Tap Your Creative Flow


Art is a journey. I truly believe anyone can be an artist. Not everyone chooses to be, and thats ok. But art is such a wonderful way to open up your mind and express yourself in a new way.

If you are interested in exploring what you can do in art, you need to understand something first. Creativity is something you need to nurture. Creativity requires time. Above all else it needs your time and focus, it needs a chance to ignite and take off. My longest creative black hole was from 2010 to 2016. It wasn’t because I suddenly lost the ability to think creatively… in was simply because I didn’t access that part of my brain and heart. Instead, I was prioritizing my brand new relationship and then children.



“Creativity requires time. Above all else it needs your time and focus, it needs a chance to ignite and take off.”

People think of creativity as a rare ability, but every human on earth has the capability to be creative. Its how we are so inventive, its how we solve problems, its where ideas come from. Art is communication as much as it is expression. We tell stories, we capture a moment, we give others a different point of view, we utilize satire and humor. People connect with art because its not just about you as the artist, its about how other people can relate to what they see or hear coming from you.

The Skill

Maybe you want to be an artist, or maybe not even so ambitious, maybe you simply have something you want to express. Many people are put off by their lack of technical skill. Let me tell you something… technical skill is learnable, it just takes practice. Like anything else, it takes lots and lots of practice.

Even if you never become an expert, I’ve seen many pieces of artwork that are more rudimentary but still communicate strong messages and move me to pieces. It’s not about your technical skill, its about your ability to communicate, your willingness to take whats inside you and put it out.

Then theres the reality that even if you are technically proficient, you will still put out bad art (yes there is such thing).

In my personal art journey, I might get an idea… its usually the more ambitious and poorly planned ideas that result in “bad art.” I get tired, I get lazy, I get uninspired. If you’ve squeezed the motivation out of an art piece, its ok to start over, or maybe even ditch it all together.

“It’s not about your technical skill, its about your ability to communicate, your willingness to take whats inside you and put it out.”

If you want to get technically good at creating art, you CAN learn. Take classes, watch youtube videos and keep practicing.

The Struggle is Real

My most recent pattern started out with a very ambitious idea. The concept itself wasn’t terrible, and the original sketch was a good plan… but my experience in arranging textures and shapes aesthetically is still limited when it comes to more complex patterns. So far, my patterns have all been fairly straight forward and all the shapes maintain a distance from each other.

So, for the Spoonflower challenge involving the Tortoise and the Hare, this was my original sketch:Untitled_Artwork

I wanted to create a scene, add humor, and involve many different pieces. Well, when you work with patterns, this gets a little crazy if you don’t simplify, simplify, simplify (not my strong-point). Using procreate, I got started, spent way too much time on the first few motifs which almost immediately burned me out for the rest.

Untitled_Artwork 2

At first, it felt like everything was turning out great and I was fairly satisfied with what I had. Then I realized I had 3 more fairies to draw and another turtle and two rabbits. I’m listing off everything I felt I had to do, but the quantity was not the issue. The piece was losing inspiration. I find myself overwhelmed with a piece of artwork and “how much more I have to do” when I am no longer inspired by it.

Now, this happens, especially with larger, more detailed pieces. This also is not the same as a creative block. Losing your inspiration kills your motivation altogether. Creative block is when you simply feel stuck and feel like theres a wall between you and that rich creative flow. Losing inspiration is closer to the feeling you have when you don’t want to go to work anymore.

There are a few ways to handle this, and it takes some self-assessment.

  1. Put the piece of artwork down for a week. Come back to it with a fresh mind.
  2. Power through it, look at the plan you had laid out and rely on your technical skill (at whatever level) over the inspiration you relied on before. This is common if art is your job or if you have a deadline. Sometimes you have to be tough with yourself and just do the work at hand.
  3. Drop the piece all together. Consider it a flop, move on, sometimes what you thought would inspire you didn’t actually follow through.
  4. Start over. You can also start over whenever. Maybe you really liked the idea you had but didn’t feel like the execution went very smoothly, come back to it later. If you are still working on a deadline, just start over right away. Sometimes loosening up with a more ambitious piece opens up a creative flow for a better and simpler piece.

With my piece, each of the next motifs I did had less and less quality to them. Then when I plugged the images into Illustrator to work out a pattern, it looked even worse. Here was the final scene from my workings:


Untitled_Artwork 3

My decision was to power through, I would make it work, edit the motifs I needed to edit to make it look how I wanted. For me, I work on a deadline and need to push past the lack of inspiration.


But when it came to the actual pattern, it left me hugely unsatisfied. It wasn’t working, plain and simple. So, I decided to start over.

The steps I took were drastic. I kept the themes I wanted only in semblance. Still, all that wrestling I did over the older pattern had loosened me up and the new design came easily to me. Below is the time-lapse just to show how straightforward the ideas were after the hours put into the first pattern.

This sketch took me maybe an hour, maybe less.

Untitled_Artwork 8

All this to say, the difference between the two patterns is stark. Artist or no artist, drawing and creative expression take time, practice and nurturing.

View full pattern in my portfolio.

The Process

I’ve mentioned a few times now that creativity takes nurturing. I know people who think that they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. However, I don’t know how strongly I believe that. Let’s talk about the process of accessing your creative flow.


Your goal when you are in the pre-discovery stage is to find your inspiration. Get the juices going. Find what inspires you. It could be literally anything. Looking at other art, or photography, going on a walk or a hike, spending time with your family, a quiet day in a coffee shop, listening to music or listening to a podcast, even watching a movie! Find what inspires YOU. When something hits you, an image or a feeling or even sometimes its as vague as a thought, that is your inspiration.

Sometimes inspiration takes a little more work. Very similar to a brainstorm, start thinking of ideas and see where they take you. Maybe do some sketches. Maybe you like dragons? Draw some dragons, maybe you don’t feel skilled enough to draw dragons, draw their wings. Dragons like to fly, maybe you want to visualize flight in some wind lines or clouds, or maybe you want to draw the mountains said dragon is flying through. You need to kick your imagination into gear, give it ideas, feed it random things and see what gets it going.

Play movies in your head, make up situations, fantasize.


Once you have that inspiration, work on it. Doodle some ideas out. Expand on your inspiration. Maybe you need to write actual words down, or maybe you need to simply create a sketch and layout the plan.

Think of this like a warm up, similar to warming up before a run. If you are drawing figures, get someone to model for you and just sketch some images out. This helps your brain connect with proportions and how to follow certain curves. You find yourself struggling less and less the more time you spend drawing.

Spend time thinking about whatever it was that inspired you. Get lost in thinking about it. If it was a feeling, let yourself keep feeling it. If it was an image, play that image over and over, add to it, get lost in it.


Execution is how you actually create your piece. Execution can often times not go the way you want it to. Here’s one of the most challenging parts, but you can make it fun if you teach yourself to let go of perfection… let the art go where it wants to go. Sometimes (not always), you might really like what comes out. You drew that dragon but it looked more like a Godzilla than a dragon, try going with it, keep drawing around it.

You could also start over and simply improve on your ability to draw what you were aiming for to begin with.

Still, sometimes, regardless of all our efforts or even our relaxation, our execution flops. Think back to my example with my pattern that just didn’t turn out. At this point, go back to the options I gave you. In my case, I started over and achieved what I felt was a much stronger and clearer piece.


Completion is the satisfaction. Its stepping back from a finished piece of art and feeling that sense of pride and self-worth at what you just created. This is very personal. Someone else might look at your piece and not give you the hopeful response you had pictured in your mind of being impressed and supportive. Ignore that. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. There are so many reasons someone might not respond the way you might hope to your work of art. It might not be their taste, they might just not like the content or even care for art at all. Maybe your talent has room to grow and they don’t know how to appreciate you at the level you are at. Thats ok!

Now, if you are anything like me, not being able to finish a piece and find that feeling of satisfaction is very frustrating. Often times, the pieces I pass off as failed, I will actually save and come back to in hopes of improving it upon a second work through. In the case of this Tortoise and the Hare pattern, I had to finish my original one as soon as I could. Mainly, I had an idea of how I wanted to do it and needed to carry it out.


It’s definitely still not 100% and definitely not a quality pattern, but its done. I am happy with it being done as is.

Nurture that Creative Flow

If you don’t spend time inspiring yourself, your mind won’t bother. When your focus is your work or your family and you don’t stop to let your mind wander, your creative flow gets blocked up. Thats how I felt for years, but we were in family survival mode. I didn’t have the energy to give myself time to just let my mind go to the wonderful places it does when I want to be inspired.

Even if you don’t have a goal to be an artist, draw every day. A little sketch, an idea, a person you saw on the street that made you think, doodle those things down. Or maybe all your doing is a doodle, little squiggles and shapes… you should see some of the people I follow on Instagram for whom, thats how it all started. You never know what you are going to tap into.

Lastly, draw what you love. Let your creativity be an expression of your heart.

Tips for Getting your creative juices flowing:

  • Find what inspires you
  • read a poem
  • read a book
  • look at other art (Instagram is a great place)
  • go on a walk
  • go on a hike
  • go to the zoo or aquarium
  • watch a movie
  • go sit in a coffee shop
  • just sit and daydream

If you found this blog post useful or interesting at all, I would loooove to hear from you in the comments! If you are an artist and your process is different, share with me! How do you tap into your creative flow? If there’s something else you want to hear about, again, let me know in the comments!

Following me on Instagram or subscribing to this blog are great ways to keep up with my work! F O L L O W

My work can be found on the following three platforms:


That Elusive Niche


What is a niche? Like the elusive white stag, a niche is difficult to find. Some find theirs easily, the stag walks out of the woods, and they walk off into the sunset together. I wish. Others, for various reasons, might struggle to find theirs. Then, dare I say, some never lay eyes on their white stag? There’s me, “R.I.P Corinna, she could not find her niche.” How tragic that she could not live out her placement in life.

A Niches Purpose

A niche is like a hidden purpose in life. It’s almost as if we’ve just taken the word “destiny” out of modern culture and replaced it with “niche”. Not to say the two are the same. A destiny can find you, a niche can elude you.

In the design/internet world, a niche has a whole different type of value. The promise of glory and riches hides behind you finding the perfect balance of something you can do and something the mass majority adores you for. When you find the blogs and videos whose advice tells you to just be yourself, it doesn’t always seem to be true. Maybe it’s easy to say once you find your niche because you are probably being a part of yourself. However, it doesn’t always seem to be just you being yourself, it seems more like you being the part of you that people love most.

Don’t get me wrong, a niche is so handy. It also looks so nice, and it really brings a nice cohesive look to an artists body of work. I’m sure it brings a sense of fulfillment, especially if you’re lucky enough to love what people love about you simultaneously. Still, theres a part of me that wonders if you find it for you or for others. We are so starved for the general community and affection of our fellow man, our fulfillment is now filled through a sort of virtual admiration and acceptance. We are loved for the videos we make or the designs we create, for the blogs we write and the presence we hold on this bottomless cavern called the internet. We are not loved so much, for who we are.

My Journey, Will I Ever Find My Niche?

My own journey to find my niche has been a difficult one. I can blame my kids, or how busy I am, how busy life is, but would I find it any easier if I was completely free to look? The biggest challenge for me has been how much I love to do. People don’t like to see everything you can do, they want to see one thing, one look, one experience for them to connect with and recognize. You have to brand yourself. People are even so delicate that they get confused if you add or take away anything from your brand. Re-branding is a feat, it takes incredible effort and planning to pull it off successfully.

No one is on the internet to get to know me, no one wants to find this person writing random things and then also learn she designs, but no, she’s not limited to designs, sometimes she likes to just draw, or even paint! Oh and she’s a mom? No, one wants to then read about my kids or experience as a mother in addition to all that. The expectation is, oh, a designer, great, love her designs, they have a cohesive familiarity I can connect to, perfect!

In a life of consumption, products, images and a constant need for new content, people want something they can arrive to, take what they want from, and leave. We market to each other, capitalism is in our blood and the transformation of our definition of destiny emphasizes that very fact. We have all been marketed to as well, marketed to since we were babes. Naturally, marketing to each other would simply follow in the trend. We don’t exist as side by side humans, but as internet entities, selling ourselves as brands to anyone who will buy.

There are of course, exceptions. There are communities and supportive fans who get to know the people they follow. There are true blue artists who are simply being themselves, and the internet loves them for it. There are people who have truly found something they love to do and don’t mind and all that they now focus on just the one thing.

It has left me to wonder, however, what happens when I find my niche?

What happens when you find your niche?

I don’t actually have an answer for you guys. I haven’t found my niche yet. Finding your niche is like one of those things in life that you have either experienced and understand. Or, you haven’t experienced it yet, and you are left to speculate, only. Before I was a mother, I had all sorts of opinions about motherhood, and ideas about who I would be as a mother. Until I became one, I never knew what would be true and what was just speculation.

In terms of finding your niche, maybe the heavens open up and a brilliant light shines down in celebration. Maybe the internet shows up at your door to carry you away on its shoulders… or maybe the sky will rain money.

Still, when I wonder what it would be like to find mine. I wonder about what happens to other talents. Does a person just give up on everything else they can do? Is that what we are supposed to do anyway? When I think about everything I love to do, and the exploratory nature of my art style, I can’t stop repeating the old saying “jack of all trades, master of none.” There’s so much I *can* do, but *should* I do all of it or pick one thing and focus on it alone? Throwing those thoughts around in my head for a little while exhausts me and I just come to the conclusion that all I want to do, is exist.

I really want to just be me, and if I’m lucky enough, be loved for it. I don’t want to create something for you, I don’t want to be someone specific for you.

When I was in middle school, I would only wear make-up to school occasionally. It was always on those days that I received lots of compliments on my appearance. I hated it. I was so rebellious to it, I would wash my make-up off. It frustrated me, that I needed to wear make up in order to receive compliments on how I looked; that I needed to change my appearance for people to notice and appreciate it. Honestly, I look back and think that its a little silly. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself and making an effort. Nowadays, I wish I had the time to take care of my appearance the way I did then. Maybe there’s a lesson there. There’s an aspect of finding your niche that’s for other people, and we shouldn’t be existing for others benefit… but maybe most of finding your niche, is an existence of the truest expression of you. Maybe, it’s like making an effort with your physical appearance, but until I find my niche, I can’t confirm the theory.

Dont Worry About it Too Much ( I say to myself)…

In the meantime, it always comes back to the journey. While the internet might not care, not truly, about who you are or what you learn or go through… that journey is definitely more important than finding your niche. The people you meet, the community you build, the things you create along the way are far more valuable than a virtual recognition of a smaller collection of your talents. You might be like me, and you might be struggling to find it, wondering what its like to capture it, waiting for that fateful day. Well, when the magical day comes that you finally capture that white stag, your accomplishment will hold that much more weight, because of the path you paved along the way. At that point, I hope the fame and riches are yours.

Busy Mom, Happy Mom


Note: While I write about motherhood, I do so because I myself am a mom. I do realize that there are dads out there who are involved in their families lives and play an active role and who might relate to some of these topics. My intention is not to exclude them, but simply to speak from my personal experience, which involves giving birth and being a mom. However, my topics are not mother-exclusive. So, if that’s you (you’re a dad), and you relate to what I am talking about, I am so glad! This blog is also for you!

The idea of motherhood has changed so much over the years. Gone are the days of simplicity, where our main concerns were the need to feed, clothe and protect our children. We don’t live in a place where we gather firewood, water and our main concern is cooking food for the day. We have iPhones, social media, kids programs, school, jobs, careers to pursue, or maybe entrepreneurial pursuits. There’s also meal planning and budgeting, play dates and anything else you can think of. We can fill our time so easily, we can pack it full, and we are good at it. Being busy is something we love.

For many families in the world today, both parents need to work. For some, even if mom’s don’t need to, they want to. They then choose to, either for the extra income or because they like to, or maybe they are even pursuing a career. Whichever story is dependant on the person, and either story is great. However, one thing I’ve learned as a personal lesson, is that in these early years, motherhood and being busy is not ideal.

Many women I know, including myself, love having a packed schedule. We love having things to do, organizations or events to be a part of. We want to be involved. For some of us, being home with the kids is not enough and we have to do more. Sometimes we forget how to say no when our schedules get too full. While, at the same time, we lack the community to make up for it. Our lives are separated into yours and mine.

Many of us are doing this whole motherhood thing mostly alone.

Even out in public, it’s hard to find anywhere where mom’s look out for each other. We are more likely to be scrutinized than supported.

In my life, since I’ve had my oldest, the challenges have been many and varying. However, many of you know how one of my main obstacles, has been how busy I’ve been. Sometimes I take on too much.

With motherhood comes a whole lot of stress all on its own, apart from filling your time. That stress ranges from the day to day dealings of having children, to worrying about a whole lot of things that haven’t even happened. Everyone manages the stress differently, but make no mistake that it’s there. The more that I personally have on my plate, the worst that stress is, and the more it affects my parenting.

How do you define motherhood? The dictionary says its “a state of being.” That makes sense, but what does that include? A mother is a chef, maid, chauffeur, cheerleader, mediator, referee, grocery shopper, budget runner, encourager, teacher, creative instructor, director, captain, stylist,and so many more things.

Being a mother is really and truly enough. Running a household and raising children in our world is no joke. It’s privatized, its your job, and you will never do it right. We as moms, as parents, are doing a lot already!

Everyone has a certain level of capacity, and I love challenging myself. However, I’ve had to learn that its important to remember that there is a fine line between stretching your capacity, and overwhelming it. It’s so important to know where your limits are, and to know that those limits are ok. (I talk more about some thoughts on capacity in Try Living Life in My Shoes).

How Much is Too Much?

When you are trying to decide how much to take on, knowing your season can play a big part. Are you filled up and ready to pour into other people? Or do you need to take a season of rest? Are you being stretched or do you feel thinned out? Are there external circumstances that are affecting you emotionally, physically, mentally?

If you are doing more… school, a job, any other commitment. Just make sure to ask yourself, what’s the goal? Is there an end destination?

For our family, work was necessary to make ends meet and school has the purpose of a degree for a better career, better financial security and better future for our kids. Involving myself in either avenue is not 100% want as much as it is necessity. There is a price to pay and for me, that price is always reflected in my parenting.

That being said, the reason so many of us mom’s are in the workforce to begin with is also because we have dreams and aspirations. Just because we are moms doesn’t mean we don’t want to do as much as we can for our families or as much as we can to contribute to society. Even if that means going beyond raising good kids… and thats ok!

Embracing Your Pursuit While Remembering the Journey

We live in a world that allows us to explore our creativity and have that be successful. That’s opened the door to many jobs we can do from home, etsy shops, design blogs, freelancing. It’s easier for many of us mothers to juggle both aspirations and parenting closer together.

There’s nothing wrong with goals. There’s nothing wrong with the company you want to build, or the administrative position you want to fight for. There’s nothing wrong with reaching high and dreaming big.

Just remember that the journey is just as important as the end goal.

There’s nothing wrong with being busy, or with having a full life. Just make sure you are learning how to add purpose to every piece of involvement. Know yourself and your own capacity, learn how and when to say no. Learn how to table a project until later.

Each of us have different strengths, and our destiny is to use those strengths to the best of our ability. For myself, motherhood is one of those strengths. So, I value being a “good” mom who loves her kids and my priorities line up with what that looks like for me.

For me, that means making sure to listen to my kids. My challenge is to learn how to discern when their cries for attention go beyond moments where they need to learn to entertain themselves. Then, how to actually take the time when they really need some one on one momma time. It’s learning to fail an assignment from time to time at school. It’s learning how to turn off my brain, whose wheels are always turning; put the weight of the worlds problems down and look into the bright innocent eyes of my kids and just be involved… just play with them. They are the journey.

I can create an empire… but if I get to the end and realize I’ve missed out on my own kids, it won’t have been worth it.

My Experience

I recently wrote a blog while I was in the thick of one of the hardest and busiest times in my life. You Got This is all about being in that busy and overwhelming season, and some things I learned about how I got through it. One thing I tried to emphasize, is that those times are meant to be a season and no more. No one is meant to be overwhelmed.

I’ve recently quit my job since writing that post. We finally got to a point where it wasn’t 100% necessary for me to work away from home. Let me tell you, I am absolutely relieved. Raising kids and a job was hard enough on its own. It was doable, but hard. As soon as I added school to the mix, it became chaos. It felt like we had to bunker down before the start of every semester. We would physically and emotionally prepare ourselves for a 12-week mental push. Although we got through it, we are not left unscathed.

One day, our family might face another season similar to that again. If that day comes, I’ll reread my own blog and try to get through it just like I did all of these last two years. Still, for now, I finally feel alive again for the first time in two years. This whole month of January has felt like a recovery month. It was honestly almost immediate, and you could tell the kids sensed it after my last day… mom was back.

I’m capable of a lot, and while I was in a place where I had more help, I did great. Even with that massive workload. However, seasons change. My encouragement to you is to give yourself a break. You don’t have to do it all, at least not all the time.

Tips for the Journey

Busy seasons will come and go. As we learn our limitations, as we learn to grow our no’s and as we grow our own capacities, I have three parts to keep in mind as you face it all…

  • One, remember to have purpose. Don’t be busy just for the sake of being busy, have a goal. Either for yourself, your kids, your family or for society.
  • Two, remember to be present. Busyness can steal so much from our day to day and from our experiences and memories. Remember to take the time to see your kids, see your spouse, see the issues of the world around you. Don’t get swept away in deadlines, schedules and to-do lists. Sometimes, they can wait. Go make some memories.
  • Last one is to remember to be patient. Goals don’t have to be achieved today. Take a solid step, and then let tomorrow come. Be patient with yourself if you burn out. Be patient with your kids the days they don’t understand. Be patient with your schedule, its ok if there are gaps. It’s ok if you have time to take a walk, take that walk.

In the end, our kids will grow up, and we will have more free time. As I’m sure you are told every day as a mother, you will miss these days. In the end, all we will have left is our memories, and I am happy that we are making good ones. So, while you might be a busy mom (or dad), make sure you are a happy, balanced, and fulfilled mom (or dad); who has purpose, and who is present and patient.

Glance Back to 2016


A brand new year.

What will it bring? What are you expecting?

There’s been a lot of media attention on the negative effects of 2016. Let me say first of all that I get it. Twenty-sixteen, the year of exposure, the year where fear came in ugly faced and raging. It took a great big ax and just starts tearing up the place. The mob took over the internet (and that’s on both sides of any issue)… and all our hope and vision for a free world in the future seemed to fade into a political take over of blindness and demagoguery.

2016 was loud. SO many opinions, so many voices, so many people shouting at each other across computer screens. If you stuck me at the front and center of a speed metal concert, I would still hear the ruckus of 2016 clamoring through. If I had to pick one word to describe the last 12 months, it would be “controversy.” Loud-mouthed, opinionated, inconsiderate, ignorant controversy. Even as it came to it’s end, people wouldn’t let it go quietly, but all their anger and frustration and refusal to shift in their positions or views was now directed at the year itself.

The flowers that grew amongst the vast desolation that is the world were trampled on. Giant boots, in anguish stomped them into the muddy earth. Any progress in sustainability fogged out by the smoke of fear and disillusion. The work of the white helmets blown to bits like the members themselves as they face the most real of dangers for the small chance to save lives of people who later might die anyway.

No, Trump won the presidency and suddenly the fight for what is good and right died with the loss of the liberal left in American politics. So, what are we really fighting for?

All these issues, terrorism, war, global tragedies, they have been around and will continue to be around for many years to come. For some reason though, this year has been the year that every news station and celebrity has decided to dramatize.

For our family, this was a great year. Despite our challenges and our mistakes. This was Sonya’s first year of life, it was also the year we made many breakthroughs as a family.

Not that losing Alan Rickman and Carrie Fischer didn’t just break my heart, or that all the controversies of 2016 didn’t just drag my heart around like a rag doll. Or that Aleppo and all the Syrian children that fill my Instagram feed didn’t wreck my heart on a daily basis. Or that our president elect isn’t a wild card whose impact on our country is so up high in the air its frankly a little terrifying. Or that the election itself revealed sides of people and friends I didn’t know existed.

No, to me, what upsets me most about 2016 is the incredible influence of the media, and the willingness of the people to flock to whatever opinion fits their views the most. The media has always been around. They have been distributing propaganda, and ignorant belief systems that proliferate through the endless network of the web since the beginning. The media has always had its hand firmly set on bending our culture and thinking. But there was something about this year that just made it seem that much stronger. The one-sidedness, the articles that cater to previously held opinions. The exposure of peoples’ ignorance and lack of willingness to listen to each other. The fact that Huffington Post writes headlines like “F- you 2016” and all my liberal friends just fall in line with the rhetoric (that’s not a blow at Huffpo, which I read regularly). I don’t think I ever remember finishing a year off with so much negativity.

The fact alone that one of the most popular words that stem from 2016 is “post-truth” is enough to make me shake my head and wonder what happened. An idea that truth is now irrelevant and even our language is evolving to reflect just how true that sentiment has become for our country is unsettling.

I live in the very liberal city of Seattle. While I highly value my geographic position in the world, I grieve it as well. Seattle has given me a critical mind and an open heart. Still, there are downsides. While Seattle gives me a deeper understanding of the liberal left and their ideologies and belief systems (because I am absolutely immersed in them), it shields me from the realities faced by so many conservatives who make up much of the rest of the country. These conservatives often tend to be poor working families in small towns. I find myself trapped in so many ways, right in the middle. Seattle is a bubble, and while it is where I feel most at home, I also never feel completely at home.

Here, people might consider me conservative, while when I travel to the east of Washington State, I am the liberal crazy from the city. I would like to think that I simply do my best to understand both sides. My theory is that because I don’t 100% agree with either side, that I am considered to be from either opposing side. THAT is the problem. We live in a country where our beliefs should be just that, OURS. We have a right to them. I am allowed to disagree with you and still work with you, have coffee with you, take a walk on the beach with you. I don’t have to be a bigot because if I don’t agree with the left, and I don’t have to be a liberal nut because I don’t agree with the right. With either party, however, I am afraid to open my mouth.

We have bigger problems than the state of 2016, and the turning of the new year won’t change those problems. They still exist and we need to face them. ISIS has been a known enemy since 2014. I’ll never forget that year, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, Seattle was on the biggest high as a city and just weeks later terrorism showed us a new face and changed the world as we knew it. Racism has existed in our country since, guess what, the beginning. Zika is an evil, absolutely evil virus, but is everyone forgetting Ebola? Sickness, war, division, politics, hate, fear, these are prevalent issues in our world. If we define each year by the existence of these things, every year since the beginning of time have been doozies.

My point with all of this is that life is full of evil, our choice every day is as an individual, and it is how to respond to said evil. It is not wrong to despair, it is not wrong to feel pain, but find the light. Do you want to be the flower, blossoming in the unlikeliest of places despite the desolation, or would you rather be the angry boot that will let no light into our world of darkness.

This is a new year. If the world were to set it’s own New Years resolutions, what would they be? What’s gonna change? What isn’t going to change? What do we want to change? Do we all want the same things to change? What are people going to be saying at the end of 2017? Who is going to take responsibility with what’s wrong with the world?

There were some resolutions I thought of that I wouldn’t mind if the world would set for itself. They are my vision of what I wish our country and our world would look like. The work is done by us, as individuals. We must do what we can to shine through the darkness that fights to swallow each day.

     I see a country where every individual would take responsibility for their own lives. That they would learn how to have a more outward focus. Part of that being learning how to listen more, hear another persons story, consider another persons point of view.

     I see a country where organizations sell products that they are proud of and can stand by. That business values shift towards sustainability and quality. An impossible thought for so many reasons, but it only takes one or two people of impact and influence to really make a difference. And even that culture can start with us. If we actually made an effort in shopping smart and researching products, business owners would be forced to provide the products we demand in the way that we demand them. Just look at McDonald’s.

     I see a world where Christians realize that this world and this country isn’t ours. We don’t even belong here.

     I see a world where Christians stop trying to influence politics to fit their politics and learn to love the way Jesus loved.

     I see a country where both sides LGBTQ and straight come to understand each other and can accept each other’s different views without playing the victim or turning the other party into the enemy. We live in a country that is meant to allow us to co-exist even though our theologies might differ.

     I see a country where when people read an article on the internet, they critically evaluate the opinions of said article. A world where people check sources and become their own system of checks and balances. Stop giving power to demagogues and rabble-rousers.

     I see a country where people stop playing watchdog and start being a community again.

     I see a country that fights for what’s good and right, but in that onward spirit, doesn’t roll over the unheard and the forgotten.

     I see a country that learns how to forgive and doesn’t throw judgment like accusatory stones. Just because we are typing words and not throwing physical rocks does not mean we aren’t stoning people in our modern world.

Add what you will to that list, let it be light-driven and uplifting. Let it be a goal, a vision we can strive toward together in order to achieve a better world. I could list so many things, medicine companies to get their priorities straight, sugar companies to be held accountable for the lies they’ve fed the country right into the death of thousands. Racism to be stamped out, equal pay for men and women, livable wages, an end to companies unethical use of lobbyists, abolition of unethical conditions for contracts (let us back into court against big companies).

We will have to start to consider the consequences of our complacency. So, when you think about 2016 and the endless complaints and negativity starts to overwhelm your brain, start to think about what you can do to change what we will be saying about 2017.

I have some really simple points for where to start:

      1. Smile: I see these social media videos that point out the fallacy of expecting a woman in particular to smile. I understand it combats the expectation put on women to look beautiful all the time. Still, men and women alike can really change the atmosphere of their day and the attitude of their own heart by simply putting a smile on their face. Don’t underestimate the extent the impact of your smile might have in one day alone.
      2. Listen: Never will I forget the awkward moment my senior year of high school where my home room teacher really got weird to get a point across. She told us she was going to explain to us how to find the best people, and how to know when we’ve found them. We sat in a circle and one thing at a time, she had us sit, touch our knees to each other’s, fold our hands and lean in… only in the last moment of silence where we anticipated our next bit of instruction did she reveal that lo and behold, the person who listens is to be valued the most. That event has stuck with me since that day, and it rings so true. If we can learn that when we discuss things, how to truly hear and consider what the other person is saying instead of just waiting to say our bit, maybe we wouldn’t be in half the trouble we are in.

        Why do that? Have you ever misunderstood someone? What generally happens? They say something to you, you hear it through your filter (your experiences, your feelings, your world view) and you come up with your own interpretation of their words. Once you realize there is a misunderstanding you probably realize that what they said didn’t fit into anything in your filter that you threw their words through. Listening involves putting our filter aside and trying to learn what other peoples filters are. What is their life experience and what are their world views, and how would that define what they are actually trying to say?
      3. Discuss: Explore other thinking, and other ideas. Try to wrap your mind around the concept that there are people in the world who actually think different from you. Very different. The patriotism of North Americans doesn’t make any logical sense to my British friends. Other countries consider us loud, entitled and rude. Why is that? Talk to someone, learn how they live and what they value. Talk about race and politics. Gauge everything but have an open heart and an open mind.
      4. Get Involved: A simple google search can show you local charities or political movements that you can get involved in. “Political Movement” has such an intense ring to it, but it could be something as large as getting involved with movements like Standing Rock, or as little as signing a petition or writing a letter to your senator. Never before have we had the tools that we have today to make our voices heard.

Do some research, where is there a need in your neighborhood? Are there lots of young moms that could use some baby supplies? Is someone down on their luck and need some groceries? Volunteer, start a non-profit, donate money, just don’t do nothing.

Complacency will kill us.

So come on 2017, its going to be a good year. The year will probably still end with terrorist attacks, tragedies, big money continuing to take from little money, but if we can say we did our best personally in our own lives, maybe we won’t feel the need to rage against a collection of 365 days as the source of all our problems.

How to Get Involved:

If you are looking for ways to get involved in the current events happening with president Trump, I have just a few links you might find useful. Even if you are a republican, please don’t blind yourself to thinking that every thing president Trump does will be good for our country. Do the research, understand the issues and raise your voice. If you have ways to contribute, please contact me so I can add them to the list.

  1. Indivisible Guide: A fairly comprehensive and informative document shared with me by a friend. This document is specifically against Trumps agenda but has really great steps for how to impact the local people in charge.
  2. Petition.Whitehouse.Gov: There are endless amounts of petitions this site. However there are quite a few very important ones.
  3. Contacting Our Legislators (Washington State): This is a direct method to actually calling legislators and making our voices heard.
    – Introduce yourself
    – What issues do you want to address? Why are they important to you?
    – Ask what their stance is
    – Ask them to stand up for your issue
    – Make sure to be supportive of them, thank them, be polite, they are the ones doing the hard work after all.
    Some more tips for contacting legislators can be found here.