Monday, May 2, 2011

Dealing with Creative Fear

Happy Monday lovely readers! Those of you who are students are probably done with finals by now and today marks the beginning of summer and whatever changes it brings.

I've experienced an unusual amount of fear this weekend. I'm a little nervous because today I end my glorious month-long break between jobs comes to an end and I get to start my day job. I'm lucky enough to work with some really nice, fun people in a place where I feel comfortable and not pressured, and I'm actually really excited. I've had day jobs in the past that demanded so much of me that I had nothing left to put into my true work-my writing and art. I don't think this job is like that, and I'm grateful I found it.

The First Day Jitters are one thing, but what about the fear and anxiety that surrounds our true work? Why should we be afraid of doing what we love? I call this Creative Fear, and it's held me back from doing what I love before. Fear is natural and healthy because it's only our mind trying to keep us safe and comfortable, but we can't live in a bubble. We can't be afraid to follow our dreams because we either freeze and accomplish nothing, or we create from a place of fear rather than passion, which means we won't enjoy creating and we won't do our best work.

Here's a few tips for dealing with fear surrounding our dreams:

1-Figure out what you're really afraid of- For example, I feel a vague sense of fear when I think about the next chapter of my life trying to launch my career. I made a list of different concerns and beliefs that troubled me, and I realized I'm not necessarily afraid of rejection, I'm afraid of never achieving the freedom of owning my career, and that I'll lose my authenticity. The idea of competing with other creators makes me sick too, because I don't want to step on anyone else and I don't want them stepping on me.

2-Reframe those fears-What do you know to be true? Do those fears have a root in reality? Are you just looking at them in a negative light?

I have no way of knowing for sure that I'll succeed, but I know in my heart that I'm not meant to be a worker bee forever. I've wanted to be an artist and a writer since I was old enough to hold a pen, and I always knew that was my destiny. I never worried that I'd fail. That fear only came about when I learned about the writing industry and after dozens of people rolling their eyes when I told them I wanted to be a writer and then asking about my backup plan.

Will I ever lose my authenticity? I admit, I've created specifically to please someone else, whether it's a teacher or a family member or a potential publisher. It happens to every creator, but the important thing is to create the bulk of my work to please me. As long as I stay connected to my creativity and my passion, my work won't go stale. If one mode of expression dries up, I'll find another.

And competition? We're experiencing a paradigm shift. Competition is rooted in a mindset of lack, the belief that there's not enough to go around and that we all have to fight for our share. The truth is, we live in a world of abundance. More and more creators are creating their own careers instead of jumping through hoops set down by "the market". Competition becomes cooperation.

3-Remember you passion- The thing about fear is that it disconnects us from the passion that drives us to create in the first place. Sometimes, the reframing exercise takes awhile to sink in and the fear doesn't even out right away. So, lock yourself in a room and create something to make yourself happy. Paint something that no one will ever see. Write something no one will ever read. Experience the joy of creation while nothing else can touch you, and that joy will overtake the fear in no time.

So gook luck with your week, friends!

Have you ever experienced creative fear? How do you handle it? Have fear ever held you back?

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Go Green for St. Patty's Day

St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner (ok, tomorrow) so why not celebrate with some yummy green food? Forget the dyed green eggs and pancakes; try delicious, naturally green food to make your mouth and body happy. Here's a few ideas to get you started:

Green Smoothies:

Throw some fruit in a blender. Any fruit will work, but berries and bananas work best. I always use bananas in smoothies because they make everything nice and creamy. Add some cold milk or water, or even yogurt if you want it super creamy. Maybe some ice cubes. Now for the secret ingredient: Spinach, kale, collards, or any other leafy green. Throw in a handful and blend until smooth. The smoothie will turn green, and I promise you can barely taste the greens, if at all. This is great nutritious breakfast or snack that will keep you going for quite awhile. Sounds scary, but give it a shot!

Pea Green Soup

because anyone can roast beef...tee hee.

Thaw out a bag of frozen peas and blend with a cup or two of veggie broth until smooth. Add some spices or salt if you want, and heat up. Dip crackers or g free bread. Yummy!

Green-Eyed Monster Soup
This is hardly a recipe and I feel kinda silly for posting it, but whatevs.

Steam a bunch of green veggies- broccoli, leafy greens, peas, green peppers, zucchini, whatever and blend with some veggies broth and spices. I like to add additional chunks of veggies because I'm not into chunkless soup, but do whatever floats your boat. Heat it up and eat it up.


Steam some broccoli and mash with avocado, lime, salt, and cilantro for a slightly lighter version of traditional guacamole. Eat fast though (not that you wouldn't) because it only lasts a few days in the fridge.

Zucchini Hummus

Blend some chickpeas with lemon juice, salt, and a few slices of zucchini. Sometimes I sub green bell pepper for the zucchini for a slightly different taste. This is really good on Nut Thins. dessert...

I like my dessert to be brown (chocoholic, what can I say) but if you're a lime fan, that's a great option. I hate key lime anything, so I don't have any recipes for you, but the web is full of them. Happy cooking!

Also, wear your green!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

So I read somewhere that today is National Peanut Butter Day. I don't know if it really is, but either way I'm now declaring today as a special day for honoring one of the tastiest foods on the planet and in honor of such, here are a few of my favorite easy, gluten-free pb recipes! (By the way, I'm eating pb straight out of the jar right now!)

Raw Peanut Butter n' Fudge Bites

In a blender, combine:

3 or 4 pitted, dried dates
1/4 C cashews
1 T cocoa powder
at least 1 T pb

Blend together until they form a thick paste. If it's too dry, add more pb. Too gloppy, add more cashews or even oats. Use as much cocoa powder if you want and add some chocolate chips!
Take out of the blender and roll into 1" balls. These keep for a long time in the fridge or freezer and are delicious, all natural munchie with no refined sugar! (Unless you use chocolate chips, but dark chocolate's good for ya) They taste very cookie doughish.

PB Cookie Dough Bites:

Same as above, just leave out the cocoa.

DIY Peanut Butter Energy Bars:

In a bowl, combine any or all of the following:

Raisins or other dried fruit
Chocolate chips
Chopped nuts
Sunflower seeds

Add enough PB to make it stick together
Sweetener with your choice of sweetener. Raw honey works really well for this recipe, and so does agave.
Mix together until you have a big delicious ball. You can form these into balls and wrap in foil or plastic wrap or press into a baking dish. Chill or freeze until they're a little more solid, then cut into bars if you need to. Watch out, these are very addicting, but they're a quick, portable, and highly nutritious snack that will keep you going for a long time, perfect if you don't have time for a full meal.

(These aren't the healthiest, but they sure are nummy)

Flourless PB cookies:

1 Cup peanut butter
1 Cup sugar (feel free to experiment with sweeteners, but wet sweeteners like agave and stevia don't hold the pb together very well.)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder

Mix them up, roll into balls and bake at 350 for about ten minutes. Add a piece of dark chocolate to the top when they come out of the over, if you want.

Homemade Reese's

Two ingredients:

Dark Chocolate
Peanut butter (mix this with a little agave if you want it sweeter, I like it as is)

Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or on the stove. Pour about a tablespoon into paper cupcake liners or a silicone muffin tin. Add about a tablespoon of pb to the top, then pour a little more chocolate on top. Or you can get really lazy like me. Put the chocolate in the muffin cup, nuke, swirl in a spoonful of pb with some more chocolate chips.
Put in the freezer until they get hard enough to eat. My husband waits until they're fully frozen, but I get them out as soon as they hit room temperature, because I don't have that kind of patience.

Happy noshing!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where have I been? (and the easiest breakfast)

Sorry about the sabbatical guys, but so is the life of a soon-to-be-graduated college student:) I promise I'll post more often.
So I'm going to change things up a bit. Instead of just writing tips lists, I'll also include recipes, maybe book reviews, and articles on any other food or health topic that catches my fancy. Feel free to add your thoughts! I love getting comments, and I'll probably ask for opinions from time to time so please, don't be shy.
Now that the housekeeping's out of the way...

What's a healthy, easy, cheap and naturally gluten-free breakfast that's often snubbed?

(Drumroll...) Oatmeal! Not just the colorless sludge you often see in continental breakfasts at three star hotels, but sweet, steamy, creamy oats that are a blank canvas for your culinary imagination. It's my breakfast at least four or five times a week. Here's what to do:

Mix 1 part quick oats (get certified g free if you have celiac) with 2 parts filtered water
Nuke for 1 minute (or follow stove cooking directions on cartoon if you don't use microwaves)
Add a little milk is you want
Add whatever the heck you want. Fruit, nuts, crumbled-up muffin, you name it. Here are some of my favorite ways to dress up my oats:

Banana nut oats: add sliced or mashed banana and chopped walnuts.
Almond Joy oats: Almonds, coconut, and dark chocolate chips or cocoa powder.
Trail mix oats: add raisins before cooking, then add chopped nuts or nut butter.
Death-by-Chocolate oats: Add cocoa powder and stevia or agave to taste.
Reese's oats: Cocoa powder, sweetener, and peanut butter.
Strawberry-banana oats: strawberries, bananas, and sweetener.
Tropical oats: banana, berries, pineapple, and coconut.
Snickerdoodle oats: lots of cinnamon and some sweetener to taste.

Get creative! Not only are oats super-versatile and g free, each serving packs 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which will help keep your blood sugar stable. (adding nuts or nut butters further lowers it's glycemic index). Also, it's the perfect breakfast for these cold, nasty winter mornings.
Happy eating!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 Ways to Make a Resolution you can Stick To

Christmas is over and everyone is looking to the New Year and vowing to make themselves better in some way. Here’s how to make a goal you can accomplish without going insane.
1. Be realistic.
Instead of vowing to quit soda cold turkey, try cutting back until you can quit completely. Instead of writing a trilogy of novels, try to focus on one. Ask yourself what you can really do, and stick with that before you go overboard. Also, instead of making a huge list of everything you need to change to make your life perfect, pick two things to work on this year.
2. Be flexible. Life never goes smoothly no matter how carefully we plan, so prepare for a few bumps. Carry a water bottle in case you get thirsty so you don’t stop for a soda. Plan to delegate tasks if your plate gets overfull. Put some money into savings every month for emergencies.
3. Post it where you’ll see it. Write down your goal or better yet, find some pictures to represent it and post them around you home, in the car and in your office so you’ll be reminded and less likely to slip up.
4. Have a plan. Never go into a goal for flying blind. Instead of merely stating “I will keep the house spotless this year,” plan some strategies. Make sure the dishes are washed and all clothes hanged up before bed. Clear the table right after the meal and set days for specific chores and delegate assignments if necessary.
5. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. No one is perfect, and you can bet you’ll goof up at least a few times. Remember that you’re human, forgive yourself, and start over that minute, instead of waiting for the next day or the following week to get back on track.
6. Track progress. Keep record of your progress so you can compare your current state with where you were when you began. If you resolve to learn to draw, keep all your drawings to compare to your current pieces so you have a visual track of your growing skill.
7. Be open-ended. Sometimes, you may not end up where you planned, but you might go somewhere else that’s just as nice. If your resolution to learn to sew beautiful clothes without a pattern didn’t work out, maybe you learned some skills that could help you mend or alter clothes you already have. If you didn’t lose all thirty pounds, maybe you lost twenty and improved your endurance.
8. Reward yourself. Get yourself little presents for reaching milestones, like some new songs for your iPod for every mile you add to your run, or a free night to relax and watch a movie for every new project you tackle. This will keep you motivated and give you a sense of accomplishment.
9. Enlist help. You’re goal will be much easier to reach if you have someone to share the journey with. Find a buddy to train for that marathon, or sit down with your spouse to make a budget.
10. If you can’t do it, adjust and try again. Sometimes, we just don’t make it, but that’s no reason to give up. Revamp your strategy and try again. If you didn’t learn to paint lifelike portraits, switch to still life or try sculpting or colored pencils instead. If you didn’t save for that trip to Spain, rework your budget and keep going. Eventually, you’ll reach your goal. It may just happen a little differently than you planned.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

10 Ways to Enjoy a Beautiful Winter Day

Ok, so technically, winter doesn’t begin for another week and a half. All I know is that I’ve been wearing snow boots all week and I can no longer drive in a straight line so as far as I’m concerned, it’s winter. Here’s how to make the most of it:
1. Make some hot chocolate.
Heat milk in a saucepan just until it steams. Add cocoa, vanilla and healthy sweetener to taste. For a mugful, I usually do a cup or so of milk, a heaping spoonful of cocoa and a teensy weensy bit of sweetener for a super-dark hot chocolate. When it’s all mixed, pour it into a blender and frappe for about thirty seconds to make it foamy. Yum!
2. Get your workout and shovel some snow. Shoveling is a fantastic full-body workout because you use your upper body to scoop and lift, your abs to swivel and dump while your lower body works to support the shifting weight. This is also a great opportunity for service and potential family time, just arm the kids with shovels and troop over to shovel for a neighbor who could use some help.
3. Catch a snowflake on your tongue. Relive your childhood and catch a little piece of winter on your tongue. Nothing compares to a freshly fallen snowflake, and who doesn’t want to feel like a child again?
4. Read by a fire. Nothing says cozy like a fat book and a fireplace. Read something uplifting or festive. Right now I’m reading The Penny Pinchers Club by Sarah Strohmeyer, a hilarious novel with eye-opening insights on marriage, frugality and consumerism. Read whatever strikes your fancy, whether it’s a novel, magazine, or comic book.
5. Enjoy a hot cup of soup. Soup is often cheap and healthy and hits the spot on a snowy day. Invent a recipe to use up those leftovers in your fridge or even heat up soup from a can. Either way, soup warms you up and fills you up.
6. Make snow angels. Need I say more?
7. Take a hot bath. My favorite way to unwind. Make your bath luxurious; try adding some olive oil to soften you skin or some Real Salt to soothe tension and achy muscles. Put on some soft music and candles or read a book. A good hot bath will warm you up inside and out for a good half hour afterward and nothing beats sinking into a tub of steamy water when you’ve been freezing all day.
8. Build a snowman. My favorite are the Calvin and Hobbes demented style snowmen with two heads and stuff like that, but building snow men or snow forts or what have you is a great way to let loose and half fun with your kids, friends, or significant other. Don’t forget sticks for the arms and something for the face.
9. Learn to knit a scarf. Check out a book on knitting from the library or find some free online instructions or tutorials. If knitting doesn’t work out, try crocheting. Homemade scarves, washcloths and hot pads make great gifts that the recipients will appreciate for years to come. My younger cousin knitted me a washcloth for a wedding present, and it’s still the best one I have.
10. Have a snowball fight. Let that inner child out! Utah snow is very dry and doesn’t pack well, so if you have this problem, do what my husband and I did the other week: grab some snow shovels and dump the stuff on each other instead. You’ll be sore from laughing and ready to come inside to a steamy cup of homemade cocoa. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

10 Ways to Serve this Holiday Season

“Jingle Bells” blares over every radio station and department store speaker in the country, toy commercials dominate TV air time, and the mantra running through many of our minds is “I want…” While it’s ok to feel giddy about those beautiful gifts under the tree, some could use a helping hand. Get into the season by helping someone else. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Give the “12 Days of Christmas”.
For twelve days in December, anonymously leave a gift on someone’s porch. It can be treats or fun little gifts, but it can also be something that person might need, like socks or canned food. Make sure you wrap the gift to fight off the weather, like wrapping it in plastic first.
2. Anonymous gift and note. Sometimes, a sincere compliment or even an acknowledgement is the best gift someone can receive. Leave a note and a cookie for your coworker, praising their work or encouraging. They’ll be smiling the rest of the day.
3. Donate a Christmas tree. Buy an artificial tree and decorate it to donate to someone who can’t afford a tree. This is a great activity for kids. Help children make creative ornaments for the tree, and call your community service center to find a family who needs it.
4. Bring a meal. Cook and deliver a hot meal to someone who could use it like an elderly couple, poor students, or the family of a new baby. Make sure to let the recipient know you are coming so they don’t order pizza the same night. Come by a few hours later or the next morning to pick up the dirty dishes if you want them back.
5. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. If you wake up to a layer of fluffy snow, instead of crawling back under the covers, bust out the shovels and clear your neighbor’s driveway before they have to go to work. This is also a great service for the elderly. Also, get the kids in on this one. Snow shoveling is quite a workout and is an awesome way to get kids used to performing service.
6. Visit people who need company. Visit a family member or friend whom you haven’t seen for awhile, or visit a retirement home (call first) to talk to the residents. People often get lonely this time of year, so donate an afternoon and lend a visit.
7. Clean out your closets. Get rid of all those clothes you don’t wear anymore and donate them to a clothing drive or a thrift store. The need for warm winter clothing is high in most cities, so do your part and clear your clutter at the same time.
8. Give your time. Donate a few nights of babysitting to a couple children. Tutor children who struggle with reading. Volunteer in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Organize a food drive. The possibilities here are endless.
9. Donate your talents. Do you play an instrument or sing? Are you a math whiz? Find someone who could benefit from your talents. Nursing homes love for people to perform music, and many elementary and secondary schools appreciate extra tutoring help. Be creative and you can always find someone who’d love your help.
10. Get in touch with your community center. Look in the phone book or online to find a community service center or service programs in your area. Most of them would love an extra hand and if they’re full, they can usually point you to someone who needs you. Look around for opportunities to help, and you’ll always find them.