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Kaitlyn Guay on Creative Growth as and Evolution, Finding Beauty an Gratitude, and Overcoming Resistance – Cracking Creativity Episode 61

Kaitlyn Guay grew up wanting to be in Broadway. She grew up in a household where she wasn’t allowed to watch TV and could only watch movies on the weekends. She grew up in a cultural bubble where she entertained herself by writing poems and song lyrics for fun.

While she wanted to be an artist and entertainer, those around her thought it would be too risky, so she became a musical teacher. This allowed her to share her passion for the arts with others. That is until a severe case of Chronic Lyme Disease forced her to change her path. Instead of letting the disease break her, she leveraged it into creating a young adult book series and jewelry line.

In this episode, learn why creative growth is an evolution, how to find beauty and gratitude in every day life, and ways you can overcome Resistance.

Here are three things you can learn from Kaitlyn:

Creative Growth is an Evolution

Many people mistakenly believe that you are either born with an artistic talent or you aren’t. While some people are more talented at the beginning of their artistic journeys, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The difference lies in practice. “I think that so often, when you’re a musician, you get used to the concept of practicing and also playing. It’s a completely different mindset to how you approach things. You don’t say, ‘I’m going to sit down and work the piano.’ You say ‘I’m going to sit down and play the piano. I’m going to practice the piano.’ It’s this concept of an ever evolving process. You’re never there. It’s never perfect. There’s never one perfect way to do something because music is personal. It’s evocative. It’s something that means something to every single individual person.”

I would even argue that those who rely on talent alone are at a disadvantage. These people pursue something just because they know they can do it instead of doing it from a place of joy. What Kaitlyn realized is that practice helps your creativity evolve. “I think that just the idea that everything creative comes from a place of process and evolution really helped me kind of be able to transition into another creative arena … the thought of practicing and playing and doing everything from this place of joy and knowing that the more you do it, the better you’re going to get.”

Find Beauty and Be Grateful

One of the biggest tragedies of life is that we don’t celebrate it enough. We tend to look at all the horrible things going on around us and let them influence how we perceive the world. That is why Kaitlyn likes to focus on beauty. “I think that once you focus on the beauty, it becomes more important than the things that are so loud in our world, the ugly things that tend to get thrown in our faces. So that’s my biggest intention right now, to see beauty everywhere.”

Kaitlyn believes we can retrain ourselves to see beauty in the world. We can stop letting the stories of tragedy and negativity bring us down. “With the concept of beauty, I think that, just because something is louder and more in your face, doesn’t make it more important. And the whole concept of retraining your brain to bring… gratitude, and positivity, and beauty into the forefront. And then, like you said, yeah that will absolutely change how you view the world and in turn, how the world views you.”

She also believes our suffering is relative. When we see people go through real tragedy, but make it through the other side a stronger person, we realize our troubles aren’t so significant. “Sometimes it’s difficult when you hear someone that’s gone through something so incredibly horrible and you think… ‘How in the world can I be complaining?’ My experiences are so trivial in comparison, but I love when you get inspired by someone else. Not just because they’ve been through something so much worse than you could ever imagine, but because they have found a way to relate their survival, their tactics, into something that’s universal, that anyone can apply to their lives.”

Overcoming Resistance

As creatives, many of us know what it’s like to hit a wall in our work. We become stuck and can’t find a way to break through the lull. Then a voice starts to creep in our head telling us we can’t. That is the voice of what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance.

The first step towards overcoming Resistance is realizing it’s there. “I have a really hard time leaving things unfinished, which can be devastating because sometimes your brain just needs to hit the refresh button for a little while, and I think that Resistance comes from not listening to yourself when that little voice in your head says ‘Okay, here’s a wall.'”

One way you can begin to overcome Resistance is just step away from your work for a while. “I’ve started to learn that when I get to that point to where there’s a voice in my head that says ‘The muse, the inspiration, it’s not working for you right now. You hit a stand still.’ I’ve learned that I need to take out a new project and put some fresh creative insight and energy into something brand new. Go there for a little while, so I’m not stopping the creative flow, I’m not throwing my hands up in the air. I’m just switching gears. I’m going into something completely different. And usually, if I do that, by the time I go back to where I was stuck, anything that felt stagnant before and frustrating, has now has got a new sense of vitality and whatever the mystical muse is, some times, most times, will find a way to reveal herself yet again.”

Sometimes we take on projects that are too big for us and our brain needs a break. In those times, we need to step back for a little bit of perspective. “I think that when you recognize that you’re creating something that’s going to be bigger than yourself, once your brain starts to get overworked, sometimes it’s best to… step away, get a little perspective… and come back when you’re not so focused… Sometimes when something is right in front of your face, is when you can’t see it and that’s why you need to take a step back.”

Shownotes

  • about Kaitlyn
    • had an a-typical upbringing
    • she wasn’t allowed to watch TV, could only watch movies on weekends
    • grew up in a cultural bubble
    • entertained herself by writing poems, song lyrics, etc.
      • wrote for fun
    • 5 years ago she was healthy and happy
      • got devastatingly ill to where she couldn’t leave the house
      • had to find a new purpose/find herself
      • everything she associated with herself was gone (teacher/athlete/etc)
      • keeping a positive mindset while chronically ill
    • watching snow fall from living room floor
      • free wrote scene that would be pivotal to her novel
      • slowly rediscovered who she could be through writing
    • uncovering blessings from her journey
    • was asked if she could be well but had to give up her book, she said no
    • didn’t want to be associated with sickness
    • writing gave her an identity
  • being a music teacher
    • loved working with kids and teaching
  • parallels between singing and writing
    • the way you play music  changes the emotions of it, even if it’s the same notes
    • Kaitlyn learns by ear, but she forced herself to learn from the page
      • she wanted to make sure what she brought to the piece was her own

11:12 “I think that so often, when you’re a musician, you get used to the concept of practicing and also playing. It’s a completely different mindset to how you approach things. You don’t say, ‘I’m going to sit down and work the piano.’ You say ‘I’m going to sit down and play the piano. I’m going to practice the piano.’ It’s this concept of an ever evolving process. You’re never there. It’s never perfect. There’s never one perfect way to do something because music is personal. It’s evocative. It’s something that means something to every single individual person.”

12:34 “I think that just the idea that everything creative comes from a place of process and evolution really helped me kind of be able to transition into another creative arena … the thought of practicing and playing and doing everything from this place of joy and knowing that the more you do it, the better you’re going to get.”

13:56.9 “Sometimes I think that’s the way we learn the best is by being inspired by someone else, and then finding a way to put your own stamp on it.”

14:31.4 “I would force myself to learn music strictly from the page, even though that wasn’t my strength, because I wanted to make sure that what I was bringing to the music was not something that I was bringing from another artist. I wanted to try and make my interpretation as pure as possible, at least for my initial musings, and then gleam inspiration from other sources.”

15:08.5 “No matter if you’re playing the exact same piece, with the exact same note with the exact same cadence and everything, it’s always going to sound different.”

  • interview with David Villalva on story structure
    • likes to design jewelry while listening to podcasts
    • gets inspired when listening
    • catering towards different types of creative people
    • connecting on different levels with different creative people
    • learning from what inspires other people
  • where she finds her jewelry
    • all about the stones
    • became fascinated by gemstones and properties while writing her novel
      • stones represent different elements
      • looked up the history and properties of different stones
      • fascinated by things that have therapeutic properties
    • wearing jewelry that represents different properties
    • setting intention through what you wear (ex: communicating and water stones)
    • selects things piece by piece, things that speak to her on an individual level

22:07.3 “My philosophy is, it’s all about the stones and bringing them together in a really harmonious way. In a fashion that I hope will help others to, on the high end, transform their lives and set intentions. And on the most basic end, to just help themselves feel a little bit more beautiful and special.”

  • intentions changing the way you approach things
    • setting intentions changed the way she approached things
    • Wayne Dyer – The Secrets of the Power of Intention
      • listened to lecture that helped her
    • keeps intentions journal that she writes in every morning
    • has changed her work and the way she views the world

22:33 “I’m sure you know this as a creative person, as an artist, it can be a struggle to stay positive when it’s a process. When everything artistic is always a process and sometimes the best thing you can do is just set really clear intentions before you even begin.”

  • things she has accomplished through setting intention
    •  seeing beauty everywhere
      • writes in her journal the intention to do this every day
      • her article about seeing beauty everywhere
      • inspired by Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning
        • finding beauty in everything while living through the Holocaust
        • was incredibly moved by his story
        • forcing herself to implement it into as many moments in her life as possible
      • every day it becomes more natural
    • AJ Leon of Misfit Inc.
      • interview on the Unmistakable Creative
      • you aren’t stuck to any chosen path in life
      • was told he wouldn’t amount to much, so he used that as fuel for his career
      •  going through hardships and your struggles being relative
    • successful mindsets come from gratitude

28:57.25 “I think that once you focus on the beauty, it becomes more important than the things that are so loud in our world, the ugly things that tend to get thrown in our faces. So that’s my biggest intention right now, to see beauty everywhere.”

30:32.5 “Sometimes it’s difficult when you hear someone that’s gone through something so incredibly horrible and you think… ‘How in the world can I be complaining?’ My experiences are so trivial in comparison, but I love when you get inspired by someone else. Not just because they’ve been through something so much worse than you could ever imagine, but because they have found a way to relate their survival, their tactics, into something that’s universal, that anyone can apply to their lives.”

  • gratitude
    • our brains focusing on negative things more than negative things
    • bring gratitude into the forefront and it changes the way people see you
    • Einstein quote “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
    • wanting to go to Broadway/the arts when she grew up, but ended up as a teacher instead
    • going into a stable job and having to leave due to sickness, then leaving to do something unstable like writing/jewelry making

34:43.75 “With the concept of beauty, I think that, just because something is louder and more in your face, doesn’t make it more important. And the whole concept of retraining your brain to bring… gratitude, and positivity, and beauty into the forefront. And then, like you said, yeah that will absolutely change how you view the world and in turn, how the world views you.”

35:31 “I love hearing stories of people who are told you can’t, and then use that, instead of letting it defeat them, they use it to show just how much they can accomplish.”

36:21.3 “I think that’s one of the worst atrocities in schooling is when someone tells a student, or someone in their formative years that they can’t do something.”

37:43.6 “It’s just all about finding your own genius and not letting someone else define those parameters for you. You know, not having someone else tell you what makes you special, or what makes you genius, or what’s going to make you happy.”

39.44 “Sometimes there’s a path you’re meant to be on and you can try as hard as you will to change it, and sometimes you just have to say ‘Okay, there’s something bigger at work here. There’s a path I’m meant to be on, and I’ve just got to go for it.'”

  • even when you don’t choose a certain path, it comes back and chooses you
    • telling her advisor in her freshman year that she was going into education
      • advisor told her it was fine
      • made a drawing of a path on folded paper with her path and a split in the path
      • one path went straight to the path, the other took many turns
      • he told her she was meant to have a certain path, and she was going to end up in the same place no matter what
    • Daniel Pink speech at Northwestern
      • the winding road to success
    •  5-10 year plans
      • unrealistic way to plan because life happens to you
      • you have to take twists and turns to your final destination
    • you don’t have to be stuck on the path you originally choose
    • we often feel like we don’t have a choice, but that’s not true
    • two things that didn’t start with the end purpose: Velcro and Silly Putty
    • being open to possibilities
    • Velcro began because burrs stuck to a man’s pants and he wondered if there was an application for it

43:27.4 “Sometimes, there’s something that we’re here to do and we just have to be okay with the fact that we’re going to do it or we’re just going to take a zillion twists and turns, and then we’re going to do it.”

46:58 “If you value curiosity over fear, I think, when you’ve spent so much time going down one path, it’s terrifying to think of leaving it because you’ve devoted so much time and resources and energy and sometimes… since you don’t know what something is going to look like it can be absolutely terrifying. But, if instead of focusing on that, if you’re more curious, I feel like curiosity is the creative person’s best friend. Because when you’re curious, you can never fail at anything. Curiosity is your way to look at something and not see a path that isn’t working out the way you want it to. It’s your way of looking at something and keeping it open and questioning it.”

  • influences for writing
    • writing and painting are very similar processes
    • when she’s done painting, she always has the same thought “How did that just happen?”
    • gives in to art and inspiration
    • if she’s struggling, she gives herself on word or one line
    • her characters tell her what’s supposed to happen
      • she can’t force them to do things

54:03.4 “For me personally, I can not plan creativity because when I do that, I put myself into a box, and then the beauty and spontaneity, and what I love about creating is when you just love yourself in it, when you’ve just completely gone into another world. And for me, that’s just what writing is departing my life going in to another world and letting it take shape around me.”

  • inspiration for writing
    • loves reading science fiction/fantasy
    • loves being taken to another world
    • creates beautiful pictures in her mind and they become real to her
    • her book series is about a girl who goes through a tragedy and starts to go through new things
    • the world she was brought up in is a lie and she has to navigate her way through it
    • reason she had to write was because she needed an outlet when she was sick
      • she had to stop working
      • she needed to write a character that was going through a transformation and had to re-identify herself
      • book changed her whole identity
      • she couldn’t change her healthy or much of anything in her life
      • character helped her get through it
    • used character to help herself navigate the world
    • it was therapeutic because she had a lot of fear and didn’t know how to handle it
    • people with chronic illnesses want to know why it’s happening
      • What’s the point? What’s the beautiful experience that can happen out of it?

1:00:09.4 “I was in a really scary place for a very long time where I had a lot of fear, and I didn’t know how to handle it. And writing her journey as she learned how to cope and learned how to become stronger throughout all of this, really helped me figure out how I wanted to deal with it. It was almost like I was creating my own role model.”

1:00:45.6 “I needed… to outline where she was, which is where I was, and show where she was going to go and how it was going to make her a better person and how it was all going to be worth it. because that’s what I was questioning every day. When am I going to know why this is happening to me?”

  • not being able to explain why, but being able to make it through tough experiences
    • she can tell you important lessons she’s learned

1:02:01.5 “I think that’s why setting intentions has been so beneficial because it’s taken me a really long time to recognize that there are some things that I don’t have control over. And when you don’t have control over something you have one of two options. You can continue to bang your head up against the wall and come away with a migraine or except the fact that you don’t have control over whatever it is you so desperately want control over. What you can control is shaping slowly how you want to be seen, what you want to be important in your life, and make that be the most important part of your day and who you are.”

1:03:18.4 “When all is said and done, the biggest lessons that I have learned has definitely been how to live. You know, how to live, not in spite of illness, but how to live because of it.”

  • writing from experience
    • doesn’t believe you can write without experiencing something
    • characters are what make you love stories because they go through universal evolution
    • Luke Skywalker goes through Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
    • there has to be some sort of personal connection to characters or they won’t resonate
    • rich cultures hand down history through storytelling
    • one person’s story being more effective than statistics
  • War of Art by Steve Pressfield
    • the muse and creating something beyond yourself
    • Resistance preventing us from creating
    • overcoming self-doubt
    • Kaitlyn had to re-calibrate how she works
      • is a perfectionist and has a hard time leaving something undone
      • stopping mid sentence as a tactic for writing
    • finding your way around the wall of resistance
    • being defeated and feeling horrible when you hit the wall
      • she became doubtful and had self-pity when she hit the wall
    • learning to take on new projects when she hits a wall
    • put fresh creative insight into something brand new
    • the muse recognizes when something is being created that’s bigger than yourself
    • creativity doesn’t come from overthinking things

1:09:38 “I have a really hard time leaving things unfinished, which can be devastating because sometimes your brain just needs to hit the refresh button for a little while, and I think that Resistance comes from not listening to yourself when that little voice in your head says ‘Okay, here’s a wall.'”

1:10:49.6 “I’ve started to learn that when I get to that point to where there’s a voice in my head that says ‘The muse, the inspiration, it’s not working for you right now. You hit a stand still.’ I’ve learned that I need to take out a new project and put some fresh creative insight and energy into something brand new. Go there for a little while, so I’m not stopping the creative flow, I’m not throwing my hands up in the air. I’m just switching gears. I’m going into something completely different. And usually, if I do that, by the time I go back to where I was stuck, anything that felt stagnant before and frustrating, has now has got a new sense of vitality and whatever the mystical muse is, some times, most times, will find a way to reveal herself yet again.”

1:13:23.5 “I think that when you recognize that you’re creating something that’s going to be bigger than yourself, once your brain starts to get overworked, sometimes it’s best to… step away, get a little perspective… and come back when you’re not so focused… Sometimes when something is right in front of your face, is when you can’t see it and that’s why you need to take a step back.”

  • looking at things from another angle
    • talking to people about your ideas
    • first 10k words of her book flew out of her, then she got stuck
      • had no idea where the story was going to go
      • sat down with her husband and told him about her self doubt
      • he asked her to talk to him like she was Amy and tell her story
      • having a sounding board was incredibly helpful

1:16:18.5 “I think that just kind of realizing that creativity doesn’t always have to happen in a vacuum. It’s okay to collaborate and it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to experience something outside of yourself. In fact, sometimes I think that’s the only way that we get inspired is by constantly trying to learn new things and have new experiences and that’s a reason I’ve really started to love lectures and podcasting, and I listen to them while I make my jewelry, because I’m always hearing something. ‘Oh, I need to write that down. Oh, I need to listen to that again. Oh, that’s an amazing point. I want to research it. I want to write an article on it. I want to write a book. I mean, it’s just a beautiful way to kind of put yourself outside of your own little world. And I think that’s where the beauty and the magic really happens, is kinda when you’re able to do that.”

  • Mark’s role in asking questions
    • he asked questions before reading any of the book
    • was like a job interview
    • brought her back to theater roots like a character study
    • digging into the past before you can see the future
  • number of books she wants to write
    • planned on making it a trilogy
    • loves when authors create series because you can dig deeply into a new world
  • stories she likes other than Star Wars
    • loves period dramas (Civil War)
    • The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
    • Jodi Picoult – buys any novel written by her
    • 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly
      • allows you to have enough fans to live off your work
      • stop trying to reach 7 billion people when 1,000 people can help support you
      • helps you stay true to yourself
      • jewelry line that’s based on her book series

1:27:51 “Do what you love because there are always going to be other people in the world who love what you do, no matter how obscure it may seem.”

1:28:08.3 “Stay true to what it is that you believe in, your vision, what makes you different, your personal stamp, and just cultivating your brand instead of start to freak out because you want to make sure that you’re making something or providing something that other people are going to enjoy, as opposed to thinking ‘Okay, I’m doing something that I love and I’m so passionate about. There’s going to be other people in the world that are really passionate about it too, and I can share this with them.”

  • making art about money
    • cultivate something you love and have people appreciate it
    • Make Art Make Money by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens
      • biography about Jim Henson making work that sells so he could work on movies that he dreamed of
      • the balance of making art and making money
    • Kate Winslet doing one movie for the art and one movie for the money
    • discovering the balance between making art and money
  • favorite quote
    • cultivating positive intentions instead of dwelling or resistance/negativity

1:36:21.6 “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

“What you water is what grows.”

  • morning routine
    • reiki, 5 minute journal, intention journal
    • writing daily intentions and how she will live each day
    • clean slate and positive mindset
    • “Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it.”
    • affirmations: mindset, work related goals, health affirmations
    • love languages – how people resonate with love
    • growth mindset – evolution, staying curious/open, committing work to come from place of truth
      • digging deeply into who you are and what you stand for, and live on that frequency
  • books, podcasts, documentaries
    • Your Life on Purpose by her husband Mark Guay
      • showing  you how to live a life on purpose
      • the concept of growth mindset
      • inspiring her to become the person she is now
  • creative people
    • Tyler Bel – inspires Kaitlyn by watching her work
      • helps with jewelry, the book, website, etc.
      • can inspire and touch people because she is true to herself and open
    •  Beethoven – embodying his art even after losing hearing
      • found inspiration by being in nature
      • was prepared with notebook to absorb inspiration
    • Dr. Wanye Dyer – changing how she looks at the world and herself
  • definition of creativity

1:51:49 “Creativity to me is the personal and pure expression of inner truth. I think that all creativity comes from having a story to tell. And we all tell stories and resonate in different ways and in different mediums. Some people can feel something so strongly… I think that creativity is just allowing yourself to tap into whatever makes you quintessentially you. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be put up on an art gallery. It doesn’t have to be on a stage and it doesn’t have to be up for publication. I think that just tapping into whatever makes you, whatever you find to be the strongest expression. Whatever gives you that guttural primal feeling of truth. That’s what you should explore.”

  • challenge
    • in morning, write something where you can see it often, See Beauty Everywhere today
    • make a hashtag and post it
    • acknowledge and share it with others

Elementsbykaityln.com | Thefemaleyoda.com | befree@elementsbykaitlyn.com | Twitter

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