Creative Pain & Other Discomforts

Confession: I’ve been sitting on an article for a while because I’m afraid to write it. What’s especially embarrassing is that it was my idea- and something I’m excited to talk about. What’s stopping me? MYSELF! My own dang mind.

The worst creative pain is seeing someone do what you’re afraid to do.
— Hallie Rose Taylor

I’m seeing all of these incredible women do these amazing things, and I’m awed into inaction.


Carson Tate’s article for 99u about intellectual discomfort called out to me almost as loud as Hallie’s knock-out line. As soon as I combined the tools from Tate’s article with the emotion Hallie’s, I was ready to go. Google docs are popping up like bluebonnets and I’m pushing myself to work through the nerves and discomfort. As I worked, a pattern started to emerge though, and it wasn’t pretty.

I would write a few lines and then check my phone, or discover I was simply too thirsty to finish that sentence. I would make a dozen little adjustments to my desk, fidget a little more and then, then I could write. Fidget. Adjust. Repeat.

No wonder I wasn’t getting anywhere! I leaned into distractions and gave them way more weight than they deserved. So now I’m working on writing when I want to fidget, or check my phone one more time. Engaging in my work as it deserves to be engaged.

I’m also employing my “five more minutes” rule. When I get the urge to get up from my desk or distract myself, I give myself permission… if I just work for 5 more minutes. What I’m finding is that I don’t actually need to get up, it was just the resistance trying to throw me off my game. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.)

I encourage you to read Tate’s article and visit Hallie’s site. Both women have a unique perspective to work— and how they work— with everyday life applications. More importantly though, I encourage you to sit down with your project— whatever it is— for just 5 (more) minutes. Trust me, you don’t want to know that you were the one standing in your own way.

Oh. And if you're wondering, I submitted the article. I'll let y'all know if it's accepted!

Send Yourself Fan Mail This Year

Two days ago I co-hosted a goal setting workshop with Pei, who runs The Paper + Craft Pantry. Both Pei and the P+C Pantry are true delights and it was a wonderful way to kick-off 2016! One of my favorite parts of the workshop, aside from the donuts and coffee, was when Pei handed out cards and instructed us to write to our future selves about the goals we've already accomplished 6 months in to 2016, and whatever else our hearts desired. Pei is going to mail them to us in a few months and we'll get to see what 2016-newbie me had to say! It was a fun exercise in visualizing what I want, and I'm using that feeling to stay motivated this week... and this month. 

I'm sure I say this every year around this time, but 2016 feels different... charged. So I'm taking that energy and running with it. The mundane tasks like go to the eye doctor and flossing have their roles to play in shaping me into the woman I wrote to on Sunday. Also on Sunday (it was a big day!), I met with another pal to talk about potentially working together. While that project is temporarily shelved, that meeting was a step in the right direction. Our meeting definitely influenced what I wrote to my future-self and what I think is possible this year.

I hear a lot of talk of "oh I wish I could tell my younger self this or that..." but what would you tell your older self? Your goal-getting self? Write to the you that you want to be in 6+ months and congratulate yourself on what you've done! Ask questions about specific parts of your goals and give yourself well earned praise. Ask a trusted friend or family member to [set an alarm and] mail it to you on an agreed upon date. Who knows- when it shows up in your mail box, it may give you extra motivation to take action on some of your goals. That letter could also keep you inspired throughout the year or serve as a much-needed piece of fan mail.

So go on and let your future self know how proud you are to be you!


Countdown to Summer Solstice- Part 3

Today wraps up my recap of my first bike camping trip. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here or read most of it over at Swift Industry's wanderlust-inducing blog. (Bonus: Photos by Gideon).

Day 3 was an early one and the prospect of an easy 40-ish mile ride home made our sunrise departure that much more pleasant. The sunrise group had to get home in order to be at work that afternoon, to finish up graduate school work and to take a nap (yours truly). Our yoga teacher and fellow Swift Navigator was Houston bound for a criterium race, where he ended up placing in the top 10. The final group out took advantage of Bastrop’s Main Street for a second breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and waffles.

This trip pushed me further than I had ever gone- on a bike and beyond what I thought I could do. It was also a reminder that living in Austin means we're so close to some really incredible state and national parks. We're lucky, y'all. If you have any questions about the Swift Campout, or bike camping in general, please let me know. If you're not sure you're able to make it out to Bastrop next weekend, there are plenty of other nearby (and bikeable!) places to camp. (I have friends who will be adventuring in McKinney Falls for the Solstice- let me introduce you!)

It was roughly 120 miles of road, dirt, gravel and hills. 7 pizzas and an uncounted amount of tacos and bagels were consumed. One armadillo sighting. Two campfires and many cups of campfire coffee enjoyed. I’d say we’re pretty ready for Swift Campout 2015. Bring on the Solstice!

Countdown to Summer Solstice- Part 2

It doesn't take much to get excited about summer! Swift Industries is kicking summer off in the best way possible- one giant  camp out during Summer Solstice. 

You can read Part 1 of our adventures here. For more photos you can check out what I shared over at Swift Industry's blog here.

Day two was for swimming and looking at trees.

Arguably the best part of camping is camp coffee and that was in full effect on Day 2. We let the sunrise wake us up and sleepily made our way to our various coffee set-ups. We talked about the various rustling we heard that night and one camper excitedly shared that it was an armadillo bumbling around camp, bumping into our bikes and tents. Not only that, it was the first armadillo she had seen since moving to Texas! We figured it was a good sign, since the armadillo is considered Beat The Clock’s spirit animal.

Bye Matthias! He was Austin bound and we met up after the camping trip. As of this post, he's made it to the Grand Canyon.

After making breakfast we broke camp and turned our sights back to Bastrop State Park. We said goodbye to our new friends as they headed to Houston and Austin, and we hopped back onto Park Road 1C. Part of the group branched off for a dirt ride into camp while the rest revisited the hills. The camp vibes were strong with us- Bastrop’s pool opened 20 minutes after we arrived at the park. Day 2 was full of burgers, swimming and plenty of lounging. After camp was set up, one of Beat The Clock’s founders led a camp yoga session, using logs as props and attracting some curious stares from the Girl Scout camp set up next to us.

For dinner we finished up the pizzas and made a few tacos for good measure. We enjoyed a mellow night following a sun and pool soaked day and turned in early- I think the Girl Scouts were up later than we were. The moon was almost full that night, making our headlamps almost unnecessary.

My favorite camper. 

Countdown to Summer Solstice- Part 1

In less than two weeks, Summer will be upon us! What better way to celebrate than with friends, bicycles and some campfire coffee? A group of us set out last month to do some research to find the perfect campsite. Mission accomplished. This week I'll share our adventures in 3 parts- one for each day of adventuring. But if you want to skip ahead, you can read all about it on Swift's Blog.

The first weekend in May was beautiful-  warm, sunny days and clear, cool nights. A weekend made for bike camping. Thirteen of us gathered to drink coffee and do some reconnaissance work for Swift Industries’ Summer Solstice Campout on June 20th -22nd. It was possibly one of the brightest rides I’ve ever been on. Plus when you infuse Beat The Clock Cycling Club with some Swift Industries, you know good times and camp vibes ahead: Three days of riding alongside ranches teaming with young livestock, past a ghost town and finally through the charred pines of Bastrop sprinkled with new growth.  

Jolene demonstrates how to fully enjoy a bike ride.

We rolled out Friday morning armed with sunscreen and coffee. We took Walnut Creek Trail out of Austin. There were a few stubborn wildflowers still happily showing off and we enjoyed a shaded ride thanks to Texas’ early spring. The gradual incline of the trail was our warm-up and it let us know we weren’t in Austin anymore. We made it to Manor for a quick snack break and then it was on to Elgin for Tex-Mex (and a margarita).

Park Road 1C in Bastrop. So. Many. Hills.

Fueled up, we headed toward the much anticipated gravel portion of our trip. But before we got to the gravel we had to ride alongside some small ranches. Expecting to be chased by dogs, I was happily surprised that instead we were escorted by cows and their young running alongside the fences as we passed. Then came the gravel, eight glorious miles of it. A skidding competition ensued, taking advantage of a time-out to change a couple of flats. The gravel turned back into road and we neared Bastrop, the suggestion that we “save some for the park road” made its way through our group. Another snack break and then we were at Bastrop State Park. We still  had 12 miles of rolling hills ahead of us until we made it to our first night’s campsite in Buescher State Park.

Blackberries and spirit socks.

The scenery in Bastrop is pretty surreal. In 2011, Bastrop State Park was ravaged by wildfires. All along our route was evidence of that terrible summer- epic pines charred and cut down and bald spots existed in what was once a lush forest. But new growth was everywhere- bright green little pines against the black and grey giants. There were even blackberries growing in abundance.

We set up our camp and then split into two parties. Party One set out on pizza duty, while Party Two got the fires going and made friends with three other bike campers who happened to roll through: a German woodworker taking 5 months to ride from Atlanta to Vancouver; and two women riding from San Diego and Phoenix, respectively, en route to Florida. Pizza and beverages were shared among everyone, along with stories and some pretty big goals. Quietly, campers slipped off to their tents and Day 1 was complete.

Home for the night.