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

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I loved reading this story about Mardochee Dade (link opens in a new window), a local high school student who has demonstrated his amazing talent at cello playing, as well as his commitment to pursuing his dreams in a way that’s consistent with his character. Despite opportunities to study at elite private high schools, Mardochee chose to stay at Allen High School:

“A lot of people have a bad perception of Allen and they take their kids away because of it,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave . . . I wanted to help put Allen back on the map. I wanted to leave a legacy.”


I admire the courage it takes for a young man like this to think about how his choice would impact the future.

Sometimes I wonder what my choices will leave behind . . .

As an Artist, will I leave behind any body of meaningful work?
As a Manager, how will my life and choices affect the people I supervise?
What about my impact as a Daughter, Sister, Aunt, or Friend?
How would people describe my attitude? My habits? My faith?

I don’t want to try to convince people to respect me through smoke-and-mirrors-fluffery or to spend a lot of time in indulgent self-analysis . . .

But I do care a whole lot whether I’m actually living life with the sense of emotional and spiritual solidity that come from being willing to make the sometimes-difficult choice to live according to my values. I admit that for various reasons including confusion, insecurity, defiance, or just plain laziness, I sometimes take the easy road. Do you?


This week, I had the opportunity to listen to the following Interview with Dennis Mannion, CEO of the Detroit Pistons, and I really appreciated his thoughts on success, performance, and faith.

When asked for his one top piece of wisdom for people who are passionate about optimizing their lives, Dennis said he thinks it’s critical for people to aspire to LEAP, i.e. to live with these characteristics:

Peace or Playfulness

Lately, I’ve been trying to LEAP in some new ways, both in implementing my new morning routine and in practicing new personal affirmations. It’s difficult!

Would you share your thoughts on the story about Mardochee Dade or ideas about how you LEAP? I’d love to know what you think.


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P.S. An “oldie” just for fun . . .