Posts in Category: creativity growth

Remember to Retreat

"Create Inside Out" painted live in San Jose, CA

“Create Inside Out” painted live in San Jose, CA

Dear Creative Heart,

In January I found myself invited to share my love of creativity and art with the student body at San Jose Christian School in California. A couple of days before I flew out, the weather had sunk to -6 degrees here and I relished the idea of sinking my frozen Iowa toes into some green California grass.

I was delighted by so much more that just warmer temps and green grass- I was warmly welcomed by the beautiful community at the school who engaged my live painting and my personal journey to embracing creativity. I was blessed by the enthusiasm of the students, their thoughtful questions and our creativity conversations.

After my time sharing at school, I had the opportunity to sit by the ocean and watch the waves roll into shore. I strolled the streets and galleries of Carmel-by-the-Sea…taking in the feast of creativity, color and skills of so many gifted artists. I experienced the gift of warm hospitality and reconnecting with a dear friend and her family.

As I have reflected on my time in California, I’m struck by how blessed I was by the entire experience-the opportunity to fly across the country (I didn’t have to take a covered wagon like pioneer women of old), the opportunity to share my gifts with the next generation, the opportunity to see new sights, meet new people and think new thoughts.

These are the things that help keep an artistic life sustainable.

These are the things that bring a fresh breath to my soul.

Dear creative heart- remember to retreat, to travel, to do something new, to share your gifts again…your heart just may expand and your creativity just may blossom into new directions.

With Passion,


“Create Inside Out” painted live in San Jose, CA

Saying YES

Look for the Beauty in the Chaos 48 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas Painted Live during Christmas Eve Services Lutheran Church of Hope West Des Moines, IA

Look for the Beauty in the Chaos
48 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas
Painted Live during Christmas Eve Services at Lutheran Church of Hope West Des Moines, IA

Dear Creative Heart,

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had opportunity to practice saying YES…to say YES to things that were out of my comfort zone…to say YES to things that I couldn’t control the outcome of…to say YES to things that I didn’t think could be a reality in my creative life.

Did you catch that I said I had the opportunity to practice saying YES? As we head into this new year, I’d like to encourage you to ponder what you might be asked to say YES to in your own personal life and creative journey.

How might you get to practice saying YES?

Saying YES takes strength of spirit and character…saying YES takes releasing control of outcomes…and sometimes saying YES might mean further challenges…and saying YES usually involves some form of risk…which is…need I say it…RISKY people!

Oh…my dear creative friends…you will pick wrong sometimes, you might get hurt sometimes due to your choices…some people may not agree with your decisions…and risk is risky but, what is the alternative?

To quiet the voices inside of you that are whispering to your heart?

To shut down your creativity and the vitality of your life?

To miss opportunities to use your unique gifts and skills?

May I gently encourage you to find time to quiet yourself (you probably can’t quiet down your life and all the chaos that swirls around you), but try to spend some time listening to what is rolling around in your heart. I’ve found this is rather hard to do if you are super tired so taking a nap first or getting some extra sleep might be a first step for you. Designate a quiet place in your home for you to regoup and quiet yourself. Buy a journal to record some of your thoughts. Commit to making time to listen to your own life and heart.

Your creative heart will tell you, it will prompt you, it will whisper to you next steps, but you need to learn to listen and then practice saying YES to whatever whispers you hear.

With Passion,


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Dealing with Uncertainty

"My Delight" 30 x 40 Acrylic on Canvas by Melynda Van Zee

“My Delight” 30 x 40 Acrylic on Canvas by Melynda Van Zee

Dear Creative Heart,



Maybe if there were bright orange blinking lights right ahead of us we would take notice, but that doesn’t usually happen with our creative work. No, we usually don’t pay close enough attention and then we fall smack dab in the middle of one of the most deadly creative pitfalls-wanting to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW! Yes, we want to know how our creative projects are going to turn out. We want to know that customers are going to purchase our work before we offer it for sale. We want to be guaranteed that other people are going to love our work before we even make the work. We want to know a new technique we long to experiment with is going to “work” before we buy the art supplies to try it. Oh, there is just so much uncertainty in this whole creative thing! 

I wish I could tell you it is all going to work out. I wish I could tell you that you will sell out the first print run of your new book or sell everything at your first art show. I wish I could guarantee you that the new technique you long to try is really going to work, but I can’t. I would hate for you not to have the practice of growing your own creative muscles. We don’t grow many muscles the first time we lift weights-it is the continual repetition that produces strength. 

One of the biggest roadblocks to developing an ongoing creative practice is that most artists give up. We have a hard time dealing with uncertainty. We don’t give ourselves time for work to develop, to learn new techniques, or to take the long view. We want it all and we think we want it NOW. But, our creativity shouldn’t be at the service of our instant gratification needs. Our creative practice is one thing that may help us to counteract our “need to have it now” mentality. It may be the thing that develops our inner fortitude to keep going when things aren’t clear-when the path isn’t known. It is a skill and a muscle we all need to have as we traverse real life. We don’t get everything we want, when we want it. Everything doesn’t always work out perfectly. Not everyone is going to like your work or “get” your work, but there are people out there who will. Sometimes starting a new technique will lead you to new directions you couldn’t have imagined before.

When the resistance builds,
when you have a set back,
when things don’t go exactly as you planned,
that is not the time to give up.

You don’t need to have it all figured out. It is a journey and there are going to be switch backs and missed turns.

Why dear creative heart would you go on an adventure if you knew everything before you ever left home?

With passion,


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