I’m finding that many people appreciate long-form content because it’s more rich with meaning. Is this true for you, too? I was inspired to start publishing more of this kind of meaning-rich content through a process I did recently called a creative reset.

I learned about the creative reset after reading about it on Dan Blank’s blog. The idea is to decide what to focus on and what to let go of based on the highest and best use of my time, energy, abilities, and skills. To guide my process, I focused on answering one question:

How can I live a life filled with connecting with the people I love and serve and helping people appreciate birds through art?

Largely, my creative reset was about asking myself: How can I do better? Which doesn’t necessarily mean doing more. In my case, it meant asking myself hard questions about what to let go of, what to stop doing. Rather than adding more to my already overflowing plate, I wanted to know what could I take off.

What’s been on my plate?

I began by doing an inventory of what was on my plate, so to speak, and as I did so, I had a moment of inspiration. I realized that I didn’t actually know what the “plate” looked like. I had a feeling that the plate that was holding all my responsibilities, actions, to-do’s, and aspirations was actually a chipped, cracked, crusty mess. So off I went to Pinterest to look for an image of the most beautiful plate I could find.

When I saw an artisanal, hand made plate, I was enchanted. Rustic, pale pink, speckled—this was the plate I wanted to envision because I wanted my metaphorical plate to be seen, treasured, and shared. With a clear vision of the plate I was filling, it was time to decide what to put on it.

If you know me at all, you probably know I do a lot. Among my various responsibilities:

And that’s not all because there’s also self care, husband care, puppy care, home and garden care…the list of cares could go on and on.

Right in the middle of discerning how to gracefully fit the right portions on my beautiful life-plate, I got a contract to illustrate a book on Oregon birds! Nothing like a big project to give me some creative clarity!

(Carefully) Filling my Plate

I took a deep breath (several actually) and began carefully putting my priorities onto my beautiful new metaphorical plate:

  • Self care comes first because without it, I’m no good to anyone.
  • Family is next. The importance of giving my family the best of me was vividly reinforced when our puppy, Finch, decided to sample a mushroom he found in the back yard (he’s fine; you can hear the whole story on my vlog). As I was taking care of my sick puppy, I thought: What is more important than being present for my family? Nothing is more important, that’s what.
  • My art practice is the next largest portion on my plate. Making art was always important but now I have a contract with deadlines. I have a schedule and I need to stick to it (see self-care, above).
  • YouTube stays on my plate but I’m practicing some portion control. My discernment process came at a time when my little channel has seen a bit uptick in viewership and growth. I have over 100 subscribers! All of my growth metrics are trending up. I don’t want to give up now, not when I’m finally seeing progress. So with care, I decided to publish videos every other week.
  • Patreon also remains on my plate. I am proud of the library of content I’ve created on Patreon and I genuinely believe that I’ll find my right audience and that I will build a thriving community there. Along those lines, I’ve completely revamped my patron tier rewards to make them more attractive to a broader audience.

What’s Off the Plate?

For the record, here’s some of the things that I took off the plate, permanently:

  • Looking for external validation
  • Working to exhaustion
  • Beating myself up for not doing “enough”
  • Getting my self worth from my accomplishments
  • Chasing followers on Instagram.

In fact, Instagram is off the plate entirely. I haven’t deleted my account but I am no longer putting any energy into it. I’ll post when and if I feel like it.

I have given myself permission to add little salad plates or soup bowls now and then—things like shop updates or creating other kinds of content—temporary, short-term commitments that don’t stick around to overload my plate.

Now that I’ve done this process of creative reset, I feel a new sense of purpose, energy, and commitment. I am more motivated than ever!

Virtual Open Studio: An Invitation

In deciding what matters most, you can see that my blog made it to the plate! I value the connection we have and I am grateful that you’ve taken the time to read my post. Because I value our relationship, I want to give you an opportunity to connect with me that others don’t have. That’s why I’m inviting you to attend my Virtual Open Studiou.

The first Virtual Open Studio will be on Zoom on Saturday, Nov 13 at 11 am PST and you’ll be able to see my studio space, ask questions, and make art along with me (totally optional). If you’d like to get the Zoom link, please RSVP by subscribing to my newsletter.

Thanks for reading through to the very end. But enough for now.

Hope to see you on Nov 13!

With love,
Tara Kate

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