12 [Creative] Days of Christmas – Challenge!

Christmas is right around the corner now with just two weeks to go, and I’m looking forward to having some vacation time and a chance to see some family members I don’t get to spend enough time with. And as  you may know from my recent posts, I’m continuing to work on keeping my heart and mind in a good place about the season: not too much hype, not too many unrealistic expectations. It can be difficult!

I recently opened up to a few people about how decorating for Christmas suddenly felt lonely this year. For some reason, decorating as a single person never really bothered me the way it did this time around. The experience reminded me of an article I read around this time last year . . .  so I thought I’d share that here now in case I’m not the only one who’s having some difficult moments:

If This Holiday is Hard, You’re Not Alone

Sidenote: I don’t 100% know if I agree with every single thing in this article, but I’m not trying to dissect it — If you’d like to, please feel free. I was just generally encouraged by the reminder that Jesus knows and can relate to difficult experiences.

And Now For Some Fun . . .

I’m throwing down a challenge! Write or draw something every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

If you’d like, print out this grid and play along. My grid starts on the 14th and goes through Christmas day, but you can shift and do whatever days work best for you. Post your progress on social media with the hashtag #12creativedays . . . I’ll be doing the same.

If you have any problems with the file below, you can also try downloading it as a PDF from this Google Drive link.

Do you have kids or friends who like to get creative? Get them to do this with you!

If you miss a day, don’t stress — you have enough to worry about. Just skip it or make it up and move on! ChristmasChallenge.jpg

I’m looking forward to seeing if any of you will participate in this challenge. Either way, I think you’re amazing & I’ll be back with more next week.

❤ Nicole

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.

10(ish) Creative Questions to Ask Yourself This Holiday Season:

This past weekend, I visited my Parents for a few days. I had a lovely Thanksgiving Day “feast” with extended family and spent some time catching up, relaxing, and . . . yes, a bit of shopping. I also found myself doing some thinking about the holiday season in general and what I’d like the next month of my life to look like.

Here, I have to admit my temptation to get sucked into every single possible event, decoration, craft, movie, recipe, sale, and display the Christmas season can offer – more and more. Glitter on EVERYTHING!


I’m not saying there’s anything specifically wrong with a whole lot of Christmas merriment, but I do know that my heart is craving something different this year, and I’m having to really wrestle to listen to that craving and make different choices.

I think it’s a real exercise in creativity to ask myself how I can slide past some of the things that tend to lure my attention, finances, or spirit and tap into an experience of the holidays that’s more grounded in a few key personal values. I’m asking myself some specific questions, so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’d like to ask them too.

Note: I celebrate Christmas, but I think most of these could apply to other holiday traditions.

10(ish) Creative Questions to Ask Yourself This Holiday Season:

  • Am I doing something because I feel it will bring happiness, or just because “It’s what we do”? Will I have regrets (or hurt anyone) if I let certain things go?
  • Am I purchasing something because I think it’s worth it and useful to me or a loved one, or just because “It’s on sale” or “It’s shiny”?
  • Am I eating something because it will nurture my body or is a special/occasional treat, or am I grazing mindlessly on the seemingly endless array of cookies, cakes, and candies, pushing down stress and storing up discouragement?
  • Am I filling my time up with things that just entertain me, or am I making time to build memories and feed relationships for the future?
  • Am I giving gifts out of a truly generous spirit, or are my attitudes in any way reflecting pride or selfishness?
  • What do I really feel when I’m in a crowded, loud retail environment at the holidays? Is it excitement, fun, festivity and glee . . . or over-stimulation, frustration, disconnection or despair? Will I take the time to actually self-check?
  • When I reflect on this season come January, what will I be most glad to remember about it? What would I most wish I had done differently?
  • What can I do (that I may never have done before) that would change my holiday experience for the better?
  • Is there anything my heart is nudging me to do or try this season that I find myself afraid to embrace? If so, why? Will I push past the fear and demonstrate my courage?
  • Do I actually believe that God came to earth in the form of a human baby named Jesus? If I do, how should it shape my choices or my joy this month?

If you ask yourself any of these questions and find that the answers improve your holiday experience in any way, I’d love to hear about it . . . would you post a comment & let me know?

I’d like to leave you with a short video I watched this week that shows some young men being “selfish” in a fun, creative way:

Wishing you a lovely holiday season that really feels like the most wonderful time of the year.
❤ Nicole

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.

Creating Silence


A few of you may have noticed that I didn’t write a blog post last week. To be honest, I was dealing with a mix of not feeling well and a good bit of anxiety about recent events, so I decided that silence and self-care were more important than sticking to my blog posting schedule. 

The photo above shows some flowers I purchased mid-week. I took this picture of them in front of a framed print I love that shows a girl who’s gazing at the night sky. (Sidenote: Do you ever buy yourself flowers? Do you think it’s frivolous? Sometimes, when my mind is most preoccupied, their intricate beauty helps to unravel me and reminds me that they were created by a Divine Genius who’s bigger than my worries.)

On Wednesday, I went for a long walk in my neighborhood. It had rained, so it was grey and there were damp, colorful leaves dotting the sidewalks and piled in heaps along the curbs. The scent of after-rain autumn and the coolness of the air were soul-charging.

In the hour I was out, I saw only a handful of other humans and, for the most part, heard nothing but the sound of my own breath, my own moving feet.

During my walk, I thought about the recent election and the turmoil that followed. I thought about friends and family, some of whom are celebrating and some of whom are grieving (both about the election and about other things). I thought about work responsibilities, some of which I’m conquering and some of which feel messy. And for part of the walk, I thought about basically nothing, just looked at houses and cars and trees and felt thankful for the chance to just be . . . thankful for my safe, quiet neighborhood . . . thankful for legs that will move me.

I realized the quiet thinking time was a luxury. Sometimes it’s difficult to find silence, and sometimes it feels impossible to make time (or choose to take time) to disconnect and receive, but it’s so important. I think it’s crucial to allow our brains time to filter and file. I think silence is often the bearer of inspiration and clarity about things that would be elusive if we bury them with chatter. I think God speaks most often in a still, small voice.

In a recent blog post, I shared a study about principles of creativity, and I can’t help but think about how many of those aspects of creativity (such as, thinking and evaluation) would be impossible if we refused to sometimes make room for silence, how little we can get done if we never really listen [Related: Become a More Creative Listener in 30 Minutes or Less].

I know some people may feel they have too much silence in their lives already. If that’s you, this note isn’t for you. If you’re like me and find silence a little elusive but realize it could be an important boost to your creativity and well-being, keep trying.

A Few Final Thoughts About Creating Silence:

  • Make time for it. Find pockets in your busy day to take silence breaks. Schedule it if you have to.
  • Make space for it. Set aside a quiet room, closet, walking spot, or if you have to, get equipment like earplugs.
  • Make it a priority. Balance with your other responsibilities, but when you’re making a choice between silence and unproductive clatter, exercise the discipline to choose silence.
  • Enjoy it. If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why and be brave enough to sit with it for a while.

Wishing you some [inspiring] silence this week,
❤ Nicole

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.