On getting over imposter syndrome…


This post is about imposter syndrome. Specifically, mine! I’ve had a stubborn, recurring case for, oh, pretty much my life. As a grad student, parent, creative professional, um… person who cooks things people actually like…? And so on. But I am pleased to report that it seems I am finally kicking the old affliction! Hallelujah. So I’ve whipped up (haha) a post on the topic, my own story and magical strategies included.

This spring I flew to London
for the weekend all by my sweet self. It was for a creative bloggers’ conference called Blogtacular. Achim and I agreed, it could be my (extra fancy) birthday gift this year. Out loud, that’s what I called it. A special treat, a solo trip for mama to get away for a little rest and fun, but I knew that wasn’t all it was… And although I feel a painful pang of self-consciousness saying this, I’m just gonna go ahead and own it. This trip was an investment in my dreams. It was me quietly daring to take my creative aspirations and ultimately myself seriously.

It was so worth it. I came home feeling like I’d turned a corner, like some cognitive dissonance had resolved and I’d sort of found my place. And more or less, it has stayed that way. I’ve been thinking a lot about what shifted and why, and I want to share my thoughts with you, because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s had trouble believing they belong.
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Johan Lindström: A softer side of fatherhood

ReadingDad_web1Happy Father’s Day! In honour of the day, I have something really special for you – my first ever interview! With Swedish illustrator, animator, and dad of three, Johan Lindström! I was struck by his giant, gentle, technicolour depictions of fathers on Instagram, and had to talk to him! We discussed his inspiration, his experience as a stay-at-home dad and a freelancer, and his beautiful way of challenging norms and raising the societal value of the softer side of parenting for dads. So good, guys!

First – though, I know, this day can be a hard one for a lot of people. For those of you who are missing someone today, big, big love. And for the good guys out there, raisin’ the babes, doin’ their beautiful best, here’s to you! You are such gold. It makes my heart swell.
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What if our “deficits” are really our strengths?

Hey guys. So, today I want to talk about a gorgeous perspective shift that has made my life so much better. It’s an idea that comes from my occupational therapy (OT) school days, and like so much from that time steeped in the badass world of knocking down barriers, empowering and enabling people, it’s had a huge impact on my approach to living.

During my master’s, my professors managed to snag the brilliant and intrepid Dr. Winnie Dunn for an evening to speak to us. Dunn is an OT and researcher, well known for her work on sensory processing. Her book Living Sensationally is a game changer for understanding our senses and how they effect the way we function in daily life. But she didn’t discuss that with us, instead she talked to us about a new strengths-based paradigm for serving others. From a therapeutic perspective, it was kind of radical. Therapists tend to be more accustomed to seeing and trying to fix “deficits” in people – Dunn suggested a totally different way of approaching these traits.
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Life Drawing… Therapy?

life-drawing-coverEvery second Friday for the past couple of months, Achim has been rushing home early so that I can go meet 6 random strangers in a small, sunlit room to drink tea and work through issues relating to the body.

Group therapy? Well, no. Not technically. But as it turns out… Sort of.

I’ve been going to a life drawing group. Meeting with a little collection of people to draw live nude models. It’s run by a shyly smiling older artist, out of his quiet, sunny nook of a studio, nestled deep in a pre-war cake of a house. Aged, paint-splattered wooden floors, hot tea and an eccentric little garden with a koi pond, inexplicably a 5-minute walk from our place… Honestly, it feels almost bizarre, like a figment of my imagination magically made real. I had been looking for something regular, fun and relaxing to do away from home for a while, and it’s weirdly perfect. Exactly what my over-mommed brain needs to recharge, but actually, that’s only half the story. Continue Reading

100 Days of How Things Are

howthingsare-blog1Hey Guys! So, I can’t believe it, but it’s that time of year again. The 100 Day Project is on! I feel like I just finished the last one. This time last year I was the pregnant mama to one curious toddler, now my little baby is a whopping (she really is whopping, cheeks for miiiiles) 9 months old and my long legged, climbing, rhyming first baby is about to turn 4!! Ol’ father time is one weird, moody, warped dude. Sigh.

In case you are new to it, the 100 Day Project is this big, worldwide, 100 day creativity love fest, shared through social media and spearheaded by artist/author/tech superstar/general dreamer and do-all-gooder Elle Luna. The idea is this: You choose some creative action and do it every day for 100 days and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject, plus your own individual hashtag so that people can see all your work in one place. Or as Elle explains…
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Current Fave Art Supplies

Art Supplies Cover image_1

Hey guys! So I just hit Day 100 in my 2016 daily drawing project and to celebrate, I thought I would do a kinda “what’s in my bag” post, on art supplies. It’s one of those things people tend to ask about, and even though I definitely think I’m more of a magpie than a connoisseur, I don’t need much of a push to geek out over art supplies.

Becauuuuse… I love them. I love the smell of them, love meandering the aisles of art stores, love trying out new things, love surveying my big pax wardrobe of possibility on the blue moon when it’s tidy… ahh. I like cheap kids’ materials and literal garbage – discarded packaging, weathered scraps torn off old billboards – as much as the fancy stuff. I remember the MFA student who taught my first painting class in undergrad commenting on how nice all of the newbies’ paintbrushes were, and how he used crap from the dollar store. It stuck with me. It’s definitely a trap to think you need the best materials to make art. I’ll use almost anything.

But of course, I do have a few faves. I’m going to do my best to give you the low down (with images) on the things I’m using the most often these days, with some decent product links. Also, just an FYI, no one (not even Staedtler!) is paying me anything for this post.
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What’s an Introvert, Really?

reader_web_2Woah guys, woah. I just had a major Aha.

I’ve just learned what an introvert really is – I thought I knew! But I didn’t. I always thought is was about how you feel energized, whether it’s with people or through solitude. Sort of, but not exactly.

I am viscerally excited by this new information, which as I will explain, is related to the fact that I am somewhat of an introvert. And it’s not just because it’s about introverts. It’s the information itself, giving me a nice little dopamine high. Aw yeah…

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Creativity tip: Tiny toolkits

striped-pouchA while back, I wrote about my grand plan to put out more frequent, shorter, simpler posts. For example, I thought I would share tiny great ideas. So far I’ve done it exactly once. Ha! Typical Elena. Brevity is not my thing.

But today I have a little tip for you, if you’re trying to weasel in time for a creative life. It’s such a simple thing really and practical and has been so helpful for me on a daily basis that I wanted to tell you about it!
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runners-butterfliesIt’s Saturday morning. 9 am. We’re sitting on the floor. I’m washing down a piece of cold pizza, still on the table from last night, with the end of my coffee. I scored the last of the cream. Alida’s nose is a slippery waterfall but it’s been the best night we’ve had in a week or so, with only 3 wake-ups, thanks to that blessed, blasted Nose Frida (which in my midnight stupor, I’d decided was much like reverse egg-blowing). Inexplicably, Jonah slept until 8:30am, and he’s in a great mood. The apartment is mess, but not deeply so. I had the forethought to pick up vacuum bags yesterday (win!). The sky is a bright, beautiful, cloudless blue. All things considered, it’s a good morning. And I have a thought. An unusual thought… one I haven’t had in well over a year. “You know what…” I say to Achim, before trailing off as I immediately change my mind. But then, it’s too late. I’ve let it out.

“I might go for a run this morning.”
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Goal Setting Guide Revisited


At last! I’ve wanted to revamp the goal guide pretty well since I first posted it. A few people mentioned that the long, scrolling format was kinda hard to follow and frankly, I agree. The new year seemed like a good time to clean it up and give it a run.

I’ve made it into sensible distinct pages, spaced things out, upped the text or illustration size here and there for emphasis and clarity. Now you’ve got the slide show below, or you can even download this printable version. I had a lot of interest from teachers last year, and I thought an easy peasy pdf may be appreciated.
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Happy Birthday, Little Blog!

happybirthdayOn January 14th this blog officially turned 1 year old! I am the shyly proud creator of 50 individual posts. My goal was to keep it up at least a year and then see, and although my upkeep has been a little spotty, I am pleased to report that my interest has surprisingly not been. I’ll be changing a few things, but continuing for sure. It can be hard to find space to create, physically, emotionally, and psychologically in the beautiful mess of everyday life, and this place has been sort of a “room of one’s own” for me.
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Love Story: The Last Page


To us, it feels like a new story starts here. It’s not that it wasn’t still confusing or messy at times, it really was. I mean, it still is! But it wasn’t a question of if there was an “us” anymore. That much was clear.

We still didn’t go to Spain together. I spent two tortilla and café con leche fuelled months lugging backpacks with my friend Shannon, basking in a blur of art galleries, mossy castles and winding, white sunbaked streets; running my fingers over miles of intricate tile work, and sleeping in filthy little beds. He picked me up from the Frankfurt airport and I stayed for two cozy weeks, just before Christmas. As I remember it, we mostly just lay around by the fireplace. Flipped through old photo albums and VHS tapes. Went for drives.

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