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.

Doused in Ice & Creativity . . .

Sometimes the timing of things makes me think I should pause and take a closer look. Over the weekend, a friend and I went to visit another friend’s Dad who has ALS. On the way home from this visit, I was listening to NPR & heard an interview with Nancy Frates on the TED Radio Hour. The show featured clips of Nancy’s TED talk about why her family started (and how much they invested themselves into) the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Hint: Her son, Pete, has ALS.

I remember being amazed in the Summer of 2014 by how quickly the Ice Bucket Challenge took off and grew. Hearing Nancy’s story and reading more of the history of the challenge on the ALS Association website, I’m impressed by how much quick thinking and creativity was invested in fueling the movement while it was in its prime and how much dedication and effort continues to go into supporting research and the search for treatments and a cure. I also know how much creative experimentation, love, and sheer hard work go into caring for an individual with ALS. 

Certainly the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had its share of detractors, people who critiqued it for a variety of reasons. Some labeled it ‘slactivisim’ (a too-easy brand of activism fueled by emotion). Others questioned its impact. The ALS Association has posted a helpful info graphic that shows some of the results that have come from both the funds raised and the increased awareness that was generated by the movement (this is just a clip – click to see the full graphic):


I wanted to draw attention to this topic in today’s blog post, not because I feel qualified to make any sweeping general judgments about the Ice Bucket Challenge itself but because I think it’s a story that demonstrates creativity in a unique way (my blog is all about creativity in various forms) and because I think it’s worth thinking about what factors come into play to make things like this spark to life.

What does it say about us as humans that we continue to try to raise awareness of and support for causes that are important to us . . . or that sometimes we don’t continue trying?  I ask the last part of that question with zero judgment. I know that sometimes life doesn’t allow us to try, sometimes we’re fatigued or overwhelmed, and I know we can’t all always be trying about everything, but I feel grateful that we live in a world where there’s such a thing as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (and the American Cancer Society . . . and World Vision . . . and adoptive parents . . . and people who volunteer at local food banks . . . and without getting too cheesy, people who are simply as kind as they can be and as willing as they can be to admit it when they don’t feel like being kind and need a bit of grace) . . . It inspires me.

If you read this & think it might be of interest to anyone you know, would you pass it along? I’d also love to hear any of your thoughts about it if you’d leave a comment for me below.

Wishing you a week that’s full of kindness and grace,

❤ Nicole

P.S. This isn’t a pressure thing, but if you donated to ALS during the Ice Bucket Challenge but haven’t thought of it since then, or if you have never given to this cause, and have any interest in giving, please click here.

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 every Monday & then sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.

Design Principles in Everyday Life #3 – Movement

A special thank you to the subscribers who realized this post didn’t go up on Monday (my regular posting day) and inquired to make sure I was OK — So sweet of you!

I’ve recently been sharing with you about a class called Intro to Design that I took as a freshman art student. In the class we learned 3 basic design principles: Dominance, Balance & Movement, and I’ve been sharing some thoughts about how I see those principles at play in the arts AND in everyday life.

Part 1 discussed the principle of Dominance, and Part 2 was about Balance.

For today, I want to focus on MOVEMENT. 

In art & design, MOVEMENT is the principle that refers to the way objects seem to move or cause your eye to move as you view an image (think of a painting of water rushing around a boat on a stormy ocean). Similar ideas apply in other artistic forms. Think of how you might feel when a song makes you want to move or sway or of the literal movement you see when dancers perform. Skill and knowledge allow artists to use specific tools to create a sense of motion in their work.

In our everyday lives, MOVEMENT can literally refer to physical motion, which is necessary in order to accomplish responsibilities and to keep our bodies working. Movement can also be figurative, as in our desire for a sense of growth, personal expansion, or progress over time. There are times when movement can be easy to make happen and other times when it feels like we have to throw all our effort and weight against something to get even the slightest budge . . . or still get no movement at all.

Here’s a simple example of movement in art:

The well-known painting “Starry Night” (by Vincent Van Gogh) applies a variety of basic techniques to create a sense of motion: swirling lines, diagonals, and a variety of long and short lines follow the flow of motion. Contrasts between dark and light cause your eye to bounce back and forth, up and down, taking in the energy of the scene.

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 10.43.17 PM.png

Here’s a handful of simple, everyday-life examples related to motion:

  • If I work or study at a desk most of the day, sometimes the urge to move will compel me to stand, stretch, or take a walk. I’ll probably need to intentionally add movement to my life, either through time in nature or a structured exercise routine.
  • If I’m in an active career or maybe a parent with young children, my life may sometimes feel non-stop, and I’ll need to learn how to direct my energy of movement for the greatest efficiency (and to allow myself rest when appropriate).
  • If I suffer with a physical illness or disease that limits my ability to move, I may experience the frustration that comes with those limitations and may see negative overall health impacts from the more sedentary situation. Sometimes doctors, medical staff, friends, or family can assist with helping me to get healthy motion into my days.
  • If I’m faced with a personal obstacle, such as a friend or loved one standing in the way of something that I want or need, I may try to exert pressure on that person to make the necessary movement happen, but it’s important that I not attempt to manipulate or deceive this person to get my way–I may need to look for an alternative route or see this as a time to be still and wait.
  • If I’ve been working at the same job for years with no change in responsibilities or opportunity for advancement, I may become restless and desire a change or promotion. Making a move to channel this desire into positive action or probing questions can help me to either find contentment where I am or to take whatever steps may be needed to make a change.

What’s Your Story?

In your creative life and work, how do you use the principle of movement? Do you consider this when you’re painting, illustrating, or in any other creative outlet? If you’d like to learn more about the principle of Movement and ways to apply it artistically, a simple Google search yields dozens of results explaining more.

In your daily life, do you feel a positive sense of motion? Do you have a good amount of physical movement? Too much or too little? Do you feel like something is standing in the way of the progress you’d like to make? Are there wiser habits you can build so you’ll get the movement you need to remain healthy (mentally, physically, spiritually, and otherwise)? If you struggle with getting enough movement in any area of your life, are you willing to admit this to yourself and seek a better path?

I’d love to hear any thoughts about this that you might be willing to share. If you read this & think it might be of value to anyone you know, would you pass it along?

I’m wishing you health, joy, and the ability to keep on moving.

❤ Nicole

Hey there! 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 every Monday & then sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.