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

High-Low 6/3/14: Synchronicity & Ricky Nelson

Yet again, it’s time for the most popular column on BeautyFrosting – my High-Low. *So what exactly is a High-Low, you ask? High-Low is the BEST & WORST part of your day, week, month, etc. I started this tradition with friends & family after I discovered it through a movie decades ago. Not only is it useful for the sake of reflection but it is also an excellent way to communicate with your spouse, kids or friends over the dinner table. By introducing this tradition to folks, parents have told me that their kids have opened up more and friends have told me that their spouses have become more communicative. Try it for yourself and let me know what your experience is…

***

HIGH: Synchronicity

High: Heroes Becoming Friends - Tracy McMillan & I at Step Up's Inspiration Awards

Synchronicity is defined as the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality.

Increasingly, I am starting to believe in sychronicity in our lives and that we really do in fact become what we envision. I have seen it quite a bit in my own life and although that dubious cynic in my head likes to battle the Polyanna in my heart and perk its head up when it happens, it’s becoming difficult to ignore. Here are a few reasons why the cynic isn’t winning which I was reminded of this week when I ran into my friend, Tracy McMillan at the Step Up Inspiration Awards.

1) I grew up listening to country music. My dad used to tell stories of listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio in his room as he fell asleep as a child. So imagine my dad’s delight when I played the Grand Ole Opry back in 2003 and 2005 and he got to come backstage to the place that shaped his youth and helped him escape a rather difficult childhood. It was one of my all-time favorite dream-turned-reality moments.

2) I used to read Moll Anderson’s column in Nashville Lifestyles every month as I ate macaroni and cheese on my lunch break while working at a beauty store in Nashville. At the time, I was missing L.A. and feeling like my best opportunities had passed me by. I felt a little hopeless and I saw this gorgeous, smart, creative and inspiring woman living the life that I could only imagine living. Fast forward 5 years and I randomly (or was it?) met Moll’s son in the elevator of an office that we shared in Hollywood. Now, I am a correspondent for Beauty Beat on The Moll Anderson Show every week on iHeartRadio and I call Moll my dear friend and inspiring mentor. And let me tell you, knowing her is even more inspiring than reading her.

I used to read her column in Nashville Lifestyles. Now, I call her my friend and mentor.

3) Another example? When I was going through a rather painful breakup with my ex (don’t worry, he’s now my best friend), I was depressed. So depressed that I had been sitting around my house, drowning myself in breakup movies and Friday Night Lights episodes – trying to forget what might have been. At one point, I knew I needed to get out. So I made myself go out to a wine bar called Bottle Rock in Culver City…alone.

I sat on a couch outside and there was another single girl there, Alexandra. We ended up chatting and, after sharing our stories, she told me that I MUST read this book called, I Love You And I’m Leaving You Anyway: A Memoir by Tracy McMillan. Alexandra told me that I would get so much out of it at that point in my life. I bought the book on Amazon that very night and had read it within 4 days. I loved it and consider it a huge part of my heart-healing process. A few months later, my dear friend, Amy, came by and saw the book sitting on my table. “Did you read this? My friend Tracy is the author.” I was stunned.

I ended up meeting Tracy a few months later at Amy’s holiday party and am now grateful to call her my friend. And she continues to inspire me as writer and as a person. I have never seen Alexandra again but we are friends on Facebook. If I had not made myself go out, not chosen to go to that wine bar, not chosen to sit outside, sit on that couch or near Alexandra, I never would have read that book that inspired me so much. And I never would have been able to meet one of my now-literary heroes.

4) I’ve seen it with my friends, as well. When I worked for Barbra Streisand, I met Moe and Tini who came on to the team as Barbra’s assistants. Moe and Tini had been loyal Barbra fans since their childhood days in Philly. When they ended up working for Barbra in Malibu, there was no way to ignore that their dreams had turned into their realities. Now, they’re on to their next dreams of being writers/directors/producers and have an amazing film in pre-production based on their Philly days.

5) And I also saw it with Tracy McMillan, herself. She – and her friends – recall countless times that she said her dream was to be on Oprah. This past May, that dream came true when she appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

So don’t tell me that synchronicity isn’t real. Don’t tell me that dreams don’t come true. And don’t be afraid to believe in the beauty of your dreams. Those dreams are some powerful things, my friends. Believe that they just might come true. And look for the synchronicity in your life for synchronicity is basically just a reminder that your dreams are works-in-progress, just waiting to come true in their own time.

LOW: Ricky Nelson Knew Best

LOW: Ricky Nelson Knew Best

As I have mentioned before, I tend to be a major people pleaser – so much so that I have been working at trying to become a little less of a people pleaser. But it is no easy task. While I don’t make it a habit of letting down people, in the past few months, I have done just that a few times. One of my best friends is not talking to me because I was tardy in replying to a text when she needed me…apparently very much. Another friend told me this past weekend that I hadn’t been as actively supportive and helpful of their career as they would like while they have always been my biggest champion.

Listen, these are not things I enjoy admitting. It breaks my heart and makes me question whether I am on the right path a bit. But here’s the thing: I know that I am. I am just learning new boundaries, taking care of myself and slowly – very slowly  – learning not to take everything so personally. My parents used to love Ricky Nelson – and he was, in fact, one of the first concerts I attended as a small child. So that might be why the lines from his song, “Garden Party” keep ringing in my head. “I’ve learned my lesson well. See, you can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.”

Well, I’ll still probably try to make people happy  – most especially those people I love. But I am learning that in this busy game called life, you can only do your best and leave the rest – and hope that you can be forgiven when you fall short. Because you will – as hard as you try not to – sometimes, fall short.

xoxo,
BF

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