for the Creatives

An artist’s call to serve

Last month I wrote a blogpost about what artists have a responsibility to in their art. The trend right now is generally toward the artist’s role in the social justice movement or to using their platform to speak out.

Which is important. But a coworker reminded me that another big part of an artist’s calling is the call to serve. I think of the work of an artist throughout history, of commissions and patronage, of crafting for practical purposes and for communal areas.

Sometimes I see serving and chores synonymously, which is of course a piece of serving. But it’s important to remember the work of service in the artistic field too.

A quick note on valuing your work:

I think there’s a bit of a backlash to that thought sometimes, swinging too far the other direction trying to avoid the “starving artist” mentality and trying to remember our own worth as an artist. But it’s not one or the other: it’s both.

It certainly isn’t becoming a doormat and saying “yes” to every request for free labor that gets thrown your way. And it certainly isn’t throwing out halfhearted work without considering how it’s meeting the needs of the fanbase and how to give back to your community and to the artistic community.

I’m still learning to grasp both concepts tightly instead of leaning on one over the other. Placing value on the work of an artist while also finding ways to serve. That can include both volunteering free labor and also doing the work you’re paid to do with excellence.

Steps to take towards serving through your art:

  1. How are we serving our customers, our communities, our family/friends, and other artists?
  2. What value do we provide?
  3. How do we go above and beyond to care for them?
  4. Where do we sacrifice pieces of ourselves through our craft?

Some of it will be practical chore-like service: preparing a snack for a writers gathering or cleaning up after a paint night or organizing a conference.

Some of it will be serving through art: posting a timely word of encouragement, volunteering to proofread a cousin’s college application, or spending that extra time on worldbuilding for your novel to better entertain the readers who catch tiny details.

Serving comes in many forms, but overflows from a heart set on others. I’m spending time reflecting on that, how I’m currently serving others through art, and how I can continue to serve.

Tell me: In what ways have you seen artists (yourself or others) serving?

for the Creatives

Bloggers to add to your list

My friend was looking to expand her bloggerly reading list and asked who I follow. And I thought this was worth sharing with you all, too.

Honestly sometimes I feel like life has veered more toward Twitter threads and email newsletters…? Anyone else? It’s great to remind myself that my favorite online space, the bloggerly world, is still out there and still valued.

So here are some I’m reading. They’re all currently blogging, and though this list features a variety of styles with differing artistic outlets, it’s all beautiful.

When I’m not blogging, here’s some favorites I’m reading:

Abby Norman: abbynorman.net

Hannah Brencher: hannah-brencher.squarespace.com/diary
(and while you’re at it, be sure to sign up for her Monday Morning email club to start your week off right)

Juni’s Journal: junisjournal.wordpress.com

Jami Fowler: jamifowler.wordpress.com

Tara Sparling: tarasparlingwrites.com

iwannabealady: iwannabealady.com

NicoleSundays: nicolesundays.wordpress.com

And writerly-specific ones:

Kristen Lamb: authorkristenlamb.com

Blonde Write More: blondewritemore.com

Any others to add?

Comment below some of your favorite bloggers to expand the list even more.

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The super simple way to build your creative community

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for the Creatives

We’re all pirate queens

Under-appreciated. Emotional. Irish. I’d like to think I’m two of those things, but the Pirate Queen musical gets all three 😉

So while recommending this soundtrack that I just can’t be rid of, I thought I’d share how we all are basicly pirate queens. Us creative souls, us dreamers, we can relate to the ups and downs of this epic voyage 🙂 I’ll go through the story song by song, so yes, major spoilers all spoilers basicly here. But I’ll be analyzing the theme of dreaming and how it applies to our lives along the way 🙂

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Listen along with the full playlist free on YouTube here.

Prologue (instrumental)

Bagpipes, just to make sure you remember this is an Irish musical.

The Pirate Queen

A new ship is christened The Pirate Queen. Grania (Grace) O’Malley, the daughter of the captain, sneaks aboard with her sailor love Tiernan.

Woman <3

Shocker? Grania doesn’t get to stay on the ship. Because? She’s a woman.

All of us are at some point denied our dream. All of us have something that disqualifies us from our dream: gender, age, personality, family, income.

“I’m almost your age / I’m your match in size. / I’m your match with swords, / an equal in most eyes. / But when you have a dream, / and you’re caught in its grip, / you can climb aboard a ship, / you can, / you can, / for you’re a man. / You can reach toward that place / where the earth meets the sky, / fight a battle,  be brave, be true, / if you can do it, why not I?”

So what does Grania do when she’s told to stay home and wait for the men to save the day and return? She disguises herself as a cabin boy and becomes a stowaway, of course! Then a storm hits and Grania saves the day, exposing herself.

My Grace

The captain, her father, is in a tight spot, punishing a stowaway or honoring a hero. He finally determines to let her stay through that voyage as a reward for her bravery.

“Who can even imagine the trials you will face / as you strive to live free?”

Keep fighting for that dream. Take whatever opportunities you have to prove your worth. Become a stowaway towards your dream and seize the opportunity!

Here on this Night

Grania and her love Tiernan are super excited (understatement) to get to be together. Their romance is a secret, but they’re together.

The Waking of the Queen

Two queens are revealed in this song.

First our Grania proves her worth yet again. England attacks and injures her father, so she takes charge and sinks the battling warship. Grania’s father recognizes her leadership, and begins to train her to be captain. She is dubbed the Pirate Queen.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth becomes Queen in England. Knowing women aren’t taken seriously as a leader, she decides to hide her femininity.

Noticing a pattern yet? The villainess has a similar storyline to Grania, not being taken seriously in her role because she’s a woman.

Everyone will have something to disqualify working towards a dream. If the Queen of England and the Queen of the Pirates were disqualified, what makes you think you won’t be?

Rah-Rah, Tip-Top

Queen Elizabeth’s court tries to assure her everything is in “tip-top” shape, patronizing her as if she’s a little princess so as not to “bother the royal head.” When she presses, they admit that an Irish pirate ship had attacked. Upon further inquiry, they admit that the ship had a female captain – Grace O’Malley. Queen Elizabeth must show her power and commissions Lord Bingham to “crush” Ireland.

 The Choice is Mine

With England warring against Ireland, the O’Malley clan must unite with rival O’Flaherty clan as one force, suggesting an arranged marriage between O’Malley’s daughter Grania and O’Flaherty’s son Donal.

Grania’s dream was to fight England, but this isn’t the way she planned. She would lose the love of her life, Tiernan, but also she would lose her freedom to be pirate at sea. It’s a time where she has to choose between the means and the end of her dream, and sacrifice.

We all will come across a chance, where what was seen as a detriment to our dream is actually a stepping stone to the cause we fight for. And we may be asked to sacrifice accordingly.

The irony is she is asked to do what only a woman can do, when all this time she’s been fighting to do what only a man is permitted to do. The cause would be won in doing what only a woman can, marrying and bearing a son to create an alliance.

“I fought so hard, / to carve a life that’s mine. / I love my land. / Where do I draw the line? A man cannot, / a woman can. / It’s cruel, the path / we are now forced to choose.”

Boys’ll Be Boys

This song is a fun little ditty that shows just what hubbie Donal is like. Donal and clan are at a tavern the night before the wedding (bachelor party? 🙂 ) and he is being teased about marrying a pirate “queen”. Donal claims he’ll tame her, and the guys are all about that, but the ladies bet on Grania giving him trouble.

Girls: “After the drums, / wedding night comes / who will come out alive? / She’s been captain, leading a crew, / She’s killed people, ran ’em right through. / Sorry, Donal, lad, I’m betting on her.”

Donal: “I’ll be rough when she needs it, / rough as seas ever were. / Up to now she’s been steering. / Now it’s time to steer her. / She’s confused about gender. / She’s been too long at sea. / I may well have to beach her, take her inland and teach her, / what a woman should be.”

In the end, Donal promises “marriage won’t change a thing” and he’ll still party. What a guy :/

The Wedding

And yep, they get married. Celebrate, complete with Irish dancing of course 🙂

I’ll Be There

“Go and marry a man you don’t love if that pleases you. / Throw away for a cause all the joys we have known. / Let his kiss keep you warm, I’ll be fine on my own.”

Tiernan is mad about Grania’s choice. However, his love for her remains, and he decides to stay with the O’Flaherty clan for when she needs him.


The dream does not start easily for these ladies. Your dream won’t come easy for you either. Grania and Elizabeth took a chance, a risk, and made it into their dream “industry” per se.

After all that work to even be considered for their dream, Grania’s marrying a jerk, England is warring. You guys, working toward a dream isn’t pretty from the get-go. You’ll be asked to sacrifice. Steve Kamb says in his book Level Up Your Life: “Great sacrifice is often required of the hero along his/her journey to achieve transformation and reach his or her full potential.”

My next blogposts (part 2 and part 3) show what happens to Grania and Elizabeth next. Until then, comment below how starting toward your dream is going for you.

  • What external obstacles are you facing? (hopefully not an irate queen!)
  • Who are your allies?
  • What’s your dream and what’s an internal obstacle you face?
  • What are you sacrificing?

Faith, Mental Health, Musings

Karitos Retreat 2015

 

“Hey! How do you get out of here?”

 

“We don’t. We’re trapped,” I wanted to say.

 
 
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I never intended to write this blogpost. The title, yes; the content, no. Karitos 2015 was supposed to be a lovely artistic post about all the techniques and spiritual life applications from a gathering of creatives. It wasn’t supposed to be this mess.

But Karitos 2015 wasn’t a conference, it was a retreat. The classes were designed to delve into the creative’s mind and heart, not their skills and art. So unplanned by me, I was faced head-on with my anxiety, that thing that I shouldn’t blog about again so soon because I’d just finished telling everyone about it.

 
 

I sat outside the writing room, curled up, begging no one to notice. Hoping that the class had fallen for it when I picked up my phone and ran out, as if I had a call though there was no ringing. And I breathed and cried and hoped to God this wasn’t who I am. Then the girl came up – limping along in an uncertain scurry as if something was chasing her. I’m a mess, but she doesn’t seem too great either. Desperate. I saw it in her eyes. She asked how to exit the building – “How do you get out of here?” – and I told her to turn left and then right. What I wanted to say is “There’s no escape.” That’s what it feels like, and I wonder if she felt it too.

 
 

“You cannot manage a life of lies.” — Matt Tommey, #Karitos2015

 
 

It struck me. I know. I know that all this pent-up anxiety and fear and panic, it’s lies I somehow believed at the core, that somehow own me at the most inopportune times. And I knew that managing, what I’d been doing for years, wasn’t enough. I would fight this.

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But a fight doesn’t look pretty. A fight doesn’t mean as soon as I know the answer it’s all over. And I think that’s what the Christian world pretends, that enlisting in the fight means it’s all perfectly won that instant. Physical illnesses the church can understand if someone believes in healing but isn’t healed. But mental illness and the like, somehow the problem is that the person hasn’t been preached to enough.

 
 
 

In the few short weeks I’ve had a problem large enough to be on medication, to speak out about it, consult others, I’ve been told so many things I never need to hear.

 
 

“It’s just fear and lies. Let go of the lie and embrace the truth.”

I hear:

“You’re wrong, you’re believing so many wrong things, and if you just believed right like me, you’d be okay.”

 
 

“Be glad you can deal with this now before you’re married with kids. That adds so much more difficulty to bring that into marriage.”

I hear:

“You’re not whole enough for marriage yet, you’re not enough for someone else to take your problems.”

 
 
 

“Take your focus off yourself and praise Jesus. The devil can’t stand praise and will leave.”

I hear:

“You’re so self-centered with your anxiety, unlike us who are able to focus on God just fine.”

 
 
 

Those with anxiety don’t need a sermon, an answer. We have that bottled up within us, terrified to face it yet seeing it every. single. day. When my emotions are in a panic, my thoughts are overrun with dread, and my body experiences chest pain or twitching, the anxiety has taken my mind, emotion, and body, and in that state what more to a person is there? The anxiety is me, it’s all me, is what I believe. And all the while as I scream at myself “BE REASONABLE, AMY” nothing changes. Though it seems controllable, I have no control. Though it seems like it’s all my own doing, I can’t do anything but let it pass. I’m a prisoner to it. I’m fighting, but it’s not me. It’s not me. And that’s what I remind myself every. single. day.
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And if anyone feels this way, I just want to take a moment to say what I most need to hear: You’re strong! I see that. That the victory is slow does not mean it’s any less. I hope healing and freedom is instantaneous for you, but if it is not, know this: That you get back up every time to fight, you. are. strong. Keep going. And I’m with you in it.

 
 
 
 

You Are Strong

 
 

I won the battle at Karitos 2015. My unexpected panic attack where things should have been safe, it made me stronger. I’d like to say I won everything, but I’m still getting there. I opened up. I pressed forward. And I will keep on going.

 
 
 

Blog Signature - Crisper
 
 

for the Creatives, for the Writers

The Author’s Role for Change

I only just finished a series of articles on fiction and had planned on not posting an article-style blogpost for awhile. Switch things up a bit, right?

Then this happened, and I thought, may as well while it’s fresh in my mind.

I have a day-job. In fact, in case you hadn’t noticed, so far I am unpublished and my only income is my day-job. For this job, I will be attending a wonderful seminar on The Hidden Rules of Class, dealing with the stigmas of poverty and the different values of the lower, middle, and upper class.  I was so fascinated by the little teaser I’d received, that I will be presenting the information to my writers group after the seminar.

Writers will be writing about people very different from them, including differing in income. My current Work-In-Progress has an upper-class girl who runs away and joins the circus – very suddenly with hardly any income to speak of. To portray this drastic change well, I have to understand both upper class and lower class values. The other writers in my group have people of differing income levels as well that should be portrayed accurately.

The facilitator of this seminar was talking with me about how attendees need to be both those working hands-on with people in poverty, as well as higher-ups who have the power to make changes. And I thought of an additional need. Sure, it doesn’t make a direct impact, and it doesn’t make sense in the short-term. But what about creatives? Creatives need to know the hidden rules of class, too.

If writers portray class, or any situation, with a stigma, that affects the perspective of others, countless others who read. The more every writer, artist, musician, and creative understands the world around them accurately, the more affected the world is in subconsciously or consciously believing the same way.

This one seminar can reach 100 people with the Hidden Rules of Class. If someone in leadership of an organization or city attends, the whole reach has the opportunity to be impacted. And if one author attends and writes a book that does even somewhat well, the reach can be far more significant. Creatives need to learn this too.

Don’t underestimate the power of one creative.