5 Lessons Learned from Starting Over


Positively Present - Start Over


Okay, so I'll say right up front that the "starting over" I had to cope with last past week is related to the loss of an app, not a person or a situation. It might sound dramatic, but it was just a tad traumatic for me to lose access to the place where I spend a ton of time these days: my Procreate drawing app.

When it started crashing repeatedly and the Procreate team (despite their best efforts!) wasn't able to fix it, I knew it was inevitable: I would have to delete and reinstall. Now, I know this sounds silly — Who cares?! You had to delete an app! — but it was, much as I hate to admit even to myself, kind of a big deal. Yes, I had backed up most of my work (PSA: ALWAYS BACK UP EVERYTHING!), but deleting the app meant losing all of my settings and favorite brushes, and facing the daunting task of reinstalling over two years' worth of work. 

The app crashed every time I tried to open a file and my first response was, Why now? Why me? I see artists doing way more complex art on the app and I don't see much of anything in the message boards about having to delete and reinstall! This, of course, is a pretty typical reaction to a loss. First I was desperately hoping it could be fixed (denial) and then, when I realized it couldn't, I was upset. It was a very strange feeling. I knew it was just an app, and the situation could be way worse (I had, after all, backed up most of my work), but there's something deeply unsettling about having something you use every single day taken away from you without warning. 

Equally as unsettling: realizing how much of my life had become intertwined with an app. The first night without it, I was restless. To unwind, I usually spend time drawing and, while I was waiting to see if Procreate could be fixed, I tried playing around with other drawing apps. It just wasn't the same. They didn't work like Procreate did. They didn't have my brushes and my settings, all of my colors and sketched-out ideas. I was unnerved. But I decided that, if this wasn't a time to try being positively present, what was?

After that first night, I decided to pay attention, to see if I could learn anything from this situation. Obviously, I couldn't get the app back in its original state, but that didn't mean I couldn't learn from the experience. So here's what I took away from this experience: 

 

TRYING TO CONTROL EVERYTHING IS POINTLESS. 

As someone who is decidedly "Type A," control is something I love to pretend I possess. All of the organization, backing-up, and planning in the world can't prevent life from happening, though. Situations like this one — however silly it might seem — are great reminders for those who enjoy control. They show us that, no matter what we do, things are sometimes going to fall apart or go wrong. That's part of life and the quicker you learn to take it in stride, the quicker you'll be able to bounce back. Over the years, I've gotten better at letting go of control, but it's always good for me to be reminded that there are a lot of things in life that I can't have authority over. 

STAYING POSITIVE MAKES IT MUCH BETTER. 
 
When things are going wrong — particularly when they have a big impact on your day-to-day life — it can be tricky to stay positive, but if there's one thing that this experience has taught me, it's that positivity does make things better. Staying optimistic obviously didn't fix the situation (I still had to deal with the app-less days and the reinstallation craziness), but by staying positive and knowing that, no matter how the situation ended up, I'd be able to make do, made it a lot easier to cope with. This particular situation also reminded me how far I've come in terms of trying to be more positive and present. Positivity takes practice, but it works.
 

RELYING ON ONE THING IS DANGEROUS.
 
Though I can't deny that I love Procreate (and nothing reminds you of how much you love something like losing it!), another lesson learned from this experience was that relying only on one program is dangerous. If something were to happen to Procreate, or I wasn't able to use it for whatever reason, I'd be really upset. Losing Procreate for a few days was a good reminder not to put all of my eggs in one basket. Sure, it's fine to have a favorite thing / person / etc., but it's dangerous to rely only on one thing. Diversity — in apps and in life — is important. Don't wait till you've lost your one thing to realize that. Losing Procreate for a few days prompted me to explore other drawing apps. None of them can replace my beloved Procreate, but now I've at least dabbled a bit in other options. 
 
 
FEELING HOW YOU FEEL IS OKAY. 
 
This was a very unexpected (but important!) lesson: I realized that it's okay to feel how you feel, even if seems a little ridiculous. When this first happened, my first reaction was to be upset and my second was to say to myself, Don't be ridiculous. It's just an app. You don't have any right to be upset about something so trivial when there are so many important things going on in the world! While those are rational thoughts, comparison isn't very helpful, especially because emotions aren't a finite resource. I can be upset about losing an app and recognize the millions of ways I'm fortunate and feel empathetic for those who are suffering from real problems. Just because a problem is trivial doesn't mean you're not allowed to feel something. 
 
 
HAVING A FRESH START CAN BE PRODUCTIVE. 
 
One of the best things I discovered over the past week is that, even if you don't necessarily like it, a fresh start can be a good thing sometimes. For weeks I'd be wanting to better organize my files. I'd thought about getting rid of some old brushes I never use. I'd worried if maybe I wasn't backing up my work frequently enough. Well, when the app crashed, I was given a chance to revisit my organization and back-up and got to start fresh with my brushes and color palettes. I even think the new brush I'm using is better than my old favorite! Yes, there are a ton of little annoyances, but there've been some really productive aspects of this fresh start, which is a great reminder that you never know what good things a bad situation can bring! 
 
 
 
As silly as it might sound, the loss (and reinstallation) of Procreate was a bit of a shake-up in my world. But, as frustrating as it was, it was ultimately a positive thing, especially because I learned a lot about the app (and myself!). If you're in the midst of starting over in any aspect of your life, try to focus on these lessons and it'll be much easier to cope with the changes (chosen or unexpected!). Even frustrating times can bring about some wisdom! 
 
If you do any digital drawing, I highly recommend checking out the Procreate app. I've been using it for years and this is the first time I've ever had any trouble with it (and the Procreate team did everything possible to help me sort it out). Other than this one fluke breakdown, it's an AMAZING program for digital art (on iPad or iPhone). If you already use it, check out my Procreate brushes here
 

Announcing... Positively Present on Patreon!


Patreon Screen


For years, I've been working solo on Positively Present, and I absolutely love what I do, but I've been looking for ways to expand on my work and on the Positively Present community. Like many who create primarily online, I've struggled a lot with friction between wanting to create and share and not feeling as if my work is valued (and, in some cases, stolen, even by large companies). 

The world of online creating is still a bit like the wild west. We're all trying to learn the rules, to figure out how we can consume and share and create in thoughtful, productive, and rewarding ways. A lot of online creators choose to run advertisements or work with brands. I've done these (and may continue to do so), but, at times, it feels disingenuous. Even if I love a brand or product, it's turning me into a salesperson when I'm a creator. I want to make things you like and I want to be able to afford to do it, and I don't want to have to sell you random stuff you don't need (even if it's my own stuff!) in order to do so. 

I'm not the only creator who feels this way. Luckily, someone came up with the awesome idea for Patreon.

 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

Patreon is a membership platform that allows patrons (people like you) support creators (people like me) while getting access to exclusive benefits. What I love about it is that it's a direct relationship between the creator and the patron. It's a way to show creators that you value their work and to support those who spend their lives trying to make the world a better place online. 

Creators set up a series of tiers and the more a patron contributes each month, the more rewards s/he receives. You can see the various tiers (starting at just $1/month!) on the right hand side of this page. Basically, it's like this: you pay a set amount each month and you get access to cool things you wouldn't otherwise see. 

  Patreon


WHO IS PATREON FOR? 

Every creator's Patreon platform is unique, but, for Positively Present, Patreon is for... 

  • People who love Positively Present and want to support my work
  • People who want to support writing and art in general 
  • People who don't want ads or sponsorships interfering with content
  • People who want behind-the-scenes looks at what I'm working on
  • People who want access to exclusive digital content
  • People who want to contribute ideas and inspiration for Positively Present
  • People who want to download Positively Present artwork
  • People who long to learn more about creativity and digital art
  • People who get something valuable out of daily (free!) posts

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE? 

If you've never heard of Patreon before, you might be like, Wait. What is this? I still don't get it. Don't worry! You can learn more about it by checking out the Patreon page or my FAQ post. And, of course, you can reach out to me via email if there's anything you want to know more about! 

 Patreon

 

I've been hard at work setting this up, but it's still a work-in-progress, so stay tuned for updates (and even more rewards for each tier!) coming soon. I know the idea of directly supporting a creator might sound odd at first, because it's still relatively new, but the digital landscape is changing and more and more of what we use and consume is going to be online. If you are regularly consuming something you enjoy — whether it be a piece of digital art or a piece of delicious cake — you should want to compensate the person who created it. Yes, it feels like you get content for free, but nothing is really free. There's a give-and-take for everything. If you're consuming something that someone else worked hard on without ever giving something back, that leads to an imbalance that puts a lot of pressure on the creator.

The creator either has sell you a product (which can be great, but isn't ideal in a world where we all have so much stuff or where people have come to love the digital work and don't necessarily want things), sell an ad for another product (leading to the same problem of more consumption and/or the often icky feeling that comes with selling things randomly -- take note of all of the creators pushing Audible or Skillshare...), or sell a service (which isn't always doable or reasonable to expect of someone who already has a job creating content on a daily basis).

The more creators have to balance advertising, sponsorships, brand deals, etc., the less time they have creating content that you really love and find valuable. When you join a creator's Patreon, you'll have access to extra cool rewards and a community of people who love the same stuff you do. Plus, you become a real-life patron of the arts, which, let's be honest, just sounds fun and fancy! 

I've been so excited working on this for the past few weeks and I'm so excited that it's now going live! If you have any questions / comments / etc., let me know in the comments below or via email! 

 


The Great 8 Benefits of Creativity

Creativity-Positively-Present

Prints available in the shop! 

 

I'm in the midst of working on a new book on creativity, and as I've been writing and researching, I've come across so many important benefits that can be achieved when engaging in creative experiences. The list is super long (I'll be exploring them in more detail in the book!), but I thought I'd take a break from my research and write about some of them here. 

When the average person thinks of "creativity," they typically think about one of two things: (1) a professional creative who works in a creative field (or is a well-known artist), or (2) a somewhat frivolous activity that can be done during downtime (see: the boom of the adult coloring book market). But creativity shouldn't be reserved for professional creatives or for people who seemingly have lots of extra time on their hands. Creativity is for everyone. And, more importantly, it's essential

The more creativity we cultivate, the more we all benefit, both personally and as a society. The benefits of creativity can be life changing (they have been for me!), and, unless you identify as a creative person or work in a creative field, it can be challenging to recognize (and make an effort to reap!) the rewards. In future posts, maybe I'll get more into the details of how to be creative, but first I thought I'd dive into why you'll want to incorporate more creativity into your life. 

(Note: I'll primarily be referring to creativity in terms of creating art, because that's something I do personally, but keep in mind that creativity can play a role in almost any aspect of life: cooking, raising children, developing relationships, work, day-to-day routines, etc. so even if you don't enjoy making art, you can still benefit from creativity!) 


CrayonCHILDLIKE FREEDOM

As adults, we don't often get to experience the best bits of childhood: wonder, playfulness, freedom to be silly. Depending on your career, you might be limited in what you get to do on a daily basis. Creativity provides an opportunity to have complete freedom to do whatever you want. When it comes to creating, particularly creating art, there are no rules. Or, if there are, you can break them at any time. The freeing feeling that comes from creating something out of nothing is one of the greatest joys of creativity. 

 

Paint SetSELF-EXPRESSION

Closely tied with the notion of freedom is one of creativity's second great benefits: self-expression. There are many ways we can express ourselves (what we wear being on of the most obvious ones), but creativity provides a great outlet for exploring the self and taking what you find an putting it into a tangible format. Creativity connects you with yourself, and, as I've talked about many times, the more you know yourself, the better equipped you are to take on life's challenges. 


Paint TubeSTRESS RELIEF

There's a reason the adult coloring craze came to be. Creativity reliefs stress! When you get into a creative project, you get into what's known as the "flow" (that feeling when you're so absorbed in what you're doing that you forget what time it is, forget all of the things you've been worrying about, and are fully engaged in the moment). I personally find it hard to get into the flow state doing anything other than creating, and I know I'm not alone in this. Making something makes you present. And, when you're fully in the moment, you're unable to stress about the past or the future. 

 

InkINCREASED CONFIDENCE

This benefit can take some time to develop, but the more you practice making, the better you'll get at it. You make think to yourself "But I can't draw!" or "I'm not creative," but, believe me, if you keep doing it, you'll improve. And all you have to do is keep at it. You don't need special classes or tools (though, admittedly, those can help). You just need to keep trying, exploring, and doing. The more you do, the better you get, and the greater your creative confidence becomes. The confidence you experience in on aspect of life spills over to others as well, increasing your overall sense of ability. 

 


CupFUN-FILLED EXPERIMENTATION

Just as creativity leads us to cultivate that childlike sense of wonder, it, too, gives us permission to experiment in new and exciting ways. When you're doing something creative (and not for work!), you can do whatever you want. You can try new and weird mediums. You can explore a different style or layout. You can do anything you can think of, which is pretty amazing! There aren't many aspects of life in which you can experiment like crazy, but creativity is one of them. In a world where answers to most questions are just a click away, the opportunity to experiment and not know what will happen is fun

 

PaperPERSONAL GROWTH

When engaging in something creative, you're growing. Whether you realize it or not, that's just part of the deal. The more you create, the more you learn about yourself, and the more you learn, the more you grow. You'll find yourself pushing yourself out of comfort zones you didn't realize you had. You'll find yourself able to create things you never knew the world needed. If you pay attention, you'll start to see your patterns and preferences, both of which teach you a lot about who you are — and who you want to be. 

 

ErasureSAFE MISTAKES

In addition to the fun-filled benefit of experimentation, creativity is also a wonderfully safe haven for mistake-making. When you're creative, you're able to try new techniques, tools, and formats with minimal repercussions. Making mistakes sounds like it wouldn't be a benefit, but being able to make mistakes in a creative format is actually a great life lesson. As you're creating, you're going to make mistakes (and also wonderful things) and doing so teaches you that life is a balance of making things happen and letting them happen. 

 
GlueNEW IDEAS

And last, but certainly not least, creativity is vital for coming up with new ideas. Consider all of the technology and art and books we have in today's world. None of those would have come to be without the creativity that drove their creators to think in new ways. The more you create, the more ideas you'll have. And they won't just be about the work you're creating. Creativity leads to new art-focused ideas, sure, but it also leads to new ways of seeing the world and experiencing life, which will inspire new ideas in all areas of your life! 

 

Creativity has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but I know that's not the case for everyone. With this post (and the new book I'm working on!), I hope that those who don't feel creative will consider incorporating more creative activities into their lives. These are just a few of the many benefits creativity has to offer, and you don't realize how much it can transform your life if you don't give it a try. If possible, do something creative this week (even if it's a little doodle!) and see how it feels to take something that existed only in your mind and put it on to paper!