This morning on my daily walk as I often do I listened to a podcast, 1. so that I can consciously study at the same time (studying the way a conversation is molded by the host, etc. etc.) and 2. So I’m not alone in my head worrying about God knows what. Just for context because I’m sure everyone (I’m everyone) would want to know, the podcast was Design Matters with Debbie Millman and her guest the week was Adam J.K Kurtz. Now onto the point!
About 30 minutes into the episode they began to unpack the title of his new piece of work, “You are here (for now)”. Before they dove in I found myself easily creating my own ideas about what it meant, but I noticed my initial thoughts were all projecting and for this episode to be useful I knew it would be best if I was more present then controlling. They continued to talk and like a bat out of hell (old saying my mom used to tell me growing up), Debbie mentioned one of her own revelations, “If not now then when?”. I felt called to ask myself a even simpler question, “If not now, when?”.
Over the summer I wrote a book, not just any book but a book that led with the message, “You can make it happen !”, anything that is. But on a real surfaced level I was struggling to make things happen for myself and I didn’t feel it was “right” for me to give advice on a journey I haven’t yet finished. So I put my 200+ page book down after countless edits, numerous drafts and so forth and decided to let it be as I easily moved on to another project calling me. But a strange thing happened recently, I felt the pull again, the pull back to the book that bleed my deepest insecurities! But with even greater context, I now hold deeper clarity and in a nutshell, way more confidence but the insecurities remain. I decided the best thing to do is, do it, go back to the book that people need. After many interviews now and conversations with creatives, I know the value it serves and even though its been a few months, I feel ready (again).
Todays entry is kind of a reminder to not only “do the thing”, but to also “do it now”. Because the chance of “when“, is not a choice we have the luxury to play around with.
May this encourage you to start something new or if your like me, finish something you started.
Guys! I haven’t written a blog post since July and its mind-blowing to think its been that long!!!! So whats new with you? I really hope that life is treating you well and so many beautiful things are taking place in your life in so many ways. So why am I here? Good question, truthfully I came back to give a small refresh to the menu and homepage, keeping it more simple and straight to the point. But I’ve had so many amazing changes take place since July, that I also wanted to write about it and share.
Here’s whats been going on!
- I moved out of my downtown office back into my home with 2 dogs, its a transition but it deeply felt like the next step for some reason.
- I pivoted my company into a brand called “We Are Made Studios”, a beautiful space of being that gives birth to the story, work and voice of creative people of color. A direction that has been calling to me since around 2017 but for some reason I was too scared to move forward back then, but luckily its unfolding beautifully today.
- I’m facilitating gatherings in partnership with CreativeMornings to add love and guidance back into the creative community, I even joined the local chapter to help out!
- We just wrapped up season I of My Conversations with Creatives, a podcast that teaches creative people how to make better work, buttttttt we will be transitioning into life advice for creatives next season for many reasons. But all good reasons I promise, ALSO season 2 launches this December!
- We Are Made Podcast, a black creative series also launches this December, which is wildly exciting because I’ve gotten to interview so many amazing people and have deep inspiring conversations and selfishly walk away with a friend.
Those are the major changes taking place on my end and so many beautiful pockets of growth are on there way, in the meantime be sure to listen to season I of My Conversations with Creatives and also check out We Are Made Studios! Thank you guys so much for reading this post and if you made it to the end bonus points for being an awesome person, talk soon guys!
I haven’t written a blog in almost 30 days and a large part of me is excited to be back.
I’m in the process of editing my book and I had a lot of emotions surface that began to take me over, I could physically feel myself getting overwhelmed. You see when I originally wrote this book, I had a very different audience and intention in mind but now that I’m rolling into my 4th edit, I almost find myself rewriting it completely. I’ve started over twice now, I’m honestly removing majority of the thoughts that I had placed in the book before.
The tone is changing, I’m adding illustrations and featuring other creatives now. I can tell the difference between who I was when I first began writing this book and now, I’m way more confident in myself, in my message. Back then I was trying hard to prove to myself and others that what I was doing was important enough not to quit. Now I’m questioning if that has done more harm then good, only because I’m taking so much out.
Funny enough I just finished a chapter on stress, I wrote about how when this feeling arises to lean into the new experience because sometimes that all it is. You find yourself in a unfamiliar condition (in my case writing a book for the first time) and its exactly that, my first time. I find myself battling against my own thoughts and the most beautiful part about this self-awareness no matter how I’m feeling in the moment. The advice that I’m giving, the insights and research I have included all point back to something I needed to hear too.
I needed to hear what I do maters, I needed to hear that someone believed in me even if it was only me, I needed to here congrats on writing a book, I needed to hear I’m proud of you.
If your anything like me, overwhelmed and fighting against where you are now. Allow yourself to let go and play, it’s simple yet effective advice that I put in the book, and as I learn to take my own advice. I see that maybe just maybe this book could truly help someone because at this moment its helping me.
Thank you for listening to me rank about being in the process, I really appreciate it.
For many years I’ve searched to find my voice or my “style” per say, but I’m slowly beginning to realize its more about creating it. Creating an idea and exploring what it means to redesign the way you present it to the world.
At one point I was so overly obsessed with color palettes and Instagram feed aesthetic when really I should have been developed to owning my ideas and just running with them. Not trying to make them so perfect that I get lost in the beginning and never give my work to the world.
This is a new start, giving myself permission to continue expanding who I am into my work and allowing it to change others. May this inspire you too.
For the past 5 days I’ve been busy creating. I realized that a lot the work that I preach, I also have to continue to practice. Sometimes I forget that the teacher is just as much a student.
I identify as a writer who teaches and I usually devote myself to such creation, but lately I’ve grown this new interest to use my words in my drawings. Something I’ve exposed before but didn’t give myself enough time to practice being sucky at it before I gave up and went back to my old ways.
Lately I’ve spent houuuuurs drawing, hours exploring my imagination, hours just simply being in the work, in the process. I’ve been developing workshops for the past month and I found myself becoming bored, and if you know me, I never get bored.
Here’s what I learned by following the rabbit hole of my curious new interest:
When you put words on paper they come alive, but when you put words with art that represents the hidden message. You create a new way of being in the world.
So just for future reference if you don’t hear from me, just know I’m most likely off somewhere exploring new interest.
Yesterday for the first time I witnessed the train passing near my new office. I’ve been here for nearly 2 months as the world began to open back up and never once had the train come. As I stare out the window I feel hopeful, hopeful Imani? Listen it’s the first word that came to me, so let’s roll with it.
How can you feel hopeful from just watching a train pass? Good question. You see the train never came because it wasn’t ready yet, it wasn’t its time, it didn’t have a purpose or a use, but when it was needed it showed up. Something new happened for the first time in 2 months and for once I witnessed something different. It reminds me a lot about the space I’m in right now, I’m just as hopeful, waiting until its my turn, when I’m ready, when my work is needed. No longer forcing, or moving against resistance, simply present and understanding that life will call you when it’s time.
I’ve been growing into this idea of creating more space for the things I truly want to do. Truthfully I have a bad habit of saying yes and doing things that I honestly don’t want to do. I realized as an adult how hindering it is to spread yourself thin as you choose others in this context over self.
Saying no to the right things is wildly beneficial, it opens up space for even better things to greet you. It allows you to feel comfortable in choice and self expression, it grants you permission to simply be who you are in every space.
I never needed permission but it’s nice to know that I have an option in it all. That I can be heard too.
“Focus on what you can control.” – (Insert the amazing person who said it first)
But no really, my life has consisted of me just trying to figure things out on my own and in most cases make-up for areas in which I didn’t feel my strongest. I was the president of people-pleasing and even worse, the CEO of self-criticism, no one could tell from the outside but I would mentally punish myself into thinking I wasn’t good enough. I could only point out the people who didn’t understand me, the jobs or opportunities I didn’t get, never once did I acknowledge the accomplishments I succeeded in.
Try to avoid at all cost doing everything I wrote above.
Life got muddy as I got older, I started going by my middle name freshmen year in college and it created a different level of comfort for me. I was placed smack dab in the middle of all of me with what felt like a million other students who were just as confused about who they were as me. I often think about why I made that decision, maybe because it’s the first time someone asked me what I preferred to be called, maybe I was unconsciously trying to hide but to me, I just wanted to start over, I wanted a start fresh. I wanted space to grow into myself and this in my eyes was my opportunity.
What I learned by going by my middle name:
1.) Focus on what you can control, its not easy but its worth it.
2.) Everyone won’t like you and thats ok, it leaves more for people you like.
3.) You can’t please the world, trust me I tried!
4.) Don’t forget about yourself, pleasssssse.
5.) Speak up the first time, so you don’t bottle it up and explode later.
6.) You’re more amazing then you give yourself credit for, just ask someone who loves you.
7.) Silver linings are cool but creating difference is better.
8.) Eat out more, its almost the same as buying groceries (just ask you bank account).
9.) It’s ok to be seen, you deserve it.
10.) You are worthy, I approve this message.
This message is for me just as much as it is for you. So to you, the wonderful person who I’m sure can use a creative pep-talk, you’re hot sh*t, now let the world witness your greatness. Don’t worry about the rest.
I keep the note “I believe in you” on my board directly in front of my writers desk.
What does it do for me?
Sometimes you just need to hear it, sometimes you need to feel it, sometimes it helps you remember that what your doing matters and theres someone who has your back.
Todays post is dedicated to someone who needs to hear it too, “I believe in you”.
In a world where it’s easier to get a 9-5 to make ends meet, how often do we advise creatives to do the thing first? Maybe you didn’t go to college or maybe you didn’t have a choice and picked a major that sounded cool until you realized by junior year it wasn’t for you but it’s too late to start over.
What I’m trying to say is practice now, do now, don’t wait for permission, for someone to choose you, don’t wait for your parent’s approval (it may take a while), don’t even ask your friends if it’s the right thing to do. If this “thing” your creating, making, publishing or even selling makes “sense” to you, then DO IT!
Too often we get into this weird habit of listening to the intentions of someone else over our own and to be honest, it needs to come to an end. We are wild, heart-filled creatives with so much darn amazingness inside of us that we have become a side dish aka an extra in our own movie. You have what it takes, you always have.
I don’t know how old you are, where you are in your life, what fears you have, who doesn’t support you, I want you to make a promise to yourself that today, you do the thing first. Regardless if you land on your hands or your ass, trust me or better yet…learn to trust you.
Whats your first? The first thing you will change, do, create? What is that thing? The thing that inspires you and scares you at the same time? The thing you couldn’t imagine living your life without trying?
That first is what needs your attention, go there.
We have no idea if that’s true, most times we don’t notice the difference between the taste of Dasani water from Fiji water. In the eyes of many, water is all the same, but the truth is it’s not. Many intentional companies spend a diligent amount of research and money filtering the streams and adding the right amount of PH to give consumers the best tasting results. But when we go to buy water, we can’t see that from the outside. From the outside, we often either judge by the packaging, believe what we’re told, or deny its ability to matter.
The work that we do doesn’t matter to the people that can’t see the difference it can make from the outside, because difference can’t be bought with marketing. Just like water, difference can only be experienced. No one goes to the movies because a $25 date after tickets and popcorn sounded like a good idea on a Tuesday. What they were buying was the experience they hoped to receive from the movie. Whether that’s excitement, freedom, joy, or happiness, to consumers it’s well worth it.
How is your project better? Have you allowed others to experience it? If not, it’s about time you start.
I’m a teacher who religiously preaches that you have to do the uncomfortable sometimes not so fun work, it helps you develop a practice and do the personal work that goes on to become something more. But I’m also big on doing work that feels good to you, whether that means being excited about a project or a partnership, creating work just for fun with no true intention or need. Simply doing things because it feels good to just do, that part matters.
This blog is just a reminder to you and me, start doing work that feels good again. Because how you feel matters.
We all have ideas about how our life is “supposed to” go, but what do we do when things change? Then what? Do we give up? Start over? Call mom? Call a friend? How do we keep going? By changing our attitude.
Life is never what it seems, it’s hard, tiring, sticky and overwhelming sometimes. But also fun, new and inviting. We’re frustrated because we haven’t gotten a handle on the concept of it yet and things seem to really suck at times. I get it, trust me. Hear me out, you see attitude is key, what I mean is, change the way you see the world, the way you witness an experience. One experience may be realllllly uncomfortable but what if just for a moment we saw it as exciting? How about interesting? After a while a sudden shift takes place unconsciously.
Our mind controls our reactions and we to an extent control our mind. Start with a perspective shift and see where your new found attitude leads you.
We all have experiences that shape us into who we are. Whether good or bad, life has a deep influence on the way we see the world and each other. For me, my entire life has led me here and I wasn’t present enough to notice it until now.
In elementary school, I entered our Sunshine State writing contest.
In middle school, I wrote and performed poetry that won “most inspirational”.
In high school, I found my voice and decided to double major in Journalism & Psychology.
In college, I switched my major junior year to Public Relations. I wrote for our newspaper, learned how to photoshop, created a magazine for my graphics class, designed shirts for my class projects.
Later to be sold and featured alongside other creative work in the art building.
After college, I wrote an ebook and launched it on Esty.
A couple of months later I launched a self-empowerment brand called Eleven10Tweleve selling hats & shirts that shared the message “CreateYourself”.
I went on to write another book.
I’ve created and inspired the very thing I live and breathe now, and for some reason today (really yesterday) I’m present enough to notice the journey I’ve been a part of.
To my lovely reader, follow life and really pay attention to not only where your growing but more importantly where you’re going.
A lot of the “risks” I take are scary to some, but to me, they’re the next best thing. I focus diligently on moving through my fear, not pretending it’s not there but acknowledging it and continuing to move forward. Many times in my life fear of something has stopped me before my pursuit but never once had it helped me grow. No matter if the experience changed, my actions remained the same, it crippled me. Until one day I decided to take my power back.
Trust is a muscle, like anything it takes practice to get better at it. You have to fail a few times, get uncomfortable and really just fall on your face until it feels like second nature to just keep going. When things don’t work out, when things feel like a never-ending spiral of dead ends, trust is the only thing you have next to faith.
I’m a believer that great opportunities are found on the other side of fear and I don’t know about you but I’m not waiting, I’m taking action despite it all, you should too.
For the last year I have been going back and forth about creating a podcast.
What will the topic be?
Who will be my first guest?
What in the worddddd do we talk about?
Well I don’t have all the answers BUT I did have the impulse and thats my calling to just kind of go for it! It’s just how I do things, I try, fail (maybe, sometimes, depends), I try again or even leave it on the list of things to come back to.
I have been sitting at my desk wondering what to talk about today, going over what I experienced and how I can better serve someone. Today is simply about making room for new ideas to flourish, making ideas come to life, just like whats going to take place here very soon. Now that I have said it out loud, this is me making a new promise, to myself and you.
Big question is, When will I start? Like I mentioned I don’t have all the answers but I know for sure, I can at least start tomorrow after breakfast (food is like my coffee), stay tuned.
I quickly found that putting to much pressure on your craft can leave you feeling like stale bread, forgotten. My work still mattered and I still deeply cared but something was missing, intention. Each day life reminded me that I was human and I had responsibilities. It was my job to pay the bills, finish the grocery shopping list, cook dinner, drive safely and overall somehow master adulting all in one lifetime. I was overwhelmed and soon after I felt like giving up. I couldn’t believe it, me of all people, the girl who inspires and encourages others to keep going, the girl who was organized and educated, the girl who had a plan. Here I was with nothing left but my craft. So instead of quitting I decided to turn things around.
Everyone has a vision, a vision to me represents what you stand for, what you believe in. It highlights your focus and births your intentions into something more, so I gave myself something to look forward to with my craft. Thats where “make something better” was born. My vision is simple, everything that I do, make, or give away MUST be devoted to making something better. It’s “my thing”, the reason for my hopes and dreams and truly everything I ever wanted and more.
If your ever feeling lost, distracted, or like stale bread? Set an intention for your craft and let it blossom, hope this helps.
. . . when your creating.
You have to understand that the closest people to us will try to protect us by any means necessary, they will stop you before you start, they will try to catch you every time you fall, they will even try to do it for you. You have to ask yourself at what cost is their protection really helping you vs. hindering your growth and possibility? If you have to ask, a piece of you already knows the answer, their help becomes a burden.
They mean no harm and in most cases (I hope) they want the best for you, but our family, our closest friends, or peers aren’t the people we serve, they aren’t the people we have to please. When it comes to creating, they’re not your people.
Decide early on who your people are,
What do they believe?
What are they scared of?
What do they need?
Their needs are the driving force behind your creation, their needs are the reason you show up.
If you only listen to your mom (or others) when you fail the first time you take it personally, you make it about them, leading you to soon believe you failed them when really the project needs to be adjusted. Find the people who need your work to change them, the people who can see you, admire you, the people like you!
We’re going to have to leave your mother out of this one. You will make her and others proud on the backend, but in the beginning, make it about the work and the people who it’s for.
When you were learning how to walk, it didn’t come natural to take such big steps, until you did. It didn’t make sense to jump off a diving board or to go to school, it didn’t make sense to make new friends when you had your old ones, it didn’t make sense to argue when a piece of you already felt you were right. But for the most part we still did it . . . all of it.
What if we tried to make it, make sense? Our goals, our projects, the risk we take, starting something new, networking with others, going out on a Sunday. What if we just went for it all?
The act of overcoming ourselves and our stories just makes sense to do.
It doesn’t matter what you create when you’re doing good work, it only matters what you choose to do with it.
It matters if you share it,
light it on fire, or choose to
It matters if it’s used.
The work was made for more, it was made for the people who need what you have to offer. Do good with it.
There’s the girl who gets on the same time as me everyday.
There’s the bus.
There’s the bus driver in his seat.
There’s “my seat”, closest to the door.
There’s a few others who sit towards the back.
There’s a sign that says, “Let elders have these seats”.
Most importantly there’s us, together.
It doesn’t matter what I do for a living, it doesn’t matter what we look like, it doesn’t matter if we’ve had a long day or if we’re having the best day of our lives. We’re here, together.
Ride a bus today, be with someone.
“Pay attention to me”, that’s why they’re loud and sometimes overwhelming because they need us to become something more. They speak to us in the shower, while your driving, while your spouse is talking and your suppose to be listening (but you can’t help it), they really have a mind of their own.
But ideas die when you introduce them to others who may not get the joke, sometimes it’s not on purpose but it still happens. Ideas need your protection and sometimes they need your conviction that they matter enough to be made into form. Into something tangible to be shared with the right people who will see them.
To make the best of them I advise you give them away, if your scared someone will steal the idea give it away first! Why? Well, your ideas don’t belong to you, I know it seems that way because hey it spoke to you first. But really ideas are given to the people open enough to see their worth. You may have been the one home to answer the door but you didn’t order the package (it’s an example).
Ideas are like babies, you birth them, love them, teach them, then they go off into the world. If you kept the ideas for selfish reasons like the fear of someone having it, you become the killer. You become the person who shatters what the idea was made for, don’t be that person. Be the person that gave your ideas the space it needed to grow, and the life it needed to live.
We’ve all heard the saying before, practice makes (*insert drum roll) . . . perfect, or so we thought.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes better! I know what you maybe thinking, better is average, everyone can be better. Really better is something good, it’s unlike the traditional pressure of never making a mistake, the idea of better humanizes our natural ability to try things for the first time and focus more on the experience and less on the outcome.
Better makes your work process focused, it’s in the process that you create yourself, it’s in the journey you find your voice. It starts by making your practice well, better.
We have a not so secret fear about creating work, we don’t want anyone to see us.
Creating privately? That’s not how creating works. When we commit to creating a project, we make a promise to create difference with what we make. As makers we have a responsibility to do work that changes others, that makes us into better people. When we don’t allow our work to be seen by others, we don’t change anything and in return we risk not making something better.
Find spaces where you can be seen
Doing the work, has a lot to do with simply practicing your work in the world. Showing your work to as many people who will care and even to those who don’t bother to care at first. Place your work in spaces that support the kind of work that you offer, the deliberant influence you have the ability to make.
Creative Mornings, Skillshare, Udemy, TedTalk, Facebook Groups, WordPress, all companies that give you the space to do the important work, the space to be seen, the space to discover what the world needs.
Start with something
Start a blog, a YouTube channel, a Facebook group, start a movement, start a band. Whatever you want to do, start something like it now. Why? Good question, majority of projects don’t get started because the creator is nervous about their creation, they lack confidence in their skills, it feel too new, they’re nervous about the outcome. Lucky for people like you, you’ve already dedicated to the work and prepared yourself for what the experience of creating a project is like before the project is complete.
Those who start get a chance to get their feet wet, those who wait…usually keep waiting.
Give it away
All of it! As much of your work as possible. If you have a fear of someone stealing your ideas, it’s a good chance you don’t know enough (That can be changed), if they’re not stealing your ideas, it’s a good chance it isn’t a good one.
Now go for it, it’s time to create yourself.
Making difference sounds like a good idea and maybe even feels like the right thing to do. Problem is, no one gives you ideas on how it’s done.
I wrote Difference Looks Like This to be a change-makers guide to using their voice to make something better. Not perfect, but better. Whether your starting a new business or growing within a company, whether you’re trying to become a better manager or a more empathic creative. This book is for you.
I introduce the idea of becoming a maker. A person who uses their vision to create projects that change us, brands that support us, services that shift the way we see the world and each other. A maker is someone who makes difference that matters, someone like you.
The key to making difference is finding a vision that supports the impact you want to create, you do this with practice.
What’s your story?
In other words, what do you believe to be true? What are the hindering beliefs that cripple you from starting? Is it criticism, fear of failure, a deep longing to be noticed? Your story (each of ours) we’re created out of a need for acceptance, a need to survive and play it safe. We understood from the beginning how creating stories and setting boundaries was the only way someone couldn’t pick us out from the crowd.
Question is, what has your story cost you? Your freedom.
How will you lead the others?
One of the scariest parts, leading or as I like to call it, teaching. Maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t feel confident in their voice or the work that they do. You could be the type of person that waits to be picked, chosen. It’s only because you don’t have a vision, yet.
Vision has been defined for years as a way of looking forward, while I believe vision is a way of learning to see. To see others, to notice what the world needs, an opportunity to create change. Think you can do that?
What about impact?
This is your part, the opportunities are endless. You can write a book, open a coffee shop, you can be a better CEO or maybe a more attentive volunteer. The point is people need you to show up, they need you to see them.
Difference is only made when someone receives your impact, when someone gets a chance to see you too. So what do you do with this opportunity? You make something better, it’s the reason why we’re here.
How will you use this life?
Hopefully by creating difference that matters for people who care.