Wonder 201 - Creative Hero U Gen. Eds.

Wonder is the feeling in your chest when you see something new, magnificent, or awe inspiring. Your breath might catch in your throat as your eyes grow wide to take it all in. Wonder is the feeling you experience when you follow your curiosity and allow yourself to be immersed in the unknown. When was the last time you felt wonder?

Wonder enlarges our capacity to see, feel, and experience the world around us. Creativity is found in the space created by wonder as it increases our desire for and appreciation of beauty. Outlining our daily experiences with gold and revealing treasures in every corner, wonder is magic.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats

I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I had seen pictures of Lady Liberty in books and I knew that my great grandparents had sailed past her through the harbor on their way to New York City, but nothing had prepared me for the sight of seeing the Statue in real life. Seeing something with my own eyes that I had only heard of or dreamed about before provoked my sense of wonder and awe. I was able to feel for a moment what it might have been like to see that beautiful beacon of arrival after a long ocean voyage. The inspiration, perspective, and beauty in that moment was profound and left a lasting impression that continued to resonate in me when I saw the Statue later.

In order to experience wonder, we have either to see things that we have never seen before or see familiar things in a new way. Whether that is visiting a new culture, or taking a new route to work in the morning, wonder is provoked by mystery and curiosity. As adults we feel the need to appear as though we know everything and we often resist situations where we would face the unknown because it can make us feel vulnerable. The danger of insulating ourselves with knowledge is that we can miss the beauty of wonder. Imagine a child going to the zoo for the first time - what wonder would be inspired by seeing a zebra's stripes or the long neck of a giraffe? Children experience wonder often because so much of the world is new to them.

Wonder is vital to the creative process because it keeps us close to a child-like perspective. Children fully embrace wonder and curiosity because they haven't learned to insulate themselves from the vulnerability of the unknown. The creativity of children is unmatched because they do not have any filters around their curiosity. There is a place of child-like wonder in each of us that can unlock creative expression beyond what we've yet seen, and can give us the fuel for a sustainable creative life.

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”
― Albert Einstein

What would we find if we allowed our curiosity to lead us more often? What would we try? What adventures would we experience? What would we learn if we tried that creative expression that we are curious about but don't want to experiment with for fear of failure? What would we lose by taking more time to play?


Action: Allow your mind to ask the question, "I wonder what would happen if..." and then be willing to try some of the ideas that come to mind. Look at things backwards, upside down, inside out...the possibilities are endless! Try a new creative expression this week, the one that you've been curious about...yes that one that you are scared to try... it doesn't have to be serious or your next career move, give it a try as play and see what happens.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Wonder 101 - Creative Hero University, Gen. Eds.

Class two in the Creative Hero University Gen. Eds. is now in session! The subject is Wonder - what it is, how to cultivate it, and what it can do for a creative life. Wonder is. . .

The emotion excited by what is strange and surprising; a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, sometimes tinged with admiration

To be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel
— Random House Dictionary

Wonder involves surprise, delight, joy, and amazement. It is state of openness to the unexpected and delightful. Like Gratitude, Wonder requires that you remain engaged in the world around you.  Rather than passing through life with blinders on your senses, you learn to spend you days engaged, focused, and intent on finding reasons for delight in every situation. Wonder calls you to pay attention to your surroundings, no matter how familiar or mundane they may be.

Wonder 101 - Creative Hero University

Wonder 101 - Creative Hero University

As Gratitude was a defiance against pain and negativity, Wonder is defiance against boredom and jadedness. Day-to-day life is filled with mundane, routine activities, the required tasks whose regularity grinds like sandpaper on our creative hearts. The constant friction can leave us hardened, forming calluses that slow inspiration’s flow. Wonder acts like a protective coating between our creativity and the doldrums of life, allowing us to remain open to inspiration amid the friction of everyday life. Where most see only boredom, those who cultivate Wonder find joyful surprises in the average things of life.

What does Wonder look like in action? Find a child, and observe how they live. Children have an innate capability for Wonder because the world is new to them; each day is an opportunity to discover new things, learn new skills, and dream up new ideas. The world is fresh! From daisies to dance parties, life holds an endless array of surprises and joys. Children participate in these joys with abandon, unconcerned with the opinions of others or the pressures what they “should” be doing. Public opinion takes a backseat to merriment, and productivity must bow to discovery.

Though this perspective can seem impossible for tired, world-worn adults, the concept is essential for cultivating Wonder. A childlike perspective enables Wonder to become a natural function of creative living. When we throw off jaded self-consciousness, we allow our God-given creativity space to explore, discover, and enjoy the world around us. We don’t have to wish for better views, because we’ve reset our vision to see with Wonder. Boredom gives way to excitement as  possibilities, once so invisible to us, are revealed at every turn. Life is fresh again!


Action:

Practice the Child’s Perspective

Choose three situations that you encounter every day (the more familiar, the better). Challenge yourself to view these known experiences with a child’s perspective, approaching them as if their brand new. What do you discover?  What thoughts, ideas, or responses does it trigger? Does the situation seem new or different from this perspective? How so?


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

Gratitude 101, Part B - Creative Hero University, Gen. Eds.

Welcome to the Creative Hero University Gen. Eds.! First lesson on the syllabus: Intention Gratitude. We put gratitude first because it is such a huge component of creativity and the creative lifestyle. The key to strong, healthy creativity is being engaged with the world around us, and Gratitude is the best way to do that. It’s the ultimate engagement tool. Gratitude fuels creativity by keeping us open to wonder, delight, and enjoyment in the world around us.

It opens us up to find inspiration in even the most mundane circumstances, elevating the daily actions of our lives into a more creative place. It enables to see possibilities in impossible situations, and to find joy in circumstances that are far less than what our dreams. Gratitude is joyful, empowering, and full of creative potential for those who embrace it.

Gratitude is ACTIVE - Creative Hero University

Gratitude is ACTIVE - Creative Hero University

Gratitude is many wonderful things, but there is one thing it is not: passive. Gratitude is an active state, and only functions in those who cultivate it. As with art, gratitude works when you do. Hoping for gratitude will not bring it about in your life. Gratitude requires action, determination, and intentionality. It isn’t so much a mindset as it is a way of living life. Author Ann Voskamp describes gratitude as a “way of seeing.” In our book, we talk about wearing Gratitude Glasses, adjusting your vision to reframe the everyday aspects of life in the light of hope, possibility, and joy. It’s a daily, intentional choice to find the best in every situation, person, and circumstance.

Like a treasure hunter combing the dirt for buried gold, you can use gratitude to mine the lovely in the midst of the average, the glorious amid the mundane. Ask yourself questions like:

 

Where is the joyful aspect of this situation?

 

What is beautiful here?

 

What can I take delight in right now?

 

When you find gratitude sources, celebrate them! Keep a journal, and list out all the reasons you have to be grateful each day. Write thank you notes to the people (and things) that enrich your daily life. Keep a photo log of the beautiful things you encounter as you go through your day. As you train yourself with gratitude, you teach your vision to naturally seek out gratitude sources at every turn. Before long, even the ugliest situations will hold an element of inspiring beauty, because you’ve taught yourself to see it.

Intentional Gratitude is far more than thank you notes and finding pretty things, however; it is a powerful creative act. It is the ultimate defiance against the dark and painful experiences of this world, and greatest tool to combat the doldrums of the day-to-day life. Gratitude returns the color to a world stripped to grey by stress, busyness, and constant demands. It slows the rush of time, making room for glory and beauty to again have a place in daily life. Practicing intentional gratitude empowers you to see the joyful possibilities around, and to bring them into reality through your creative expression. The beauty that you see through gratitude can become beauty that you speak through your creative expression, and that expression can become a piece of beauty that changes someone else’s daily experience. That is powerful indeed.


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

 

Gratitude 101 - Creative Hero University Gen. Eds.

For the past six months we have been unpacking the journey of a Creative Superhero. Each stage leads into the next with it's own set of challenges and opportunities. No matter which stage of the journey you are currently in, our next topic is a set of core principals that every Creative Superhero needs in order to reach the ultimate goal of Walking In Power to Change the World. We call these principals the Gen Eds of Creative Hero University.

The first class that is required for all Creative Superheros is Gratitude. Intentional gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool. Gratitude does not require any additional resources; it is accessible at any time, by any person, in any situation. Gratitude can shift our perspective from stress and negativity to peace and hope, allowing us to find beauty even in the most mundane and even painful circumstances. An intentional practice of gratitude creates a place of strength in us that can carry us through hard times in our creative journey.

We have written many times about gratitude because it is an essential part of the creative process and is a requirement for advancing into Creative Leadership. Just as Creative Leaders have reached a level of mastery in their creative expression through intentional practice, gratitude can be developed into one of our Creative Superpowers. Focusing our attention, gratitude reveals not what we lack, but all of the possibilities present in this moment. Even inspiration, that age old tease of the artist, is ever available when we are willing to exercise gratitude as it forces us to engage with the beauty around us in this present moment.

We find gratitude to be so important that we wrote an entire chapter on it in our Bright Ideas Book, here's a taste of what we had to say:

Living with constant awareness of the tangible goodness of God in our lives releases us from anchors that have held us back, propelling us forward. Gratitude allows us to rejoice in beauty everywhere, from the tiny petals on the flowers beside the road to the grandeur of cathedrals. Thanks flings back the curtains and opens the windows of our souls to fresh air and life in previously closed spaces. It gives room for light and sound and color to invade our consciousness. Gratitude adds spice, intrigue, flavor, adventure, and mystery to the mundane. It invites us to step out of the rush of life and frees us to live fully in this right-now moment.

Action: start regular exercise - take 1 minute every day this week to quickly jot down at least 3 intentional gratitude thoughts. You might be surprised how much beauty is around you right this moment. If you need help, we love Ann Voskamp's free Joy Dares - simple prompts to help you find gratitude every day.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Creative Hero University Now Enrolling! - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers

Congratulations, you’ve discovered your identity as a Creative Superhero! You walked through the unveiling process, from Discovery, to Rising to the Occasion, to Walking in Power to Change the world. You know more about yourself and your creativity than you did before, but did you know you’ve been in school the whole time? Embracing your Creative Superpowers enrolls you in what we call the Creative Hero University.

Welcome to Creative Hero University!

Welcome to Creative Hero University!

What Professor Xavier’s School was to the X-Men, Creative Hero University is to creative souls. Hero U is where all Creative Superheroes discover, build, and understand their unique powers. It’s the training ground for the creative experience, with opportunities to try new ideas and hone skills. Here’s the best part, though: Creative Hero University isn’t a place on a map, but an experiential process in which all Creative Superheroes can take part. This training ground exists in your everyday life; class is held wherever and whenever you step out in your creative abilities. Talk about flexible learning!

Just like any University, Hero U has “Gen Eds” that everyone learns before moving on to more specialized study. These are the building-block classes, the foundational elements that all Creative Superheroes share. Things like intentional gratitude, cultivating wonder, and honest self-awareness are all part of the Hero U Gen Ed experience. They provide a solid, healthy base on which to build a creative life.

We’ll be unpacking each Gen Ed topic in detail over the next few weeks, and digging deeper into how a healthy foundation enables free creative flow. Come and join us!

The Power of A Vulnerable Leader - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Walking in Power to Change the World

Creative Leadership and Walking in Power to Change the World require great character, developed through experiences in the Creative Journey. We talked last time about how Creative Leaders are humble, balancing a clear understanding of their own worth with a strong desire to promote others sooner than they promote themselves. Humility goes hand in hand with the next trait of Creative Leaders: vulnerability.

Creative Leaders are Vulnerable

Creative Leaders live their lives at the forefront of the creativity community around them. They are the pioneers, blazing a path for others as they walk deeper into their own creative journeys. Leading the way well means not just being in front of the pack, but being open and honest with those following behind. These Creative Heroes lead by example in skills and in vulnerability, willingly sharing their stories so that others can grow from their experiences.

The Power of A Vulnerable Leader - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Walking in Power to Change the World, Part 3

The Power of A Vulnerable Leader - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Walking in Power to Change the World, Part 3

Sharing stories means more than just running a highlight reel of creative triumphs, however. In fact, the best Creative Leaders know that it’s the hard stories that carry the most power to help others. They don’t hide the painful parts of their journeys, or try to make them better in the retelling. They just tell the truth, and use their own experiences to help others find hope, wisdom, and courage along the way.

Just like humility, vulnerability doesn’t always come easy. Being open to others is risky; it’s easier to keep up a facade of strength and calm than it is to show people where we’ve felt weak, broken, or lost. Unfortunately, that easy facade cuts off all opportunities for community and relationship because it leaves no room for love. Love fuels the creative process, providing the passion and drive to pursue great ideas, make great works, and build strong creative community. Love makes us bold, removing the fear that keeps us from connecting with others. Creative leadership cannot function fully unless it is powered by love, and cannot be expressed except through honest vulnerability.

When Creative Leaders express love and vulnerability, they free those around them to love more and, thereby, create more. Telling their real stories shows that even Creative Heroes are human, and that imperfections and failures are only bumps in the road of the Creative Journey. As pioneers, they lead the way in all creative endeavors, most of all in vulnerability, honesty, and love.


Action:

How can you be more open within your creativity community? What stories from your Creative Journey could help those around you? Have courage to step out in vulnerability amongst your creative community. You may be surprised by the freedom that comes from being real.

 

Celebrating Your Humanity: Vulnerability as a Creative Leader - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers

We are all human. Failures and mistakes happen to everyone and we all have parts of our story that are not pretty or polished. We’ve talked before about failure being a wise teacher; often our greatest lessons, discoveries, and growth opportunities come out of our biggest mistakes. Creative Leaders are pioneers, blazing new trails for their tribe, which means they are often the ones out front, sinking knee deep into quick sand and finding a path around it. We get to be the ones marking the trail, making the way safe and passable for the ones following behind us, which means we may get our hands dirty along the way.

The beauty of Walking in Power to Change the World Through Creative Leadership is getting to help guide other people along the paths that you’ve already walked. Your wisdom and experience from blazing those trails can help other people navigate potentially dangerous territory safely, or totally mitigate the danger so they don’t have to experience what you did at all. This process is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a Creative Leader. Sharing your story, with honest, confident humility and healthy vulnerability is one of the best ways to help show other people the way to follow in your path.

Healthy vulnerability does not mean that you have to tell every person you meet the deepest, most intimate details of your life. Quite the contrary, healthy vulnerability knows when, and with whom, it is appropriate to share the deep places of your life. It is essential for a Creative Leader to have a core group of support people to process and be truly vulnerable with in the moment as you blaze new trails. Your core team will help carry you through the quick sand and clean it off of you when you need help. Later, as you learn from the failures and triumphs in your journey, you will be able to share honestly with people who come behind you in order to help them safely navigate the path.

Hearing the humanity in the stories of the Creative Leaders in a tribe will empower those who are just starting, or who are struggling through rough patches of their own, to keep going. No one needs a glossed over version of how you got to be a Creative Leader; neither do you need to be raw for the sake of being raw. There is a beautiful balance of sharing the strength that you found in your weakness, from a place of understanding and victory. There is beauty to be found in sharing the struggle to get to this place but the triumph of making it here. Healthy vulnerability allows the people in your tribe to truly celebrate your journey and to access the path that you helped create.


Action: do you have a core support team who can help you navigate the quick sand in your path as you go through it and clean you off when you need help? This core team is essential to your success as a Creative Leader. Are there areas where you can intentionally practice more healthy vulnerability with your tribe?


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Creative Humility - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Walking In Power to Change the World, Pt 2

Creative Leadership is a key feature (maybe even THE feature) of Walking in Power to Change the world. Creative Leaders have traveled the length of their creative journeys, learned the lessons of the process, and gained valuable wisdom to pass along to other creatives around them. While every Creative Leader is unique, they all share key attributes that set them apart among their tribes and peers.

Creative Leaders Are Humble

Creative Leadership may seem like a prime opportunity for pride and self-promotion to grow, but the opposite is true: Walking in Power and being a Creative Leader require exceptional humility. Creative Leaders aren’t out to press their own agendas or seek attention for themselves – those actions are born from insecurity and fear. True Creative Leaders know that it takes far more power and confidence to let others shine than it does to hog the limelight. They understand that their identities are rooted not in how much praise they receive, but in the unique facet of the Creator that they carry. Attention, accolades, and praises don’t alter their self-confidence, because their identities are secure on something far stronger. They can step back and give others glory without feeling less sure of their own worth.

Creative Leaders are comfortable outside the limelight, but that doesn’t mean they never enter it. They don’t practice the self-abasing false humility that refuses to accept praise when it’s due. Instead, they know how to receive honor with grace, knowing that they don’t need the notoriety to validate their creativity. Praises might have once made them feel like insecure imposters, but now they understand that creativity isn’t born from praises and it won’t die from criticism. They endured the highs and lows of the creative process to get to this place, and they know that creative life keeps on going long after the glories fade away.

Humble Creative Leaders understand when to step back, and they understand when to stand up. Creative Leaders know that being humble to doe not mean being a doormat. Though they rarely go looking for conflict, they will stand up for their rights, needs, and ideals when the time comes. They know who they are as creative people, and that knowledge enables them to defend their personal boundaries in healthy, positive ways.


Action:

Humility self-check. Where and how are you operating in true humility in your life? Where do you struggle? How can you make humility part of your creative leadership? Take some time this week to reflect and think of ways to add more humility to your creative life. 

Humility is Honest Confidence - Unveiling Your Creativity Superpowers

Welcome to the final frontier of the Creative Superhero’s journey – Walking in the Power to Change the World. This is not a destination, but rather a new way of walking out your journey. This is where you get to see that nothing in your journey was wasted - every experience has shaped a facet of your Superpowers to form you into a Creative Leader. In your journey to Creative Leadership you will have blazed a trail or two, conquered a few giants, and developed your Creative Superpowers to the point of mastery. All of your accomplishments to this point will hopefully have developed in you a key component for Creative Leadership: humility.

Humility is an underestimated and often misunderstood characteristic of leadership. Success can either be an excuse for pride or a path to humility. Self-depreciation (believing, speaking, and projecting a smaller version of yourself than is true), often mistaken for humility, is actually pride. Pride is believing more or less of yourself than is true. Humility takes an honest assessment of who you are and what you bring to the table. Humility knows that you who are is enough and that your value is not determined by the approval of the people around you. This leadership characteristic empowers you to ride the waves of criticism, critique, approval, and rejection without threatening to overturn your ship. Your confidence in who you are and where your value comes from is enough to carry you through. That same honest, humble confidence allows you to lift others around you up to a higher level without feeling threatened.

Being a Creative Leader is like being a general in the creative community. You are mature and experienced, with wisdom to pour into other burgeoning Creative Superheros. The people around you can trust you to help safely lead the expansion of creative expression for your community. You are free to celebrate and empower the other Creative Superheros in your community and to help lift them to a higher level than they believed was possible. You may even have the privilege to help lift them to a level that is beyond what you could ever accomplish.

Creative Leadership is a platform and a place of strength but it is not meant for your benefit only. This platform does not exist to flaunt your strength over the people around you, quite the opposite. The beauty of reaching this place in your journey is your ability to raise others around you to a level equal or higher to your own. These moments will prove to be the redemption of every hard battle you fought on the journey. Where you stumbled, you can now empower. Where you got lost, you can now guide. Where you almost quit, you can now encourage. Where you lacked resources, you can now share. Where you were wounded, you can now heal. This powerful place is available to you as you step into Creative Leadership with honest, confident humility.


Action: take an honest assessment of yourself. Don't downplay your strengths or gloss over your weaknesses. Take a good look at who you really are and what you bring to the table as yourself, not in comparison to anyone else. Note the way this influences your perspective and decisions this week.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Destination: Creative Leadership - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers

Every journey has a destination, and we’ve nearly reached ours. We’ve traveled from Backstory to Discovery, Fun & Games to Ownership, and on through Rising to the Occasion. New skills have been found, fresh passions have been pursued, and old foes have been removed. Now it’s time for the grand finale: Walking in Power to Change the World!

Destination: Creative Leadership - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers

Destination: Creative Leadership - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers

For the Creative Hero, this is the moment that all the efforts, difficulties, and opportunities all lead toward, the culmination of experiences that mold a unique individual into a powerful Hero. This is the time when you come into the fullness of your strengths and talents, ready to take on whatever may come your way. Confidence, experience, preparation, and humility are the hallmarks of Walking in Power.

Walking in Power isn’t just about individual strength, however. This is the time with the Creative Hero becomes a Creative Leader, taking all the wisdom and knowledge gleaned from their own journey, and passing it along to others. Each Creative Leader is unique, but they all know how to be humble, generous, vulnerable, vulnerable, empowering, and legacy-minded (we’ll be talking more about these over the next few weeks).

Just like all of the Creative Journey, Walking Power to Change the World isn’t a static pinnacle. It’s a step into a new way of doing creative life, and an opportunity to grow in ways you couldn’t have grown before. This is your chance to run fast and free towards every creative opportunity, because you’ve made the journey through your creative process to get here. Even better, it’s a chance to help others grow through their Creative Superhero journeys. When you Walk in Power, everyone wins!


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

 

Celebrate all the things! - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion 7

Rising to the Occasion is a significant moment in your life, one where you choose to step out into a new level of creative expression and allow yourself to be stretched and seen. Once your moment of Rising is over, we believe that there is one more important step in the process: celebration.

Celebrate your bravery.

It takes serious guts to put yourself out there creatively and you did it! We're so proud of you and you can be proud of yourself. Creative expression requires vulnerability, pushing past fear, and a willingness to fail, all of which take great courage. The brave steps that you take toward your creative expression will come back to you in more courage and creative confidence when you get the next (and likely bigger) opportunity. Well done! Gather your Tribe and Champions and celebrate! Throw a party, buy yourself a treat, or just send a text with all the good emoji! Whatever celebration looks like - do it - and do it with people who will celebrate you.

Celebrate your failures.

Every creative endeavor includes opportunities to grow. Celebrating the places where you failed, lost, or learned is an amazing way to re-frame your failures into learning experiences. Lighten up. Maybe laugh at yourself a little. We all fail. Celebrate the fact that you'll likely never make that same mistake again now that you know better. Celebrate getting an opportunity to fail and grow. Celebrate what you've learned and how much growth you can see in your creativity so far.

Celebrate your victories.

Rising to the Occasion comes when we are offered an opportunity that stretches our skills, abilities, and confidence beyond what we thought we could do. You were invited to step into something big and new! Your skills were seen, honored, and given a platform. Every small victory can be celebrated! Celebrating the small steps helps you keep momentum going for the big steps. It's ok to acknowledge that it's a big deal for your life and to enjoy and celebrate a big moment. Go for it!

Celebrate the next steps.

Rising to the Occasion often puts us into a new level of exposure, community, and skill. That shift can also affect our trajectory. It may accelerate a process that you're already in or start you on a whole new course. Celebrate the next steps, even if you don't know what they all are yet, even if they're scary, and enjoy the process. You can do it!

If you're Rising to the Occasion right now, or when you do in the future, know that we are proud of you, we believe in you, and we'd love to celebrate with you! Feel free to share your Rising story in the comments!


Action: Find ways to celebrate your courage, failures, victories, and next steps! What does celebration look like for you? Who do you have around you to celebrate with? Prepare now for a time to celebrate in the future so when it comes, you're ready with the confetti!


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Level Up! - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion, Part 6

Imagine you have been given the creative opportunity of your lifetime. You trained and worked for so long, and the moment has finally arrived. You push aside your doubts and silence the Naysayer’s voices, filling your mind with the cheers of your Champions and Tribe as you step up to your new creative endeavor. Everything is coming together! The future is bright! The world is yours to conquer!

But then something goes wrong. . .

Despite your best efforts and obvious potential, your grand creative plan has hit a snafu. Things that seemed certain aren’t working, and those best laid plans have gone terribly awry. Though you seemed so ready for anything, you find yourself stumbling, confused, and unsure where to turn next. Your grand idea didn’t work, and now you have to face the fact that you may have. . . failed.

Congratulations!

Yes, I did say congratulations. No, I am not crazy. I mean it: congratulations, you failed! As outrageous as it sounds, failing is as much a part of Rising to the Occasion as succeeding. Failure is a sign of progress, because it means you have taken your creative efforts up to a new level. Rising to the Occasion is like stepping up to a new level in a video game. It has exciting new elements, but it also has new risks. You don’t know what enemies may await you, or what will be needed to conquer them. Your first few tries at a new level may end in a swift retreat, but that doesn’t mean that you give up on the game. It means that you learn from each defeat, using the losses to learn what is needed to gain the victory later on.

Level Up! - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion

Level Up! - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion

The same thing happens when you step up to a new creative challenge. You are indeed ready to step up to the next level; you have trained and grown, and the only way to go is up. You have what it takes to move up, and now you have to learn how to live in your new level. Learning what you need often means enduring failures along the way, but don’t give up! Even the most talented people in the world had to face failures when they rose to higher levels in their craft. Their failures taught them the lessons they needed to be successful in their new endeavors.

Risking, failing, and growing are all part of Rising to the Occasion. As hard as it is to endure, failure is a sign that you are at a new level; it proves that you are moving forward. Rising to the Occasion is about growth, not safety. Failing at your first (or second, or third) go at your new level is still far better than playing it safe in level you long-ago outgrew. Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Action: Reframe Your Failures

If you feel like you've failed (or are failing) at something as you Rise to the Occasion, try reframing the failure. What have you learned from the process? How can it help you be successful in the future? What big risk did you take, and how can you celebrate the bravery of that action? Finding the positive aspects of failing can make an otherwise difficult situation into something that empowers you to seize your creative opportunities!


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

 

Beware of the Inspector - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion part 5

Rising to the Occasion is an opportunity to step into a new level of creative confidence. Rising to the Occasion is often initiated by an invitation from someone who has a level of power or influence in your given sphere. They recognize your Creative Superpower potential and offer a platform for your talents to shine. This is not a moment to give into the temptation for intimidation or insecurity, but rather to step forward in creative confidence. You're in this place because someone saw you and decided that you have what it takes to perform at this level. These opportunities are often a step or two beyond what you thought you could do at the time, but will stretch you to allow your full potential to be displayed.

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Sarah gave a call this week to remix the tape on your creative insecurities, to turn fearful predictions and insecure murmurs in the back of your head into a mantra of your confidence. The voices we choose to listen to and agree with in our head will either build or destroy our creative confidence. In our book, Bright Ideas: Light Up Your Creativity, we talk about the Naysayers - a group of mental saboteurs who try to hijack our thought life and prevent us from stepping into our creative potential. The Naysayer that you will hear from the most in this stage is Imposter Inspector, the whispering voice that says that you will be "found out for your true level of talent." She insinuates that your creativity won't last, that success will be a burdensome responsibility, and that you won't be able to maintain any victories.  Here's how we describe Imposter Inspector in the Bright Ideas Book:

Impostor Inspector comes as a lurking suspicion, whispering from the shadows that you will be “found out” and that the “truth” about your “real” level of talent or skill will be revealed. She tries to convince you that your accomplishments are the result of a fluke or a chance and not the true product of your creativity. Impostor usually comes when we are on the verge of breakthrough and tries to frighten us into shrinking back. She juxtaposes where you are now
with the distant future and projects failure based on your current level of experience and expertise. What the Inspector fails to include in her assessment is all of the growth and change that will happen as you progress in your creative journey.
Confronting the Inspector at every turn is Legitimacy. Impostor Inspector uses shame to make you feel like a creative orphan; Legitimacy removes the shame by helping you realize who your Father is - The Creator. Legitimacy stands strong in his conviction of your true creative value and skill, never wavering in the face of Impostor’s accusations. Legitimacy allows you to hold your head up as you declare who you are as a creative person, without minimizing yourself or making excuses for who you are. He gives you a sense of belonging as a creative person, and frees you to interact confidently with other creative people. Legitimacy shows you the truth of your creative identity, and assures you that you have what it takes to
express your creativity into the world.

You are a legitimate artist. You are not a creative orphan, subject to fleeting winds of creative inspiration. You were made to be a Creative Superhero, you have Creative Superpowers and a creative future that was given to you for your enjoyment and to enrich the world around you. You have more than what it takes for this moment. You have permission to stand in your legitimacy and walk forward in creative confidence!


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Remix the Tape on Your Creative Insecurities - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the Occasion is your opportunity to step boldly into your creative future! It’s also a time to step back from self-sabotaging mindsets that keep you from making those bold creative steps. Last week, Emily talked about Rising to the Occasion as the mirror that shows you where you need to grow. It is a mirror, one that shows what you need to possess, and what you need to release.

Rising to the Occasion shines a light on your creative future, while at the same time shining a light on the mindsets that make you your own worst creative enemy. Fears, foibles, perfectionism, procrastination, bad memories and old hang ups - all of these creativity saboteurs come slinking out of the shadows when Rising’s spotlight starts to glow. These are the ugly little Naysayers that whisper (or sometimes yell) all the reasons why you shouldn’t try for the opportunity in front of you. They want to make your moment of glory into a source of dread.

Remix the Tape on Your Creative Insecurities - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion

Remix the Tape on Your Creative Insecurities - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion

Never fear, however! These old fiends rear their ugly heads because you have a genuine opportunity for success. Their presence is a sign of your potential greatness, so get excited when they snap to attention! Remember that the dire predictions they offer only mask the truth: that you have trained, prepared, and are more than ready for this moment than you imagine.

Instead of listening to their litany of woes, remix the tape into a song of excitement and joy for your next steps. Spin the negativity into hope, and flip the fear into passion!  There’s no need to fall back on old habits, or be ruled by old issues. You have everything it takes to take the deal before you and run with it. You. Are. Ready.


Action:

Remix the tape on your creative insecurities. Make a list of the negative thoughts that arise when you think about taking the deal and seizing your creative opportunity. Now write down the positive opposite of those terrible predictions. Make this into a mantra for when you feel unsure about Rising to the Occasion. Every time the Naysayers raise their ugly heads, shout them down with the truth of who you really are: a creative soul capable of incredible things!


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

Do You Know Your Own Strength? - Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the Occasion is a mirror. It is an opportunity to look at your creativity honestly, to see both the places where you’ve grown and where you need to grow. The degree to which you invest in your creativity during Ownership and Discovery will be put on display in the moment of Rising to the Occasion. That investment can be time, money, love, practice, or perseverance. Continuing to hone your craft and create when no one seems to be watching creates a platform for your creative work that you can stand on when the invitation comes to Rise to the Occasion.

During this process, keep in mind that failure is not a destination, it is a teacher. Rising to the Occasion is a courageous step in your creative journey! As you begin to step out you will invariably encounter things that you were not prepared for and didn’t know to anticipate. This is great! It means that you are entering new territory. Once you start Rising to the Occasion you will find opportunities to rise presenting themselves over and over again. Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by the size of the opportunity - take the deal! When someone offers you a chance to Rise, take it! Learn from it. Even if it's not perfect, it's a great way to learn. Rising to the Occasion is the testing ground of your Creative Superpowers - you will never know your full strength until you allow it to be stretched and tried.

Celebrate your victories - no matter how small. Celebration is an essential part of navigating this stage with excellence. Celebrating your courage to step up and Rise, especially when it doesn't go the way you hoped it might, will build resilience in you to continue forward. There are always new opportunities as long as you do not quit. The more you step up and Rise, the more you will try, fail, learn, and grow your Creative Superpowers. This is an exciting, and necessary strength building stage on your path to walking in the power to change the world!


Action: How are you cultivating your craft right now? What tools and resources can you find to continue to grow even in the times when you are not in the public eye? What tools do you have in place to help you learn from your failures? Who celebrates your victories and courage moments?


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion - Part 3

Rising to the Occasion is an incredibly brave step. It is the moment where you allow other people to see into this world of creative expression that you have been developing through Discovery and Ownership. Rising to the Occasion is vulnerable. It exposes you to potential criticism and potential praise. Having a firm grasp on your Mission and Motivator will help you navigate both criticism and praise in a way that helps you continue to move forward.

Rising to the Occasion is typically a public action. It places you and your creative expression in the spotlight. Because of the intense vulnerability of this stage, it is extremely important that you have taken the time to cultivate your creative Tribe and that you are surrounded by Creative Champions. Having a community of people who want to celebrate and champion you, who won’t be made jealous by your success or exploit your failures, and who can speak your Mission and Motivator back to you when you can’t see it, is a key to successfully Rising to the Occasion. That community will help you accurately navigate the praise and criticism that is sure to come with public exposure.

Rising to the Occasion is exciting! It is the moment that you have been preparing for as you’ve been cultivating your creative expression. You have permission to enjoy the experience and celebrate the opportunity! An invitation to Rise to the Occasion is an honor for you and your creative expression. It is a sign that other people, people who have influence to create opportunities for you, recognize that you have something special that they want other people to experience. This is a huge step for your creativity! Make sure that you take time to recognize and enjoy the celebration of your creative process and accomplishments.

Rising to the Occasion takes great courage and belief in your creativity. We believe in you and celebrate your creative journey! You can do it!


Action: How are you celebrating your creative accomplishments right now? Do you take time to see your progress and enjoy your successes? If you are not already, start intentionally  celebrating and actively supporting people in your Creative Tribe and your Creative Champions. Celebrate other people the way you would want to be celebrated and you reap the return when your time comes to be celebrated.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion, Part 2

Last week, Emily got us started in Stage 5 of the Creative Superhero process, Rising to the Occasion. This is the time when preparation and opportunity intersect. Often, this will look like a chance to express your creative superpowers in some new, advanced, or more public way. Just as creative expressions take many forms, creative opportunities come in as many forms as there are creative heroes. Today, I’m going to share my story of Rising to the Occasion in my job.

When I’m not writing for or teaching with Bright Ideas, I’m an interior designer. You might call this my Clark Kent job, my Daily Planet desk job that pays the bills and uses a different side of my creative skills. I spend my days space planning offices, specifying furniture orders, and keeping crazy salespeople in line (the struggle is real). This work uses a different side of my creativity than most of my other pursuits, and has had a unique Creative Superhero journey all its own. I walked through the early days of Backstory, worked to find my place during Discovery and Fun & Games, and finally started to hit my stride in Ownership. Then along came Rising to the Occasion to throw a new curve ball my way.

My occasion came as one of my co-workers departed. She was the second designer on staff, my partner and counterpart. The daily workload of design and administrative duties had been split between two people since I joined the staff four years earlier. It wasn’t a perfect system by any means, and my co-worker’s departure prompted a reevaluation of the role. The new plan? Instead of two designers who also did administrative work, they would hire a new assistant and move all the design work to me. It was the golden opportunity I had longed for since I joined the company, a chance to take on a more important role and let go of duties I had never enjoyed in the first place. Talk about win-win!

Yes, I was nervous at the beginning. The role was great, but it required me to rise to a higher level than I’d been at before. It worked, however, because my moment to rise intersected with my moment of readiness. I had honed my skills on a smaller scale for four years, gaining the knowledge, abilities, and connections to navigate my changed role. I might have been stepping onto a higher peak than I’d reached before, but the climb to get there had made me ready. My time of preparation intersected with the moment of opportunity before me, and I said, “Yes!”


Action:

Are you facing a moment of opportunity, but feel unsure about saying yes? Chances are good that you don’t see how prepared you really are for the moment. Take time to look back over you Creative Superhero Journey so far. What milestones do you see? Where have you overcome difficulties or made advances that will help you in this next venture? How have you grown from when you started?

Nothing is ever wasted, so you can be sure that your past experiences will have given you skills to carry into the future. You are more ready than you know!


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

 

Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Rising to the Occasion - Part 1

All of our brave steps to take Ownership of our journey as Creative Superheros will lead us to moments when we can Rise to the Occasion! Rising to the Occasion is an invitation to step up to the next level of expressing your Creative Superpowers. These may be invitations to be exposed to a broader audience, equipped with a new set of skills, or introduced to people who are influential in your chosen area of creative expression. Rising to the Occasion can take many different forms but it always gives you the chance to step up and own your creativity at a new level.

Rising to the Occasion can be a scary proposition. It may be an invitation to show your work in a prestigious venue or get a critique from a creative who you admire or the chance to move to another city in order to better pursue your creative expression. No matter what the details are, you can be confident that your investment into your creativity has prepared you for this moment. You are ready! You have everything you need to take this next step as it comes. This journey of becoming a Creative Superhero has required so many brave steps to get to this point, Rising to the Occasion is simply the next one.

You have permission to take the deal. Your creativity needs moments to be tested and shine in order to continue to grow. Rising to the Occasion will allow you to see both the strengths and weaknesses that have developed in your creative expression and begin to proactively address them. Being offered opportunities is an exciting moment for your creativity! Other people are recognizing your Creativity Superpowers and asking you to share them! This is the time to begin to let them shine.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers - Ownership, Part 6

The creative journey is a process, a continuous act of moving from one stage of development to the next. Each stage of the creative journey is a miniature process of its own. Ownership begins with owning your identity as a Hero or a Villain, then moves you toward your Mission and Motivator. Once you learn who you are and what drives you, you can start to cultivate your unique expression. The Cultivation part of Ownership is the time when you begin to find and hone your unique creative voice.

Cultivation is a two-part learning process: developing skills and critiquing your work. You work to develop the skills you found during Discovery and Fun & Games, moving them from beginner’s efforts to a more an increasing level of craft. Humility is key during this process, because true growth often requires a willingness to seek help and teaching. This is also a time to invest in practical tools that move your work to the next level. Tools could be literal tools and equipment, or maybe classes or education opportunities. Look to your Tribe during this part of the process - you probably already know people with knowledge or connections that can help you as you hone your skills. Your creative community is often your first and best resource when it comes to growing your skills.

As you grow in technical skills, it’s also important to learn how to critique your work. Critique can be a scary idea, but that’s because it’s often confused with its much less positive cousin: Criticism. Criticism is all about tearing down; it focuses on your inabilities, deficiencies, and all the ways you’ll never measure up. You can always recognize when Criticism is at play, because it makes you feel powerless and unable to grow. Yuck! Critique, on the other, always brings things into a positive light, even when it addresses places that need to grow. Critique looks for opportunities, not inadequacies. It gives you vision for where your work can go, and empowers you to get there. (For more on the difference between Critique and Criticism, check out our book, Bright Ideas: Light Up Your Creativity!)

It’s not uncommon for the Cultivation process to feel like lots of effort with little obvious forward progress. You are honing your voice, learning new techniques, and making the most of Critique’s valuable wisdom. Yet it seems like you’re going nowhere. Don’t be discouraged! The Cultivation process is like running on a treadmill: even though you don’t appear to be going far, your efforts are developing creative muscles that will be there for you when opportunities present themselves. All the miles of “going nowhere” are readying you to run when the gates open before you. Do the work now, when it all seems insignificant, and you’ll have the strength to go the distance when the big moment comes.


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!