Busting creative blocks with tarot and oracle cards

Not having internet access for a few days gave me plenty of time to whiz through Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, and consider the tools I use to bust through creative blocks.

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A little late to post this week – we ran into a snag with our internet connection. Such is life in a northern town…

Not having internet access for a couple of days gave me plenty of time to whiz through Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. While this book is full creativity and rather light on the woo-woo, it still got me thinking about my own woo-woo.

A couple of summers ago I bought this tarot deck from The Fountain Tarot. I came across some images of the cards in this deck online and was captivated by them. I think they are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and I knew I wanted them in my hands. About a year later, I came across this Sacred Creators Oracle Deck from Chris-Anne, and instantly fell in love with its stunning colours, minimalist look and inspiring messages.

I love using both of these decks. I don’t really use either set of cards for divination. I think of them more as “life prompts” and “creativity prompts.” I pull cards and read them to look at a situation or my work from a different perspective. Basically, they are tools that help me become unblocked in life and in my creativity.

As creatives, we get stuck sometimes. We don’t always feel inspired. We get burnt out. We get the blahs. These help me keep working.

What tools do you pull out when you’re feeling blocked?

9 empowering things I learned in my 20s

Here are a few empowering nuggets I’ve gathered for myself over the last 10 years. They’re personal, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Use them as inspiration or forget about them completely.

Today I am 30. As I’ve crept closer to this number for the last several years, I’ve had this intuition that 30 is going to be an amazing year for me, and that my 30s are going to be an exceptional decade. I’m ready.

Yesterday, the last day of my 20s, I did something I’ve been thinking about for a decade that is both anxiety-inducing and freeing: I entered a short story in a competition. I felt ready to do it – I have something worth reading, I think, and I was spurred on by this glaring thing I’ve learned about myself in the last decade:

I can make things happen. I can ask for what I want, and I can take action.

Here are a few other empowering nuggets I’ve gathered for myself over the last 10 years. They’re personal, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Use them as inspiration or forget about them completely.

  • You know what’s best for you. You know what you need to do. If you have a gut feeling, go with it. If you have an idea that fires you up, chase it. If there’s something you need to do to take care of yourself, do it unapologetically.
  • You get to decide. If you share your gut feeling or exciting idea or make a change to care for yourself and are met with a less than enthusiastic response from others, that’s okay. It’s not for them. It’s your life, and it’s up to you to make it your own in a way that works for you.
  • Say yes to opportunities that light you up. Saying yes makes magic happen.
  • Say no to things that distract from the life you want.
  • Leaving a situation that isn’t right for you, be it a place, a job or a relationship may be challenging but it is also liberating.
  • Curate your friendships.
  • Go outside.
  • Identify and nurture the things you hold dear and the things you want to grow. Show them love and care and attention, and you will find yourself full.

I hope that I can look back on the next decade and have stories to tell and adventures to recount and lessons to remember.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned in the last decade?

Expanding the craft: Inspiration from the Internet

I had plans to take myself out of the house on an artist date to fuel this week’s post, but you know what they say about the best laid plans…

I had plans to take myself out of the house on an artist date to fuel this week’s post, but you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Instead, I found myself holed up in our apartment while temperatures dipped below -30 (and below -40 with the windchill), fighting off a cold and cabin fever. To keep my brain occupied I curled up on the couch under a heavy fleece blanket and watched review after review of the Canon 6D Mark II, which I bought used from Henry’s last weekend, in anticipation of its arrival (it’s here, and it’s WONDERFUL! This post was not sponsored by Henry’s, but I highly recommend them – their used gear is top notch and their customer service is even better).

From there I began watching some tutorials for Lightroom and Photoshop on Youtube, where I stumbled across  Peter McKinnon’s channel and found all kinds of inspiration! He has a ton of energy, a ton of cool ideas, and bonus points, he’s Canadian. I’m excited to try some new techniques while I’m out shooting this week in marginally warmer weather.

I’ve had some fantastic mentors in both photography and writing, but have shied away from learning from the internet in favour of learning on the fly through trial and errors. This week, though, I found some really solid, useful material that I’ve already started to put into practice, and I feel encouraged to hit the web and some books to learn more and get inspired to take my crafts to the next level.

Are you a photographer or writer? What are your favourite resources? I promise if you share, I’ll check them out!

Beyond the comfort zone: Watercolour challenge

I’m a writer. Give me a pen, and I can paint a fairly decent picture in your imagination with my words. That’s my talent. Put that pen in my hand and ask me to draw a scene, and the end result will be something entirely different. I am not artistically inclined.

I’m a writer. Give me a pen, and I can paint a fairly decent picture in your imagination with my words. That’s my talent.

Put that pen in my hand and ask me to draw a scene, and the end result will be something entirely different. I am not artistically inclined.

Many of my favourite creative gurus and mentors recommend leaving the warm, cozy area that is your comfort zone to expand your creative mind. This week, I took a small, gentle step outside my comfort zone by picking up a paintbrush.

I mentioned a brief foray I had taken into watercolours (via a piece for my living room inspired by imitating a much more professional, trendy piece I had seen in a friend’s living room that involved words and paint splatters, and then again, 14 months later when I made Christmas cards) to my friend Jax over at Cooking with Jax. One thing led to another, and soon I had agreed to a watercolour challenge: One watercolour a week for the next year. We determined some weekly themes, and agreed to reveal the fruits of our labour to each other every Sunday via text because we live 13 hours apart.

So far we’ve completed two pieces each, and they have been uncomfortable and intimidating for me, but on the flip side, I’ve had a heck of a lot of fun seeking out inspiration and tutorials. The first week we painted an anchor, (Jax’s was adorable and elegant, mine was a two-dimensional mess that you will never see because I destroyed it as soon as I obligingly showed Jax), and last week we completed a piece based on snow. I found a great little snow globe tutorial by someone much more talented than I am and came up with this:


Snow – the second instalment in our watercolour challenge

What I’ve learned:

  • This was a good starting place for me. Doing the challenge with a buddy means that I’m both accountable to complete the challenge each week, but also that I have kind support and encouragement from someone I know won’t judge me harshly as we complete the challenge together.
  • Switching to a different creative outlet a few times a week forces me to think outside the box. I’m learning about using space, light and colour, and it’s a fun diversion from my wordy norm!
  • I *LOVE* being exposed to other creatives and different information from what I normally seek out. There are some seriously talented people out there, and I feel lucky to soak up some of their expertise and connect with their work. Everywhere I look there’s inspiration

What small step outside your comfort zone could you take this week to expand your world just a little?

Nurturing.

I’ve been trying this thing recently where, as often as possible, I take care of myself by doing the things I need to do and I also the things I want to do.

This is how I found myself in bed at 11:30 pm on New Year’s Eve. My partner and I had travelled eight hours home the day before after a bustling whirlwind holiday over the capital “H” holidays. We were wiped. So, as our friends toasted to a happy and prosperous 2019, I was blissfully dreaming. I had looked forward to that New Year’s party for months, but when it came down to it, I had no bones about crawling into bed instead.

On New Year’s Day I scribbled down three things I am focused on that I hope will carry me through this year and beyond. All three are linked by the act of nurturing. This year I will nurture:

  • My relationship with my most wonderful partner
  • My body, mind and spirit
  • My creative spark

These three things are all dear to me, and I suspect I will find they are all intertwined (though I try to steer clear of such assumptions). However the third item, nurturing my creative spark, is what I’ll explore in this blog.

I’ve long been a collector of inspiration – writing prompts, activity ideas, nudges for exploration – but I tend to quickly forget about them. Now is the time, though. I feel inspired to use the prompts, take the advice, and step out of my comfort zone when it comes to creativity, and see where it takes me.

Happy 2019 to you! What are you focused on right now, or what do you hope to focus on in the coming year? Whatever it may be, I hope this year brings you happiness and wonderful opportunity.