Episode 230

Being a Creative

May 12, 2020

Putting aside the strict business talk, Emily and Kathleen discuss the importance of being a creative, the difference between a creative process and a business process, what being creative actually looks like, cooking, and how to keep going when you get blocked.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Cultivating my creativity is ultimately what gives me confidence and the feeling of safety."
- Kathleen

Discussed in this Episode

  • The importance of creativity
  • The difference between a creative process and a business process
  • What being creative actually looks like (cooking counts!)
  • Long-term vs short-term creative projects
  • How to keep going when you get blocked


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:02
I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:04
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily Thompson 0:05
And this is being boss. In this episode of being boss, join Kathleen and me as we talk about practicing and being a creative. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club. Okay, Kathleen, I have a challenge for us today.

Kathleen Shannon 0:30
What is it?

Emily Thompson 0:31
Let's not talk business. Yay. As much as possible, I think we need to like maybe use the word a couple of times to draw proper comparisons. But like not talking businesses The name of this? Well, then

Kathleen Shannon 0:44
what are we talking about?

Emily Thompson 0:47
Creativity. The other part of what it is we're all here doing is being a creative. So let's talk about that. Instead,

Kathleen Shannon 0:54
I'm stoked to talk about this, because creativity is one of my core values, since I was little. And it extends so much beyond business. And I think that we've been lucky that we've been able to monetize our creativity along the way. But whenever we get back down to the essence of who we are, and what we're doing here, on this planet Earth, it's about being creative,

Emily Thompson 1:20
right. And we spend so much time talking about business and the importance of business and the importance of understanding how business works, especially as creative business owners or entrepreneurs, being a business owner is important. And we have been here talking about business. Because we know whenever we started this podcast, there was no one talking about creative business, like we were the first one showing up and talking about what it was like to be creative and to use your unique skill set to make money for yourself on your own terms. So we've sort of built a platform for ourselves talking about business. And that is what everyone is really encouraged you and everyone is talking about business these days, I feel like but oftentimes, and I think that's definitely the case, currently, that's to the detriment of being a creative of cultivating your creativity of practicing your creativity. And so I think we're,

Kathleen Shannon 2:17
I was just gonna say, think about, like, how many business owners are constantly saying, I miss doing things with my hands. Yeah, like, how often do we see how often have we said that ourselves? Many, many times, many times for anyone who misses doing things with their hands,

Emily Thompson 2:33
right, we're just going to talk about creativity today. And I'm excited to dive into this because I feel like everyone listening is going to get to hear sort of some behind the scenes of what it's like to be a million Kathleen, like creative business bosses who are doing things and building spreadsheets, and delivering projects and all of these things, but also like what we're doing behind the scenes, and the things we are having conversations about still, we're just not sharing about them in this space. So, you know, for most of us, being a business owner is not what fuels us being a creative or being or practicing creativity is. So we're gonna focus on that today. I'm super excited to dive in. Let's begin though, with the business comparison. I think let's just go ahead and get this out of the way. And let's not bring it up again. What do you see is the difference in your own personal experience, the difference between the creat like purely creative process, and a business process you build maybe even around your creativity?

Kathleen Shannon 3:37
Well, I think for the both of us, it's going to be a little bit different because I have made my role and my job at my business being the creative director. So my creative process whenever it comes to work, and my more hobby creative stuff isn't that different? It's really about blocking out broad strokes, you know, really zooming out and thinking about Okay, what is it that I think I want to create? And how can I start to block that out into broad strokes for so if you're writing a book, this looks like a table of contents. If you are blocking out a process, it looks like the beginning, middle and end. If you're painting a canvas, it looks like getting that background kind of blocked out. And then I start to zoom in and I get a little bit more specific in one area. So that's writing the chapter writing the sentences, and then you zoom back out and you see how it fits in the whole picture. And then so for me, it's this process of just constantly zooming out and zooming in. My creative process and my business process are very similar, but obviously with business, I'm getting paid for that creativity. So I'm definitely sharing it more along the way. I'm giving creative briefs along the way. I'm articulating my choices and why I'm doing what I'm doing. Whereas with a more hobby centered, creative process. I'm not having to explain anything to anyone I can get weird with it. I'm not in any sort of timeline, for better or worse. And yeah, like once for fun and for cultivating creativity and cultivating, you know, like nurturing my soul. And one is for it not to say that my work doesn't also really fulfill me in deep and meaningful ways. Like whenever I dive into a brand platform, I start to get into that flow just as much as whenever I'm painting a canvas. So for me, yeah, there's, there's a lot of overlap, how about you? Like, what's the difference for you, because you are more of the left brained side of business. So it probably does feel quite a bit different for you, hmm,

Emily Thompson 5:43
it totally dies, it feels completely different for me. So whenever I'm building a business process, even if it's a business process that is built to sort of conduct creativity, for me, I see those business processes as sort of science, like you build this process that you know, is going to equate to more or less the same outcome every single time that you do it. And you can build in a bit of room in there just sort of have those creative freedoms. But for me, that's science. For like purposes of this, of this description, and sort of, on business, creativity is art. Like, I don't go at it with any process, like if you were to see how I run business, and like my spreadsheets, and my project management, and all of those things, and then look at how I go at a creative project, that's just for fun, you would think they were being conducted by two completely different people. So for me, it is very different. I can just like I, for me, one of my values is creativity as well, which is I think one of the reasons why I've always gotten along so well. And then another one of mine is freedom. So for me, business always feels quite confining to me. And I try to build businesses in a way that I can have freedom within them. But whenever I'm just being creative, it's complete freedom, I can do whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want, whatever it may be, and there's no, there's so few structures that go into place whenever I am being a creative. Like I said, it's like two different people are doing these things. So I find them very different. I like to build hardcore structures and business, I like to just do whatever the hell I want, whenever I'm just being a creative.

Kathleen Shannon 7:25
Well, so let's dive into that a little bit, how to be creative, exploring the creative process, it can be hard to know where to start whenever you don't have structures built around it, and habits and routine and mindset and all of that. So I want to start with a mindset, part of creativity and the creative process. We heard something really interesting while we were in Guatemala, that really resonated with the both of us, which is you need to feel safe to be creative. So I want to tell everyone, right now, you've got to get there first. So whether that's a mantra, like I am safe to create an even regardless of what's going on in the world, sometimes it doesn't feel safe to be creative, because of your own narrative or identity. Even literally telling yourself, oh, I'm not creative. And we have a lot of people who listen to this podcast, and they're like, Well, I'm not creative, I do this, this and this, but I'm not a creative and we're like, Yes, you are. So first and foremost, everyone is a creative, but you need to start to tell yourself that you're creative, you start telling yourself that you are safe to create. And what's also funny on the flip side of that is I have found that whenever I don't feel safe whenever I feel insecure, or scared that cultivating my creativity is ultimately what gives me confidence and the feeling of safety. So it's a little bit of a catch 22. And I know that a lot of people listening to this might struggle with depression or anxiety and have a hard time like sparking that productivity or that momentum that it takes to be creative. So I'm hoping that we can touch a little bit on creative process to just get started. And I think it starts with acknowledging and recognizing yourself as a creative.

Emily Thompson 9:12
I also think that there's a good dose of confidence that is required to sort of be a wildly creative. So to try something new, for example, like if you have a sort of poor sense of self or low self esteem, you're going to find it very difficult to try something new because you're not going to be comfortable being bad at something because the first time you try something new, you're probably going to be bad at it. And I think that takes a certain amount of self confidence to be okay with being bad at something in order to keep going so that you become great at something. So there is some cultivating confidence. And again, same like catch 22 like which comes first the well all the course always comes before the car So chicken or the egg? How about that? first the chicken or the egg? Is it you know creating to build your confidence? Or is it building your confidence so you can create, I think they both sort of have to happen together. And it's like failing those first couple of times that lead you down the road to getting out, right, that sort of builds that confidence so that you become more comfortable trying new things and being creative.

Kathleen Shannon 10:28
You know, I love Tara Moore's exercise on finding your inner mentor. And we've had her on the podcast before check the show notes because we'll link to that episode. But Tara more has this exercise where you are visualizing yourself 20 to 30 years in the future. And this is my number one motivation for overcoming fear or it's my number one tool for overcoming fear. And really not caring if I suck right now. Because the creativity that I'm cultivating is for my future self, it is for the person that I want to become not necessarily the person that I feel that I am. So we've talked about this in that episode. I've always had this vision of like caftan I call it caftan house. That's my vision. I'm wearing kaftans and I live in this beautiful house and it's so funny even seeing what has manifested since then, because I have the house now. I have a closet full of kaftans I'm getting there that kaftan house my kaftan house self is painting and reading and cooking and having interesting conversations over you know, cups of beautifully crafted tea and I'm saying this as I'm Sipping Some Almanac spring awakened tea. Look at you go. Official brand ambassador

Emily Thompson 11:47
doing it. Thank you.

Kathleen Shannon 11:48
Um, but, you know, that's who I want to be. And so with that I'm okay with sucking right now. I'm okay with starting at square one. whenever it comes to learning how to play the piano or painting a canvas. I'm just gonna start now. Because in 20 or 30 years, I'm going to be that creative lady that has some like wisdom, and our house smells like good food and weird herbs and all the things like that's who I want to be.

Emily Thompson 12:20
Your house smells like weird herbs. Like it? Yeah, oh,

Kathleen Shannon 12:27
I know what I'm talking about. Yeah, I do. I do.

Emily Thompson 12:33
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Kathleen Shannon 13:38
about calling me a bitch right now.

Emily Thompson 13:43
Not this time. So let's talk about what it looks like to be creative. So you all should know that Kathleen and I, we've talked about this are on Marco Polo talking about all kinds of crazy crap all the time to each other. But one of the things that we're most consistently sharing with each other is what we're cooking.

Kathleen Shannon 14:05
Because we love talking. Yeah, we love talking about food. We love flipping through cookbooks. I feel like whenever we're together in person at each other's houses, we're just bringing out our stacks of cookbooks, and flipping through them and taking pictures of recipes.

Emily Thompson 14:20
That is a true story. That is a true story. Actually, just the other night made one of those photoed recipes where I have a cookbook that I got, or from recipe that I got a cookbook at your house. Last time I was there. This is definitely something that we're doing. We're sharing recipes. I mean, I think it's also sort of become tradition that every like birthday or holiday. We're just buying cookbooks really

Kathleen Shannon 14:42
well and you know what else is interesting about this is that we both have gotten in food ruts too. We have gotten in ruts around cooking. And we've definitely had to pull ourselves out of some holes whenever it comes to getting organized and motivated to be creative in the kitchen.

Emily Thompson 14:58
For sure. And He will say to That what I'm talking about here is not like cooking dinner on a Monday night because your kid is yelling, and you just need to make something like we do that we'll cook when we have to, for sure. But we also use cooking as a creative outlet, whether it's trying new recipes, or I always like to sort of perfect recipes like that's part of my like cooking creativity process is to find a recipe that I make over and over again, so that I can like, become a master at cooking this thing. So I want to talk about that a little bit. I feel like that's something that you and I both have in common, we can talk about it from both like there's this like mundane side of cooking that we both will do when we have to. There's also a lot of creative joy that comes from getting in the kitchen and making food and we both sort of have different different perspectives of like the part of this that we find most creative and enjoyable.

Kathleen Shannon 15:55
Well, let's start with you. Because I think that your starts with the recipe and mine ends with plating it and making it look good. So how do you begin with your creative process whenever it comes to a recipe or cooking something that you're excited about?

Emily Thompson 16:12
Sure. So I think it starts so like I said, there's one of two things for me, maybe three, let's call it like, there are three different creative projects for me when it comes to cooking. One is to find a recipe or a food that I want to perfect. So one of the things that I've decided to do during quarantine because we are this is a quarantine episode, I feel like we're gonna refer back to these one day is like the quarantine episodes, or whatever the Q series,

Kathleen Shannon 16:41

Emily Thompson 16:43
Geez, we are, I have decided and this is one of the things that I decided almost immediately like this is part of my process of life, in general, is I decided that I wanted to really perfect my gluten free cornbread recipe. So what I do is I go through several different kinds of recipes, and I just start making that thing. And I will make it once we'll try it, I'll see what's right or wrong about it. And for me, one of the things I love about doing this is it's not just like it's not just proportions of ingredients or cook times it's also like the brand of the ingredients. So for me, I'm trying to find the perfect torn mill, which is kind of a problem when you can't give everything available at the grocery store. But it also is fine because I'm looking for specific kinds of cornmeal. So like, how do I like the size of the grain of my corn mill? What is my like corn mill, the flour ratio, all of those sorts of things. So I have been making cornbread, I've probably made four batches so far. I'm getting closer and closer. It's good, but like I'm still sort of making mistakes. And that's the thing too is I've made mistakes. I actually put twice as much oil the last batch of my cornbread yeah ever had before it was dense. It was a dense cornbread.

Kathleen Shannon 18:00
So are you changing one variable at a time? Are you writing it down every time like and then just changing one thing? How are you doing this?

Emily Thompson 18:08
Oh, that's so funny. I am. This is creative. Emily is crazy, guys. She's a crazy person, like good, grazie. It's fine. I don't write things down the way I show it. And I think that's kind of part of like what makes it so messy and fun is I also have to remember, because I will say several years ago, I got pretty close to my cornbread, but I didn't write it down. And so now I'm back at square one. Doing my cornbread over again.

Kathleen Shannon 18:35
He said that there were three things I think you just listed one, what are the other

Emily Thompson 18:38
Okay, that was one. So and then Okay, second is just finding a new recipe that I want to try. So you get a new cookbook, there's a cool recipe or like you come across one on the internet. I do love, like smitten kitchen is one of my favorite sources for recipes. Right, same half baked harvest as a ham loving, right? So there's just there's a couple of places around the internet that sometimes something will pop up in my feed. I'm like, Okay, I'm making that. And so, I'll often just like go add a recipe. I'm not a rule follower. We're like recipe follower. So I'm always tweaking things, I never make things quite to recipe, I always sort of add the things that I like I've become if cooked long enough that I've become quite a good like intuitive cook like I can always tell that, you know, there's not they're not calling for enough seasonings or this other thing that I have in my refrigerator is going to be great to add to it. So even quote unquote following a recipe is a creative process for me because I'm not just following a recipe. And then the third one is Oh, it's just kind of like it's just making something So recently I wanted to make a Dutch baby and, and I always I I should just write down my recipe, for sure. But let's say you want to make something and I can't find a recipe that I like, I'll take like four or five recipes that I find across multiple different resources and just make it up sort of based on those recipes. And that's not something like death babies or something that I make quite often. But it's not something that I've gone out, like, I'm gonna figure out my Dutch Baby, you know, it's just sometimes I need to make a Dutch baby. And so I'll go look up a couple of recipes, figure it out, make my own, every time is different. It's always really tasty. But also remember that oil story I was saying about the cornbread. So that's sort of my third one is just like I want to make something, I can't find a recipe that I want to more or less follow. So I just like look across a couple of different recipes, actually did did this recently do with French onion soup. So it's one of those things where I'll pull open a couple of recipes, maybe I don't have all all the ingredients. But like, I'm going to look up a couple and just want to piece it together. And it's going to be great in it being really great French onion soup. So that's my like, that's my three attacks. My three creative attacks, when it goes to cooking, and I love the process. I love sort of playing with things and messing things up and having things end up unexpectedly great. One of the first times I made cornbread for during quarantine, something weird happened. And I still don't know what happened, but it ended up sort of being like corn pudding. And it was delicious. It was the best I've made. So like sometimes mishaps end up being a great success. And I've never made more money, I have no idea what I did,

Kathleen Shannon 21:36
my mother in law makes the best corn pudding, she just throws a whole block of cream cheese in there, oh snap, and then bakes it. Okay, so I'm the same, pretty much the same as you actually you might be surprised to hear I've been real into following recipes to the tee lately, because I have found that I get kind of lazy around recipes. And I'm like, Oh, I don't need that little bit of red onion garnish, or I don't need certain things like a little splash of apple cider vinegar. So I've been really into following recipes by the tea, I got really inspired by this cookbook by Amy Chaplin. And I bought both of her cookbooks, I can't remember what they're called. But if you google them, they're both great. And I've been following her recipes to the tee and then I'll modify from there. But I want to try it first, the true the true way that it's called for. And then from there, I might get a little bit creative and change up some of the spices or change up some of the elements of it. And so I've been really enjoying doing that like almost in a Julian Julia kind of way, where she's, you know, going through the whole Julia Child's book and cooking it and blogging it. So I love that. But the thing I've been getting really into is actually on those Monday night dinners, or just the random stuff, like how can I make it a little bit more beautiful. So this is probably my designer, I is really into garnishing, I'm putting little chopped red and yellow peppers on everything. I'm buying lots of herbs and making sure to sprinkle that on everything. And I've just been really into making everything look good. And I've been actually really inspired by Bree Emery from design love fest. I don't know if you've seen this yet, Emily, she just launched a website called I Am presently calm. And it's kind of like that. What's it called? When are you get hypnotized by people doing things ATMs are it's kind of like a MSR where she's cooking, and you can hear the real sounds. And she's really encouraging you to like, smell the food as you're chopping it. And I'm good getting into the textures and the tastes and just really being present with cooking. I've been really into that lately. And just making things look beautiful on the plate. That's been really fun for me lately. And that's been part of my process for sure.

Emily Thompson 23:55
I love this. And so I love that we've taken sort of a whole process and both focused on separate parts because I think that's a thing too is we all enjoy different parts of the creative process or in creating something we're all going to sort of find. You find joy in different parts of it. And it's just like it's just doing it. It's just doing and that's sort of a key here is creativity is about the journey, not the destination. Like for me making some shitty cornbread like, yeah, that's gonna happen. That's the destination. That's not necessarily what I'm going for. When I do love doing is making cornbread. Like getting in there mixing things out, figuring things out, seeing what's going to work on what's not going to work, ensure. I'm going after having a great cornbread recipe one day that I can just repeat. But I also just love the process of it. I love the fact that I have cornbread that you like every week I'm going to leave quarantine sort of the shape of cornbread just in general round and kind of flat and I'm not mad about it.

Kathleen Shannon 24:59
So I have one creative process exercise that I want to share. And this is one that I've been cultivating since college. So I went to art school like fine art school and ended up going down the graphic design route. But a lot of what it is to be creative is to be able to imagine what it is that you want to create, and then using your hands to make what you've imagined real in the world. And so I think of the little moniker is that what is called moniker I mean, it's I am. So I am stands for imagination, attention, and memory. So these are the things that you really need to cultivate your creative process. whenever it comes to like that raw creativity, you need to be able to imagine what it is that you're wanting to make, you need to give attention to what it is that you're wanting to create. So imagination for you, Emily with cornbread would be I'm imagining this perfect kind of cornbread. And in your mind, you kind of probably have a vague sense of what that means you probably have a vague sense of texture, taste, flavor, density, all the things you might not know for sure. But you're starting to imagine what it would be like. And then attention is the actual doing of the thing, you're giving it attention. And then memory is the last thing in this little bit tricky. But coming back to your recipe, you remember that you put too much oil in it that one time or you remember that, you know, one tablespoon of sugar was exactly right for your corn bread recipe. So memory is drawing on what you already know. And I think that memory is the trickiest word in the three of these because it almost like harkens to like what you remember, all it really is like or a specific time or event what memory is, is drawing on what you already know. So it's drawing on what you know, to be true. So one exercise that you can really do to start to cultivate imagination, because I think that this part is sometimes the hardest. And then bridging that gap, you know, between imagining and then actually making it do is what is doing the work. You know, we talked about doing the work all the time, that's what the attention part of it is. But the imagination if you're struggling with that, a really good exercise for this is to find a flower, or some sort of object in your house and sit in front of it. Get real chill. Try to memorize every single detail about that flower, for example, then close your eyes and start to paint a picture of that flower in your mind. And you'll start to remember how many petals it has. And you'll start to really think about the colors that it has. And at some point, you're you're going to stop remembering what that flower looked like. And you're you'll need to open your eyes again and look at the flower again. And then close your eyes again and start to paint it and every time, it will become a little bit more vivid in your mind's eye. This is how you cultivate your imagination is literally by practicing almost your memory in some ways. And from there, you can start to close your eyes and imagine new things. It doesn't have to be the flower that you're staring at. But this really helps cultivate that practice of imagining what it is that you want to see. So that you can then create it with your hands. So that's just the little exercise to try.

Emily Thompson 28:21
I love that. I might try that with cornbread.

Kathleen Shannon 28:25
Yeah, for real, I would be curious to see how it turns out. And I certainly do this with projects that are more art related like paintings or textiles, but it truly works with anything.

Emily Thompson 28:37
Hmm, that's a good that's like that's a good meditation for anyone. It really is. Especially if you need help getting back into your creative brain. Oftentimes, I find creative business owners whenever they like get too far down the business where they forget how to be creative. So you just gave them a nice little tool to go back to cultivating that quality in themselves. I want to talk a little bit about the difference between long term creative projects and short term pre creative projects, because I think we all have different capacities for each. And I think it's a good idea to at least just have it in your mind that there's a difference between cooking some core actually, there's a difference between cooking cornbread one time and then going into a multi week process of perfecting a cornbread recipe, for example. Or there's you know, doing a painting versus growing a garden, which is going to take years. And I think I think a creative has multiple projects going at a time or it can have multiple projects going at a time. A couple of those are long term and then occasionally you're filling the holes with some short term things as well. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 29:47
you know what, though, I think of my short term projects as leading me again, to my future self. And sometimes my short term projects seem to help play into Do those long term projects. So for me, I think of my long term project is maybe my house, you know, I can't remodel everything all at once. But these short term projects, like making a cool flower arrangement, really, it lends to what it is that ultimately I want my space to look and feel like, I'm learning how to perfect or, you know, the creating a recipe, just one recipe cooking for the day, it, it really supports my long term vision of this kaftan house, for example. Um, so for me, the short term projects are practicing and playing into those long term projects, I think, but maybe I also don't have a ton. I mean, my house is definitely a long term project. But there are little things I can do along the way, like replacing a light switch, or, you know, and it starts to add up. So for me that it's kind of one in the same really, an even gardening, you know, you're doing a little thing, you might be weeding your garden every week. And you might be planting a couple of new plants every year. And then 20 years down the road, you have this beautiful cultivated garden, right, that has been well established and is starting to kind of run on its own. And then from that garden, short term projects might pop up, like you're harvesting some of your herbs to make some tea, or you are cutting some flowers and creating a beautiful arrangement. And you're growing vegetables and eating them. Like I just think it's really fun thinking about how your short term projects play into your long term projects and vice versa.

Emily Thompson 31:35
Right. But when, when, when, when do you have time to do all of these things long term and short term? I mean, we're both. We're both busy, we have lots of things happening and lots things we're doing, but we still make time for it. So when is it that you are finding time to to do these? Oh, like just so fulfilling creative projects.

Kathleen Shannon 32:00
I do it I do them 15 minutes at a time, like so for me, it feels a lot like writing our book. You know, that was not an easy thing to fit in to our already busy, we were running being boss full time, we were both running our own individual businesses full time and then writing a book on top of that was a part time job. So I think that especially right now, because we are in quarantine times, we're homeschooling our kids, we're running businesses, we're navigating the end processing the feelings of a really scary time, you know, so all those things play into finding the time to do things as well. For me, I just take 15 minutes. So piano, for example, I'm learning how to play the piano, and I've built it into a habit. So for me, it's always kind of finding these triggers that trigger me into the habit. So I'm practicing piano every night after dinner, I make myself a batch of dandelion tea, and I sit down with my tea at the piano. And I just play piano for 10 minutes, sometimes that 10 minutes turns into an hour. It's the same with a piece of fiber art that I'm doing. And I keep falling off the wagon with this piece of fiber art that I'm creating, because I don't have a habitual time to do it. So for me, that's really the trick to finding the time is to have these triggers. One thing that I'm doing right now with Fox being home from school, is we're doing this thing we call walk the yard every morning, I think that Emily, you do this with David, let's

Emily Thompson 33:30
probably call it surveying the kingdom, surveying the

Kathleen Shannon 33:33
kingdom. So every morning, we go outside and we just walk around our garden and around our property to see what new growth is coming up. And that's become a little bit of a habit. And I imagine that I could start integrating gardening into that, you know, and it just the little things add up so much. And if you want to learn about habitually using some of your creativity, I'm obsessed with the book atomic habits. by James clear, it is phenomenal whenever it comes to really integrating your habits into your identity. And then also starting really small.

Emily Thompson 34:08
What about what do you think? Yeah, for sure. I also say we integrate a lot of our creativity time and do family time. So whenever it comes to spending an evening together, you know, we're not usually sitting down to TV and said we're going to beach about a bake a batch of cookies or on the weekends. We're all gardening together as much as possible. So we spend a lot of our together time as creative time. I also like to take sort of half days or a couple of hours, once or twice a week to do kind of bigger projects. So I've had some sewing projects when the things that I've been doing during this quarantine times I love these cutie wee acronym it no Probably not, is I had a closet full of sewing projects that I'd kind of been collecting over the past probably year and a half or so. And so I've been getting Those out and I'll spend, I'll take two or three, two or three hour blocks of time over a weekend and complete a project, or it's the things I'm doing sort of after hours instead of like, and I want to say this too, in terms of, you know, using your creativity to become the person that you want to be. I got real real with myself a couple of years ago about how much time I was using, or how much time I was spending on the television. and was like, you know, do I want to be the kind of person who is binged every show on Netflix? Or do I want to be the kind of person who has, you know, completed those curtains for the guestroom and has, you know, done all of these projects that had kind of kept piling up. And not to say that you can't do both, but I can't do both. And I don't want to do both. So I've chosen, like, warranting time, I think I've watched maybe I sit down, I watched two episodes of a show with David over the past month. And that is, all of the TV that I've watched, I would rather sort of sit down and cut out my next pattern, or take that half day and and plant my next garden or plan my next garden or whatever it may be. I've really chosen a life of a lot of creativity. Because in that's just priorities, and that's something we've talked about many times is I've prioritized creativity.

Kathleen Shannon 36:23
Do you ever feel lazy though, like whenever you talk about baking cookies with Lily, Fox wants me to make these art pancakes with them. I have just like, Oh, I want to make that batter and then separate into bowls and then put the dye which I'm not even sure about what chemicals are in that dye and then transfer it to little tubes so that we can make art pancakes. It's nice. I feel lazy about sometimes I would rather just watch a show on Netflix.

Emily Thompson 36:53
Right? Um, yeah, sometimes I feel like I do want to be lazy. I've also and this is definitely partially a product of quarantine times. But I find my energy a little too frantic right now to sit down and like and just watch TV like my hands need to be moving. And I felt like that for a really long time. Actually, we've talked about this together before. I also love to cross stitch, which we've talked about, we've talked about sort of sending each other cross stitch patterns, because cross is not the kind of thing that I do for yourself. But like, as someone said, You one you'll do one. I find myself having a really hard time like just settling down and watching TV. I feel better. I feel better when I'm doing things. intricate things like art pancakes, like Yeah, I'd probably be like, you know, What's also great just pancakes.

Kathleen Shannon 37:43
I know. Our kids are also different ages. So I think mine stone a little bit more of that hands on.

Emily Thompson 37:52
Yeah, stage, for sure. For sure. I've actually taught Lily to make chocolate chip cookies like all on her own from start to finish. And so one of the things I did this weekend was I needed some some moments alone. I was okay. How about you go make some chocolate chip cookies. And sure enough, she went in there made her own bachelor chip cookies. And I was like, This is what I was working for. Oh, you

Kathleen Shannon 38:15
know what, though, while we're speaking about kids and creative process, because Fox has been home, I took your advice and asked him like What does he want to learn more about? And he said art, so we've been doing a lot of art. And he's playing. He's learning how to play piano. And I'm really respecting his creative process. So that's one thing that you want to do is find out what your creative processes and respect it so for him, he needs a specific kind of pen. He likes drawing the Sharpie, a Crayola marker will not do only go Hey, got it. So I'm ordering more Sharpies. If he draws like one shape on a white piece of paper and doesn't like it the papers trash, which also hurts my soul because I'm like, No, just keep drawing over it. And he's like, nope, and I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna respect his process. He needs his tools. He has this process, and really cultivating that in him. But one thing I found is kind of allowing him to suck through the process and get upset and get disappointed because that's a normal way to feel. And so, you know, our kids are often our biggest teachers. And I've learned a lot from him watching him be creative as a kid. And even piano like if he makes one mistake. He's starting that whole song over again, instead of just slogging through the mistake and keeping going. Whereas I like to just keep going if I make a mistake. So we all have different processes and really honoring that and kind of not getting in your own way. So for Fox, I'm not getting in his way. I'm letting him get upset and I'm not going in and doing it for him. I'm letting him learn from his mistakes. That's part of the creative process. And so you have to remember that for yourself as well. Like don't get in your own way. Because you're getting frustrated with the process. That's part of the process too.

Emily Thompson 40:02
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Kathleen Shannon 40:30
Okay, I want to share a list that I found from Austin kleon, who is an artist and a creative, he writes lots of amazing books on creativity that are really digestible and bite size, I highly recommend him. But he had this list from his new book called How to Keep going, which I think is especially relevant right now. And, and really anytime, because not just right now, creatives always struggle with finding the time or the energy or the motivation to make the thing this is common for everybody at any time. But I thought that his list was especially poignant right now. And so I want to share it. I don't know what he says or writes about this list. I'm sure it's in his book, how to keep going. But there are a few things here that are a little bit more obvious. And I want to share our spin on them and what it means to us. So here's his list one every day is Groundhog Day. I think we can all relate to that right now. To build a bliss station, I don't know what that means. But take from it what you will. Three, forget the noun, do the verb, this one I highlighted because I think it's so important. For a lot of us creatives, if you've taken the CEO day kit, you've seen the cycle of change. And they're square one square to square three square four. This is a technique that I learned from Martha Beck about kind of the creative process in a way. And square two is doing a lot of the research for being creative. And I think a lot of people get stuck in this square, they're just watching the master class on cooking, rather than getting in the kitchen and actually cooking. They're watching YouTube videos on different painting techniques instead of actually painting. So this part of the process, it is important to go ahead and research your materials and start to that's how you start to cultivate your imagination. But you have to actually get in there and start doing in order to make. So I really wanted to highlight that part.

Emily Thompson 42:37
And I want to go in here really quickly. I love that you just brought up the chain cycle because I had a q&a call with our community CEO day camp members, like two days ago, that was two days ago.

Kathleen Shannon 42:48
Does it feel like two weeks

Emily Thompson 42:50
Oh my God, I thought last week, easy two days ago. And we actually talked talked about the train cycle and discovered how a lot of a lot of them were feeling stuck in phase two unable to move into phase three. And I just think like current things happening in the economy, businesses shutting down all of those things, we are very much so blocked from going in terms of business, we're blocked from going from researching and to doing like we're like forced to be in this researching phase. But I do think we do have the ability to move through the entire process many times over when it comes to personal creativity. So if you are feeling blocked and stuck, or whatever it is, when it comes to working on your business stuff, put it away. Like this is not the time to be doing most of those things and get back to creating for yourself. Because I do think we do have a marvelous opportunity to move back and forth between two and three as many times as we'd like, whenever it comes to personal creativity.

Kathleen Shannon 43:52
Yeah, so we can move between doing the research and learning more about it and then actually doing it. And this brings me to something you said in the last segment, which is about completing something, I think it's so important to complete little projects along the way because that's how you're going to gain confidence in your own creativity is actually finishing something. I'm saying this for myself more than anyone because I have this piece of fiber art that I want to hang on my wall. I've been working on it for 15 minutes at a time for probably four months now. Okay, the next thing on his list is make gifts. Then the next thing is the ordinary plus extra attention equals the extraordinary. I love this so much one of my own personal mantras for a long time has been to elevate the mundane. I love taking little spaces and making them extra special. And so for this, you know even making that Monday night meal a little bit more special by just a few garnishes that take an extra five minutes. They were like are setting the table is also a great way to take the mundane and make it a little special. Right or you Yeah, exactly. Or even cleaning your house or Lighting a candle before you start to work, you know, little things, think about how you can just give little ordinary things just a little extra attention to make them special. slay the art monsters. Again, I don't know what that means, but I love the way it sounds. And Danielle chrissa, the jealous curator has a ton of resources. whenever it comes to this kind of concept in this sort of thing. Next, you're allowed to change your mind, I always love a good change in your mind. When in doubt, tidy up, I highlighted this one because this past weekend I've been doing, I think that you've mentioned this Emily on our Instagram stories that any sort of sense of schedule, and boundaries around your work schedule have been blown out of the water, like you're just working in different ways than you ever have before. I'm working nights and weekends. I'm I my schedule is weird right now. And so I was working this weekend. And then I just took a three hour break to tidy up my house. And I felt so much better. So I know that this isn't a part of the creative process, or even just tidying up my laptop files, and getting everything off my desktop. Because you know, I'm the kind of person that has 1800 browsers open at the same time. So when in doubt tidy up. And then the next two are, I think that they kind of go together demons hate fresh air, I have the truth, I have been feeling a little demon sitting on my chest,

Emily Thompson 46:36
right, and so many little walks like I need to go outside,

Kathleen Shannon 46:41
go outside, go outside. And then finally plant your garden. And I literally you're planting your garden. That's a creative project you've been embarking on me to. And I also think that this can relate to going back to that, who do you want to be in 20 years, you can start establishing that garden now so that it has incredible roots, and it's just going on its own. And all you've got to do is just weed out the bad stuff. So think about your garden in the beam boss book, we talked about boundaries as a garden, he's a garden metaphor, what is it that you want to grow? And what is it that's going to be the pests or the predators that are trying to chew on your creativity and the things that you want to cultivate? How do you get them out of there. So plant your garden. And so I love that list from Austin kleon maybe, you know, future podcasts, maybe we'll get him on the show. But I love sharing his work. And he always has great work. So that list inspired me even just reading as a list. I hope it inspires you all as well.

Emily Thompson 47:49
Yeah, I do want to touch I want to touch on this plant your garden when really quickly because if the title of this list is how to keep going, I think our culture has is so like down with the what is it called? It's not like immediate instant gratification. That's what's called, where like we do something, we get instant gratification. Like why keep going when we're not like investing in something a little more long term, right? I think with planting a garden, you are doing work now with a very clear, like just human on Earth, understanding that you're going to plant some seeds now. And you have to like hang out and keep showing up for the next couple of months for you to get what you're going for, basically. And I think that that practice instills this deeper understanding that instant gratification is not what we're here for. We're here to do little bits of things now and then continue showing up over the long term and to get these long term rewards. That are the that's what keeping going is made out of like we have to, we have to invest long term in things, to have the inspiration and the motivation to continue going for whatever we're going for. So just throw that in there. Extra insight.

Kathleen Shannon 49:13
The last thing I really want to talk about whenever it comes to creativity is surround yourself with creative people. And right now that might not be super easy whenever it comes to in person relationships. So I've been following a few creatives. I'm obsessed with Christine McConnell. Shame inspires me beyond belief because she's not only creative in how she works, she just takes it to the next level like she piles creativity on top of her creativity. But then also, she really models literally models what it looks like to be devoted and to get into that flow state and to not settle and to see See how things are gonna play out and not know and to trust your vision. So she has a YouTube account. Again, her name is Christine McConnell. She also has a Patreon. It's one of the few Patreon that I support. It's three bucks a month for her extra videos. She also has a Netflix show called The curious mind of Christine McConnell, or that's what her YouTube is called. Anyway, if you just look up Christine McConnell and flex, it'll pop up.

Emily Thompson 50:23
Yes, I love her as well, I find her very inspiring and even put on Instagram the other day that I have found, I am finding her productivity inspiring for my productivity. So I'm literally like putting her screen over on the side of my screen watching her just do crafts. And it keeps me inspired to continue doing my work because I am struggling very hard with with being productive at work, but I'm finding again, just watching people be productive is helping me be productive. So I think she's really great. And then I think we also both really love the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. So if anyone needs some interesting insight into creativity, new have not read this book, yet it is a must read for any and every creative on the face of the planet.

Kathleen Shannon 51:11
She also has a 17 minute TED talk that kind of wraps up everything that she talks about in Big Magic, but what I really like about Elizabeth Gilbert is really calling on something beyond yourself to let creativity move through you. And for me, that concept has really helped me not take it personal. And both good and bad. Whenever I create something that sucks. I'm like, Well, my genius didn't show up for me today. And whenever I create something, that's great. I can be like, okay, something moved through me. And this isn't just mine. So it helps me keep my ego in check. And it helps me call on almost like some magic, some big magic to make things do

Emily Thompson 51:50
for sure. Alright, to wrap this up, I have to ask how it is that you pick your creative projects and what you're currently working on.

Kathleen Shannon 51:59
I mean, because I've wrapped up my creative, I've wrapped up my identity in being creative my whole life. So I don't even think about what am I going to pursue? For me, it's like breathing, you know, I'm just taking the next steps. And so for me, there's probably always a spark of an envision, like, what do I want this to look like? And that's what helps me move forward on something. Sometimes it's even jealousy. Like, if I find myself being jealous of something that someone else has or is doing, I'm like, Oh, that's because I want to be doing that or making that thing or have something like that. So for me, like interior design is one of those ones that I get a little bit jealous about. And then I think well, I can do that too. I can throw some paint on my wall, I can pursue these things. Interior Design is also interesting too, because it's a longer term project. And sorry, I'm kind of going to divert here, I'm going to go on a little bit of a tangent, where this is where the little things start to add up to the big thing where I can easily get overwhelmed by how do I make my whole house cohesive and beautiful and have a common theme. This is where you just have to trust myself that making one decision at a time that if I like this decision, I'm going to trust that it's going to lead me into a place that maybe is even better than I imagined just by making one little decision at a time. Um, and then again, like just really looking at my inner mentor and who is she? What does she want to be? What Is she good at. And so learning how to play the piano, writing, I've been doing a lot of creative writing lately, fiber art painting, I just want to be like a renaissance woman who's doing all of the things which is also funny, actually going, going back to the beginning of our conversation, whenever it comes to business, I like to be an expert. I like to know exactly what I'm doing. And I like to be bomb ass at it. And that's what I've done for myself with design and branding. But whenever it comes to creative projects, I just want to get messy and try things out and it might not be perfect. And that's the beauty of it. What about you?

Emily Thompson 54:12
Same Same thing with all of those things, I would say just bring a little more a little more to it. Things that I want or that like I desire for myself, but I don't necessarily want to go out and buy them. So for example I recently sold for myself or I can't find them I recently sewed for myself, a linen skirt like like a buttoned down cute like mid calf linen skirt. Because I've been looking for one for a long time, haven't found what I want. So it was like you know what, I'm just gonna make it. So I made it. I bought some linen a couple of months ago and sat down about two weeks ago and finally made that skirt because I couldn't find what I wanted. Or I also do things just like seasonally. So like right now And season like all of my not all of it, a lot of my creativity is being poured into my yard and my garden. So I'll think about things very seasonally. But same where I just like to try new things. I also creative my entire life, I have tons of creative little creative skill sets, whether that's like, yeah, fiber art, or crocheting or knitting, a questionable knitter or cross stitching or sewing it my I had a great aunt who taught me to sew, the first thing I ever sewed was a dress like a whole dress for my little sister when I was like eight. So I was taught to so when I was really young, I've made quilts before, like when it comes to and I love to cook and we'll cook all kinds of crazy things. So for me, it's just I like to dabble in each of those things sort of in turn to like, I'm not going to spend like six months sewing, David and Lily would probably move out they always get really scared whenever I get the sewing machine out. Because things happen and it makes me angry.

Unknown Speaker 56:02
Yeah, like the freakin threading the bobbin

Emily Thompson 56:05
Oh my god, or just like it gets stuck if it gets stuck. And you know, the thread is always going to get stuck like right when you're on like a long haul of just so on a straight line right in the middle of it helping messes up,

Kathleen Shannon 56:17
you know, I have since being married to an engineer, and I feel like his skills would come in handy with some of that stuff. To invest in a sewing machine again,

Emily Thompson 56:28
I whenever I got a new when a couple of years ago, because I'd had one that I bought, like in high school or something that I let a friend borrow it had come back with pieces missing, like the whole thing, I bought myself a new one. And I've used it several times. But again, I'll go easily a year without using it. And like sometimes that's just a thing, I'll go a whole year without sewing and then I'll bring it out and throw a couple things together and put it back up for another six to 12 months or so it's not something that I'm doing often, but I will go I go through these like phases of lying to So some things and now that we're sort of stuck at home. So I sewed a skirt the other day, I have two pairs of pants that are all cut out over there on the bed waiting to be sewn up and a shirt and a dress. So I have a couple of things to do, which is really fun. I feel like do. Every creative in the world is so glad that they have that craft closet right now. You know, like we're all going thank God, I've been collecting that paper and markers like now I have nothing to do and I don't need to go to the craft store to do it. So I have been thinking about that. I'm very grateful that I don't know I have a little bit of a craft stash because it has me so many things to do but sometimes to my kid will support my creative endeavors. So last year about this time, and I saw some more stuff in there. I think we may do it again in the summer. Anyway, all of that to say though, I like to dabble in all kinds of things. And usually just whatever I'm into at the moment whenever I'm feeling sort of seasonally, but also, like, you know, it's not everyday that I need to live in skirt, but here I am.

Kathleen Shannon 58:05
Well, I have had so much fun talking about creativity, even just talking about it. I feel so inspired to go do some more creative things.

Emily Thompson 58:13
Go finish that fiber art I need to

Kathleen Shannon 58:17
and Michaels is doing curbside pickup, so I need some more fatty yarn.

Emily Thompson 58:22
Perfect. Perfect. All right, yeah. And I hope everyone sort of gets some inspiration for creativity. We didn't even dive into inspiration. That's a whole other conversation. But I hope everyone is feeling inspired to be creative. And whether it's because you have some extra time on your hands, that you just want to dive into something or just working it into your schedule more often again, we always sort of punctuate the need to practice business and to be a business person. I think that's very important. It is our careers. But we are also innately creative. And I think we should put a we should be putting just as much a priority on that creativity and not that we all need more to dues on our list. But maybe we choose it over other things that we have that aren't as important or as fulfilling because I do find it is one of my values. I understand that I'm totally biased. But I do find creativity to be joyously fulfilling.

Kathleen Shannon 59:19
Yeah, and sorry, one more thing. I know that that was like a nice boat wrap this up with but I'm seeing a backlash against productivity on Instagram because I think that some people are feeling right now like they need to be productive during this time. We have an entire podcast episode on rest. So if that's what you need right now, definitely listen to that episode, we've dealt with burnout and not feeling good and not feeling like we can create. But I do want to share that. Creativity has been so paramount for my own mental health. I definitely am challenged by anxiety, big time. So in some ways, it's kind of interesting to see the rest of the world feeling the way that I feel like I've felt for the past. Five years, whenever it comes to anxiety, but like literally sitting down and playing the piano for 15 minutes a day takes me out of my head. I'm challenged, I'm learning something new. I'm sure the same is true for you, Emily, whenever you're cooking or sewing something, it just gets you out of your head a little bit and into a new space. So don't even think of it as like you producing something. Just get into the process and think of it as a way to get out of your own head and to get into your body and into your hands. in a new way, it can be so healthy for you, and really be a game changer whenever it comes to your mood and your attitude, and your perspective and outlook.

Emily Thompson 1:00:45
Thanks for listening. And hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations and more. Go to our website at www dot beam boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:58
Do the work the boss