I talk a lot about these things:
Living a life you love.
Finding your bliss.
Pursuing your passion.
Carving out time for creativity.
Today’s Friday Friendspiration honoree is actually doing all of that.
In fact, this whole new column of Friday Friendspiration was INSPIRED by her.
Her name is Alexandra Anderson Conrad.
Back in April, I remember us sitting on a picnic bench at our friend Katie’s baby shower, and Alex telling me that she was inspired by the creative life I lead, and how she’d like to live a more creative life, as well. She was a new mom, a physician anesthesiologist, and she just wanted to expand her creative outlets a little. So, I think I told her about one of my favorite books, The Artist’s Way, and I sent her a little good energy.
Well, the story didn’t end there.
On Instagram, I started seeing her post more and more of her drawings of her creative little creatures. And, then when the new year began, I saw that she had started an Instagram account, @MCcreatures, reserved as an online home for her creatures and artistic expression.
I was floored.
She did it. And, not just because of something I said, but it turns out that Alex’s creative spirit is surrounded by creative people, and there is nothing better for a creative soul than that.
Here’s the takeaway: If Alex can do it, leading a busy life as a career woman, healer, mom and wife, so can you.
Here’s a little Friday Friendspiration for you, to help you do just that.
The Friendspirer: Alexandra Anderson Conrad
A little about your life: I live in Los Angeles with my husband, our sweet dog, and our one year old son. My husband is a musician and editor, so I am constantly exposed to his creative process and support. My baby and dog are rad too.
A bit about your career: I am a physician anesthesiologist. For the most part I love my career because it fits some very different aspects of my personality. It gives me my adrenaline fix, it allows me to be SUPER organized and precise, it allows me to connect with people and provide comfort, it lets me really get into a zone and focus, and my hair never has to look good (because it never does). I am empathetic to a fault, which makes me good at what I do but it also makes it pretty difficult emotionally. I also have anxiety that I can channel well with this line of work- you want your anesthesiologist to worry about and be prepared for anything! Worrying about others lets me escape my so-called problems. It always gives me perspective.
Carving out time for creativity: I have always had a desire to create; to be a part of that big dialogue. My creativity was pretty squashed for many years with studying, emotional ups and downs, and bad relationships. I also have to compartmentalize a whole lot of feelings and thoughts, as well as creativity, in order to function emotionally as a doctor. I’m easing back into it. I am able to use my creativity in my interactions with patients and colleagues under intense circumstances. I have recently come to recognize this as a creative process.
Creative support and inspiration: As far as making things, it really started up when I was pregnant with my son (now 12 months). I felt this enormous pressure to work things out and achieve some clarity while shaping a human. I also needed to relieve my stress and anxiety about the pregnancy (I am a worrier) and satisfy a new level of creative energy. It felt very important to me to reconnect with my creative voice and artistic side before becoming a mother. I wanted to get back in touch with my wonder and weirdness, for him. I want to be able to meet him in the world of fantasy and play. So I started drawing. I started making stamps and prints. I started painting. I started writing. My husband has been really supportive and encouraging on my little reentry. He always reminds me to just enjoy the process, as I tend to fixate on goals and judge myself. He always has words of wisdom with regard to the creative process that help me to relax a little and just let things happen, instead of spiraling out trying to figure out what my end game is or whether I am wasting my time.
Your creations: I have gotten really into drawing little creatures. It started when I was pregnant, wanting to make cool black and white art for my baby’s nursery. Then I sort of realized that I was putting my anxiety and whatever else into these little critters. I have a lot of stored emotions from both my job and motherhood, and it’s good to get them out in a positive way.
Creative discipline: I try to just draw one thing a day, or write one thing a day. If it sucks, I just try to see it as an off day. I try to ask myself if it made me feel better. I also love Instagram, because it’s true that a picture (and a brief caption) are worth a thousand words. It’s a good creative outlet when pressed for time!
Alex’s 5 Friendspiration Revelations: I am inspired by everything! The tricky thing for me is allowing myself to be inspired instead of envious or discouraged. I constantly have to remind myself is there is room for everyone’s creative contributions, even mine.
1) I was really inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert Big Magic Podcast episode with Brene Brown, especially when they talked about how unused creativity is not benign. Wow is that ever true. I also love listening to Ira Glass talk about The Gap. That is very encouraging!
2) I am tremendously inspired by my amazing husband who is so diligently creative it’s disgusting. Also, as an editor he has such a knack for story and getting to the important stuff. I’ve learned so much from his process, and his advice.
3) I am endlessly inspired by my amazing friends. I have really lucked out in that department. The women I know just blow my mind. Everyone is so open, supportive, hilarious, calming and brilliant. Where do I even begin? There are physicians, actors, writers, musicians, photographers, parents and just all around incredible humans. I have managed to surround myself with really genuinely great people.
4) I am inspired by my son!!!! Watching a baby’s mind be blown by the minutiae of the world is absolutely wonderful. I want to be on his level. Read the piece by Jason Lautenschleger about “How to Create Like A Baby”! That sums it up.
5) I love to be weird, aka, normal. I love to normalize being normal, especially in the glossy perfection of social media. I love to be real and connect with people. I think that is a big driving force. If I can reach one person with a silly drawing I made when I was freaking out about something, that is some real healing.
Thanks for the friendspiration, Alex. If we inspire one person today, we have done our job.
*Follow, and watch Alex’s creative journey, at @MCCreatures on Instagram, where you’ll see more little guys like this one.