When Inspiration Hits: #CupcakesAndCreativity

Just my favorite kind of Friday.

Cupcakes and creativity. Let's hashtag that, shall we? #CupcakesAndCreativity

Cupcakes and creativity. Let’s hashtag that, shall we? #CupcakesAndCreativity

Any writers out there?

Know that feeling when you’re going along, and – all of a sudden – WHAM!! – inspiration hits?

Today, I had a voiceover session, went to a movie matinee of Joy, and then came home and went on a walk with the pup.

I had 3 mini cupcakes sitting patiently on my kitchen bar, and on the walk, a rhyming children’s story unfolded about the said cupcakes.

Came home, where I sat for the past 2 hours, scribbling away in baby blue pen until the story was out on paper, and finally on my laptop and then printed.

I swear…creative inspiration is the closest feeling to falling in love that there is out there.

If you’re searching for a little of it yourself, may it strike you smitten soon. 💗🙌

Happy weekend, inspired ones!

xoxo,
Dawn

Friday Friendspiration: Jolie Williams Augustine

Friday Friendspiration is all about living a life you love, within the life you have been given.

Today’s Friday Friendspirer, Jolie Williams Augustine, does just that.

Friday Friendspiration with Jolie Augustine

Friday Friendspiration with Jolie Augustine

This is Jolie girl to me: the totally COOLEST girl ever. See, I met Jolie when I was in 5th grade, and she was dating my big brother, at the end of their senior year. When you’re 11 – well, let’s be honest – anyone older is cooler than you. So, when I moved out to LA in 2000, and discovered that Jolie lived out here, I was eager to see if her “coolness” had, well, kept.

It had.

I have been friends with Jolie for over 15 years now – going from a puppy-like girl, just wanting to impress her (as one of my big brother’s old girlfriends), to a fellow woman who admires this beautiful (editor’s note: Jolie would never refer to herself as “beautiful,” but I think it’s fine time she accepts the truth), fun, free-spirited, thoughtful, generous, music-loving, and, yes – COOL – woman, who lives in this same crazy world of Los Angeles that I do.

Jolie and me…at a show, no doubt. I wanna say this was Counting Crows? Wallflowers?

Jolie and me…at a show, no doubt. I wanna say this was Counting Crows? Wallflowers?

A teacher, she has taught me so much – not in a classroom – but through heartfelt conversations, musings over mimosas, and dozens of hours spent boogeying down to our favorite bands. That’s probably my favorite thing about Jolie: she’s always up to dance with you at a show, like all good Texan girls should be.

I’m so privileged to be on this journey together with her.

That’s Jolie girl in my words.

But, this is Jolie girl in her own words.

May her love of life, giving heart, spontaneous spirit – and perpetual willingness to dance – sing some music into your life, today.

***

The Friendspirer: Jolie Williams Augustine

Creating space. I live in Los Angeles, and have been teaching in public schools for 20 years, and recently took a two-year break for various reasons. I am very good at “keeping with the program” and life threw me some curve balls these past 2 years. The loss of my parents left a weirdly-shaped hole in my heart. I recently saw these words: “Instead of asking why they left, now ask, what beauty will I create in the space they no longer occupy?” Whoa. Parents take up a very significant space. So with them being gone and taking time off, life has felt a bit unnerving – and very peaceful – but also has made me ask myself “what do I want to do with this time – and, essentially – my life?” This answer is a work in progress, as we all are.

The world according to Jolie

The world according to Jolie

On the “glamour” of teaching. I have enjoyed the lifestyle teaching has given me, which includes: watching teenagers feel awkward, making them laugh…and listening to them, making music playlists (see link to her playlist gift to you at bottom), and playing music in class, read and discuss literature and most importantly, yes, time for travel and breaks. Working with teenagers is far from glamorous, and there is no room for ego or perfection. Parents and teachers know this and I have decided that working with young people, although humbling, is also a profound gift, and the rewards are subtle but many. One of these is pictured below. A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it’s nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!

 

* A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it's nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!

* A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it’s nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!

On wanderlust: cool things will follow. I have bit of a wanderlust and thankfully, my husband of 17 years tolerates my wishes to go somewhere or come along and make it an adventure. Yes, I love hotels and massages but I would much rather go somewhere where I don’t know where to go, maybe the people don’t speak english and cool things will follow. It know that most people my age do have tremendous responsibilities but some have lost the willingness (and maybe have fear?) to try something new, go somewhere different or meet new people. Thankfully, I have a small group of friends who do enjoy going to music festivals. YES, the average age is 15 at these festivals, but there is something exciting for me in seeing new music OUTDOORS, walking around and watching all the people. Most people my age cringe at the thought. I guess my friends and I have found a way to keep it simple, be comfortable, stay hydrated! and still get our groove on.

Jolie, getting her groove on

Jolie, getting her groove on

Keeping creatively inspired & California love. I have found that meeting new people, going to new places, and getting out of my comfort zone has kept me creatively inspired. I find new restaurants, music, books and places that I may never have found before. I don’t get wrapped up in details of things (maybe, that’s not a good thing?) but I know that especially today, people have appreciated my commitment to having fun and getting things done. I tend to make music playlists for people I have just met and will take up an offer for a visit. I love showing people around the city and California. Visits to a Korean spa,hiking, eating our way to Joshua Tree, Boyle Heights, the beach and Idylwild are all on the itinerary.  All the stressing and freaking out about the small things get you nowhere. Read any book by Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott, Jenny Lawson, Mary Karr, or Joan Didion and you will know this is true. Throw in David Sedaris, Sherman Alexie and Augusten Burroughs and you have my humorous life teachers.

 

Jolie and her "little sis" from Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters

Jolie and her “little sis” from Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters

Little sisters and homeboys. I spent the past year volunteering at Homeboy Industries, a gang rehabilitation organization, as a GED teacher and it reaffirmed my passion for teaching and connecting with people. I’ve lived in LA for 20 years and I have grown to really love and appreciate the good and bad of LA. It is very easy to separate oneself in LA based on neighborhoods and jobs but I have found the beauty being with people who make up a very significant part of LA and California and are generally overlooked. I have also been a part of the Catholic Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program for 7 years. I  met my  ‘little sis” when she was 11. It has been challenging at times to know how to help but sometimes I just need to know a visit to a bookstore, museum, a walk or getting ice-cream with someone can be just the thing needed. 

Jolie at 15, who probably wouldn't have listened to 44-year-old Jolie…but should.

Jolie at 15, who probably wouldn’t have listened to 44-year-old Jolie…but should.

Dear 15 Me. I know that when I was 15-years-old (see evidence above), I probably wouldn’t have listened to advice from my 44-year-old self. I was having too much fun thinking of boys and listening to Duran Duran. But I would share:

1. Be kind to the kids people make fun of.

2. Live in a a foreign country once in your life.

3. You’ll find a boyfriend. Don’t worry.

4. Salads are actually good. Put down the Doritos.

5. Keep having fun even when you get older.

***Editor’s Note:
Jolie’s gift to you. 
Our first friendspirer to offer a gift to our readers, Jolie wanted to share her “Feel It” Spotify playlist with you all, HERE. As someone who has been introduced to numerous bands and countless songs by this music aficionado, I can say that it truly is a gift…so OPEN IT UP !

For you!! Jolie's "Feel It" playlist on Spotify

For you!! Jolie’s “Feel It” playlist on Spotify

Thanks for the friendspiration, Jolie. If we inspire one person today, we have done our job.

Jolie and Rosie

Jolie and Rosie

xoxo,
Dawn

 

Friday Friendspiration: Alexandra Anderson Conrad

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.

Friday Friendspiration: Alexandra Anderson Conrad

Friday Friendspiration: 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.

Well, hello there, @MCCreatures!

Well, hello there, @MCCreatures!

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.

Alex: The doctor in action. Scrubs and all.

Alex: The doctor in action. Scrubs and all.

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.

What's NOT a waste of time? THIS guy.

What’s NOT a waste of time? THIS guy.

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!

What goes on inside that mind? Guess you'll just have to check out Alex's Instagram account, @MCCreatures, to find out!

What goes on inside that mind? Guess you’ll just have to check out Alex’s Instagram account, @MCCreatures, to find out!

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.

Alex being weird, aka, normal.

Alex being weird, aka, normal.

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.

Check out @MCCreatures for more of these guys!

Check out @MCCreatures for more of these guys!

xoxo,
Dawn

Worktime is Playtime

Worktime is Playtime

Worktime is Playtime

Just had such a fun audition, where I got to talk, interact, be me, and just PLAY!

It was the most fun I’ve had in ages!

Sometimes, we creatives understandably take our work so seriously because it’s how we make our living, but we’ve gotta remember what made us seek a creative life in the first place – that is to have fun, create, share our gifts and revel in the gifts of others.

When work time is play time, everyone wins – the people who are creating, and the viewers you’re creating the content for.

It just seemed right while feeling all childlike to pick up my favorite childhood treat of a 711 Slurpee.

Indulging in a favorite treat from your childhood is a super sweet way to tap into that inner child, who can help you create most authentically.

Now, speaking of childhood, it’s @DuranDuran at the @hollywoodbowl prep time, people.

xoxo,

Dawn

Turning Your Dream Into A Reality: Start Today

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I often speak to groups about how you can live a life that delights you – the kind of life that makes you excited to jump out of bed in the morning, and makes you rest easy at night. Inevitably, someone always asks this at the end, during the Q&A session: “But, how can I live a life I love and pursue my dreams if I have a job I don’t love and my day is filled with responsibilities, family and friends? There’s just simply no time!” Well, this picture above is a touching example of exactly how you accomplish this.

Yesterday morning, I was walking Miss Ellie in my neighborhood, and I saw this man taking pictures of trees, leaves and flowers across the street. He was dressed in scrubs, so I would imagine he is a doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant, orderly, or hospital worker. He was just on his walk to catch the bus, and stopped on his daily commute to capture some beauty along the way.

I could create a hundred scenarios of what this man’s life is like, but all we really need to know is this: he bought an 8mm camera to carry with him on his commute, so he could take pictures and do what he loves, in the spare few moments he had available to him. 


So, my message to you today? Don’t “wait” until the time is right to do what you love.

Start TODAY.

Do one thing today that gets you closer to your dreams.

I used to dream of living a fully creative life, where I could work from home, drive to studios, attend events and make a difference philanthropically. Now, that’s been my life for about 3 years. What many people may NOT know is that I always had a day job until 2012. I spent my free time before work, at lunch and after work, pursuing the dreams I really wanted, while working a job I was truly grateful to have, because it allowed me the means and freedom to pursue those dreams.

Did I ever feel resentful that my dreams hadn’t come true and I had to work a job I didn’t love? Heck, yeah. Every single day. But, I looked forward to the free time I did have that I could use to dedicate to my dreams.

I’ve had many dreams over the years, and some have come true, some haven’t, and some new dreams have been borne of broken dreams. But, I always carved out time for them, and left room for them to grow.

So, today, make the decision to use your time wisely. Take those few minutes in the car and record some book ideas you have, scribble some art while you’re eating lunch at work, or listen to an inspiring podcast while you go for your run. While it might seem like your dreams are ever so far away, the truth is they’re right inside you, just waiting to come alive.

 

xoxo,
Dawn

Dawn’s Diary: Dreams, Destiny and Detours

When I moved to Los Angeles in the early 2000s, I wanted more than anything to act, write and sing. I felt like it was my destiny. My calling. My friend, Sarah, once told me that I was one of the most confident people she’d ever met when it came to knowing what I wanted to do.

Confident I was not. In fact, my acting teacher in Austin – Mona Lee – once told me that my lack of confidence was the only thing standing in the way between me and success. By 2002, insecurity and fear had set in and had me by the throat.

Me, age 23

 

I never felt like I was “enough” – pretty enough/thin enough/talented enough/cool enough/confident enough  – to do all of the things I wanted to do in this town. I let fear take control of the wheel and acting and writing got the brakes. My day job of shopping for Barbra Streisand and my band, Hawkeye, ended up taking center stage and all my other dreams kind of fell into the background. I thought I had missed my chance and that the life I was going to live was going to be very different from the life I had always imagined for myself.

Fast forward to 2013 and I am so grateful that what used to be my “dream day” is now my normal day. I love waking up to check emails & blog feedback, auditioning and being a paid, working writer. What have I learned since those first days in LA? It really is a 10 year town. And dreams can come true – even if they’re not just like how you imagined them. Now, I am so grateful for the time it took and for the bends in the road I navigated to get me to this point.

 

Hard at work or at play?

 

Creativity reigns supreme in my life. I am never bored. And I am utterly delighted and humbly grateful to get to do what I do daily while being surrounded by people I love who inspire me.

 

Never bored - Writing, Singing, Voiceovers, Acting

 

 

Friends always ask how I am able to stay so busy and yet be so positive. I have found that  the old adage is true –  “if you really love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. While I still have many dreams yet to come true and a long way to go, I am so grateful for the daily dreams that are being actualized every single day. And every day, new ones present themselves to me. Next up? Hosting. Who knew?
If you have dreams that have been cast aside due to work obligations, family, time management or the-ever-defeating fear, try taking small steps to reintroduce them back into your life.

Ask yourself today, “If I could live any other life right now, what would I be doing?” It doesn’t mean that you have to change your whole life, it’s just the first chapter in finding the best ways to reintroduce your passions back into your life and live the life you’ve always imagined. After all…
It is never too late to make your dream a reality. 

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” (Steve Jobs)

 

xoxo,
BF

BF Asks: What’s holding you back from going after your dreams? 

High-Low 15: CAMP THANKSGIVING

I am calling this past week, Camp Thanksgiving!
It was craaaaaaazy busy! And I felt a bit like a camp counselor, or like Julie McCoy on The Love Boat, what with planning activities for the week for my brother and friends and me!
I had at least one event/activity every night and I will probably be catching up on sleep all week.

And this next week is my birthday week (the big day is on November 30th) so I have no time to get sick or exhausted!

Without further ado, here is High-Low 15!

HIGHS

 

1) A fashion illustration by the talented fashion artist/illustrator, Bee, at the J.Crew & Vogue party. I can’t wait to frame this piece!

 

 

2) My big brother came into town for Thanksgiving. It’s always so fun when he’s here! But, I swear, if he lived here year-round, I would never get ANYTHING done!

 

3) The most epic Thanksgiving ever with good friends. My most memorable to date. In my friend Sarah’s backyard with lots of candlelight, wine, games, laughter and a full-on dance party. I kept saying that I felt like we were in some winery commercial. So fun! We were up til 4:30!

4) All of the baking fun that comes with Thanksgiving!!

One of my friends said that this was the best pie he’d ever tasted!

Moonshine Pie (the recipe will be up on Friday):

Cowboy Corn Casserole:

Farmhouse Green Bean Casserole:

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits:

Pumpkin Cherry & Pumpkin Cranberry cupcakes:

And speaking of cupcakes, check out this southern church social/cakewalk spread. Utterly delightful & delicious!

5) The Counting Crows at The Wiltern with friends. Between staying up late, sleeping til noon and catching these guys, I was pretty sure I must have travelled back to 1997 in a time machine.

Such an amazing week and what a sweet way to see this year come to a close for me!

LOWS

Ahhhh, the lows. We have to have a good dose of those with the highs, now don’t we?

This week, I have three. Booooooo.

First of all, I’d like to address my sadistic curling iron: “Listen, honey, if we’re gonna be friends, you’re gonna have to stop burning me. Ouch! ” This is the second time that’s been a low in my life.

I had a miscommunication with a good friend and that pains me even more than the burn did. I feel miserable about it and my heart hurts. That’s when you know a friend is a good one – when you hurt because you may have hurt them. I hope it clears itself up soon. I hope.

And, lastly, as you guys know, I am a little on the Pollyanna side.
Okay, A LOT.
So when people bring out the hate, I am always shocked, appalled and – to be honest – a little amused. Last Friday, my dear friend – a talented blogger, writer, artist, photographer and social media expert was attacked on her personal wall on Facebook…by a “friend”. When will the unhappy & unfulfilled stop projecting their own self-hate onto other people who dare to stick their necks out creatively? Go into therapy, read a self-help book but don’t let the hate win, folks. Life is too short.

 

xoxo,
BF

BF Asks: What was your High-Low this week?