create and grow happily

Category: Creativity (page 1 of 3)

My creative corner in this blog. Colors, drawings, and the occasional crafting. You know. When I’m very inspired to create and patient enough to work with scissors.

What makes a great story

“For a story to be exceptional, it needs an original plot,” says a book reviewer, non-verbatim, for a book I completely forgot, but that which I will never forget as I have taken note of that same phrase in a Google Keep note.

And to which I reply, absolute poppycock.

Read more

brush cleaning

I have this philosophy I apply with my art process.

The idea goes like this: The simple cure of an art block can either be a thorough cleaning of all your palettes and brushes, or staying away from the drawing board for a while.

What I’ve been trying to learn the past several months – the past couple years even – is knowing when to clean and when to step away. When to listen to my body and when to be stubborn.

Because sometimes when your body says “I’m tired. I don’t want to draw,” you listen to it. And other times, you don’t. Because maybe your body is tired and needs to rest, or maybe it just needs a little push.

Several days ago, I spent an entire evening cleaning my old palettes and water brushes. I probably spent more than an hour by our kitchen sink squeezing out the red watercolor stain out of one water brush. But that’s fine – time feels slow and forgiving when you’ve got nowhere to go like these past month.

I stood there silently. It’s already dry season now, where I’m from, and the nights are sweltering. I could feel a drop of sweat sliding down from my chin to my neck, the fan ventilating my brother by the dining table barely reached me.

Remembering that particular scene several days ago, that particular moment, I could liken it to cleansing your life or your head space. How much work it is. How heavy and uncomfortable you could feel while doing it. How it takes a while before the stain comes off completely (if they even do) and you return to a squeaky clean start.

Sometimes, cleaning up the messes around you is all you need to do to keep your sanity intact.

And sometimes, you are too overwhelmed to even clean them up. So much so, that all you can do is step away from them. Remove them from your view – if only for a moment.

I’ve been through both times. Heck, I’ve even been through both times at the same time.

When it comes to both my art and life and my mental well-being, I still don’t know the telltales of when to persist and when to quit.

All I could do right now is to listen, and to try.


Hello friends,

It has been a heck of a long time since I published a short pondering type of post. It’s weird to not care about readability or the SEO. I’m trying my best to ignore it hnggg.

I honestly don’t know when I would write another one of these – maybe immediately after this one or maybe four years after.

That said, I hope I too made you ponder, even for a while. And I hope you are safe and well wherever you may be.

Kate

Trying Out Bullet Journaling (for the third time)

Way back in the middle of July, I decided to try out bullet journaling again (for the third time) and that I’d start in August. But then August came around and I was just too occupied with wrapping things up in my previous job that I did not have the time to set it all up.

Well, now that I’m basically jobless for two weeks, I’ve decided to finally set it up – this time, in preparation for September – so yay!

Before that, a bit of history between me and bullet journaling

The first time I heard about bullet journaling, I thought it was interesting. The idea of a systematic way to organize your life (or certain parts of your life) and add in a touch of your own creativity to it? Brilliant. Million dollar concept. Where do I sign up.Then, the idea that it’s all personalized, and therefore you must completely make the entire thing yourself, sank in.

This is too much work, I thought and gave up.

I think I only managed to make a monthly calendar that first time. I didn’t even get to use it. The subsequent times I attempted bullet journaling, I had a similar pattern. A vicious cycle, if you must.

My life (as usual) was in utter chaos > desperate for a semblance of order > thinks bullet journaling is the solution > finds it laborious > gives up.

The reason I decided to try out bullet journaling again isn’t really that different from the first two times I tried it out. A part of my life needs tidying up Marie Kondo-style and bullet journals are still very much a huge thing. I enjoy seeing people share their journal spreads online like Myrthe with her aesthetically pleasing Instagram page, and Lauren with her fun blog posts on all things bullet journals. These rekindled the teeny tiny interest that I had for bullet journaling. And as they say, three times the charm, so I decided to give it a third try.

Trying out bullet journaling for the third time

I thought I’d be more intentional this time around and so I did a bit of research (aka watched bullet journal videos on Youtube). One key thing that I learned from them bullet journal masters is that no one started out with Pinterest-worthy spreads. And you might notice, this is me relearning the whole “nobody started out perfect” thing all over again. An especially great tip I got from AmandaRachLee is to know your purpose for starting out a bullet journal. In my case, it’s to KonMari the heck out of my creative life.

Which is why I only have four spreads on my September bullet journal: a cover, the monthly calendar (+ goals for the month), art habit tracker, and a special “books/mangas/anime I watched/read” spread.

My September bullet journal

 

Picture of bullet journal cover page with a pen lineart illustration of alstroemeria flowers

The cover is, essentially, um… useless. I only made it because I’m using an old journal already half-filled with sketches and doodles. (I am not buying a new journal for this.) And also, it’s for funsies! I like the botanical lineart I got going and it’s also the general theme for the rest of the spreads.

A closeup shot of the floral lineart

Monthly Calendar

The monthly calendar is there to help me remember commitments I pre-booked mostly. I find that the older I get, the more my memory is becoming that of a goldfish. (And I’m only in my early twenties *llama cries*)

I also have a box underneath where I listed my goals for the month. I wrote down some personal stuff I do not wish to share at the moment so you’ll just have to settle on my prettily painted hands. But yes, one of my goals is to finish reading ONE BOOK. As you can see, my bar for progress right now is so low. But that’s okay – progress is progress. <3

A section covered by my hands

Art Habit Tracker

The art habit tracker is really the main spread, I guess. I’ll be using it to track how many times I drew during the month and which of my many art ideas became an illustration on that month. I have tons of spaces left which I’ll probably fill in with additional stuff, if I so deem fit. But other than that, it’s really just me building and tracking my art habit.

 

A closeup look of a black and white plant lineart in my bullet journal page

What I’m Reading & Watching

Finally, there’s the books/manga/anime page that’s a more self-indulgent section. I’ve been reading tons of manga and Webtoon comics lately and just having a physical place where I list brief thoughts on them would be great.

Picture of my bullet journal's books, manga and anime page and a quote on the next page, "Show up even when no one applauds you for it."

Also, I love the quote on the next page because I know I will have moments where I’ll be lazy and won’t want to check in on my journal.

Overall, some people may find this too simple but I’m good with that. I don’t want to overwhelm myself (again) so a simple bullet journal for this month is good enough for me.

Do you have a bullet journal? How long have you been doing it? In what other ways do you KonMari your life?

Pin image for post with blog post's title, Trying out bullet journaling (for the third time)

 

Improvement & Impatience: 3 years, 2 art works, 1 Kate

Art improvement does not happen overnight.

We know this. I know this. You know this. That old man sitting at a nearby park probably doesn’t care about art improvement but, still, even he knows this.

And yet.

It is the one of The Most Frustrating Thing Ever. Why couldn’t I just be good at the things I like to do in an instant? Like, why do learning curves even have to exist?? Why can’t I just become the next Einstein or the next Picasso or the next Marie Curie tomorrow???

You’re probably not as dramatically ambitious as yours truly, but I bet you’ve been frustrated and impatient before, right?

The Case of Improvement for Artists (hint: iz torture)

I love progress. And if you’re a self-improvement junkie like myself, obviously, one of your biggest goals in life is to consistently be a better version of yourself. But progress is slow and tedious and it kills me. (Well, not really literally. But you know what I mean.) Creative progress, especially, is a specific kind of torture for me.

See, I’ve always been an impatient person. But I’m more so an impatient creator. When it comes to my art and my writing, I want to hurry, hurry, hurry.

Hurry up and improve on your anatomy, Kate.

Hurry up and draw good noses, Kate.

Hurry up and write engaging stories, Kate.

Hurry up and create awesome content, Kate.

Hurry up, Kate.

I keep on pushing myself to hurry hurry hurry. That I need to keep moving forward. That I need to get better. And the thing is, in art, you don’t really see you’re improving. So I become even more greedy. I become more and more frustrated, and more and more impatient of myself.

Sometimes, to a point where I’m mentally scolding myself for not seemingly getting better.

We are our harshest critic already. But with myself and to myself, I am unforgiving. I never tolerated even an ounce of imperfection. It’s sad. Because we are also our most frequent company.

Can you imagine being in the company of someone so critical of you?

That drive for art improvement became toxic. I made it toxic, and it backfired. And so, in an attempt to gently remind myself that um Kate? You HAVE improved tho, I did the #DrawThisAgain art meme. It’s where you try to draw an old art and see the differences and changes.

Two pictures of two girls both with short turquoise hair, the half up styled in  a mini bun. She is wearing a purple galaxy turtleneck. A white text above on a plum rectangle says, "2016 vs 2019." Image linked to related Instagram post.

I chose a really old work, one I did in 2016. Back when I still a complete watercolor noob and just starting out. I loved it — I still do. But recreating it with all the creative arsenal I picked up for three years, it was amazing.

And once I was done and took a step back, I thought to myself, “If 2016 watercolor noob Kate could only see me now…” I mean, I know she would never see the me now. That’s just how it is.

Who you are, right this second, will never get to see how much you’ll improve in the future.

But who you are, right this second, is also the only one who can look back to where you’ve come from and see how far you’ve come.

I now take comfort in having this truth. I’m probably going to tuck myself into it forever. Because, man, it’s far far better than the rusty old thoughts of “Not Being Enough.”

In business and management, looking at historical data is a sensible way of self-evaluation. But looking back is also a gift. A gentle reminder to your all-too-focused self, a small shift in perspective. That you are doing just fine.

So here I am, doing exactly that.

I first published this post on my Patreon page but I added a few words and wrote additional thoughts. You may see the original post, in its infancy, here.

Featured image by Yura Fresh via Unsplash

What To Do When You Have Zero Inspiration to Write

We’ve all been there. Cracked some knuckles, poised yourself for the shot and hit the ball rolling. And then the ball skidded to a full stop. Stuck and unable to move.

Inspiration to write? Zero.

Quite an erratic thing, inspiration. It comes and goes as it pleases. Which is why heavily depending on it is a big no-no. Especially if you’re like me and you want to build consistency in your blog or writing project. You need routine and a failsafe system.

And when inspiration suddenly slips away from underneath you, you need a backup plan.

Have no inspiration to write? Read on for 5 things to try when you have zero inspiration. #content #writing

1) Change Your Environment

If you’ve been holed up in your room for more than two hours trying to finish that first draft on your laptop, that’s basically your brain telling you, “I’m tired. I need a change of scenery.”

We can only take so much inspiration to write from one place. And I’m not just saying this for show. Our brains need constant stimulation to work – particularly when it’s doing creative work. The more we stay in one place, the less the stimulation our brain gets from it. For the brain, it’s been sensing the same things for hours. This is why we need go to someplace new. The new surroundings will surely recharge your brain in minutes.

2) Read, read, read

As a fully-fledged bookworm, I am all for reading. Leisure reading, academic reading, reading blogs, reading the back labels of products… I love all of it. If I could, I’d read like twelve stuff all at once.

But anyway. Reading is also great for reviving inspiration, yo!

And you don’t have to read a whole book too! There have been plenty of times when I become inspired just from scrolling through Twitter, or reading on someone else’s comment section.

One of the many awesome things your brain could do is take in information – any information – and process it and create lots of data just from that one piece of information. Our brains are literally biological supercomputers!

3) Bore yourself out

Did you know that boredom is deeply connected with creativity?

Yes, you with your eyebrow skeptically raised. It’s true. Plenty of studies have shown that boredom is a key ingredient to creativity. I actually listed down some of these said studies in this post about boredom and creativity.

But the gist of it is this: When we’re bored, our brain goes into Incubation Mode. This also happens when we’re in a shower or sitting in a car in the middle of a heavy traffic. It’s when our mind wanders, sifting through one thought after another. That’s when inspiration to write — or any kind of inspiration, for that matter — is born.

Also, if you’re still skeptical with this whole boredom and creativity connection, Chris of McAdventure blog also has a blog post all about how boredom relates to creativity.

Do you have zero inspiration to write? Yeah, we've all been there. Click on the pin for 5 things you can try when this happens. #blogging

4) Take a break

I feel like in this Hustle Generation, pausing for a while just isn’t an option. Think about it. Do you know any person who hustles so hard, they forget time to take a break? I bet you do. And I bet you know more than one person.

In my household alone, I know three and I’m one of them.

The problem is, we’re brain-abusers. We try to squeeze out every ounce and make use of every neuron of the three-pound lump inside our skull. We try to cram in our day with as much tasks as we can manage to accomplish.

But see, here’s the thing:

Even our brains need downtime. It needs to rest and recover before tackling on another task. This is why adding in white space into your life is important. Even a thirty-minute break in between tasks goes a long way!

Becoming inspired is important in finishing that first draft, be it a first draft of a blog post or a novel. And your brain is right there at the dead center of it all. Take care of your brain, and you’ll surely slay that first draft!

5) Brainstorm with a friend

If you’re really stuck at a creative dead end, then you can always ask a friend to help you brainstorm. I highly recommend asking for a friend who gets it.

Like, if you’re stuck in writing a blog post, seek help from your blogger buddy. If you need help with worldbuilding, call your writer friend. These friends are much more empathetic with your creative woes than, say, your mom. (Though it doesn’t hurt to ask your mom for help too!)

Remember, it is definitely okay to ask for help, especially when you desperately need it.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What do YOU do when you have zero inspiration to write? Share your sage wisdom in the comments below!

XX Kate

Photo from Wonderlass

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What can you do when you have zero inspiration to write? Read on for five things you can try.

Four Blog Writing Lessons I Learned in Four Years

When you’ve been blogging for long enough, you tend to create routines. You have little systems in place that you’ve developed over time. It makes the entire blog writing experience less stressful.

I’ve learned so many things in the four years that I’ve been blogging. And I realize I rarely talk about them on here. So today, I want to highlight on my blog writing journey and the lessons I learned along the way.

My Writing Voice Metamorphosis: From Cynical Caterpillar to a Better Butterfly

I was one of those early teens in the internet who is angry at the world 24/7. Shocking, isn’t it? But it’s true.

My username was literally Cynical Kate or something. I know it’s hard to imagine now since my personal brand, and by extension my blog’s brand, is spreading positivity and love. (Create and grow happily, yes?)

But that’s my origin story as a blogger and writer.

Somewhere along the way, I realized how emotionally taxing it is to be angry all the time. My fingers tapping onto the keys could sometimes feel more like slamming doors after doors. And I know there are people who thrive in that energy, but I’ve come to find out I wasn’t one of them. I found that there is, on the other hand, so much joy in writing with a happy vibe.

So I did.

Finding the Right Blog Writing Voice

Writing with the right happy vibe was a journey in itself, though. A sub-plot, if you must. I’ve been that blogger who uses lots of exclamation points and making words suuuper looong. I have used gifs and memes. I’ve abused the capslock and emojis.

And while there are also bloggers who are so natural at this, writing this way didn’t feel normal to me. It felt inauthentic and forced.

I didn’t feel like myself.

It wasn’t until I first stumbled upon the Yes and Yes blog that I found inspiration and clarity. I LOVE the way Sarah writes. It’s like your best friend talking to you and the way she put in humor and stories in her post are clever.

That’s the kind of happy vibe I want. Like your funny and clever best friend talking to you.

That, plus my love for analogies – that would go so far as comparing getting past obstacles to a chicken – and adding pop culture references, is my current writing voice.

So what did I take away from those four years of searching for my writing voice?

Blogging for four years meant I've learned plenty of blog-related things. Here are the four biggest blog writing lessons I learned in four years.

1) Read as much as you can

This isn’t just me being a bookworm and promoting the beauty and importance of reading. (Although, I’m all for that!) But seriously. To improve as a writer you have to read.

There’s only so much you know and ideas you can come up on your own. I know this because I myself don’t have lots of mindblowing ideas coming out of my brain everyday like how scrabble relates to not giving up on life. I need outside perspective too.

And when I say read a lot, I’m not pressuring you to read 300-page novels either. You can read an online essay on Longreads, or scroll through an article on Medium. Heck, even reading a comment in one of the Facebook groups you’re in goes a long way.

2) You are an important part of the writing equation

You know how most blogging advice on writing a good blog post centers on what your readers like?

Well, that’s true. But I don’t think it’s the entire truth. What your readers like to get from reading your blog is important, sure. But you also need to consider what you like to write.

Think about it:

If you forced yourself to write something that your readers like but you don’t quite enjoy writing, what do you think would happen? The post will come out unnatural and inauthentic. And your readers will sense this.

Blogging for four years meant I've learned plenty of blog-related things. Here are the four biggest blog writing lessons I learned in four years.
Blogging for four years meant I've learned plenty of blog-related things. Here are the four biggest blog writing lessons I learned in four years.

Format how you like to format your posts. Make use of lists. If you like long paragraphs, don’t be afraid to use them! One way to be authentic online is through doing what you prefer. It’s honestly more enjoyable to read a blog post that’s so real. I talked more extensively about writing a great blog post on the Blog Buddy Program website, if you want to check it out!

3) Learn how to balance self-acceptance and self-improvement

There’s room for improvement but there’s also lots to love about your writing now. This is something I struggled in my first year blogging.

I always thought my writing sucked. I had the habit of publishing impulsively and then reading back what I already published and finding flaws that I edit right then. And I would spend hours doing this. Looking back, that was such a perfectionist Kate thing to do. But it was also very counterproductive.

I talked about this before:

When you choose perfect over finish, you leave zero room for improvement.

Spending so much time trying to fix your work will end up in you getting stuck on doing only that one thing, for-freakin-ever. I’m all for editing, but you need to give it an end time.

4) Finding your writing voice takes time

It could take months or, in my case, years to find and develop your writing voice.

This isn’t to say that your writing right now is awful — not at all! It just means that you aren’t there yet. You aren’t in that place you wanted to be yet. The way I see it, it’s kinda like how an artist’s skill develops and progresses over time.

In fact, both writers and artists (and all kinds of creatives, really) follow the same creative principle: improvement requires hours and hours of practice. This is why it’s important to show up and write stuff and finish writing said stuff. It’s how you improve as a writer.

Remember: even the masters were once novices.

We all have to start somewhere. And really, the only other way to go is up. So enjoy where you are right now. Relish in the things you are proud of, and be excited for a better you ahead. Because there will be a better you ahead. I know it.

Blogging for four years meant I've learned plenty of blog-related things. Here are the four biggest blog writing lessons I learned in four years.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What are some blog writing tips you’ve learned so far in your blogging journey? Share them below!

xx Kate

In another news, November 14th marks the day this smol blog was born. Which means I’ve been around the blogosphere for 4 years. Which is, like, a century in Internet Days and therefore I am a certified virtual crone.

This little corner of the Interwebs that I call home has gone through so many phases — and I’m sure it will continue to do so. But I never expected my blog to become so important to me. Yet in a way, it had a huge part in making me who I am now.

Gosh, I’m getting sentimental.

Anyway.

As a thank you to all you amazing human beings who made blogging an incredibly enjoyable experience, I’m having my 2nd Blog Birthday Giveaway!

Here’s what’s in store for this year’s blog birthday giveaway:

  • 1 winner of a $25USD Amazon Gift Card
  • 1 winner of a full-color illustration (A5 size, 300 dpi)
  • 2 winners of a watercolor portrait with minimal background (A5 size, 300 dpi)

I will be sending all these digitally, though, as I have yet to figure out my country’s mailing system. This giveaway is open internationally and I will be picking out the four winners on December 2, 2018. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Living a Busy Life Full of Clutter and Chaos? You Need White Space

If you’re as geeky into design as I am, you’re probably familiar with white space.

It is also called negative space, although it isn’t exactly a bad thing. Put simply, white space is the empty part of your work in between the letters or the characters or the shapes or the lines. But it isn’t blank or useless. White space has a purpose. It offers relief, a breathing room. White space brings the eyes to focus on what is on the page or the screen.

With white space, a design would look more focused and put together rather than cluttered and confusing. And the general rule of thumb for designers is to make use of white space. Like, use A HECK LOT OF IT.

Now, won’t it be nice if we applied this to our lives too?

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having a super long to-do list. Or have ever used “I’m too busy” as a reason or a complaint. Maybe you have tried time blocking everything you need to do in one-hour blocks.

(Everyone ever raises their hand)

Feeling like your life is busy and full of clutter? Try adding white space into your schedule. Read on to know more about white space and how it can help you have a less stressful, more creative life. #creativity #productivity #lifestyle

Think about it. Most of us go through life squeezing in as much tasks as we possibly can. We spend most of our waking hours doing something productive. Some people even force themselves to wake up super early just to get more things done during the day. And we even glorify the busyness, for Pete’s sake!

Look, I was guilty of this too.

I raised my hand thrice when I wrote those scenarios above. Super long to-do lists were my jam. “I’m too busy” was basically part of my everyday vocabulary. Time-block is a pleasant thing that I can never execute well. Suffice to say, I did it all!

And I thought I was the perfect working girl for doing so. I thought being super busy meant I was doing something. That I was doing something productive.

But what I’ve come to find out is this:

Busyness does not equal productive.

You don’t have to wake up early to get a lot of the important things done because time blocking isn’t necessary. And also, you don’t need to cram everything into your Monday to-do list.

And you really shouldn’t.

Much like how design needs white space for it to effectively work, so does your brain. Yep. That three pound lump inside your skull needs as much white space as your Pinterest blog graphics.

Your Brain, Creativity, and Time Scarcity

Earlier this year, I came across this phrase called “time scarcity.” It’s a term I’ve only recently heard but a concept I’m preeetty familiar with. As I’m sure a lot of you are too.

“So many books, so little time” is a quote you may be able to relate to. Or you’ve probably wished for time to stop so you can work on something. Maybe you’ve hoped for additional hours in your day, or maybe you wanted Hermione’s Time Turner necklace – like the legit one.

We want more time because we feel we don’t have enough of it.

And because we have this tempus fugit mindset (Tomb Raider, anyone?) we reckon we need to get a lot of things done with the limited time we do have.

Enter overscheduling.

You made yourself a 50-item to-do list for your Saturday. Then, you scamper around your house to do all of them on the one-hour, or even half-hour, time frame you’ve given yourself to accomplish them. At one point, you’re quickly jumping from one task to another. You’re basically overworking yourself and your body.

And what do you think will take the most damage? That three-pound lump inside your head.

How Overscheduling Affects Your Brain

Imagine an overworked Cinderella.

You let her start work before sunrise and not rest until her day’s work ends after sundown. Cinderella’s gonna be tired af. She won’t have time to sing and dance with her mouse friends. Cinderella can’t go to the Prince’s party.

Of course, Cinderella will give you her resignation letter and go to some other chateau that will give her better work hours and a day off each week. Which leaves you with dozens of chores you can’t finish on your own.

That is exactly what happens to your brain when you overwork it.

And your brain may not be able to give you a resignation letter the way Cinderella would. Sure. But it has some pretty creative ways to quit. Lack of inspiration. Writer’s block. Lack of motivation. Feeling stuck. Creative frustration. Need I say more?

Marie Kenny said it best: Busyness and clutter will kill your creativity.

Which is why, my dear busy-bee friend, you need white space into your schedule and, ultimately, your life.

Adding White Space into Your Life

The beauty of white space is that it’s pretty simple to incorporate into your everyday routine! In other words, you can do this now. Here are some ways you can add white space into your life:

<3 Going out for a walk

<3 Self-reflecting in your daily commute

<3 Setting aside time for a quick breathing session in between work

<3 Being with nature (I do this often by sitting out and staring at the rustling leaves and the clouds floating by above me)

<3 Mindless doodling

There are plenty of other ways you can incorporate white space. And remember: your white space may be different from other people’s white space. There are some people who spend their white space, scrolling through Instagram but that’s because she can discipline herself and limit her social media consumption. But for me, that’s a distraction.

So my idea of a white space is lying on my bed, staring at my ceiling, and mentally reevaluating everything I’ve been doing so far. It’s a good way to give my brain a mental break while also preparing it for what I need to do next.

Take the time to create your own white space. What’s important thing here is that you add some white space into your life. Your brain will thank you for it.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time during the day? Have you heard of white space before?

xx Kate

Photo from Ivory Mix

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Silver laptop and pink coffee cup on white background. Below is a pink shape overlay with white text - Why You Need to Add White Space into Your Life

Why you need to let your inner child out to play

At age 8, I was already building my very own empire.

A paper empire, to be exact.

I have a paper doll, Analysse, who had a paper mansion and custom tailored clothes (I drew them myself).

She was living The Dream, I’m telling you!

But the thing was, her house was empty. She needed to eat the most delicious food and have the most beautiful things. She could even have her very own elephant, I thought as I look at my thick coloring book given to me by my uncle. It’s filled with the exact things Analysse needed – hair brush, hand bags, elephants and ice cream. Tons of ice cream.

I grabbed a pair of scissors and was about to cut them when a hand held my wrist. It was my aunt.

When she asked me what I was doing, I told her I’m going to cut out a few of the pictures so I could play them with my paper doll.

That’s not how you use coloring books, was what she told me then. Coloring books are for coloring. It isn’t meant to be cut out.

I’m sharing this story now, not because I have a grudge on my aunt for not letting me play back then (I don’t hold grudges) but because, remembering all those years ago, I realized that I was held back. I wasn’t allowed to play however I wanted.
And just like 8-year-old me, my inner child has also been held back. And it stayed that way for years.

I’ve only allowed my inner child to play freely recently. Like 2016 recently. And even to this day, there are still times when I hold myself back.

Here’s the sad truth:

inner child quote

We somehow have this idea that adulthood meant shoving your inner child into the deepest, darkest recesses of your subconscious. That we would no longer need it when we’re adults. Add to that, we live in a world where child-like behaviors are frowned upon.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been told to “grow up” after doing something fun and carefree and completely un-adult-like.

That’s one aunt holding you back from your play. But really, it’s the aunt inside us that we listen to the most.

Why you need to let your inner child play | adulting, personal growth, creativity, grow up, happiness, personal development

Back in the 1970s, psychologist Eric Berne theorized that we all have three parts in us all the time: the parent part, the adult part and the child part.

The idea is, in order to live a happier life, you need to find the balance between these three parts. By age 15, however, (and I’m guesstimating here ok??) we let our adult part take the reins completely. Because that is what’s expected of us – to be adults.

Sure, we’re all adults now. We have far more responsibilities than we did as eight-year-olds. But that does not mean you need to shove your inner child onto the back corner. I have 4 reasons why you need to unleash your inner child and make friends with it.

WHY YOU NEED TO LET YOUR INNER CHILD PLAY

1) It Relieves Stress

As a kid, you usually don’t care about falling down or getting bitten by ants or having dirty hands. You just play and have fun and enjoy yourself! Who cares about dirt? (Adults, that’s who.)

Plenty of studies have shown that the carefree, playful attitude that’s often found in kids can increase happiness and reduce stress.

I’ve had tons of impromptu dance parties with my brother at home and I know this to be true. Play with your pet! Stop for a sec and smell the flowers. Get on your knees and get dirty.

Small yet super fun activities like these can help you forget, even just for a while, the stress that comes with adulting.

2) Strong Fearlessness Muscles

I have these two distinct memories from two different periods in my life:

The first one was when I was around six or seven, dancing my butt out in the middle of the makeshift dance floor at my mom’s office Christmas party.

The second one, I was a sixth grader in our school’s bathroom with my friend, showing to her that I could dance the Spaghetti dance in secret.

I’m a college student now in my senior year, and the only place you could see me dance is inside my house with my brother. (And it only takes me about two minutes and I start wheezing. Gosh I’m old.)

My fearlessness muscles that were super active when I was a six-year-old have become super, super stiff. And I’m sure I’m not the only one in this.

Letting your inner child out to play is a great exercise to your fearlessness muscles. Neither your parent part, and especially not your adult part, has any courageous streak in them. Only your inner child do.

clear jar with buttons

3) Creativity and Inspiration

If there was one word that you could associate with kids, I’d say it’s “why.” Children are curious little potatoes. You’ll probably remember those times when you were a kid and you either thought to yourself or asked an adult why.

Why is the sky blue? Why are Tom & Jerry always fighting? Why do my friend Jenny only have a mom and no dad? Why do ants march in a single line? Why can’t those children go to school? It’s asking these questions that will foster your creativity. It will inspire you to think, to empathise, and to be more aware of the worlds both inside and around you.

The connection between your inner child and creativity has also been scientifically-backed. The Mission made a list of how unleashing your inner child can make you creative.

There’s also this amazing Ted Talk by then twelve-year-old Adora Svitak about how “childish” thinking inspires bold ideas and unhindered creativity. It’s a lovely talk and you should definitely check it out here.

4) You Become a Better Adult

Did you know that narcissistic behaviors and temper tantrums seen in adults are the result of your inner child “acting out”?

Mind = blown.

When you don’t give it play time, your inner child will find its own way to play by acting out. And, as things often do when restrained for too long, they act out in an awfully ugly way.

So all those so-called adults with negative child-like behaviors? You know. Those who are like a child in a grown man’s body (one of which you may know has an orange-y skin and hay-like toupee)? Those adults have not befriended their inner child or are even aware of it.

Mind = blown. Again.

Look, I’m not saying being an adult sucks. (Although adulting is definitely hard, not gonna lie.) If it weren’t for our mature and adult self, the world would be in total chaos. Like far more chaotic than it already is. True adulthood means taking your responsibilities seriously.

But remember: it is also important to let your inner child out to play. It is your inner child’s job to be creative, curious and courageous. Things that I’m sure we all need to cultivate as we also start our journey into adulting.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Have you let your inner child out to play? What are your thoughts on inner child and how it’s affecting your life? Share them below!

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Photos from Jess Watters (via unsplash). Check out the photographer’s website here.

5 Pretty Color Pairs I’m in Love with Right Now

It’s been a year since I last shared my favorite color pairs on here. Between then and now, I’ve found some really awesome and super aesthetic color pairs. They inspired me with my blog’s new look and on my recent artworks.

I’m really loving pastels and neon colors these days, which is weird because I was never into these colors as a kid. I used to favor the bright, the deep and the neutral. Granted, my teen years were pretty much me in my goth and edgy “Don’t talk to me” phase so there’s that.

Anyway! Here are the 5 color pairs I’m loving at the moment!

But first, a disclaimer: None of the images I used in the collages below are mine and I will never claim them as mine. I found all of these via Pinterest and have made a board exclusively for this post. Please check out my Pinterest board if you want to know where I got them.

If any of the images below are yours and would like for me to take them down, please contact me through this page and I will do it as soon as possible. 🙂

Grey and Muted Pink

pink and grey - 5 color pairs I'm loving right now

What I absolutely love about this color pair is how it’s feminine but not overly so. Totally my cup of tea. I never liked greys in lighter shade before but they give this kinda moody, kinda aesthetic (?) vibe to it that I now absolutely love. And the pink is just a nice pop of color in contrast with that grey.

Magenta and Canary Yellow

magenta and canary yellow - 5 color pairs I'm loving right now

Magenta is another one of those colors that I never liked as a kid. My sis and I had this 480-color Crayola box and magenta was one of those colors we rarely use. It’s just, in my seven-year-old self’s eyes, magenta didn’t make sense. Like, is it red or is it purple?? It really confused me.

Now, I could fully appreciate its beauty. And because it’s such a vivid color, I usually pair it up with pastels or muted colors. Canary yellow is my fave to pair with magenta. A small area of the wall in my bedroom has this color pair and whenever I look at it, I’m just – it’s so beautiful.

Neon Blue and Ultraviolet

neon blue and ultraviolet - 5 color pairs I'm loving right now

Oh boi. As recent as when I was a freshman in college, I loathed neon. I hated it with passion. When I see neon, I run to the opposite side as fast as I can. But I’ve recently (like just this year recently) come to love neon colors. If you add in black, this color combo will be p e r f e c t. Neon colors just have this moody retro urban feel to them. It’s really great for creating atmosphere and moods in an illustration.

I tried to do it in a full-color illustration one time and… welp. It didn’t work. But it was probably because the paints I used were more muted. So I learned that if you want to recreate the neon look on watercolour, you’d need translucent paints for it.

Cerulean and Moss

cerulean and moss - 5 color pairs I'm loving right now

If Magenta was the color I rarely used as a kid, cerulean is the complete opposite. I freakin-loved this color! I would use it on every page of my coloring book. I’ve been saving nature landscapes from stock photo sites lately. I use them to practice on painting landscapes and I always get attracted to images with lots of blues and greens.

Blues and greens are classic color pairs that would always (always) work. I particularly love using cerulean with the less vibrant mossy green.

Mint and Peach

mint and peach - 5 color pairs I'm loving right now

*sigh* I love this color combo like you wouldn’t believe.

While I started to love pink, there’s nothing more beautiful than peach. Peach feels like it’s walking on that fine line between orange and pink, you know? I love that. And mint. Oh mint. I don’t know if it’s just me but it’s such a Gen Z color pair??? All pastel and bright and super aesthetic. This is the kind of atmosphere I want for my blog – fun and happy but also quite relaxing. I hope I achieved that 🙂

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What are your favorite color combinations at the moment? Share them in the comments below! I’m always on the hunt for gorgeous colors 😉

xx Kate

PS. You can check out my previous post on color combos here!

The one thing you need to have when creatively frustrated

When it comes to creating something, the beginning is usually the best part.

That spark of inspiration, the glass-chime music of a new idea. The hairs at the back of your neck is raising, you get this deep but light feeling in your stomach — as if you’re hungry, but you’re really not. It feels like an incoming storm surge, but kinder, with its deep underground rumble.

And then… boom!

It comes at you intensely, crashing against your body like huge waves. You’re typing like a madman, going 100 words per minute. You’ve written The Best Introduction™ in a long time.

The dialogue between your MCs is sooo witty, you even chuckle-snorted. Your palette looks wonderful, and you mixed all the colors right. The anatomy of the hands is perfect and the shading is just as you imagined it to be.

It’s a dopamine hit.

You go into the creative process with maximum motivation, like a car with the turbo booster on. I love this part. You love this part. Anyone who creates things loooves this part! We all wish we could be in this oh-so-wonderful state of being for-freakin-ever. To be completely in the flow, because it feels like you are living and breathing creation itself. Like you’re freaking Te Fiti!

And then it’s gone.

Like any other booster, it sputters and fizzes out until there’s none left. The water is calm again. The intense inspiration leaves your body, replaced by an equally intense frustration.

Suddenly, the words feel foreign. The phrases don’t sound anywhere near poetic. The prose you first thought was brilliant is now utterly cheesy. The fingers look off. That purple doesn’t go well with that red. You realize how crap you actually are. Thoughts are going through your head at record speed:

“What is happening?”

“This looks wrong.”

“Why isn’t this fun anymore?”

“Why aren’t I as good as the masters?”

“This is wrong.”

“What am I gonna do?!”

“I am no good after all.”

Creative frustration. This is what happens when the fleeting, carefree pixie we call inspiration leaves our body in the middle of an incredible burst of creative flow.

It’s when the “Holy crap this is so good!” turns to “Holy crap this is tHE wORsT.”

I bumped into good ol’ Creative Frustration several months back. I was struggling with writing a draft for a blog post. I did not know how to convey into words what I was feeling and what I was thinking. It all just felt so wrong.

Stopping meant I wouldn’t be able to finish that blog post, and worst case scenario, lose that bout of inspiration that made me start writing it in the first place. But forging ahead meant the rest of the words I write, and the little jokes I put, would feel forced and unauthentic.

I guess, when we create something, we have this mental picture of its final look, an expectation. So when it doesn’t look anywhere near that, when it doesn’t meet your expectations (which is almost all the time ugh), it’s incredibly frustrating. You become resentful – at your work and, mostly, at yourself. Then the self-loathing starts.

You try to keep going but you can feel the awkwardness of every move you do or every word you typed or every stroke you put onto canvas. Everything just feels so wrong.

It’s usually at this point when you have the sudden urge to burn your work, or tear it to shreds, or lob it to the bin. This is when people usually throw in their towels and raise their white flags, surrendering to creative frustration.

But before you pull the plugs on that creative project, hear me out.

That creative frustration? It’s a natural part of the creative process.

You go through creative frustration in order for you to finish that work-in-progress. It may not look like it, but it can be very helpful too. It urges you to move. Being frustrated makes you want to try harder!

So what’s that one counterattack you can do when creative frustration hits?

Two words: creative stubbornness.

I was about to throw in the towel with that difficult blog post I mentioned earlier, but artistic stubbornness kicked in and I kept on writing. I tried not to look at the previous sentence or the previous paragraph. (Which was incredibly hard, let me tell you.) I only focused on putting one word after another. Side note: Practicing free writing was so useful in times like this, you guys.

Once I felt done with that first draft, I saved it and closed the Word document and stepped away from the computer. The next day, I started reading through what I wrote and began editing.

That’s when I realized that my initial topic morphed somewhere in the middle and turned to something else entirely. (In case you’re curious, it was this post about free writing.)

Sometimes, when you soldier on, you find great things you did not quite expect when you started.

Sometimes, you find your work is even more beautiful or more meaningful than what you first got on.

I think that’s the beauty of creative frustration and stubbornly going through it. With that, I leave you with this quote from a wise old lady of the Interwebs (aka: she’s been around since 2008 whaaat)

Do you experience creative frustration too? How do you cope with it, and what do you do to get through it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

xx Kate

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Photos from Ivory Mix