Thursday, May 15, 2014

blowing bubbles in a concrete jungle :: a joy rebel’s take on creativity

As I mentioned in my last column, I didn’t start exploring my creativity until my late 20’s. I grew up…well…not impoverished by any means but certainly strapped for cash quite a bit. My family moved many times as my parents tried to find stable jobs and we did without a lot to make ends meet.

As you can imagine, that informed my decisions as I got older and my goal became stability. My priority wasn’t creativity; it was to make money so that I wouldn’t have to continue that lifestyle. So I went to college, got a business degree and set out to do just that.

Then a personal crisis hit and caused me to step back and take stock in my life. A creative and spiritual yearning, one that I’d never known existed became very present in my life. Letting my soul breathe and express became the priority and I set out on an artistic exploration that has been maddening and frustrating and joyful and fulfilling.

I am by no means done with this journey but for those that may be starting out on the creative path, here are a few things I’ve learned a long the way:

Try it all

Everything that interests you, anyway. I had no idea what my soul needed to express when I start out on this path. I just knew it needed to. So I tried just about every creative medium out there. Writing and painting and jewelry and paper crafting and collage and photography and…well, anyone that’s been following my blog for awhile has seen the many versions of my creative expression.

It was in trying every creative expression that I could discern which ones (photography and writing) truly fed my soul.

Make it play

I was very intimidated of art and creativity when I first started exploring. I don’t think I am alone in that. What helped me get over that fear was to set the intention before trying an art form that I was just going to play.

By doing that, I took the pressure off myself to be ‘perfect’. And…it became FUN. I know I can get so caught up in my head that creating becomes this huge important mission. MUST.CREATE.MASTERPIECE.

Nothing ever flows easily from me from that space. It is when I allow myself to experiment and *gasp* make mistakes that I have the most fun. Plus I’ve learned more my mistakes than ‘perfection’ I’ve ever created.

It’s okay to copy…sort of

I don’t mean it’s EVER okay to recreate someone else’s work and pawn it off as your own or try and sell it. I mean, when learning a new technique, I often followed someone else’s steps until I got comfortable with the process.

Once I learned the process well enough that I didn’t have to think about it (okay, first I need to figure out my ISO and then I need to adjust my shutter speed and then I need…) that’s when my own creative expression could flow freely.

Limit outside influence

I have been inspired by so many. We all are. However, to make sure I am truly expressing my authentic voice, there are times when I’ve had to step away from flickr and blogs and tutorials and photo websites and all that so that I can let what’s inside me come out without other influences.

I don’t think I could express at all without inspiration from others. It’s an important component and one I won’t give up. I just need to make sure that I hear my voice too. And for me, that’s only done by stepping away from the many forms of inspiration out there.


Something I will be the first to admit I’m not the best at. But the creative juices, the soul speak doesn’t happen over night. I have found that when I can be patient and allow inspiration to unfold naturally, creativity and wonder and nourishment deepens beautifully.

Til next month…rock on joy rebels!

*Brandi Reynolds is a photographer and joy rebel living in Grapevine, TX with her infinitely patient husband and two rescued furry souls that drive her nuts half the time. Join the joy rebellion here.

ordinary sparkling moments :: lost

The Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is a human maze. It is an enclosed labyrinth of mausoleums, statues and gravesites that covers 13 acres, with walkways that go north, south, east, west and diagonal. I went there in the fall of 2006 with a group of more than twenty fellow travelers, armed with my journal, camera and long-held fascination with cemeteries. We had been in Buenos Aires for a few days before we made it to the Recoleta, and I had been looking forward to it all week.

We began our exploration of the area together, with our tour guide eager to show us some of the Recoleta’s famous residents, but I was immediately distracted by all the smaller details that caught my eye wherever I looked – rusted, broken locks, dried roses, and warped blue glass with starry splintered cracks. I was unable to take more than a few steps before stopping to take a picture, always zooming in on the tiniest of compositions. This pattern went on as our crowd moved along the aisles until we reached a fork in the maze. My group went one way, but something intrigued me the other way, so I decided, “I’ll just go take a quick picture and catch up with them in a minute.”

Fast forward no more than 60 seconds, when I returned to the point where my group and I parted ways, looked in the direction they had walked and saw that they were nowhere to be seen. I looked to the right, then to the left, then closed my eyes to see if I could hear the sounds of their chatter, but before too long I realized I had lost them. Just like that, they were gone. Despite the surreal feeling that came from losing a group of more than twenty adults in the span of one minute, my confidence remained steady, and I believed it was only a matter of time before I’d run into them again. In the meantime, I could take as many pictures as I wanted and linger over Art Deco doorways and age-worn sculptures of angels.

I have long been enamored with cemeteries, where the stories of all those who have passed seem to hang in the air like delicate cobwebs, clinging to me for the most fleeting of moments as I pass by their monuments. I have explored cemeteries in Havana, Tokyo, Kyoto, Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona and the south island of New Zealand, and they all give me the same sense of wonder – who were these people and what did they love most about their lives? Was their death peaceful or violent, sudden or slow? What went through their minds in the instant they passed from this existence to the next? I wonder what this experience was like for them, and what’s in store for me on this same journey.

I wandered through the Recoleta for another hour or so, never finding my group. The day was getting late and dark clouds were forming, so I decided to make my way to the entrance in the hope I’d find some trace of them there. The contemplative reverie I was in as I wandered around the cemetery was immediately broken when I stepped outside the front gate, faced with the hustle, bustle and noise of a city alive with energy. And then I realized: I was lost. And alone. In Buenos Aires. With no map, and no ability to speak Spanish.

I stood there for a few minutes, frozen, beginning to have visions of roaming around Buenos Aires for the next many days. My heart began to race and my eyes darted in every direction, where nothing was familiar and no landmark showed me the way to go. I felt foolish, knowing I had made the most royal of mistakes by leaving my hotel without a map. “Well that’s it,” I thought, “I deserve to be lost forever. This is where it all ends.”

Perhaps Saint Christopher – the Patron Saint of Safe Travel – took pity on me, and paid me a visit as I stood at the entrance of the Recoleta. For suddenly, as I was looking up and down the busy streets, one particular image started to register in my mind: Taxi cabs. So simple! So obvious! I’m in a city, and I can take a taxi! And within five minutes I was sitting in the back seat of one, giving the driver the name of my hotel. By the time I paid my fare and marched triumphantly into the lobby, I felt redeemed.

I lost my way that afternoon, and I’ve lost my way in countless other situations – as a friend, with a painting, and in downtown Los Angeles. Sometimes getting lost is simply a hurdle I need to overcome, and sometimes it is the only way for me to discover a more meaningful path, a path that might be entirely different from the one on which I began. I became an art major after failing chemistry and needed a course of study that only required biology; I lost a major business deal and ended up writing my book. Getting lost doesn’t mean I’ve failed, or that I won’t find my way back home, it simply means I need to re-orient myself, and these journeys become chapters in the story of my life, the story that will go with me when I pass from this existence to the next. Maybe in that moment when I move from here to there, I will see more clearly than ever that I never was, in fact, lost, but exactly where I needed to be every step of the way.

mid year check-in

It’s hard to believe that it’s June already and that we’re halfway through the year! Have you reached your business goals so far? Are you on your way to achieving your targets for the rest of 2009?

Either way, June is a great time to review the first six months of your Right-Brain Business Plan and make adjustments for the next six months and beyond.

Below are four simple steps for conducting a Musepreneur mid-year check-in:

1. Celebrate your accomplishments.

Ask yourself, “What’s working?” Whether you have a solid plan in place or not, I bet that you Musepreneurs have made progress in your creative businesses. Perhaps you started blogging, posted new items to your Etsy store or landed new clients.

As you reflect back on your accomplishments, you might even notice that some of them weren’t in your original plan. That’s okay. Maybe you didn’t anticipate some great opportunities that have come your way. These could be valuable clues to where you want to go next. How do these successes align to your overall vision? How can you proactively invite more into your business in the future?

Now, if you’re saying things to yourself such as, “But I don’t even have a business plan” or “Ummm, I haven’t even finished anything I said I would,” I challenge you to write down at least one achievement per month for the past six months. I bet that you can find small things to celebrate! The more you acknowledge your forward movement, the more momentum and clarity you’ll gain.

2. Course correct, if needed.

Ask yourself, “What’s not working?” Don’t worry. Plans aren’t perfect. You don’t have a crystal ball (or if you do, I’d love to borrow it!). It’s totally reasonable that you didn’t take into account some unforeseen challenges. Maybe you need to adjust your marketing efforts. Or perhaps you need to look into updating your offerings or re-jigging your pricing structure.

What have you learned from what’s not working in your business? As you think about where you want to head, what will you shift or do differently? Yes, plans provide structure but they are not cast in stone. This is an opportunity to discover creative solutions and since you’re a Musepreneur, I know that you’re creative!

3. Go where there’s flow.

Ask yourself, “What brings me joy in my business?” If you’re enjoying yourself, having fun and following your passion, running your business will be a lot easier and fulfilling. Light-bulb moments often come when you’re in a creative flow, so feed your Inner Muse with inspiration and joy. After all, you started your business because you love what you do, so honor that!

And sure, running your business also includes some not-so-favorite tasks that you would rather avoid. But don’t wallow in the yucky stuckness and don’t bury your head in the sand. Both will just cause frustration. Instead, call upon your Inner Muse to help you move through the tough spots with grace and flow. What can you outsource or barter? Where can you ask for help? Having a support system in place can certainly help keep things moving forward.

4. Set an intention.

Ask yourself, “What do I want for my business in the next six months?” Whether you’re continuing to march down the path of your original vision or you’ve tweaked your plans, make sure that you’re explicit about your intention. Having a simple, clear focus will help you make authentic and aligned choices in your business.

May the next six months and beyond be filled with creative flow and business success!
In July we’ll explore ways to bolster support for your Right-Brain Business Plan so you don’t have to go it alone.

leaving a trail behind

is my intention to hearby make all my wishes known to the universe...

to chase my dreams fearlessly
to live a life of passion and intent
to always practice, learn, and aspire
to be mindful of my needs, desires and actions
to choose acceptance over judgement
to rejoice in my own unique qualities
to speak boldly with my creative voice
to nourish my body with love and goodness
to embrace the positive energy of those who surround me
to make a difference in the live's of others
to have confidence and faith in the universe
to share light, laughter, love and peace
to not just simply follow a path
but to leave a trail behind.

our vision

*wishstudio* building an inspiring community where we can gather, connect, create, and grow. by providing this space where self exploration is encouraged and judgment is left behind, we can celebrate the beauty and potential that lies within each of us. the rich tapestry of souls is the foundation that we can build our inner strength upon, find our own unique voice, and also gain insight and inspiration.

*wishstudio* believes...that each of us is on a journey to become our very best self. with mindfulness and passion, we can take steps every day towards living the life of our dreams. our life therefore is our art, our legacy, created to bring more joy to ourselves and ultimately to the world. our stories may be told through our words, our bodies, our work, or our creations, but it is our intention that fuels our light. this light enables us to shine as brightly as possible!

*wishstudio* recognizing and uniting our collective power, positive influence, and responsibility to help take care of our greater community including ourselves and the world around us. by embracing gratitude as well as care and concern for all, we can create an empowering force for beauty, joy and positive change.

proclaim your wishes and become a part of the wishstudio community today!

creativiT + versatiliT + simpliciT = tranquiliT

While sitting at the Ritz Carlton listening to Eileen Fisher speak, I came up with a 3-part "ditty" to describe my eco-friendly clothing line, TranquiliT. When pulling together my thoughts for this month’s muse, I thought that this motto would transfer perfectly to daily life. Aren’t we all searching for an ongoing dose of creative expression, flexibility, and ease? Below I’ve outlined the ways in which we can use these three concepts to have more tranquility in our everyday life. After all, don’t we deserve it?

CreativiT – I love this quote by Coco Chanel: "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." Creative inspiration constantly surrounds us. Keep your journal nearby to jot down inspirations. Carry a digital camera to capture visual inspirations. Sign up for a knitting class. Take a tango class. Wear red lipstick. Put on your favorite tunes and dance around your living room. Write with a pink pen. Listen to birds sing.

VersatiliT – I love (and need) the reminder to go with the flow by staying flexible. When my heavily scheduled day gets shifted, I can become like a 5-year-old demanding to stick to my schedule. Yet, we know deep down that change is constant; nothing is permanent. Wishing things different than they are or getting upset when things change can leave us disappointed and, according to Buddhism, causes suffering. Being adaptable to our surroundings and adjusting to the ebbs and flows of life offers us a sense of bliss – similar to a fabulous dress that can be worn as a top or skirt, also! Another way to stay flexible (literally and figuratively) is to practice yoga.

SimpliciT – Thoreau has a great quote, “Life is frittered away by details. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.” Ever feel like life has become too complicated? Take a moment to explore where you can infuse a dose of simplicity into your busy schedule. Clean out your closets. Take a mental health day. Soak in a warm bath. Think less is more when it comes to accessories, dessert, and even exercise. Read about the 80/20 principle and do your best to work (and live) smarter, not harder. Put your Blackberry away for the weekend and spend quality time with your family, pet, or self.

These three tips can assist us with finding more tranquility in our everyday on-the-go lives. Life is happening at a fast pace and continues to speed up with technology, multi-tasking, and expectations. Take the time you need to reconnect within regularly through self-expression, embracing a flow-like nature, and paring down. Your soul deserves to rest and rejuvenate. Tranquility can be found, even in small doses, every single day. Namaste.

blowing bubbles in a concrete jungle :: a joy rebel’s take on life

Hi. My name is Brandi. I live in Grapevine, TX with my husband and my two rescued dogs. I am a photographer and writer and creative soul. Most importantly though, I am a joy rebel. What the hell does that mean, Brandi?

In early 2009, I had come to a cross roads in my creative journey. Like many out in blog land, I didn’t dedicate time to explore my creativity until after I’d settled down with the obligatory education and ‘good’ job. Deeper and deeper I have explored over the past few years, trying out jewelry crafting, painting, mixed media, illustration, paper crafting and then found my siren song in photography and writing. This has not just been an artistic journey, one explored through the five senses. Uncovering my creativity has also been (actually, mostly been) about unfolding my authentic self.

See, here’s the thing. I would stumble upon an artist out there that I admired, appreciated and whose work I enjoyed. Something about them and their work resonated with me. Because it did, I thought-sort of unconsciously-that meant that’s what my artistic expression and life was supposed to look like.

Oh, and this is where I tell you that I’d spent a lot of time trying to be what would get other people to like me. Just so you know where I’m coming from. So I’d adore an artist that wore flowy skirts and fabulous jewelry or someone who created amazing mixed media pieces and I’d try wearing some dangle bracelets or playing with some mixed media elements. But it wouldn’t fit. I may drool over an artist and their work but I am not them. Their artistic expression isn’t mine and I would get so frustrated trying to model my own journey after theirs and end up feeling incomplete or unhappy with the results.

What I realized was this: it wasn’t the artist or even their art that I resonated with (well, not totally), it was that they radiated because they were expressing their authentic self. Which brings us to earlier this year and me asking the question: who am I, really?

Enter the whole joy rebel thing. I was trying to figure out a touch phrase, a mantra, a way of connecting with my authenticity. Joy rebel is something that reminds me that I can embrace positivity and uplift others while still being the rocker chic that I am. Or…to put it another way, those words remind me to stay connected with the real, amazing me.

My intention is for those words to inspire you to be your authentic, amazing you. To connect with your own creative expression and know that it matters very much. With each column, I’ll share some of my learning’s on how to be a bombastic joy rebel out there in life and work and play.

Thank you so much for coming along for the ride. (photo courtesy google search)

Brandi Reynolds is a photographer and joy rebel living in Grapevine, TX with her infinitely patient husband and two rescued furry souls that drive her nuts half the time. Join the joy rebellion at

Action planning for right brainers

Last month we looked at creating a Right-Brain Business Plan. So, now that you have a big vision for your idea or business, you may be wondering, "okay, what's next?!" Well, in order to move forward, you'll need a plan of action. As a creative person, structure or planning may not be in your vocabulary.

Don't worry! There are some simple tools you can use to bring in a bit of left-brain thinking for more details and structure.

Here are a few suggestions to help you develop your plan:

*Mind Maps: Mind maps are a great right-brain/left-brain way to plan. This method is perfect for brainstorming goals and organizing related ideas. Start with an idea, concept or goal in the middle of your diagram and then create branches of related ideas or action steps. You can group related ideas together in circles and connect them with others with arrows or lines. Use colors, images and words to help you visualize your plan. See example above.

*Quarterly Goal One-Sheet: I use this sheet to get a snapshot of my year. Download the quarterly one-sheet template. In the goals section, list out 3-5 goals for each quarter. For each month of the quarter list out your major milestones, including exact dates. Print out the page and hang it up on a bulletin board or somewhere where you can view it regularly. And make sure to revisit your goals at least once a quarter. The OCD part of my likes to check everything off once I've accomplished it!

*Action Plan: Take your quarterly goals one step further. Download the action plan template. For
each of your quarterly goals, detail out your plan of action. What steps do you need to take to reach each goal? What resources might you need to tap into? Often times we need help from other people or require additional information or skills, so don't overlook the importance of support.

*Also, check out my 10 tips for creative entrepreneurs on the Ladies Who Launch website for additional ideas (including the post-it note project plan) to keep your creative business flowing.
While you might be a right-brain gal, know that you can tap into your left-brain, too, in a fun, creative way that only a musepreneur can. The above suggestions are just some ways to structure your creative ideas to help you take action and move forward. Try one or two of them and see what shifts in your business.

What are your tips for planning? I invite you to share with your fellow musepreneurs what works for you.

Happy planning!