Category Archives: Thoughts

Weekly Themes

I’m having a bit of fun as I experiment with using themes for my week. My thought is to organize my yoga classes, my personal creative practice and my daily living around a main idea. It has been an interesting experiment so far. July 10th our theme was Curiosity. What do you want to know or understand? Ask questions, compare and contrast issues, see the world from another’s point of view. Be an observer.

July 17th we practiced calling in Joy. This one was a little trickier. One evening, I was told the yoga class I taught was “hard.” I suggested the joy may come from it being “over” for the night. We had a good laugh. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. It is a matter of perspective. At times, my joy is derived from the nonsense of whatever I’m doing being over. Other times, it comes from the activity itself. A breath, an exquisitely drawn line, the color pink, whispers, a fabulous sunset, managing a stressful situation or person, all bring me joy.

This week we are working on Grace. Can you allow a bit of grace to flow to those who irritate you? How about those that light you up? Can you send a thought of grace to yourself? How well do you accept where you are today? Your best today may be different from your best yesterday or different from someone else’s best. Is that a problem? Can you find the grace?

Next week I’ll be playing with Freedom. Seems like some interesting feelings could come up. Until we meet again.

Go Creatively Onward,
Julie

New Look!

Rolling out new images. As I gain a clearer understanding of what I want to do with my
enterprising life, the design changes. You will notice an updated header for this site. I’m still
incorporating “Creatively Onward,” but it feels that this is more of a tag line and underlying
sentiment for how I roll than for what I am. I have always been about forward movement, color, using the senses, radical amazement, energy and connection. I am Julie Baker, graphic designer, catalyst for yoga and creativity, mother, wife, woman, sister, daughter, teacher, student and so much more. I am grateful everyday for all with whom I share this journey.
Join me as I move “Creatively Onward.”

Light & Love,

Julie

Whew! It’s good to be back.

From an elevation of 596 ft. to 10 ft., 2980 miles from the PacNW to southern Georgia, I am learning about my new home state. It has always been a belief of mine that I could “have it all” as the saying goes. However, I have learned that it doesn’t necessarily mean having it all at once. For me, I’m good with my top 3 (family, career & spirit) shifting order as the need arises. I account for each in their own way but one usually wins out for a stretch. This past summer and early fall, it was family. My design / teaching / art making business took a back seat as we made a move across the country.

It’s all good now. Team Baker has settled into school, sports, jobs, life. Once that happened I began to nourish my depleted spirit. I treated myself to a couple of art related eCourses; played with new markers and water soluble pastels; walked; practiced yoga; met my neighbors and allowed myself to process this massive change. Going from Kansas to Seattle to Georgia within 4 years is a lot. As I continue to process my new situation, I am listening and following my intuition; taking time to breathe; and reconnecting to me.

2017 image

As 2016, comes to a close, I am reminded of all for which I am grateful. Even the stressful times have lessons to be learned. I’m doing my best to forgive myself for what I feel I did not do well this past year (I am a recovering perfectionist so this is really hard). My successes are celebrated. I am looking ahead and planning for 2017. I’m excited for what the new year will bring. What is front and center in my mind’s eye is the eCourse that I have been talking about for a couple of years now. It feels like the timing is right. The information is flowing through me. I have been writing and am getting ready to shoot my videos and record the audio. Stay tuned to learn how you can take part. Until next time.

Light, love & blessings!

Julie

The Labor of Art Making.

birthing artOnce upon a time, I taught prenatal yoga classes. At some point during our journey together one of my students would ask about contractions during labor. I would explain that in my experience, it felt like a blood pressure cuff was being tightened around my belly from the inside out and every instinct was telling me to curl up and hold my breath. What I learned is the trick to coping is to do the opposite. Take a deep breath, think about opening, think about being one step closer to meeting my little creation and let go of the fear and discomfort.

This applies to the creative process too. Staring at a blank canvas or white paper can cause my throat to close; my shoulders to lift and round forward; my palms to sweat. Sometimes my chest feels tight.

Knowing that I want to create something but not sure what I want to make or knowing what I want to make but being afraid I can’t do it is paralyzing. Ugh! It’s just like labor. Then I remember what I need to do. I focus on my breathing and give in to the process. I’ve learned that I have to start somewhere. The more I resist and tighten the worse it is. So I breathe, I put some type of mark on my page, then another and another until whatever I am birthing that day presents itself.

It is messy? Sometimes. It is scary? Sometimes. Is the result worth it? Usually. I either make something I truly think is fantastic or I learn things that will help me do “better” next time. I wouldn’t have it another way.

How do you get through the fear stage? I’d enjoy hearing.

Restore

Several years ago, I engaged in a decadent 5 day yoga teacher training. Thanks to Renee DeTar, a small studio owner in Wichita, Kansas and Judith Hanson Lasater’s Relax and Renew training. Five days of blankets, bolsters, blocks and eye pillows to support my body in luxurious yoga poses. Five days of focusing on my breathing. Five days of friends and five days of being, Julie. It was refreshing. At that time, I had a 21-month-old and a 3-month-old. I was bone tired and attempting to carve out an identity for myself. I loved being a mother but I missed being “me.”

Flash forward, today I have a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old. As each child becomes more of who they are meant to be, so do I. It is a process, a pact we made long ago. Someday they will be prepared to separate and move fully into their own lives. For this reason, I take the time to nurture myself along the way. I paint, sing, dance, write, think, move, laugh or just breathe. You see, in that teacher training long ago, something stuck. Judith offered a way of practicing restorative yoga that worked for me, a busy mom. It goes like this. Daily, practice one restorative pose for 20 minutes. Weekly, practice a short series of restorative poses for 60 minutes. Yearly, practice 60 minutes of restorative poses each day for 7 days. Judith shared that the week between Christmas and New Year’s was a wonderful time for 7 days of restorative yoga. Genius!

Now I will share with you that I do not always stick to this schedule but I do my best. I’ve applied this concept to other practices too. For instance, I am nurturing the habit of 20 minutes of creative time daily. Once a week, I go for a painting class. I have not had a full week of creating for 60 minutes daily but I will eventually (a week long retreat, is on my list). If I make it 3 to 4 days, it’s a success. Start small. Set up for success. Cheer when it works out. Reboot when it crashes. As the saying goes, “tomorrow is a new day.”

When you are making your resolutions and grand plans for 2016 make space for the “you” that boldly burst into this world to draw breath. Then ask, “What is it that I must boldly draw in right now?”

Announcing Creatively Onward’s YouTube debut!

Announcing the official launch of Creatively Onward’s YouTube Channel. We have now gone LIVE! This is both thrilling and terrifying! I am putting myself out there in a big way with the intention of creating a positive, empowering, inspiring and creative community with whom to share and grow.

One year ago this month, I stumbled upon Jennifer Lee’s Right Brained Business Plan Product Development online course. My experience with online courses had left me feeling isolated and frustrated. I felt I was missing something by not being in a classroom hearing the dialogue. This class was different. This community of creatives is wise, inclusive, knowledgeable and fun. Learning was presented in an interactive way that inspired me to rise to the challenge of being in business. Creatively Onward was born.

I began with a glimmer of an idea, a rough concept for a deck with creativity prompts and a personal Facebook page that I barely knew how to work. After one quick year, Creatively Onward has a website, Instagram, Twitter, a business Facebook and YouTube. All set up by me through trial, error (lots of error) and some guidance from my teenagers. It’s not perfect but it’s done and it’s mine. Yowza! This is another step in the preparation for online class offerings, as well as, potential workshop events that combine my mad yoga skills with my love of creativity. It has been a year filled with many growth opportunities. As 2015 winds down I am feeling grateful for growth, new friendship, possibilities and creative connection.

Planning is already underway for 2016. There are rumblings of exciting opportunities emerging. I say, “bring it on.” Hope you will join me for the adventure! Sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to my channel.

Click the link below to view my premiere video and feel free to share it. Go Creatively Onward!

Creatively Onward YouTube

Routine and Ritual

Soothing music, candles, essential oils, low lighting, these are tools that I have used to set the stage when teaching yoga classes. It allowed students to begin to bring their awareness to the mat and leave their stress at the door.

Taking a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, the reading of a favorite book, are cues used to help my children be ready for bed. They knew it was time to wind down, relax and prepare to sleep.

A cup of tea, my journal, inhaling deeply as I extend my arms wide, sweeping them over my head until my palms touch, then exhaling as I bring thumbs to my heart prepares my mind to express thoughts.

This week, I realized that while I had established several routines and rituals in my life, I had yet to create one to open or close my studio time. This event has always been worked around my family schedule. Run kids to school. Work for 2 hours. Go to grocery store. Work for 1 hour. Eat lunch. Work for an hour or two. Pick up kids from school. Run to lessons or sports. Fix dinner. Clean up. Put kids to bed. Work until the work gets done. Sound familiar?

Now I find myself in a transition. Next fall my kids will, for the most part be on the same school day time schedule. Yipee! Goodbye 3 separate drop off and pick up times. Hello, consistent extended studio time and a new routine.

How shall I open and close my creative studio hours? Maybe it’s lighting a candle when I come into my studio, playing my favorite song or preparing another cup of tea. Perhaps, I will ceremoniously close the door and take a quick walk around the block to clear my head and be ready for family time at the close business each day. I’m not sure what it will look like but I have learned that it is important to have those transition markers. Let me ask you, how do you make it work?

A Recovering Perfectionist

I get it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to get started and grow from there. That’s a hard one for me. I want to know the ending and I want to do it all “right.” It wasn’t always this way.

As a child I barreled full speed ahead wanting to learn as much as possible, as quickly as I could with no fear. The joy was in trying new things and being present. Not a care in the world. Somewhere along the journey to being a grown-up, I became overly concerned with the outcome. I wanted it all to be “perfect.”

That attachment to the outcome limited my choices. Caution became the voice in my ear saying, “I don’t know if you can do this well. Let’s pass on this one.” Hmmm, think I missed out on some fun? I do. I’m sure there were opportunities to really make a mess of it but have so much fun doing it that I wouldn’t have cared. Most of the time, I didn’t go down those paths.

It’s all good. My past actions and choices put me where I am now, letting go of my attachment to the outcome and focusing on my process. It is time to take a leap, knowing it could go either way. Care to join me?

This space,  the online home for Creatively Onward is a work in progress. It is a place to synthesize the experiences of my life as a graphic designer, artist, yoga teacher, wife, mother, daughter, sister, woman, friend and colleague into a thriving, engaging, inspired, creative community who collectively envision a life with more art, joy, well-being and fulfillment. You are invited to join me for however long this space meets your needs.

This site will evolve as I do. New items will be popping up in the next few weeks and months, including an eCourse or two. It may be a potpourri until I find the true voice of Creatively Onward but that is part of the fun! Here’s to the start.

How about a little something to ponder. As Julia Cameron asks in The Artist’s Way, “What would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly?”