You get something, I get something.  I’ll buy your therapy.

Dish out your self-portrait. Be creative + crafty or dangerous + sharp.  Be you.  Exaggerate. Pour out some paint, throw in some mud, use your fingers, and make a mess!

Why should you waste time with chunks of crayon, erasers, and glue sticks?

Therapy.  It feels really good.  And who isn’t a tad narcissistic these days?  Check out my mermaid waves. Also, I’ll include a link to your website if you want some attention.

Other than a free therapy session (unleash your inner tarantula or unicorn), I buy you a drink. Since I can’t and won’t take you out for a drink, I’ll send you a drink via snail mail.  (Spend it on cotton swabs or jelly beans if you don’t drink alcohol.)

I get the doodle, and you get the drink.  Win-win-WIN.  There are stipulations, of course.  And I don’t just give drinks away.  Effort is necessary.

Here’s what you get when you give:

Share a self-portrait with your story, and you’ll be savoring a delicious PBR in no time. $3

→Bacon beer in your belly.  Submit a diorama with the story, and you will taste the meat in no time.  Cheers.  $5

→If you are eco-friendly and apply organic materials to the caricature (with story), then salt up the arm, a tequila shot is on the way.  Tequila! $7

→Ambitious and dangerous?  Two drawings with two stories = One delicious dirty martini.  Encourage a friend to play! $9

→Delight your friends.  Collect 5 self-portraits + stories.  Send.  Celebrate with a round of shots.  $21

It’s easy to submit.  Fill out the form.

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Photo Credit: E.Leigh Photography

When you were four-years-old, Y was your favorite letter. With a name like Yessica, your affection was understood. The obsession with Y quickly moved to why. You repeated it back to your indulging parents – heck, you repeated it back to anyone within a playhouse’s length from your dimples. Yes, your dimples and chub were your weapon, and you were adored despite the incessant repetition.

Why transformed from a simple word into something more revealing. It evolved into a question once you developed intonations. Why? led to lengthy explanations and tales from decades ago. Why? became your education and your source for wisdom and often times, dirty secrets.

Years have passed. Your dimples don’t glow as they did years ago. And the chub – well, the chub is cellulite. Lately, you’ve stopped asking why? Blame it on stress. Blame it on the lack of jubilee in your life. Blame it on your toxic job or even your beardless ex-boyfriend. Blame serves no purpose. Not here.

Instead of missing your old crush, you move forward. Call it an hour of empowerment or the result of a dirty martini, but you change. You find a new three-letter accomplice – How?

You know why you aspire for more innovation in your career, but you now ask, how? Help is needed. The task at hand is larger than you, Yessica.

You explore NYC until you capture the When I Grow Up Coach, Michelle Ward. Yes, Michelle is a certified life coach, but her talent, perspective, and personal experience far outweigh any framed document. She is exactly who you need.

How did Michelle become a Creative Career Coach in New York City?

“I went into life coaching because I wanted to be the person that I needed when I was 26 and trying to find my new career – so passionate about performing musical theater. After figuring out it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, it was hard for me to find someone that got that – that got that it was really a mourning period for me to let go of my childhood dream. I needed someone that believed it was feasible for me to find something else that I was equally passionate about,” Michelle shared.

Similar to many other gifted New Yorkers, Michelle is a Renaissance Soul. Performance is ingrained in her laughter.  Michelle accessorizes with a BFA in musical theater from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts, and she was featured on “Saturday Night Live”. Michelle admitted, “I miss performing at the level I used to do it. I always have a cabaret show in my head. I always think about what I can do to sing more. I’d love to start art journaling and writing even though I’m not a writing coach. Writing is such a big part of my marketing with my blog and newsletter.”

How do you successfully skate forward once you know what you want from your creative career?

Without the ease and ability to shove her executive assistant job into the port-o-potty, Michelle made a plan. Since authenticity is the core of Michelle’s ideology, she didn’t want to hide the less-than-glamourous aspects of her early business beginnings. “When I started coaching, I kept my day job hidden. … Once I exposed my day job and once I started documenting where I was in my business and how I was able to make it work, I became transparent. I’ve heard more than once from people that they like the fact that I’ve done what they aspire to do, and I’ve done it recently. Clients know from working with me that I’m not someone who comes from this wealthy family and sits at home and decided to become a life coach one day.

“I always tell people, ‘I don’t have magic fairy dust, I didn’t have three wishes granted to me, and I didn’t win the lottery’ – I literally decided that I was going to be a life coach, and then I figured out how to do it without falling flat on my face the first week. I built myself the biggest safety net I could possibly design, taking baby steps every day. My clients find their own way to do it – not my way. Not everyone needs to get an executive assistant job and work there for 2 years and 7 months while they get certified and build their business.”

How can you build your own creative career when your time is limited?

Michelle advises, “Be clear about your goals and do something every day. It’s not about waiting around for a free afternoon and inspiration. … While I was limited to my cubicle and building my business, I knew I had to blog, I had to tweet, and I had to start talking to people online. I did that every-single-freaking-day. It was great because it wasn’t torturous or horrible. I really liked doing it. It is important to figure out what marketing aspects work for you. Commit 15 minutes here and there.”

Designing a tailored career can lead to endless options. Michelle suggests, “You don’t have to put yourself into one box. Thank the Lord it is 2010 and there are so many options out there for us.” Touch upon the basics – your essential oils of pleasure, e.g. hobbies and interests. “I’m really adamant about still performing. It is hard to find opportunities in NYC when you aren’t super serious about acting full-time. … I’m still so new in my business that it would make my head explode if I had to rehearse and audition every day. My husband writes a show, new episodes of 80’s and 90’s sitcoms, and I pretty much force him to cast me in whatever part I want – I’ll sing a lot of the theme songs which I love – so that’s sort of how I get that fix. I’ll probably start taking improv classes. I’d like to start doing something more visually creative. I’m not an artist in any shape or form.”

But Michelle is an artist. Her palette consists of questions, insights, and intuition. As she adds layer upon layer of truth and strategy with clients, vision and sweat align. Creative careers are fertilized.

How do you stay true to yourself and your vision?

“After Danielle LaPorte’s Firestarter Session, my big takeaway was simple: no one else is going to be able to tell me what I need to do for myself. I’m very big on listening to my gut. Ugh I’ve turned into such a hippy!  It’s always important to follow your instinct,” added Michelle.

How To Find Michelle Ward:

1. Discover Michelle’s first e-course, The Declaration of You
2. Tweet, tweet, SQUAWK
3. Surf the web
4. Wander over to Facebook
5. Delight in Spring – Inspiration in Bloom

Yellow eyebrows

May 20, 2010

“My sister was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease when she was in her early 40’s.  By the time they figured out what she had, they gave her three months to live.  She ended up living for three years, due in large part to her fervent love for her young daughters.

Her name is Kathy.  She was technically my half sister, but was like a mother to me.  I packed up all of my things and moved from Florida to California at her suggestion when I was in my early 20’s.  It never occurred to me that anything ‘bad’ could happen to a young woman in a car alone on a three or four day trip across the country with all of her possessions in her car, including a large television more or less in plain view in the back seat; and nothing bad did happen.

She took me into the fold, made me part of her family.  We would take long walks and she would listen to me rattle off incessantly about whoever I was dating at the time – she was patient with me as I painstakingly dissected every conversation and wrung my hands over every nuance of what was said.

She was home.

So I painted her.  Tried to convey the strength of my love for her and the power of her courage with the color choices.  Most of all I tried to capture the pain in her eyes.  The resignation.  The fear.  And a glimmer of hope in her yellow eyebrows.

It occurred to me long after the painting was done that her eyes were green.  Mine are blue.

I had painted my eyes into her face.”

-Art and story by Lisa Valle, 44, from Portland, Oregon

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Art by Melissa Garrett (daughter) from Bristol, Tennessee

“My name is Melissa. I have always felt like I was born in the wrong area.

I feel that I would better ‘fit in’ in a large metropolitan area, such as New York or LA. However, I went to a very rural high school in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. It was not out of the ordinary for the students of my high school to wear their overalls and roper boots to school, fully adorned in the cow and horse manure from working on their families’ farms early that morning.

Agriculture and Horticulture were the most popular areas of study at my high school. Old pick-up trucks with a dead deer in the back from the owner’s most recent hunting trip were plenteous. I, on the other hand, did not find this aspect of my area’s culture attractive in the least bit.

Each morning when I got ready for school, unlike the others, I did not think of what would be most comfortable to wear that day. I focused on what was stylish and appealing. I spent much of my time with my fashion magazines. My dream job is to be a fashion stylist of the stars (although I am currently in college to become a nurse).

As my picture describes, I treated the halls of my school like a run-way, modeling the fashionable looks that I put together. I did stand-out from the ‘norm’ of my peers, but I didn’t mind. I love expressing myself through style.”

-Melissa Garrett, 20-years-old

Art by Barbie Garrett (mother) from Bristol, Tennessee

“This is a self-portrait reflecting my vision of who I am.  As I was having fun drawing, I was reflecting that this is not how others see me, I think. I started to send a picture of just two green eyes on a white background.  I see myself that way sometimes, on the outside looking in.  And invisible.

This reflects the parts of me I enjoy.  I purposely left out my family, even though that is so much of who I am.  And, I purposely left out my faith, which is also much of who I am.  This is just a simple ‘look at me’.

I spend much of my time out on the porch, working on my laptop in my porch swing.  I am a freelance writer, and this is a lot of who I am. I am the Social Media Examiner for the Knoxville Examiner. I write about many different topics, but it is often cooking and crafts. I am a kitchen gadget addict:  I have 3 bread machines and 3 rice cookers.

I am a church organist and a former piano teacher.  I do a lot of things, but I usually do them on the front porch in my porch swing.

Obviously, I am a philosopher, and not an artist!”

Barbie Garrett, 50-years-old

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Eggs: sunny-side up

April 8, 2010

This adventurous couple brightens my day every time I receive a new creative self-portrait from Miss Rose.  Always clever and always playful.  Keep ’em coming!

Check out previous self-portraits from Miss Rose and her partner in crime, NTAG.

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A garden portrait

March 24, 2010

“Usually, I am an artist of a different sort: despite the world, I am a poet (if I could define that better, I wouldn’t be one).  Still, I have spent some time with drawing and painting, and the bespectacled man within this portrait is my own creation of a character of myself to comment upon my works.

The written word is always around me, and I personally see visions either in words or in the sound of words.  It is really rather hard for me to envision something concretely.  But to put sounds together, or string together words in an interesting way — that comes quickly, and flows out.  Which is why the whole sheet is covered in a scrawl.

I’ve quoted a favorite poet, added some of my own meditations, and that line of books in the background reveals my own shameful ambition.  I have picked a canon of poetry, from the Gawain poet to Pound, and placed myself at the end.

To be a poet, I think, is a very difficult task, and in its way is as precise as a Master painting.  Each stroke and each layer must lay the right thickness that lets a metaphor emerge without becoming too obvious.  My own work(s) are usually an emergence from the underworld, or a grail quest/argonautica.  So I added the grail, and I layered a green place I dearly love over a desert waste.

Because, quite honestly, I succumb all too often to a deep and black despair– that human sense of having known Eden once– if one could only remember.
I am not the center of my self portrait. I never could be, because, quite often these days, I seem to change with the act like a simplistic Wilde caricature.

More important than my self, or the objects layered over the garden/desert combination, is the greenery.  The central thesis, I suppose, is the ability of renewal of nature, the joy of spring coming into bloom.

My happiest times are well described in Andrew Marvell’s Poem The Garden:

‘Annihilating all that’s made,
To a green thought in a green shade.’

That’s why his book, in the rack behind my head (my influences) is given a Holy star.”

-Art and story by Harrison White of Corvallis, Oregon

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Miss Rose (Charlotte Rowe) and NTAG (Noah Gunnell) created their own self-portraits using magic markers, skin, and their imaginations.

“Noah and I are known for our ongoing joint shenanigans.  We’ll pretty much do anything for a laugh/smile. 🙂  We’ve been doing so since 2008. For a glimpse into our world, please visit our Blogspot. Thanks for the excuse to get creative!”  -Miss Rose

I have a crush on this colorful couple.  After checking out their shenanigans on this website, I not only wanted to hang out with the vibrant pair in Portland, but I also wanted to know more about them:

Where did they meet?  What do they do?  Favorite date together?  Best adventure?

Spread the love and share the creativity!

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