“The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” – Lao Tzu

We haven’t even reached the halfway mark of 2016 and already, it has left a gaping hole in the middle of the music world’s heart. While a majority of us may have never had the chance to meet our greatest idols and influences, their death has this seismic ripple effect that can feel deeper than one would expect.  The whole world goes through it with you. It feels as though we’ve lost a piece of ourselves, a time of our lives, even a friend.  Music is extremely personal and emotional, so it is no wonder the loss felt echoes beyond blood or close relationships.

We recently hosted our first creative retreat in the quaint and beautiful town of Carmel by the Sea, California. The weekend was absolutely incredible and filled with life-changing moments, authentic conversation and delicious food and wine. A picturesque stone house nestled in the cliffs overlooking the ocean was where twelve vulnerable yet fearless ladies called home for four rejuvenating days.

It’s safe to say that the weekend will not soon be forgotten.

While we wish it were otherwise, most of us don’t have the luxury of pursuing our creative passions as a full-time job. Whether we love painting or pouring candles, writing or dancing, event planning or photography, the truth is that we don’t often make a living from those passions. Instead, we find pockets of time to shadow those desires on the weekends, the evenings, and often, when we could be sleeping. We read articles and books about our hobbies, and spend our money on the passion we love so dearly. But we aren’t waking up every morning to head to a studio or the craft room or the keyboard. Instead, we get up and work at jobs that don’t set our hearts aflame.

There were a lot of years where I bemoaned my lack of time to pursue my passion. I’m a writer at heart, a woman who comes alive with the tap of keys on the keyboard, a woman who could spend hours each day whittling down a paragraph until it sings with the vibrancy of power and precision. But for most of my adult life, I’ve been a writer in the margins, pulling out my laptop in the evenings or on the weekends, taking twenty minutes over lunch or an hour after work to finish an article or pen a chapter.

We’re all artists in our own way. Sometimes, we just need some help getting in the zone, especially living amidst so much distraction, noise, and technology. We’ve recently discovered Sonia Mandeville, of So Sonia on YouTube, and are smitten. She’s not your average vlogger. She’s a 17-year-old creative filmmaker, writer, and visual artist from Jakarta, Indonesia who travels the world to gain inspiration for her art.

In fact, this is what Rainn Wilson, beloved actor and founder of SoulPancake, had to say about her when we asked …

There’s a jar sitting on my desk with dull pencils and writing pens branching different directions like flower stems. I grab one when I want to write, sometimes in the early morning before a long day in the office or late at night when everyone is sleeping. This simple glass holds my growing boldness, proclaiming, “I am a writer.” For many this statement is arrogant because if anyone claims to be an artist in any way, they must hold court in concert halls across the globe, have their work housed in world-famous museums, or make the New York Times bestseller list.

I don’t retract or make apologies though— I am a writer— because of that, I am also an artist. Perhaps you are, too. If you want to declare yourself as one but feel uncertain, then here are three reasons why you should (even if you’ve never sold a painting).

Like many of you, I have an Amazon Prime account. My heart seems to skip a beat when my doorbell rings, dropping off another brown box. I find satisfaction in my constant consumerism and perhaps you do, too, but I also experience frustration. As my condo and especially my closet get more cluttered, the more frustrated and anxious I become. I’ve discovered the satisfaction I get from buying shiny, new things is fleeting and oftentimes, disappointing.

So, this year, my new motto is consume less and create more. I’ve set a stricter budget, am writing a book, taking a painting class and yes, even bought a grown-up coloring book.

As someone who grew up in Minnesota and now lives in southern California, I’ve experienced winter in all of its forms — from harsh blizzards to mild rains to full-on heat waves. Yet, there are some aspects of this season that remain consistent no matter what part of the nation we reside in. Whether we live on snow-capped mountains or along sandy beaches, we all experience shorter evenings, lower average temperatures, and a subtle sense of pause around us.

Animals rest in hibernation, nature’s colors fade, and we, too, are invited to take on a slower, more peaceful pace. There is no better time for quiet reflection, for hopeful dreaming, and for all the best comforts of home. Whether we prefer to remain indoors and keep cozy or get outside and explore, there are countless opportunities to savor this season.

For a few ideas on how to get started, below is our winter bucket list. See how many you can check off!

Autumn brings a focus that breathes new life into even the most simple of tasks. As we put away our summer clothes and reach for layers and scarves, we may also prepare for the beginning of the school year, a new job, or a renewed creative vision.

It’s in these moments that we begin to push past fear and embrace the work and creativity our day may bring.

It can be frightening to express ourselves, particularly when we attempt to generate income in the process. In step with the fresh feelings of autumn, maybe refreshing our minds with beautiful words will inspire a clear focus as we go into fall.

It might seem like a trap, thinking that happiness can be found only if picturesque ideals on a board come true. Reality can sometimes disappoint, so it’s possible that those ideas may never come to fruition.

Disappointment is scary, isn’t it? It settles in like a cat, heavy on your chest, and suddenly you forget what it feels like to hope and to dream because you’re just trying to breathe through unmet expectations.

It’s this fear of disappointment that had me rolling my eyes when others would decide to make vision boards. Unlike them, I was afraid of casting vision for my future because I was afraid that the things I longed for might never happen.

Personalizing your workspace is crucial when it comes to maximizing productivity and creativity. One simple Pinterest search brings up a plethora of ideas and inspiration for designing your own space. And while it may at first seem trite, having the freedom to create your own office environment can make your work time much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Whether you are designing an at-home workspace or looking to put some personal touches on your office cubicle, here are a few tips for building your own unique work haven.

The alarm goes off from my bedside table and I blindly slap at it with my eyes still closed. My husband sleeps peacefully, blissfully. I pry my eyes open but snuggle deeper under the warm covers. I don’t see how it’s possible to get myself up and out the door to exercise before work – not when it’s so cold outside and this bed is so warm and soft. Nope. I just don’t feel like it. But tomorrow! Tomorrow I will leap gracefully out of bed, lace my running shoes up and be out the door with a flourish.

And here is where we find the problem. It’s something we all struggle to find and hold onto. It’s something that is often elusive and tricky to come by. This problem? Motivation. Do we really need it?