ONE About a month ago my dear friend and photographer Allison and I planned out a nature photo shoot and a picnic with our little families in the warm sun, with the fall leaves and a peaceful little creek surrounding us. First we enjoyed fresh fruit, burgers on a grill, conversation and time together with each other & their sweet daughter Vivian. Then Allison and I ventured into nature for the remainder of the day. Allison snapped photos as I naturally wondered around soaking up the beauty around me. I just received the final edits this week and I cant wait to share more of them with you when the new blog and shop are launched. The shoot and the images to show for it were blissful.
TWO With #FridayPaintday going strong for 13 weeks, my collection of original paintings has grown immensely. Not only that, my passion for painting has been reignited, my confidence and technique has strengthened and my desire to make painting more a daily practice has been established. Getting back to painting feels to natural, like it's a part of my DNA. And it makes sense since painting has been in my family for generations. I look forward to sharing more of my work and offering some originals, prints and custom paintings in my shop.
THREE My intern Liz; there is so much to say about this lady and how much she's helped me grow and reach dreams in just the few short months she's been working with me. I never thought of bringing on an intern - better yet, having a team work with me - till the moment I received an email from her. That moment was when I knew I not only needed her but an entire team of motivated, creative and wildly talented individuals working together with me. Since she joined my team back in August, we've planned and executed A Beautiful Retreat, began cultivating a community of creative woman - hosting monthly gatherings here in Nashville, and we've brought on our amazing photographer Allison. So much is happening over here - in so many good ways - I am truly blessed to have her.
This is what I've been up to lately, what's new with you?
Last week I began #FridayPaintday, a self-made project in which I carve at least 1 hour out of my Friday each week to create and paint for myself. Like I mentioned in last week's post, this was a practice I followed weekly. Getting back to painting and creating for me and me only was freeing, exhilarating and reminded of how much painting is part of my fabric that makes me, me.
I curated a music mix, made sure all of my work was done for the day, and let loose. This is what it looked like and today, I'm about to start again.
I plan to have a few Nashville photographers visit my studio to capture pictures of me painting and creating. Stay tuned for those. For now, follow along and watch my progress via instagram.
Today marks the first Friday that I'll be painting for myself, because I can't remember the last time I created for myself. Several months back I wrote a newsletter about this very thing and realized how much I missed painting. So to get back into it, I'm dedicating 1 hour each Friday to paint and create for myself. I'm calling it #FridayPaintday.
Typically when I paint - and when I say paint I mean spread out on the floor with a big canvas and get messy kind of paint - it's in acrylic with an abstract approach, listening to dark music loudly. But I'm ready for anything. It's been so long since I painted regularly - I used to paint weekly and have art exhibits monthly - that I'll explore different mediums, combine them, try different canvases, textures and techniques, maybe even different styles of music. Because when I paint, it's a release of energy from within. Not a practice of emulation or realism, it's self-expression and therapy in a way. So whatever I'm feeling, experiencing and have buried within will be called out and turned into paint on canvas.
Watch the process unfold on instagram and keep a look out for future behind-the-scenes shots of me on floor painting and getting messy. To celebrate this #FridayPaintday, here's a watercolor wash for your desktop, laptop, tablet and phones. Have a great weekend!
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
Routines are like framework. By knowing our limits, creating a workflow that matches our energy levels and making time for what matters we can achieve greatness.
Adapted from this book and almost two years of experience, I have 7 tips that have helped me build a solid routine.
1. Creative 1st, Reactive 2nd
A few months ago I finally kicked the bad habit of checking my emails immediately after I woke up. My entire morning would feel rushed because I knew that other people were waiting on me, like clearing my inbox and responding to every email was the only way I could focus and carry on my day.
Today, I block off my entire morning for me to wake up, drink coffee, eat, write, read, meditate, brainstorm, create and exercise with the phone on silent and emails unchecked.
It's feels a little difficult at first putting yourself before others' expectations, but you will soon feel liberated and in control when you make time for you. I wrote about this in Letters from Meredith too.
"To truly excel, you must also continue to create for the most important audience of all: yourself." - Todd Henry
2. Energy Rhythms
What times of day do you feel the most energized? Months ago, I took note of when I felt the most energized and when I felt the most drained. I then aligned my creative tasks with my most energetic rhythms. For example, I'm most energetic from 8-11am, then again from 3-5pm. So during those time I paint, draw, write, design and brainstorm. Then in between those times I return emails and complete administrative work.
We are said to follow ultradian rhythms which are ninety-minute bursts at the end of which we reach the limits of our capacity. To stay energized, take a break or go outside for walk in between each burst. This will increase productivity and renew your energy.
Figure out what your associative triggers are and repeat them daily. Sitting at a clean desk, showered, with coffee and listening to music tells me it's time to work and create. On days I don't shower, have a messy desk or work in silence, I feel unproductive and scrambled.
4. The to-do list
Know what you can achieve in a day, jot it down, and let go of the rest. Mark McGuiness suggests writing your daily tasks on a 3x3" Post-It note "because if you can't fit everything on a list that size, how will you do it all in one day?"
I've recently updated how I write out my daily goals to separate "for me" and "for my business" instead of "home" and "work" tasks because it feels more intentional. For the most part, this is still how I approach my to-do list.
5. Your ideal day
Imagine what you want your day to look like and stick with it. Set a time of day when you start and end work, dedicate times of day for creative work, meetings, admin work to stay productive and help you avoid workaholism.
I work every day from 12-6:30/7pm and would like to end my days earlier. I'm slowly working at fine-tuning my schedule to accomplish that. I talk a little about my day-to-day hereandhereand have this worksheet for you so you can write out what you want your daily routine to look like.
Close Facebook, Pinterest and your emails while you're trying to work. multi-tasking is a myth and we need to focus to get real work one. Distractions interfere with our productivity and creativity. Stick with your schedule and dedicate time for accomplishing work, and other times for social media, emails and distractions.
It's essential to find solitude every day so that we can listen to our inner voice and learn what it has to teach us. For me, the best time to mediate is in the morning. Mediating doesn't have to complicated, in fact it's simply sitting and doing nothing. I dedicate fifteen-minutes daily, but maybe it's five or thirty-minutes for you. The most important thing is that you make time for it everyday.
"The calming of the mind helps us to figure out what really matters and to hear our creative voice." - Leo Babauta
What are you doing today to stay focused, productive or creative? Any tips or resrouces to share?