never had to do it, but if you have–YOU KNOW how demoralizing it is to lose your home.

I cannot tell you how thankful I was to have our own apartment, with our own furniture, our own space, and a fridge full of food. With tears streaming down  my face (you know I’m a crier) I shared how thankful I was that we had  home, a roof of our own over our heads, and that we could afford to make the drive up to Northern California for Thanksgiving.  I think a lot of us cried at that dinner table that night. It wasn’t the first time my kids and I had been through hell and it wouldn’t be the last, but I had never felt so thankful in all my life just to have a home.

Maybe life is peachy for you right now and if it is I’m so glad. But if you’re going through some shit, or if you just pulled yourself free of some and you’re still washing off the grime and massaging the scars, I hope these thoughts will bring you some comfort and thanksgiving:


You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.
― Alain de Botton


A post shared by Mel Robbins (@melrobbinslive) on


You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced to by them.

― Maya Angelou


A post shared by Chrissy Metz (@chrissymetz) on


If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.

― Maya Angelou


If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

― Meister Eckhart


I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful–for all of it.

― Kristin Armstrong


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Often there’s a secret courage hidden in the pocket of our deepest fears saying, “Bring it on mutherfucker.”

― Curtis Tyrone Jones


 

Big love and thankfulness to you for reading this. I hope it helped, if only a little.

~Andrea