Finding creativity

inspiring photographs

Creativity is like luck.

It’s always a bit of a gamble when – or you fear, if – inspiration will strike. You hope. You have your go-to tactics to encourage it, not unlike a superstitious tick…a certain playlist, position or activities.

And just like actually saying you’re lucky seems like a bad idea (wouldn’t want to jinx it!), it seems rather presumptuous to call oneself creative.

But here I sorta go.

I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t call myself an exceptionally creative person. I constantly see seemingly effortless but flawless and original writing and Instagram photos and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” 

I do think and hope I lean more that way on the scale than anywhere else, though, and I try to feed my creativity as much as possible through browsing design pins, trying my own hand at photography and reading about others’ inspired ideas, blogs and entrepreneurial spirit.

Receiving anonymous “snaps” from all my colleagues (an agency annual tradition) citing my creativity came just in time. I’ve been feeling less than inspired so far in 2014, and it has helped to have the external reinforcement. After a week of brainstorms and ideas I’m truly excited about, though, I feel like I’m emerging from the professional portion of my creativity slump.

The personal side, on the other hand, could use some of your help. What sources do you turn to for inspiration?

 

P.S. I highly recommend the Stars Pandora station for your next writing playlist. It’s inspired.

Photos (clockwise from left): 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

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The world is a fashion show

I like to think we talk about some ‘real life’ things around here…finding our place professionally or in relationships, efforts to be our best self with healthiness/fitness/habits, etc. So I can’t help but feel a little superficial when all I really want to do is another ‘trend’ post and tell ya’ll how excited I am about something in the fashion world.

But if this blog is about being real, then I have to tell you – I’m real excited about mixing neutrals.

Black on brown leather, grey jeans with brown boots, suede with just about anything…I’m all over it right now. Earlier this week I wore three shades of brown with a black top. I even instagrammed my latest combination, singing to myself a little diddy that consisted of “boots-and-tights, boots-and-tights” repeated in sing-song fashion.

Yup. (I’m highly creative at penning lyrics if you hadn’t noticed.)

And you know what? I don’t really care if it’s silly. I get dressed for me every day, and even if I don’t see another human being, I get a kick out of wearing things I like. If it takes the same amount of effort to pull clothing over my head, that clothing might as well be a cute dress, right?

I may have calmed down a bit since my melodramatic teenage years yelling “All the WORLD is a fashion show” a la Shakespeare in response to my mother’s complaint about waiting far too long for me to just accompany her to the grocery store already (“It’s just Kroger!”).

I no longer watch tv and “have to” grab a notebook “right this second” because there’s a crazy cute outfit on screen inspiring ideas that need sketching. Seriously, guys, I had so many pages of futuristic outfits (I preferred the terms “mod” and “fashion-forward”), I could have been a costumer designer for the next Zenon movie, but I digress.

I DO still glean quite a lot of inspiration from the fashion world though. Here’s some photos of what I’m loving lately, courtesy of Pinterest:

black hat brown scarf

black and brown leather jacket

black brown and grey tights and boots

tights and shorts

P.S. I also spent much of 6th grade wearing one, only one, huge dangly earring with a Chinese symbol on it because I was convinced the asymmetry was cool… #whenfashionlovedoesntloveback

Imperfection is beauty

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring. – Marilyn Monroe

I stumbled across this quote while doing some research at work. I could be way behind on this, but I had never heard it before. I think I speak for both Sarah and I when I say we are self-proclaimed nerds. We geek out easily over art, culture and branding. And in general consider ourselves to be ever so slightly awkward, we only hope it mostly comes across as charming.

One thing I love about finally arriving in my mid 20’s is the confidence that goes along with it. In high school if asked if I played a musical instrument, I’d shyly admit that I played the bassoon all through middle school, for the top band no less. In college I had to admit to new friends that I never drank all through high school for moral reasons and lead a generally safe life all growing up. Sometimes I’d accidentally let it slip that I love to read and I love solving math problems of any kind.

But now I’m so glad that I’ve been a little weird all my life. In fact, I’ve found that when meeting new people and talking about high school days, it’s a way more fun conversation talking about what a nerd you were are.  Being able to confidently joke to my boyfriend’s friends that hell yeah I played bassoon in middle school, and yes maybe it was a bit taller than me back then. And yes, last Friday night I didn’t feel like going out and instead chose to stay in and read my new book with my dog.

Therefore I love this quote. It’s here to say be yourself, it’s beautiful. Because you may not see it now or tomorrow, but someday you wil. Don’t waste your time trying to be someone or something that you’re not. Being who you are is just way more fun. Quirks make you interesting, help you connect with other people, and as you lean into the things that make you who you are, you can feel confidence building up inside you. You’ll start loving yourself and carry that love out into the world and in your interactions with other people.

Because personally, I’ve wasted more money than I care to admit on American Eagle Graphic t’s back in the day. I love being a little weird. Weirdness makes life way more interesting.

I hope this quote inspires you like it did me! Embrace your inner weirdness with me, folks.

Living your dreams

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One of the perks of working with lifestyle / fashion brands in what happens to be an all-female office is our monthly magazine subscriptions. I don’t think we’ve been at all shy here at FT about our Pretty Little Liars obsession, so when I saw “Emily” on the cover of the newest SELF Magazine I snagged that up right away.

Apparently her real name is actually Shay Mitchell, and Self starts off by saying if you’re not a fan of hers yet you will be after this article. Sure enough, I didn’t get very far before I was admitting her into my circle of celebrity BFF’s with Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence (…now I just have to meet them). Besides the fact that she believes being healthy is beautiful and is all about supporting other women, she is also a fellow blogger and had some inspiring words of wisdom about going after (and getting!) what you want.

First, create a vision of the life you want. Then share it—and your wisdom—to get started. “When I was living in Toronto and going to my bottle service [waitress] job, I walked down the street as if I were the actor I wanted to be. Back then, my vision board had a Hollywood sign and palm trees on it. I knew this was going to happen. It’s important to wake up every day and remind yourself what you’re working toward. You create your own life. It’s not set out there for you.”

Her determination and success at reaching her goals brings me back to an idea I’ve had before that was just waiting on the terminology – vision boards. For me, it’s not real until it’s down on paper, hence my desk of to do lists, iPhone full of Notes and planner that lives by my side. In addition to being a tangible processor, I’m a very goal-oriented person so it only makes sense that a vision board is exactly what I’ve been missing for daily and long-term inspiration.

Perfect timing, too, because creating and finding a place for a vision board sounds like an awesome new-home project. Only one and a half more weeks until I’m in the new place! I promise, I’ll even get over my fear of others thinking my dreams are vain, unrealistic or petty and share the completed version with you this summer.

Da big 2-4

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I’m not a big birthday person. I don’t really enjoy being the center of everyone’s attention and mostly just saw it as a reason to get free drinks in college. Most of High School my dad had an annual work trip on the big day, so my actual birthday was a little more laid back with friends, and then we’d go to a delicious dinner with the whole fam upon my Dad’s return and I’d leave with my stomach aching from over eating. So that’s just what I’m used to. Not making a big fuss on my birthday but having several little events with the people I cared about. Furthermore, every since my 21st birthday I’ve been dreading getting older. 22? 23? Simply not as fun.

When I turned 22 I was about to graduate college. I was leaving all of my friends and setting out into the unknown of Arizona. Plus, I was still recovering from my 21st birthday and hooked on the notion of “it’s all downhill from here.” When I turned 23 I was still figuring out life post-Arizona. Things hadn’t worked out there and then I was an unpaid intern and a barista living at my parent’s house. It simply wasn’t where I thought I would be at twenty-three (rhymed! boom). So getting another year older just meant that I was off my timeline.

But now 24. I’m so happy with everything in my life right now. I also realized early on that 2013 was going to bea great year and turning 24 is just part of it. To me, and I am brutally aware of how silly this is, to say “I’m 24” just sounds so much better. It says… I’ve been out of college for a while, I have it together, I’m mature, I am also responsible, I am working to achieve my dreams but I can still go out and have fun because I have little responsibilities to anyone but myself and no intention of settling down for quite some time. Who wouldn’t want to be all of those things? So I’ve decided not to be such a birthday bum this year. I have a quiet dinner with my boyfriend tonight, one of my very best friends is coming into town, I’ll go out and then tomorrow there’s yoga, brunch, pups, present shopping, Dave Matthews and more celebrations afterward.

Inspiration: Ahimsa

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I had an amazing week on my mat.

At Gaia Flow they always emphasize focusing on your own practice and not looking at your neighbor and try to do their practice. To not go further than you can. To not strive to go somewhere your body isn’t ready for.

Prior to my Wonderlust 2013, I assumed this didn’t apply to me and I jumped right into their hardest level courses just as fast as I can. It’s not that I’m an overly competitive person, it’s that I saw people doing amazing poses and was just like “Yep, that. I want to do that. Now. Right now.”

But now we’re post euro trip. As I’ve said before, I had to start back in the easier classes. The more I’ve stuck with these so called “easier” classes it the more I realized how I was becoming more flexible and more graceful in moving from pose to pose. It’s been kind of an amazing thing to be a part of. I’ve really changed my outlook on my yoga strategy and am looking forward to mastering those foundational poses and improving my practice. One of the girls whom I I have yogi envy of, stated that she has been practicing for 8 years. I, on the other hand, am going on 8 months. So can I really expect to be at her level? Hell to the absolute no. But the improvements I’ve seen in my practice just make me so excited to continue my yoga journey, one downward facing dog at a time.

The other reason that my yoga week has been so amazing, is that we are working on practicing Ahimsa this week. Ahimsa is practicing nonviolence. Do no harm to yourself or to others. Or as the image above states, peace with yourself, peace with the world. If you have love for yourself, you’ll spread that love into the universe. Every class you go to the instructor may have a different perspective, anecdote or suggestion on how to bring this into your life. I believe that taking my yoga practice a little slower is just one way to practice Ahimsa, but that’s just on my mat. The beauty and the goal of Gaia Flow Yoga is what you bring from your mat to your life. So one of my instructor’s provided us with this little nugget:

If you truly love yourself, you could never hurt another.

– Buddha

I just loved this and really connected with it. Because truly, if you love yourself, you know how important happiness and love truly is. So you would never want to steal that away from someone. Whether it’s a stranger, a close friend or a family member. I think this is just amazing inspiration and a great goal for yogis and non yogis alike. I plan on bringing this into my everyday life. Although I do believe I never purposely cause pain or harm to those close to me, what about those strangers you pass on the street or the barista at your local coffee shop? I wouldn’t say I’m ever openly rude to them, but why not smile, ask how they are, and actually care about their response? In the end, they’ll feel great and you’ll feel great.  (The practice of ahimsa also might explain why yogis are just so happy and nice all the time)

All that to say, my yoga practice and my instructors at Gaia Flow were such an inspiration for me this week. Now excuse me why I go drink a gallon of water to recover from last night’s sweat fest on my mat. TMI?

Inspired by humans

Between the bombs in Boston and the explosions in West, Texas, it’s been a rough week for America. But, like all tragedy, comes beauty. Since I’ve been at those marathon finish lines (to run a half marathon, to be clear) and West is so near, both of these events really struck home. This week I’ve been so inspired by the people with such big hearts and are doing big things to honor Boston or help those displaced families in West. I can’t imagine the fear, anxiety and just absolute terror that those present at the Boston marathon underwent. I can’t even begin to fathom having your entire town wiped out. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I’m not sure where I stand on religion. But this week I had so much faith in humans and our country. Between the Google docs listing places for West residents to stay, marathon runners who ran right through the finish lines all the way to the hospital two miles away to donate blood, and the immediate reaction for donations throughout Texas, it’s truly an amazing thing. Although there was a lot of evil and hate circling around, I think it’s comforting to try to also hear the positive stories of people helping and the loving messages that filled our newsfeeds. As soon as tragedy strikes, there’s always going to be love and a need to help our fellow man.

So this week I was inspired by the human race. By the human instinctual tendency to care for those who are suffering, to bring others up when they’re down, and to cry and hope together as one.

 

Inspiration: Gwyneth Paltrow

gwyneth paltrow gwyneth paltrow

I can’t say I’ve given much thought to Gwyneth Paltrow in the past aside from the occasional movie, red carpet dress or snicker at her daughter’s name (Apple). But all that started to change when I read about her new cookbook, It’s All Good, on one of my favorite blogs, A Piece of Toast. Celebrating all the reasons they love Gwyneth is a fond pastime for their blog, and I have to say, I’m starting to get it. I love that she’s family-focused, seemingly very genuine and follows her heart in pursuing a variety of interests instead of pigeonholing herself or letting others do so.

True, her cookbooks have come with some criticism. The Huffington Post likened the cookbook to flipping through a  J. Crew catalogue (um, why is that ever a bad thing?). Others have made fun of some recipes’ obvious or simple nature. But you know, that’s exactly why I like it. Pouring through the pages as the type of cook who has youtube-d “how to cut broccoli” and “how to cut eggplant” in the past couple months alone, I find the way she describes the book, organizes the recipes and details them quite helpful. Does she have a “recipe” for how to hard boil an egg? Yes. But I’ve seriously had some bad egg boiling experiences in the past so I welcome the break down! She also has a great section about stocking your pantry, which taught me a lot about different types of food and their uses / combinations.

Gwyneth (after this many nights reading her book we’re on a first name basis) is…

  • Inspiring me to learn more about food, nutrition and cooking.
  • Inspiring me to continue living a healthy life starting with what food I put inside me.
  • Inspiring me to look for more opportunities to love on people through food and hospitality.

Make the bold move

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In the past week I’ve been encouraged to make bold moves in both my personal and professional life.

Professionally, I’ve made bold moves in my life before and frankly many of those did not work out. They resulted in disappointing emails, a lack of a returned call, and hours spent refreshing my inbox hoping for good news. Conversely, I’ve made some bold moves that have worked out. And those resulted in a career path change for the better, moving into a position I love and more returned emails and phone calls. I’m a relatively confident person when it comes to knowing my aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses. I’m self aware and openly admit the places where I need to improve, but also work to accentuate those areas in which I excel. Typically, I feel I can accurately assess the outcome of a bold move, therefore making these moves much less scary and more calculated.

In the personal life it is much more difficult to make those bold moves. Although the feeling of rejection from a dream job is heartbreaking, few things compare to true heartbreak. When you get turned down for a job or even just something at work didn’t pan out, it can shake your confidence level a bit. I know for a fact my confidence level was in the pits when I was applying for positions in a field I had no experience in. But when it comes to the heart, the implications stick with you so much longer. The lasting effects shape how you deal with future romantic encounters, even if you don’t know it is happening. Matters of love can’t be calculated, planned or schemed. They just happen. Emotions and feelings can’t always be explained nor predicted.

I missed an opportunity recently to make a bold move in my personal life, and I am disappointed in myself. I allowed past events to hang a dark cloud over my present and I never want this to happen again. On the professional side it is so much easier. Your confidence level might get shaken one day, and the next you’re getting assigned a new project that puts the spring in your step.

So this week I am encouraging myself to make a few bold moves in both my personal and professional life. To not let fear hold me back or shake me. I think we should ask ourselves “why not?” and realize those excuses you start listing off are simply that – excuses. In the words of Nike, Just DO it because this feeling of disappointment in myself for not making a move is not one I want to be very acquainted.

Knock knock.. you there right side?

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It’s been 6 days since my return to the real world and things are just now starting to get back into a normal routine. Since I opted to go relax at a lakehouse this weekend and therefore postponing the necessary post trip “getting my shit together” for another few days, I am only now settling in to real life. My laundry is done, my cold is gone, I no longer feel like a zombie and the song “I can see clearly now” is playing in my head. Perhaps a weekend of hiking, hammock-ing, and tanning by the pool with my boyfriend, my dog and a few friends was just what the doctor ordered. And that brings me to tonight. Tonight is the first night that I can actually relax. On my own. In my pj’s Well, almost.

The only thing still on vacation is the right side of my brain. My left side is totally here making list, putting in maintenance requests, ordering new credit cards and IDs and establishing new budgets. But that damn right side is still over in Paris – or maybe it was stolen with my wallet in Sevilla? I am having the hardest time at work this last week coming up with an original idea. Pre-Europe Lydia loved brainstorming. I loved utilizing things I’ve read and compiling them to form one new amazing concept. Everything is taking me just a little longer since I must set aside time for staring at a blank screen wondering how I used to form sentences. It’s more than writer’s block. It’s a creative block.

Which brings me to my goal for the week. To get inspired. This entails sifting through the 100+ unread newsletters I have from a multitude of amazing idea-inspiring sites like PSFK, Fast Company (Design, Exist and Create.. I’m an addict), ColossalBig Think and the threads going in one of the many LinkedIn groups I stalk. I am not exactly expecting that I’ll walk into my office by Friday morning with a glowing light behind me and my head full of all-knowing knowledge (but that wouldn’t totally suck), but I am looking for a little spark. Like the lightning that comes down in War of Worlds to send a little driver into the ready and waiting machine that is my mind. That’s all I want. Juuuust a liiiiittle lightning.

Am I also subtly suggesting that you might also be interested in those aforementioned websites? You betchya. They’re awesome. Hop on my let’s-get-inspired bandwagon, flood those inboxes and let’s get those gears moving.

All, I have no idea where that War of Worlds reference came from. Do you see my problem?