Can’t Help Falling in Love – Journal with Me

I am officially on YouTube. After six months of watching creative videos and tutorials while I nursed my son, or while he napped on me and I couldn’t move, I’m “giving back” to the YouTube community. Those videos kept me going through the newborn stage, through teething, through struggling with not being able to work. They kept me company when E hated leaving the house.

There are a bunch of lovely women who really rock the YouTube thing that made me feel as though I needed to make my own videos. I’ll do a post on that in the future, but if YouTube is your thing then you really need to follow Essie and Dee until I write out that list.

I’ll be sharing process videos and tutorials on the same stuff as my blog – art journaling, memory keeping, paper travelogues, a sprinkle of productivity. I’m promising a new video every Tuesday. I’d love for you to join me for the ride.

My first video is  a process video of a page from my son’s journal. The journal is a handbound traveler’s notebook sized junk journal that I made while pregnant. This book is special. You should know because HELLO it’s difficult as anything to write in. But I’m too attached to it to make a new one. Here are some photos from it…

It feels SO good to be “back”. If you’re reading this, I love you.

Hiatus (and an introduction)

Hiatus (and an introduction)

You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately. It’s not that I haven’t been trying. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say. It’s finally time for me to give in and officially go on hiatus. It’s been long enough thinking that I’m not. I’m going to take some time to make memories with my son (!).

Elliot Blayne Greyvenstein. My days have even less control over them than when I was pregnant. They are very covered in milk, and trying to take photos with the big camera at all the milk-free opportunities.

He’s one month old and he’s rocking our lives.

State of the Union 2017

State of the Union 2017

Happy 2017!

All round cool guy, Paul Jarvis, wrote a State of the Union for his most recent Sunday Dispatches, and invited the reader to do the same, so here I am. I’m encouraging you to do the same too. It was great to have a look at how far I came this year, even with half of it spent as a pukey, pregnant mess. So let’s have a look.

WHAT WENT WELL LAST YEAR

Pregnancy
I’m putting this down as a success even though it’s the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I’m at 35 weeks now, and trying to decide if this mark on my hoodie is this morning’s puke or toothpaste. I’ve become a walking advert for abstinence, yet this is still somehow the most magical thing that’s ever happened. I mean, I even like his creepy 3D scan pictures.

People keep telling me how I’m going to love this little boy more than I love Griffin, which I just cannot imagine, so I’m excited to meet him. And also to stop the uncontrollable puking.

Besides growing a human inside of me, I feel like the rest of my personal life has just leveled up in ways I could never have expected.

Get Messy
Oh my heart beats for Get Messy and the artists making things through it. 2016 is the year that Get Messy became an actual business instead of just something Lauren and I do on the side. We were interviewed on a podcast and featured in a magazine. Yay. Every single year we work really hard to make the community and the experience even better and 2017 is the biggest jump yet. You’re gonna want to be a part of it.

Classes
This year I was involved with nine courses and it’s the easiest way for me to find flow in work. I launched Photo Organisation 101, which I didn’t market and didn’t do too well sales-wise even though it’s been one of the most requested classes and even though I’m in love with the class. But you know how sometimes you just need to get something off your heart? And there’s always another day to market it.

Through Studio Calico, I created an Art Journal Mini Book class and having a physical kit, and seeing people making amazing things rocked my heart. It was such an honour to pair up with them in my favourite class series ever. I also contributed to a few of their courses (woo).

I was meant to launch The Minimalist Art Journal in July, but pregnancy made it wait until December and the response to that has been awesome! I loved having guest teachers for that and the women I chose totally rocked it. I think I like pairing up for classes more than working solo, but only when the pairings are as organised as I am. This launch did super well even though it felt really rushed to me. I’m not good at marketing (even with a degree in it), and I’m not good at trying to convince people to buy, but I must have been able to somehow communicate how great the content was. In the end, the course’s message was something really important to me (and articulated by T!): express with less.

I ran my first “special” for Level Up, which brought in a group of new students that I am SO excited about. This class still has my entire heart. This year I’m going to do a content update, and increase the price. There’s something to be said about slow growth.

A really great example of a magical group is the trio involved in launching Vanessa’s Totems class through Get Messy. V did the art and the teaching (duh), Lauren did the editing, and I did the tech. We are each so very good at our bits and I feel like we created something way better than the sum of it’s parts. Sales wise it did amazingly, and even better is seeing the art the students are making from it, and how it’s changed their art lives. V’s already working on her 2018 class and I’m thrilled to be a part of it again.

The podcast!
Whaaaaaat. Lauren and I launched a podcast, and I’m still pretty much in awe of it and the guests that we interviewed. If you’re feeling stuck, try a new thing. I’ve learned so much about sound. Mainly that it’s the most difficult thing to be good at.

Memory keeping
This was my first year not doing Project Life and I don’t regret it at all. I created a pregnancy album and a December Daily and that was enough.

I also finished the year strong for my Creative Teams, and it’s really interesting creating just for myself.

People and places
This year I met three special online friends – Vanessa, Catherine, and Jennifer and pretty much died of the inspiration watching them art IRL. I also made a bunch of new German friends. I saw internet/business bestie, Lauren, in Budapest. I saw my favourite Dutchies. Twice. I also had my uni roomie stay with us for almost a month. I took a magical trip to Berlin with Fe, and another one that T surprised me with for my birthday. I saw Paris again. We flew to South Africa and I saw my best friend get married. T went to the USA. My family came here for Christmas. My mastermind group bought me a new lens for my camera when my only one broke. Friends from around the world posted stuff to us for Baby E.

People have been really good this year.

WHAT DIDN’T GO WELL LAST YEAR

Losing control
Pregnancy has been the most insane lesson in losing control. I had no idea that it would affect me this much. Almost six months have been completely written off to entire days spent lying in bed with a bucket. The silver lining, though, is it got me to see that 1. life goes on and there isn’t a guy who reprimands you for unanswered emails, 2. being organised, setting up processes and working in advance are essential to solopreneur peace of mind, and 3. Lauren and T are heaven sent – one picked up on all business work, and one picked up on all housework.

My art
I made an exceptional amount of art at the beginning of the year. I loved what I was making. Then my pages became black and raw as I worked through issues falling pregnant. And then I became sick and unable to create anything at all. I still haven’t been able to get quite back into the swing of things, and it feels as though a piece of me is missing.

T started arting, though. And it’s been the most amazing thing to watch.

The blog
I’ve totally neglected it as I struggled with what the internet has been teaching and what I’ve known to be true. I’ve also been trying to make it worthwhile to readers, which has meant that I’ve been publishing nothing. I had guests on which was new, and came at the perfect pregnancy time, and they were an absolute win.

To turn around my growth from my blog, I gave it a mini makeover. I also spent a lot of time thinking about what I want it to be – screw what the internet “experts” say. So that will come this year.

STATE OF THINGS TO COME

This year, my focus is on five things:

  1. A baby to turn our family initials into ETC.
  2. Level as my word for the year – I like that it can be interpreted in a few ways. As a position on quality (reaching a certain level), improvement (up leveling), and the way that’s speaking to me the most right now – an even surface. Keeping the status quo (or finding it again after Baby E). Relaxing a bit.
  3. Get Messy leveling up in a serious way. Make sure you’re signed up for the mailing list
  4. Fine tuning and improving things already set up. Trying not to start anything too new, except…
  5. New classes. Get Messy has an awesome 2017 class line up. I am also open to pairing up with someone new. If you want to launch a class, but have no idea how and are struggling with the technology and branding, I’d love to work together. I’m not putting a sales page together, but if this speaks to you, send me an email. I have space for three people and if you’ve read through this entire email, you’re probably my kind of person.

So that’s my year and a brief look into 2017. What did your last year look like? What do you think your 2017 is going to look like? How did you grow? What did your art look like?

State of the Union 2017

Why You Should Sign up for Level Up

Why You Should Sign up for Level Up

(An Unpaid Testimonial by a Huge Productivity Geek Creative Type)

First thing’s first: I pitched this article to Caylee. She did not ask me to, nor is she compensating me for it, and I took way too long mulling over and writing it! Like I said in my previous article for this site, “I often don’t know what I think until I write it.” I wanted to write this article because Caylee’s course Level Up, The Creative’s Guide for Getting it Done, has had a significant influence on how I go about achieving my own goals, and because I’m obsessed and fascinated with productivity, doing it and the idea of it. Think of this like a Level Up testimonial from an overly enthusiastic fan about the ongoing lessons they learned and the insights they gained.

Why I Signed Up

I technically finished Level Up in 21 days, which is not suggested by the course! But, like I said above, obsessed with productivity here. A part of it is an unhealthy obsession with finding “the perfect system” to achieve my ever-growing list of goals, books to read, projects to start, projects to complete, etc. Somedays, I am more realistic about the unreality of this goal – most days, I am not because I am equal parts enthusiastic about and exhausted by the miracle of human consciousness. Combine these things together and you get a productivity geek who happens to also be a writer.

Also, Level Up is really pretty, and I like pretty things. In particular, I like things that are equal parts pretty and equal parts functional. Did I mention I am also a design geek?

So, basically I saw Level Up and salivated like any productivity-design geek creative type would. But, that’s not all there is to it, and I wouldn’t be “uncomfortably honest” (see bio) if I didn’t share that part of things. My therapist was on hiatus for the time. I felt stymied by my current work situation. I was in the process of losing a very important relationship and in complete denial about it. The act of writing paralyzed me. I was spending countless hours consuming information and tricking myself into doing things that appeared productive, but was really just stalling on my priorities. Oh, and I was, and still am frequently, plagued by self-doubt, a fear of failure, guilt, and all those big and little things that inhibit us from self-expression, creativity, and self-acceptance.

It’s not like Level Up solved all those issues, because nothing does. But, Level Up has helped in a multitude of little ways that have added up and continue adding up to bigger insights into myself and my own productivity habits. So, here a few big things I got out of working my way through Level Up.

Lesson 1: I have totally internalized “practical” as not creative.

We all have creative impulses. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (a suggested reading from Level Up), she points out that humans have been creating art since the beginning, even if it did not serve an evident purpose. Yet, creativity for the sake of creativity is often treated like an indulgence, not a necessity, so we feel guilty when we do it. (I blame Calvinism.)

Aren’t there “more productive” things I should be doing like running this “important” errand, doing these chores, taking care of this person, and so on? Maybe I will feel less guilty if I can make some money off my creative habit? (Hint: Nope, you’ll just end up constantly overworking yourself because of it!) In some ways, I’ve had to trick myself by labeling creativity as necessary and always “productive,” even when it’s just for its own sake.

Lesson 2: I adapt myself to new systems and methods, rather than adapting them to me.

I love a new system to try! It’s like a new exciting challenge for me to master, and I love mastering things. I am competitive, I have a Master’s degree, I like gold stars! Personal coach, Toku, hits this desire on the nose:

The reason you want a perfect system is because, as a high performer, you are a master of systems. You’ve conquered educational institutions, corporate environments, and social circles. So, whenever you encounter a problem, you start looking for the perfect system to fix it.

See, “looking” is the key word there. Looking means I seek a perfect system rather than creating my own. One of my favorite things about Level Up is the space to experiment and try different things, which is also continued in the community afterwards. I have to tune into what I will actually do and use, not what my idealized self thinks I should be doing.

Lesson 3: My Idealized Self is a Passive-Aggressive Tool

Your idealized self, admit it, she’s kind of a tool and probably passive-aggressive. (It can’t just be me!) Idealized self has to accept that my love of sitting on the couch on Friday nights watching Netflix and drinking wine is a huge motivator that I have to exploit to be productive during the week. My idealized self tries to convince me that I will earn free time that I can then use towards my other goals, that I will make productivity the reward for productivity. Yeah, no, lizard me wants Gilmore Girls and wine, and she has to be satiated, so that person somewhere between idealized self and lizard me can get shit done.

You deserve a break. End of story.

Lesson 3: The fear of failure runs deep.

I am talking Mariana Trench deep. I don’t know if “overcoming” it is really a thing you do when it comes to the fear of failure. But, I do know continous practices that disrupt the fear are crucial – that usually means creating as a regular habit, that means writing or drawing anything, even when you feel the most unmotivated, so you can at least say you did it. That means carving out time for it, no matter what, so you can feel whole and human. For me in particular, that also means having spiritual habits that directly tie to my creativity because I need something outside of my head to kick around my own inner self-critic, or my passive-aggressive idealized self.

In sum, what you get out of Level Up will be your own. You will find lots of helpful hints, tips, shiny new things, and so on, as well as a healthy dose of a kick in the butt with a side of self-love. Experiment with these new things, adapt them to where you are right now. Talk to the community in Slack, say hi to me, message me directly if you want! But the sum of those parts is that you learn a thing or two about yourself and how you have to work with where you’re at to achieve your goals.

JENNA

Jenna is a writer, editor, and creator. She is arguably over-educated and most certainly uncomfortably honest.

Say hello on Twitter (and tell her Caylee says hi!)

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