(D) Thursdays with Emily

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 5

Like any great superhero, you are going to face villains who try to either talk you out of your Mission, or who downright oppose and fight against what you are called to do. That villain may be simply not being recognized for your great powers and gifts and pressing through continuing to create even when you feel invisible. Your driving force behind your Mission has to be strong enough to help you face any opposition and come out victorious. That driving force is your Motivator.

As you begin to run after your Mission, you will start to uncover your Motivator. Finding your Mission, as Sarah described last week, is the process of discovering the things that make you feel alive. Your Mission is the goal or dream that forms as you chase the path of your passions. Invariably, as you allow yourself to take Ownership of your creative expressions, dreams and goals will begin to form in your heart. Ownership is recognizing that you want those things and beginning to move toward them with intentionality, preparing yourself to Rise to the Occasion (our next stage coming up!). You may not find your full Mission at this stage, but you can begin to allow it to form by acknowledging the things that make you feel alive and continuing to pursue them.

Your Mission will continue to evolve over time until it becomes an overarching dream and set of goals for your creative life. Your Mission may grow and change as you do but there should be a common theme or core value that runs through it - Your Motivator. Your Motivator is the driving force behind your Mission. Your Motivator is your "why" for pursuing creative expression. Simon Sinek revolutionized the business world with his book, "Start with why." Our friend Elizabeth Braswell always says, "Your WHY should make you cry." Your Motivator is the deep, passion-fueled reason for continuing to be creative even when it feels hard, uninspired, and impossible. Finding your personal Motivator is essential for living a sustainable lifestyle of creativity. That deep conviction of your purpose and passion will carry you over mountains of opposition and through valleys of feeling invisible. Your Motivator will empower you to achieve your creative dreams and accomplish your Mission.

We'd love to hear your questions or what Motivator you uncover in your life! Share yours in the comments!


Action: Take time to find your Mission & Motivator.

You can find your Motivator by looking at the list of passions that you made after Sarah's post and asking yourself questions about why you want to do each of those creative expressions that you are so passionate about.

What is it about _______________ that makes you feel alive/passionate/empowered/excited/driven/curious...? Awesome! 

What is it about (that thing) that makes you feel alive? Fascinating! 

What is it about (that thing) that makes you feel alive?

Keep asking yourself that until you reach conviction. You'll feel it in your gut when you hit on the bedrock of your Motivator. It may evolve and grow, you may craft the way you say it over time, but the core value of your Motivator will remain the same throughout your life.

You may have multiple creative expressions and Missions but often your Motivator can be the same or similar for all of your creative expressions.


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 3

Ownership is the stage of decision - will we choose to use our Creative Superpowers for good? Our creative expression has the power to change the world, but we get to choose what kind of change we want to create. If we approach Ownership from the perspective of a Creative Superhero we will see the places where our creativity has been championed, we'll recognize our tribes, and see a path forward to positive change in the world. Our creative expression will be driven by love and passion as we begin to discover our true Motivators and Mission (more on that next week!). There is, however, another choice that can be made (though we don't recommend it).

If we approach Ownership from the perspective of a Creative Supervillain we only will see the places where our creativity has been rejected and we will begin to own that rejection as our creative identity. Creative Supervillains, as Sarah wrote about on Tuesday, choose to respond as victims of their Backstory rather than as Champions in the making. The result of Ownership is completely defined by our response to our past. Our beliefs are like a fortress - every time we choose to believe something, whether a truth or a lie, positive or negative, another brick goes into the wall. Creative Supervillains confine themselves within a stronghold of bitter expectations. From that place of self-protection, they lash out at anyone who appears to be threatening their limited creative expression. Creative Supervillains choose to recreate the same experiences they've received, not realizing that they have the power to demonstrating a better way.

These sad predictions are not the end of the story for Creative Supervillains! They can be rescued from their dark lairs by a tribe of persistent, strong Creative Champions continually demonstrating love, no matter the response. Dr Seuss's story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, demonstrates this principal so well. The Grinch, with his two-sizes-too-small heart, hides in his cave hating the Whos and their happy Christmas expectations. He decides to steal all of their Christmas gifts, trees, firewood, and decorations hoping to inflict on them the misery that he is feeling. All of the things that represent the external celebration of Christmas were snatched by the Grinch. As he prepares to throw all of the Christmas trappings into the abyss he hears the Whos singing a joyful Christmas song and realizes that their happiness is not from their gifts but from their hearts. In that moment of realization the Grinch's heart grows three times in size and he returns their Christmas gifts and begins to learn to celebrate with the Whos. The key here is that the Whos chose to respond in love and that was what ultimately cracked open the stone heart of the Grinch. He believed that he wasn't loveable and responded out of that rejection, but when love was shown to him it changed his heart.

Creative Supervillains are formed by small choices to believe insidious lies that lead to bigger and more isolating decisions. The more they choose to believe the lies, the harder it becomes to believe the truth. It is never too late to return to being a Creative Superhero! God is the Ultimate Creator and giver of truth. His love can rescue the heart of even the hardest Supervillain. Look at your life, are there areas where you've secretly begun to harden your heart? Ask God to show you what lies you're believing that are trapping you inside of self-protecting Supervillainy. You can choose to replace those lies with radical truths about who God is and who He made you to be and return to being a Creative Superhero.

Ownership is a powerful point of decision because it is the stage where we take on our identity and begin to start developing and pursuing our Mission. It is essential that we check our hearts and remove any tendencies toward being a Creative Supervillain now while we are in the beginning stages. The world is waiting for our creative expression! Let's make sure we're using our power for good.


Action: Ask God to show you any areas of hardness creeping into your heart. Ask him to show you what lies you are believing about yourself, your creativity, or the people around you that are allowing that hardness to grow. Ask him to show you radical truths about who He made you to be and begin to speak those truths over yourself and your creative process. You were made to be a whole-hearted Creative Superhero!


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 1

Welcome to Ownership! We've now dealt with our Backstory, given ourselves permission to explore Discovery, and tested our newfound creative expressions through Fun & Games. Now we come to Ownership. Ownership is an intentional step forward to choose to own your creative expression as part of who you are. Ownership is giving yourself permission to be ALL IN.

If you look at it in terms of a dating relationship, Discovery is like having a crush on someone and Fun & Games is the talking, flirting phase. Ownership recognizes, you are important to my life and I am committing myself to seeing this through. Similar to the way that things shift and open up in a dating relationship when you choose to commit to the other person, your creativity will expand and grow as you choose and pursue it. Ownership chooses, intentionally, to be the creative person that has been slowly emerging through the last three stages. Ownership decides, this is important to me and I'm going to put my money, resources, heart, thought space, and time toward investing in my own creativity. Ownership opens up opportunities for our creative expression to grow beyond anything we've experienced before.

Ownership is giving a damn about our creativity and our creative future. It takes our creativity seriously. Ownership says YES to our burgeoning creative dreams. It is choosing to do things to grow our creativity even if it's outside of our comfort zone. This is the stage where Critique can begin to have a voice in our creative expression as Ownership steps beyond Fun & Games to doing hard things in order to grow. Creative Champions and being in our Tribe can make all the difference in stepping into this stage. We will share more over the next few weeks about what it means to begin to craft our creative expression, finding our Motivator and Mission, and really owning our own creativity, but the first step in Ownership is giving yourself permission to be ALL IN.

What are you saying yes to by stepping into Ownership? Are you ALL IN?


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: Fun & Games - Part 9

You are a Creative Superhero with the power to change the world! Fun & Games is the first step in embracing your newfound identity. You can't become a Superhero just by saying that you are one, you have to believe it and give yourself permission to express your powers! This does not mean that you suddenly have to take yourself seriously and take responsibility for the whole world at the same time. This journey is more like a sunrise. Discovery is when you realize that there is a sun and that it is about to rise. Fun & Games is when the glorious colors begin to burst across the sky. You are free to allow your imagination to explode with ideas! Do you want purple streaks over here? Make some! Do you want pink sunbursts over there? Create them! Do you want a deep orange glow to spread across the horizon? Let it out!

Creativity is part of your identity as a human being who is made in the image of God, the Creator. You can trust that creativity will start to come out as you open yourself up to express it. The larger an opening you give creativity in your life, and the more you practice it, the more you will see it revealed. If you only allow your creativity a small opening, and a few instances of stressful practice, your creative expression will be more like a flash in a pan than a full day of sunshine. You were made to shine! When you realize and allow yourself to rest in the fact that you were made to be creative, it is so much easier to create! Take the pressure off! This is meant to be fun!

Everyone feels vulnerable when they try something new - if they don't feel vulnerable they are not being honest with themselves. Feeling uncertain and vulnerable is a natural part of the process and it doesn't mean that you're doing anything wrong. On the contrary, to truly create art, you have to use your heart. Using your heart requires vulnerability. If you feel vulnerable in the process of expressing your creativity than you are doing something right! That is why it is so important to play in a safe place. Keeping our mind first, and then our Tribe and Champions, intentionally safe is essential to being able to be vulnerable. You get to choose to surround yourself with safe people and to make yourself a safe haven for your creativity to grow. You get to choose to be vulnerable and to play! I know that it doesn't always feel comfortable but I can promise you that it will be worth it! Have fun! Shine on!


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: Fun & Games - Part 7: Finding Your Tribe

Creative Superheros are not made in a vacuum. We all need people around us to help us become who we were truly made to be. We all need a Tribe and Champions.

Champions are the people in our lives who support us in our quest to be Superheros. They celebrate our successes, help us learn from our failures, walk with us through hard times, help us understand our journey, and push us further into our destiny. Champions are people who are doing the work themselves. They may not be doing the exact same work as you, but they are pursuing some kind of creative work themselves and in the process of becoming Creative Superheros. They are people who have walked the road before you, or may be walking it with you, and are more concerned with helping you than with advancing themselves. Champions are not manipulative or demanding, but they will speak truth to you and give you everything they have to help you move forward. When you find a Champion, celebrate them too. Learn from them how to walk like a Champion and begin to do it back to them and others around you. The world desperately needs more Champions.

Your Tribe can have Champions in it, but more importantly your Tribe needs to be full of people who you resonate with in your core. Tribes are group so of people who have history and roots, rites and traditions, roles and leaders. Tribe members protect each other and fight for each other and create a place where each person can be safe to become who they are. Tribes create a place for you and your gifts, even if that place didn't exist before you arrived. They give you a sense of belonging and safety. I always think of Professor Xavier's school in X-Men. He travels around finding people who have extraordinary powers (gifts) that they don't know how to use and brings them to a place where they can safely learn to develop those gifts. He gives people an opportunity to use their powers for good and to be part of a tribe. Similar to X-Men, tribes of Creative Superheros can band together to create a powerful world changing force. If you don't have a tribe, look around and either find one near you, or create one. Maybe you are Professor X.


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: Fun & Games - Part 5: Find Your Flavor

This stage in the Creative Superhero's journey is about finding your flavor. Your creative expression, though it may be inspired by the creativity of people around you, is unique to you! Are you a smooth, sophisticated vanilla bean? Or a tangy dragon fruit? Do you have smokey notes or bright tones? Your flavor is defined by who you are. This stage is about playing, exploring, and discovering who you are!

During Discovery you find the type of creative expression you have in your creative garden - perhaps you have an citrus tree growing in your orchard. Fun and Games is where you begin to cultivate that tree and start to see and taste the fruit - are you a naval orange, a blood orange, a tangerine, a grapefruit? You may see other citrus trees growing in the gardens of people around you, but only you have the specific combination of Backstory and personality that gives your fruit its specific flavor. Give yourself permission to find and have your own distinct flavor!

A great way to start finding your flavor is to celebrate the small victories in your creative life. Find the places where you are seeing breakthrough and pause to celebrate and enjoy those moments. Giving yourself permission to recognize and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, will help you continue to grow and discover your flavor.

Be careful during this stage to not fall into comparison. Comparison will steal or distort your flavor because it demands that your flavor is exactly like everyone else. No two people have exactly the same flavor. You have permission to be fully YOU!


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: Fun & Games - Part 2

After navigating the waters of your Backstory and Discovering your inner creative garden with all of it's potential, we're reached one of the best parts of the Creative Superhero's Journey - Fun & Games. Fun & Games is the stage where you experiment, try new things, fail, learn, try again, play, explore, and have fun! If you've seen any superhero movie, this is the part where the hero has reconciled themselves to the fact that they have powers and begins to test them. In Spiderman, for instance, you see him climbing up walls, refining his web slinging technique, and starting to swing between buildings during this stage. He also goes through iterations of his costume and starts to find his look and persona.

Spiderman's web throwing was not nuanced at first, it took him a many tries to find the best way and he got a few scrapes in the process. His skills grew to meet the challenges that he faced as he tried and failed.  Similarly, you will likely not be very good at your initial forays into your new found creative expression, and that is more than ok! This is the fun part where you get to try, fail, learn, and try again! Remember - failure is a learning experience, not a destination or an identity. Failure is a result, a good result, it means that you tried something! Failure is a great teacher. I love Thomas Edison's quote:

I have not failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work.

In Fun & Games, success is found in not giving up and in enjoying the process. This process can, and should be, fun! If it is not fun, look for the sneaky enemy of Fun & Games: Perfectionism. Perfectionism puts pressure on your creative expression to be perfect, mature, profound, and profitable right out of the gate. "It doesn't matter that you're practicing hand lettering with crayons for fun, if it can't be retailed, it's not worth trying," Perfectionism's inappropriate standards poison our burgeoning efforts. The Creative Superhero's journey is a long game. No mere "get rich quick scheme," this journey is a steady investment into your creative future - one that will reap dividends if you keep at it. The pursuit of excellence is part of the creative process, but that comes later, for now, it is enough to create and let the honing of your skills come with time.

This creative journey is an invitation, not a demand. You are never required to pursue your creativity, but you always have the opportunity to explore your creative potential. Let yourself play! Have fun! Don't take yourself too seriously!


Practical action: write the phrase, “I’m not perfect and that’s ok,” or a similar meaningful phrase to encourage yourself and put it in a prominent place where you will be sure to see it.


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: Discovery - Part 9

As we wrap up our discussion of the Discovery stage there are a few last practical reminders I wanted to leave you with before we transition.

Find your Champions: Surrounding yourself with safe, encouraging creative community is so helpful for walking out the Discovery process. Finding peers who are going through the same journey as you is vital so that you don't have to wander the trails alone, but finding Champions who can tell you the way to the nearest watering hole is equally as important. Sarah wrote a great post about how to identify Champions last week, keep these qualities in mind as you're searching for Champions in your life!

I'm not perfect, and that's OK statements: Perfectionism is a killer of the creative process, especially around Discovery. Perfectionism puts restrictions on what we are allowed to discover inside of ourselves. We'll talk more in depth about Perfectionism in the coming weeks but a great way to start combating it is to remind yourself that you are not perfect, and that is OK. You don't have to be perfect, you can be you. You are enough.

Keep saying yes: In the Discovery process you are going to circle back to permission over and over again. Every time you encounter a new little plant growing in your garden of creativity you get to give yourself permission to let it grow. Each step of cultivation is a moment of permission. You are in charge of your creative process and you get to decide whether to move forward or not at each step. Running into a new permission moment is not a sign that you have regressed, but rather a sign of forward momentum - keep it up!

Enjoy the process: Discovery is the amazing process of exploring all of the creativity that is already planted inside of you. This is a sweet time in which you have permission to fully explore and enjoy your creativity! Discovery is an adventure, a journey, and you will see sites and meet people along the way that you never would have expected to encounter. The unexpected is the best part of Discovery! Have fun!

Be kind to yourself: Discovery takes courage and brave steps and you're doing it! Even if you haven't always responded in the "best" way to your Discovery process, you're considering it and taking steps and that's what's important. We're proud of you and you should be proud of yourself! Keep up the good work and be kind to yourself along the way. 


We would love to hear more of your Discovery story! Feel free to share in the comments or on social media @brightideasco #mydiscoverystory #mycreativechampions #mycreativesuperpowers


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: Discovery - Part 7

Each of us has a space inside of us, like a garden, where our creativity lives. We believe that God has already intentionally planted the seeds of our creativity, talent, and gifts in that garden and that He is ultimately responsible for making them grow. We also have a role in cultivating our garden, we are the ones who water, fertilize, prune, and harvest. We are the gardeners of our creativity. While we don't choose what is planted we can encourage the growth of what is already there.

Discovery starts when we acknowledge that we have a creative space inside of us and that we can participate in allowing it to grow. Some of us have obvious plants in our garden, those gifts and talents that seem to come naturally and become apparent early in our lives. Other plants take time and attention to make an appearance. For some of us, our family or culture might have indicated that certain types of creativity are more acceptable than others. Depending on our Backstory, we may have not allowed plants to make an appearance that didn't fit the cultural mold around us. Perhaps herbs and vegetables - useful, practical talents that help obviously benefit others or ourselves - are what we've grown - but when roses or orchids peek above the surface we cut them off believing that they are frivolous or selfish to cultivate.

 Photo by  Emily Lewin

Photo by Emily Lewin

Giving yourself permission to explore and express all of the creativity growing in your garden is the first step to Discovery. Like a garden, our creativity is cyclical and seasonal. There are certain plants that may only make an appearance in the winter, and others that blossom for one tiny window in the spring. We believe that it is possible to have a beautiful, thriving creative garden during all seasons, with a variety of creative expressions making their appearance at different times. Depending on the season you may cycle back through the stages of Discovery, constantly giving yourself permission to explore the things your heart is longing to express. In a thriving garden the plants we've cultivated grow and become more mature with every season, while new ideas and opportunities make room for burgeoning creative expressions to emerge. A healthy creative lifestyle will be one of continuous circling through Discovery as we allow ourselves and our creativity to blossom and grow.


Practical Action Step: Writing and speaking intentional permission statements help us change our mindsets to align with the truth. We suggest starting with something like this:

I, (your name), have permission to long for, and pursue, more creative expression than I currently have in my life.

We suggest writing this statement out 10 times. Make a note of any negative thoughts that spring up to argue with your declaration. Are there any themes to the negative rebuttals? This will help you see areas where you are not giving yourself permission to be creative. Ask God to show you true response statements for the negative arguments. From those responses you can write your own personalized permission declaration(s). These are great to write in a place where you can see them or to say aloud when you need a reminder of your permission.

We'd love to hear your Discovery Statements! Feel free to share them with us in the comments or on social media with the hashtag: #mydiscoverystory and #mycreativesuperpowers


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: Discovery, Part 5

Discovery can happen at all stages in our lives. Whether it's a new area of creativity or one that we've recently rediscovered, it's never too late to start the Discovery process. My music is a great example. I have been singing for as long as I can remember - when my family lived in the mountains in Colorado my Sandi Patty and Amy Grant tapes were my constant companions. I sang my guts out with those two and followed the melodies of Julie Andrews (as Maria Von Trapp) during her Alpine adventures in the Sound of Music. I sang on the worship team at church and in choirs for years, singing everything from 4-chord worship music to Italian arias - but always music written by someone else.

I grew up telling people to listen to my voice and not my musicianship because I only played to accompany my voice as my real instrument. At some point I stopped using my voice as the excuse to not grow as a musician. I'm still not where I'd like to be but I've come a long way from where I was ten years ago. All of this seemed like a natural progression. I didn't really think about it being art or something super different - my family and most of my friends are musical and I've always felt about average in the talent pool of my community. Somewhere along the line I dreamed of recording and performing my music but it seemed out of reach and unrealistic. As I compared myself to other more accomplished musicians I grew intimidated and shut down.

Seven years ago, (crazy to realize it's been that long!) I took a chance and went to a week long workshop for worship leaders. This school propelled me into songwriting. Since that point, writing music has become a way to express my heart, especially in response to painful situations in my community. In the last two years I've the desire has grown to play and write more of my own music and perform it in public. I started studying songwriting and crafting my songs into something beautiful. Songwriting began to be an art form. A year ago producer Alex Priore offered to help me record some of my music. This offer scared the sh*t out of me. Could I really admit that I was good enough to record? Was I willing to risk that no one would want to listen to my music or think it was good? Was I really just a fraud? Could I own music openly as something I wanted more of and loved?

I had to give myself permission to pursue my music for my own sake. Not for publicity or earning approval from anyone. Not to start a music career. Not to make money. But to honor the dream, time, investment, gift, talent, and desire that were burning inside of my heart. The process of recording was scary and forced me to constantly face my fears and intimidation, but the legitimacy that I received from it and the support of my community has been amazing (more on that later). The key was giving myself permission to make my music, even if it wasn't well received, even if it was bad, even if I was the only one who got something out of it - to make it for myself. I gave myself permission to try to accomplish what was in my heart and it's been a beautiful journey so far.

What's in your heart? What burning desire have you hidden inside that is dying to come out? I'd love to hear in the comments.


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 blog post, 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: Discovery - Part 1

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to the next stage in the journey of a Creative Superhero! We've made it through the Backstory and into Discovery. Discovery is exactly what it sounds like, the part of the story where you begin to discover who you are - the combination of gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and traits that make you unique! The process of Discovery can be both exhilarating and terrifying. It is exciting to discover that you have incredible talents and gifts! You have power to change the world around you, either for good or evil. At the same time it can be isolating to realize that you are the only one who feels, sees, and responds exactly like you.

Most people begin Discovery at a very young age, but depending on your Backstory - culture, family expectations, etc - you may not have been in a safe enough environment to fully discover your powers until adulthood. Either way, it is never too late to start Discovery! Though you may know what some of your unique gifts and talents are, it is likely that you have others still waiting to be discovered. As uncomfortable as it may feel, this stage is essential - you cannot exercise Creative Superpowers that you don't know exist.

Often the only thing required to enter the Discovery stage is giving yourself permission. You have permission to listen to the little nudging inside your heart that says, "Maybe I'd like to paint, or dance, or sing, or draw, or cook, or ..." What creative expression causes your heart to jump and makes you feel alive to think about doing? Allowing yourself to recognize your areas of talent and passion will start you on the pathway to Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers!

For more in depth help walking through this stage check out Chapter Two in the Bright Ideas Book.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, born in the South, raised in Colorado, and loving life in Virginia Beach, VA. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blog post, 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: Backstory Part 8 - Getting Help

This is the last post in the Backstory, for now, and as we wrap up this important stage in the Creative Superhero's Journey I wanted to give a few practical ideas for dealing with your Backstory. The past few posts have addressed how to sort the good from the bad in our Backstory and some steps for moving forward. Today I want to give a few ideas for specifically how to address areas of pain, brokeness, trauma, and wounding in our Backstory.

Here's the thing, we all have areas that hurt if you poke them (or should) in our Backstory, it's part of being a human. Admitting that you have things to heal in your story is not bringing any shame on yourself, your family, or your community. Strong, healthy people know when to get help and healing. It takes incredibly humility to admit that we are weak in areas and need help, and to actually take the steps and do the work to get the healing we need.

The process of healing our Backstory looks different for each person but here are a few things that may help:

1. Read the books

What books help you may change depending on what you're dealing with, but these are a few that we've found helpful:

- Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend - this classic can help you identify and set up appropriate boundaries, something most of us need help doing.

- The Gifts of Imperfection, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown - these books will help you work through shame and into living a wholehearted life.

- Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk - another great boundaries & relationships book

- Codependent No More by Melody Beattie - just what it sounds like.

- To Be Told by Dan Allender - a book about owning our own stories

2. Put yourself in a safe environment

You cannot get healing unless you are vulnerable. It is very hard to be vulnerable unless you are in a setting that feels safe. This setting may be a community, family, city, home, job, etc. If any of those things in your life make you feel unsafe or put you in survival mode (which is almost impossible to get healing in) than you may need to change your setting before you can really get healing. If you are dealing with family trauma than living at home with your parents is probably not the safest place to get healing. If your city or lifestyle is causing you to live in survival mode, than maybe consider a move or change of space. We have to be willing to do the work and make the changes necessary to put ourselves into a safe environment so we can get healed and move forward in wholeness.

3. Get Counseling: from a good, licensed counselor.

We are working on finding more hands on resources for things like this for you all so that we aren't telling you to do something and not equipping you to do it. We are hoping to have an article about how to find a good counselor and what a healthy counseling relationship should look like, but in the meantime, look for someone, find reviews, ask friends for recommendations... There are good people out there. Sometimes it helps to have someone who is trained to listen well and bring insight. They aren't going to have every solution but can definitely help bring a new perspective. Our families and friends don't have all of the answers, and often aren't equipped with the tools, to walk us through deeply traumatizing things, they cannot be expected to carry that burden alone. There is no shame in getting professional help, and it may change your life.

These are not all of the solutions or answers, but they are a few ideas to get you started. Getting healing from our Backstory, forward through the rest of our journey is so important. No one is perfect, and issues that we ignore or stuff will come back stronger when we least expect them. Take the time to get healing in your life now so that you can go on to live as an incredible Creative Superhero with full, wholehearted use of all your powers. We love you! We can do this!


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, born in the South, raised in Colorado, and loving life in Virginia Beach, VA. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blog post, 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.