Beach Reads: And How to Gracefully Accept Who You Are

How to Accept Yourself as a Creative by Jennifer Frith
How to Accept Yourself as a Creative by Jennifer Frith

This week we got to go to the beach, and I grabbed this Time Magazine to go with me.

Only very recently have I accepted the fact that I have a very limited attention span. (It's bad, guys. Too many stories to share them all here.)

In high school I would beat myself up for only being able read 2-3 pages at a time before drifting off into daydreams. Whenever I heard about those magical, mythical people who could read riveting chapter books for hours at a time (like in a sudsy bubble bath or in a chair at the beach), I felt a pang of pain. Why couldn't I be like that too? To this day, anything requiring more than 10 minutes of my attention makes me feel like I'm in a mental rodeo, trying to lasso and force my mind into submission. (I still haven't read the Harry Potter series for this reason.😥)

I am learning, though, to shut down the rodeo and just relax into who I am and how I'm wired. Four-hundred page novels aren't my thing, and that's perfectly OK. My brain can handle short articles and bite-sized chunks of information. …Like this magazine I picked up about creativity, for instance. In the one article I read, I learned that Leonardo DaVinci was very much a distracted person too, and that makes me feel entirely happy. "The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding." - DaVinci

I believe life gets better when we stop resisting who we are and instead try to understand ourselves a little better and settle into how God designed us to be... Messy, creative, intuitive, curious, caring people, flaws and all. 💙

. . .

Are you a big imaginative reader, or do you like to take in bite-sized chunks of exciting information like me?

Where You've Been, and Where You're Going

sailboat pencil drawing in one of my sketchbooks

sailboat pencil drawing in one of my sketchbooks

I’ve been thinking about this online space for a while… where I began almost 8 years ago on this blog, and where I am now.

I’ve been on some cool adventures together with you, and I’ve loved connecting with here.

Over the last year or so though, I’ve felt locked up with my outlet …Not knowing how to get the creative gears going again. Not knowing how to bring value to you as friends and readers. Feeling a confusion and vanity of sorts for sharing my art for the sake of “just sharing my art”. Feeling pressure at my 9-5 job, and feeling a ton of pressure to chase after what our first-world society defines as success.

In 2016, my family experienced a hardship that made me really evaluate where I was putting my attention and what I was chasing. I found out that my daughter was hurt by a stranger. (Her story is not mine to tell, so I’ll respect her privacy by not sharing details.) Since that time, I closed up. I shut down. Grieved hard. Raged hard. Questioned God. Felt God’s love. Thawed out. Opened up. Forgave myself as a mom. Forgave. Forgave. Forgave.

We’ve been through a lot, and we’ve learned a lot together. One thing I’ve been learning is how crisis changes people. In Latin, the meaning of “crisis” is “to sift.” I’m learning that the gift behind crisis is that yes, it unsettles everything and shakes up your life mightily, it also sifts out the junk, the distractions, the less important things. It has a way — if you are open to it — of leaving behind the lasting. …Gems of healing, jewels of deeper love. Commitment, forgiveness, freedom, clarity.

There’s still a corner of my heart that hasn’t known how or where to fit my art outlet into all of this. When I get stuck, I’ve found that it’s helpful to have conversations with my past self or future self (not audibly, but I guess you could do that if you wanted.) With this in mind, the other day I imagined what my 85 year old self would say to Present Jenny in all of her “creative stuckness”.

With her face full of wrinkles and wisdom in her eyes, she’d pat my hand and tell me, “Jennifer, the pressure you feel in this world is misguided. The marketing, monetizing, and social media stuff is unimportant. The stress of your 9-5 job is unimportant. The stress and pressure you feel in general…. Jenny, you need to let that go.” She’d then tell me four specific things: to keep loving big, to keep cultivating my relationship with God, to write and illustrate my own kids book (!), and to save up to go sailing.

I’m telling you all of this because I’m learning that pain and questions bring great clarity. Maybe not right away. Maybe not even after a few years. But it comes. The important stuff comes.

I might not post as often here as I once did, and I might not even know which direction I’m headed with my art (besides that kid’s book), but I’m committed to sharing from my heart; to loving big whether it’s through my artwork, in my family, or at my job; and to saving up to buy that sailboat.

To honor my 85 year-old-self’s guidance, I want to keep encouraging you here. I deeply want people to know that they matter, that they have value, and that they are loved. I have journal prompts in mind that I’d like share with you in this regard. It’ll be a revised continuation of our YouMatter Journaling project. More details are forthcoming. You can join me if you’d like.

I’m also considering sharing 1) drawing tutorials to help equip you to be more creative and 2) interviews with other big-hearted, resilient creatives to help pass along their inspiration. I’ll be sharing my artwork here as well, but only because it makes me happy, not because of any self-imposed pressure. ;)

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve got clarity.

I look forward to sharing our journeys together, where we’ve been… and where we might go.

What words of encouragement does your 85-year-old self need to tell you?

sailboat photo I took last summer at Lake Nockamixon

sailboat photo I took last summer at Lake Nockamixon

YouMatter: A New Journaling Project

Lovely friends,

I'm excited to share that our upcoming Journaling Project will be released next weekend.

If you missed my introductory post on Instagram a few weeks ago, here is what I originally wrote:

You Matter Journaling

I'm not an expert at much, but I do know what it is to deal with questions of self-worth, anxiety, depression, and the big ponderings that make you wonder if any of it matters... if you matter.  But that pain and those questions have helped to carve a deeper basin for joy in my life and the stuff that truly means something.

In our next journaling project (head over to @gratitude52community to get an idea of how last year's project worked), I'll share weekly journaling prompts to help you to rediscover and unearth *you*.... "For we are fearfully and wonderfully made", and that's worth knowing.


Who is this project for?

  • Anyone (although it will mostly be women.... sorry, fellas) who might be feeling a little worn out by life.  Anyone who wants to spend a few minutes to recharge each week in self-reflection.
  • Anyone who feels beat up by life and wants to rediscover some good in themselves and in other people (secret:  it's already there ;)).
  • Anybody who feels somewhat lost with their place in the world and wants to discover it again.
  • Anyone who has a creative itch and wants to tap into a regularly-guided creative outlet.
  • Creatives who want to connect with other creatives in our online community.
  • Creatives who want to deepen their relationship with themselves and their Maker.
  • Beautiful, giving, warm-hearted, wonderful souls like YOU.

How will the project work?

Each month I'll share a monthly YouMatter theme, and within that theme I'll share weekly journaling prompts.  Those prompts will come to you in your email inbin.  There will be specific hashtags so that we can find each other on social media outlets. 

I have ideas for going bigger with this project; but for now, we'll try it out for a month or two and see how it goes.  This is meant to serve *you*; so, as we go along, if you have suggestions for the project, I would certainly consider incorporating them.

What supplies will you need?

  • A sturdy sketchbook
  • Some watercolors
  • Pencils & Erasers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Any other art supplies with which you feel most comfortable using

Is it more for Sketchbooking or Journaling?

Either/or... or both.  I personally like combining the two.  To give you an idea, here is my completed journal from our Gratitude52 Journaling Project in 2016:

Your journal could be filled with writings, sketches, illustrations, collages, or all of the above.  More important than the materials used is that it's filled with expressions of you.

I'll outline more of the details next week.   Look out for that email on 10.28.17!

Love to you all.