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Read What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada - It will only take you 5 minutes and will provide you with a new outlook for viewing your problems - creative + otherwise.

Flip Your Problem

Read What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada - It will only take you 5 minutes and will provide you with a new outlook for viewing your problems - creative + otherwise.

We all have problems of different varieties. I won’t pretend like creative problems are nearly as serious as other ones. But nonetheless, we have them. Whatever problem is currently weighing on you, you need to read What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada. It’s been awhile since I shared a book that I love, so here it is. You’re welcome 🙂

Did I mention it is a children’s book and will take you about 5 minutes to read? You’re even more welcome. (BTW – A few months ago I shared What Do You Do With an Idea, also by Kobi Yamada because I absolutely love love love everything about that book. If you missed it, you can read about it here.)

I view this as a companion book to What Do You Do With An Idea? because an idea that you can’t get rid of can feel like a problem, like something negative weighing on you, despite the fact that it can be an amazing opportunity. At the same time, a problem, which is normally viewed as something negative, can actually be positive – it all depends on your perspective. Moral of the story – read both books because they are fantastic 🙂

Here at Greens & Blues Co., I try to keep it positive, so let’s take a look at the positive parts of a problem.

But first, a short synopsis of the book:

You realize you have a problem.

You start to worry about your problem.

You make it a much bigger deal than it actually is.

You try to run from it, but that doesn’t work.

You realize your only option is to face it.

You realize it wasn’t as bad as you made it out to be…

The most important part of this book, something that anyone – child or adult –  can learn from is what you take away from your problem. Each problem that we face can be a chance to challenge + improve ourselves in some way.

By flipping something that you normally perceive to be a problem around, you provide yourself with have a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. Often times, our biggest problems are the result of our own personal outlook. Sometimes by simply looking for the positive, you will realize you don’t even have a problem, just an occasion to challenge yourself.

A couple of creative problems you might run into:

  1. I’m not creative.
  2. I don’t know where to start with my creativity.
  3. My creativity is not good enough.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these creative problems and determine how instead of viewing them as problems and trying to ignore them, you can flip them araound and use each one as an opportunity.

#1 – I’m not creative.

Problem – You believe you are not creative. Since you are not creative, what would be the point in trying any creative activities? As a result, you never attempt anything creative (and therefore do not practice your creativity) and then you never get any better at them and reinforce your idea that you are not creative.

Opportunity – The truth is of course you are creative…but you have not practiced your creativity in a long time, so of course you aren’t good at any creative activities. So what’s the positive side of this? Since you haven’t practiced your creativity in a long time, the expectations are pretty low – which is great! You can take a class or watch a Youtube video to learn something new + try it out without assuming you need to be perfect. The possibilities are endless.

#2 – I don’t know where to start with my creativity.

Problem – Even though you are interested in practicing your creative and being a “creative” person, you have no experience with it and therefore do not know where to start. So you do nothing.

Opportunity – The truth is that your creativity is a journey not a destination (I swear this is true even though it sounds lame). You can’t go wrong because whatever creative activity you try-out will help you find the path you should be going down. Your creative will change and evolve over time (and through practice), but in order to do so, you have to first start. (If you want some getting started you can take my free email course Find Your CREATIVE SPARK Adventure.)

#3 – My creativity is not good enough.

Problem – I like to ________________ (fill in the blank), but when I compare it to what I see online, it’s clear that I’m a joke.

Opportunity – Use the online “competition” as motivation to get better. I know that we aren’t supposed to compare our creativity to other people’s, but I think that’s only half true. I think comparison, or dare I say competition can be a good thing if it is used in a positive manner. Don’t compare yourself to someone else so that you can think I can never be as good as them; instead compare yourself to someone else so that you can figure out what areas you need to improve and so that you can get some inspiration.


What problem – creative or otherwise, is currently weighing on you? Is it the type of problem, you can fix by facing it? If so, take the following steps:

Flip Your Problem - Instead of avoiding your creative problems, take the following steps to flip them around and use them as learning opportunities.

Make a list of any creative problems you are currently avoiding. Use the aforementioned steps to flip them around!


When Words Aren’t Enough

When Words Aren't Enough. Read Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders and a Creative Challenge to go with it. Click to read more.

I haven’t shared a book that I love in a long time, and I so hope you enjoy this one. This book is a work of art – it is just beautiful. Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders can be read in just a couple of minutes, but I think it is one you will return to over and over again.

I came across this blog post on Pinterest a couple of years ago and pinned in because I thought it was so interesting and just nice to look at. I actually thought the illustrations would make great prints to frame and hang in my home. As a result of such a phenomenal response to the blog post, Sanders created a book with 52 words and illustrations of untranslatable words.

The basic idea of the book is that sometimes words are not enough. I can’t explain the book more than just to say it is interesting and engaging. It is just so nice to look at that I can’t help but feel inspired just by flipping through the pages. Inspired to do what? No idea. But, it makes me want to do something.

Actually, I do know. This book makes me want to be able to speak more than just English. Learning other languages (specifically German and Spanish) are just one of many on my long list of things I want to learn to next. I know I will get around to it eventually 🙂 In addition, it makes me wish I could draw better, not just so I could be some amazing artist, but to draw well enough to better communicate my ideas. (Also on my list.)

In the meantime, here is a creative challenge for you. If you don’t feel like buying the book or checking it out from your library, just take a look at the blog post as it has 11 of the 52 illustrations from the book.

Challenge #1

Choose one of the words and its definition as your prompt.  Write a fictional story based on that prompt.

Challenge #2

If you are feeling especially daring, choose 5 of the words at random and write a fictional story using them correctly.

Challenge #3

Choose one word. Draw your own interpretation of the word and and its meaning.

Challenge #4

Choose a word from this list of untranslatable words. Illustrate the meaning.

If you like this book and these challenges, click to enroll in my free course: Challenge Your Creativity. This course has ten other books I have chosen to inspire you and challenge your creativity. Click to enroll now.

Big Love for Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is full of creative inspiration. Click to read my favorite parts and actionable steps to go along with them.


In last week’s post about embracing the uncomfortable, I mentioned the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is actually the 2nd time I have read it. I read it right when it came out in the fall, or more accurately I listened the the audiobook. However, I wanted to read it again because I found it inspiring and realized that when I listened to it as an audiobook, I missed many opportunities to stop and write down ideas and inspiration from it because I was driving while listening to it.

Anyway, you should read Big Magic. Gilbert is an entertaining writer and it is packed with helpful information.

Technically this is a self-help book. That gives me pause. I’m stubborn enough to believe I don’t need anyone’s help. I also tend to think that self help books are ridiculous and state the obvious. Maybe this book is better than most, or maybe creative living is not as obvious to me as it is to others. There is nothing in this book that I stopped and thought “this is a revelation!” But, it is the way in which Gilbert writes that is a revelation. I found that there were many thoughts on creativity that Gilbert described that I have had similar thoughts on, but her ability to express those ideas is far superior to my own. So, just read the book.

If, for some reason, you still aren’t planning on reading this book, here are a  few of my favorite takeaways and some actionable steps to take today:


Gilbert discusses how ideas exist in the world, swirling around us until we agree to claim them.(see my sketchnote from last week for more details). Ideas are there for the taking, we just have to be brave enough and persistent enough to see them though.

What idea of yours would make you feel awful if you woke up one day and saw that someone else had gotten to it first?


Gilbert (like many others ) tries to end the myth that creativity is reserved for artists and the like. She states that if you are alive, you are a creative person.  You do not need permission from anyone to live a creative life. Don’t try to compare your creativity to anyone else’s.  Define yourself as a creative person. Then, say it aloud: I’m a singer, I’m a painter, I’m a baker, etc.

Fill in the blank. I am a ________________________________________________________.


Gilbert discusses the paradox of how art/creative work is both meaningless and deeply meaningful. Her take on it is that is has to be this way for you to be in a place that you can create. My take is that creative work can be meaningless to everyone else in the world and that is okay as long as it is meaningful to you. If it doesn’t mean something to you, what’s the point? And if it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, who cares? It’s not for them anyway. It’s for you.

What would you create/make/start/do if you had tons of extra time and weren’t afraid of what anyone would say or think? Oh, you don’t have all the time in the world and you do care what people think? Do it anyway. Start on it today.

Want to read more on creativity and and creative inspiration? Enroll in my free Challenge Your Creativity Course now. Already joined the course? Share it with a friend!

Enroll in Challenge Your Creativity - a free course from Greens & Blues Co. full of inspiration and creative challenges.


Challenge Your Creativity – A Free Course

Challenge Your Creativity - a free, self-paced course from Greens & Blues Co. Click here to sign up for a course designed to challenge you through creativity + learning.

The Challenge Your Creativity Course  – a free course for anyone who wants to do just that: challenge your creativity through inspiration and learning. You will start thinking about creativity and as a result, start creating!

This course is made up of 10 sections. Each section includes a required reading and a challenge to put what you learned into action. Some readings will actually be on the subject of creativity while others will just provide that much needed creative spark; it is up to you to decide how to respond.

All of the required readings will either be links online or books that can be found at your local library. Of course, you can buy the book as well if you totally love it.

Each challenge will include actionable steps needed to complete it.

There is no timeline for completing this course, it’s yours forever. However, I hope that you will consider sharing your thoughts, insights, and creations in the comments section.

Challenge Your Creativity - a free, self-paced course from Greens & Blues Co. Click here to sign up for a course designed to challenge you through creativity + learning.

Creative Challenge – What’s Your Idea?

Challenge You Creativity - What's Your Idea? Using What To Do With An Idea? as your guide, determine what your idea is. The one idea you can seem to get rid of . Click to learn more.

If you have not had the chance to read What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, I suggest adding it to your to-do list (in case you missed it, last week we talked about making a creative to-do list). I can’t say enough good things about it. In addition to being beautifully illustrated, the author captured the exact emotions of having an idea – what to do with it, trying to live without it, the fear, and more. I found myself shaking my head yes to each and every page.

I am a huge proponent of adults reading and finding meaning in books that were clearly written for children. What Do You Do With an Idea? should be required reading for all adults. Below are of a few of my favorite quotes from the book accompanied by my own thoughts.

“I didn’t know what to do with it. So I just walked away from it.”

At first, some ideas are too big – or at least they feel that way. We often think something is a great idea, but aren’t sure if we are the ones meant to see it through, or if even know how to take it and run with it. Instead of trying to get rid of the idea or storing it away for another day, what if you just went for it? Just started.

“I tried to act like everything was the same as it was before it showed up.”

When we do this, we soon realize the difference between ideas that are meant for us and ideas that are not so great. We can’t get rid of the good ones. Even if we are thinking it will take a lot of work, or we might fail – we can’t get rid of it. You are driving in your car, and need to stop and send yourself an email with a new idea. You are on Pinterest and you see the perfect inspiration for your idea. No matter what you do, your idea always seems to be hanging around. What if you just went for it? Just started.

“I showed it to other people even though I was afraid of what they would say.”

This more than any other line in the book hit home for me. I’m usually a pretty confident person, but when it comes to my ideas for Greens & Blues Co. I have a ridiculous fear of sharing it with people I know. The point of it all is of course to share it with the world, but I have had a really hard time sharing it with people whose opinions I value. I know it is the fear of looking stupid, but I have been unable to get over it. But, what if I just went for it? Just started.

“It encouraged me to think big…and then, to think bigger.”

My idea for Greens & Blues Co. has been circling around in my head for the better part of two years. In that time it has changed dramatically. I have changed the types of classes I want to offer, who my targeted audience is, how I will teach the classes and more. I have been able to alter my course of action by constantly learning and consistently reflecting on my idea and what I want.

Your Challenge:

Read What Do You Do With an Idea? Read it again and again. Then I challenge you to do something with your idea. More specifically – tell one person your idea. Someone you know in person. Once you get over that hurdle, tell a few more. The more you say your idea out loud the more your confidence will grow, and the better your idea will become.

Start right now. In the comments,  share your idea. What’s the idea you can’t seem to get rid of despite the fact that you have not acted on it? What idea follows you around because you know you want to do something about it? The idea that scares you a little bit? I can’t wait to hear from you!

p.s. This is an excerpt from my free course – Challenge Your Creativity. If you enjoyed this, click here to enroll in the course now.


Book Love: Ish

I am a big proponent of adults reading children's books. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds is a perfect place to start.

I am in love with every book written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Ish is no different. Obviously they are beautiful to look at, but more importantly they are written in such a way that there are usually several important messages on topics such as creativity and kindness.

So go read the book. It will take you 5 minutes or less.

A Short Overview:

Ramon loves to draw and spends his time churning out masterpieces until one day, after an offhand comment from his older brother, Ramon, he stops drawing because he realizes he cannot be perfect. Eventually his little sister, Marisol, helps him realize that he does not have to be perfect, instead he can have his own take on it and that in it of itself is a masterpiece.

My Takeaways:

How many of us have been in Ramon’s shoes?

What if we all had a Marisol in our lives? That one person who not only champions us, but allows us to see the world a little differently?

I Challenge You:

To be someone’s Marisol this week. Go out of your way to compliment someone for taking a risk, for putting themselves out there, or embarking on a creative venture.

Reflect: Have you ever been someone’s Leon? Whether it was purposeful or not. Unfortunately it seems as though many people have Leon’s in their life – even well meaning family members or friends who are not intentionally making hurtful or mean-spirited comments, but nonetheless the comments stuck. This week, try to be a Marisol, and if you find yourself being a Leon – make it right.

Book Love: Show Your Work!

Show your Work by Austin Kleon. Go read it!
I just finished reading Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered for the second time. I first read it when it came out last year. I thought it was great then, but it was even better reading it now when I am in the middle of launching Greens & Blues Co. In addition to providing great advice, Kleon delivers it in a no nonsense fashion that when accompanied by his awesome illustrations makes for a quick and entertaining read.

I could go through the book page by page and list off all of the great ideas he has, but I won’t -just read it. It’s great.

One of my favorite parts of the whole book is near the beginning (pg.9) when he introduces the idea of a scenius. Kleon credits musician Brian Eno with this idea. A scenius is basically a group of people who come together to collaborate and create  -while a genius is the individual, a scenius is the group. Each individual is made better by the collective group.

This really stuck with me.

Let’s back up and I’ll explain why.

Since launching Greens & Blues Co. in July, like most people who are just getting started, I have struggled with how to get people to my website or my social media accounts. I know that it takes time and consistency to grow readership, but still I have wondered if I could be doing more. I have read probably every article on possible on the subject.

One idea that I consistently came across is  that you need to participate in the conversation: by commenting on blogs, following people and commenting on Instagram, just doing anything you can to engage others.  Okay, that makes sense. So, I started following lots of people on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I wasn’t really sure where to begin, so I looked at people who wrote blogs that I admired or had Instagram accounts I enjoyed. I looked at who they were following and started following many of the same people. My feeds were now full, however a few days later it became clear to me that I had a problem.

I didn’t care about any of the people I was following or what they were posting about. Therefore, I had nothing to add to the conversation.

I don’t mean this in a negative way, because the people I was following were posting photos to Instagram that were so amazing that I could only hope to one day possess the skills to take photographs that beautiful.  Or, they were providing content that was both interesting and inspiring. Just not interesting or inspiring to me.

My problem was that I joined someone else’s scenius – not my own.

So I spent some time brainstorming.  I reflected on the following:

  • What was the point of Greens & Blues Co?
  • What I was hoping to accomplish?
  • Who was my ideal audience?
  • Who did I consider my peers (or my competition)?

Before I could create my own scenius, I had to get to know myself and my brand a little better. So I unfollowed anybody I wasn’t generally interested in hearing from on a regular basis. Now, slowly, I am finding my people. I realize it is not something that will happen overnight. The more I put myself out there, the more opportunities to get to know other people I will have.

I challenge you to look through your blog reader and your social media accounts.  Is there anyone on there that  you never actually read? That you like the idea of more than you actually like the content? If so, unfollow. Unsubscribe. Trying answering the questions I posed above and start to find your scenius.

Book Love: Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet

mix it up

Today I have another children’s book for you, but another one of my favorites (let’s get real, I’ll probably say that about every book).  Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet is so different from any other children’s book I have read, because it is an introduction to the practice of mixing colors.

While much of the color mixing in the book is the stuff most of us learned as kids, red + blue = purple, I still think this a great book for everyone. I have read the book many times before, but today was the first time I pulled out my watercolors, a brush, some water, and paper and followed along with the book step-by-step.

Color theory is on my long list of what to learn next, mainly as it applies to graphic design. Beyond the obvious, I definitely do not know much about it. While this book is far from an encyclopedia on color mixing, I think it is an excellent reminder that by just learning the basics of something, you can spark your interest and challenge yourself to take it much further.

Color has been on my mind a lot lately as I put this website together. I hesitate to say I have learned a lot, but I have definitely learned something about color so far, and today I had fun trying out some different color combinations that I have been thinking about.


Many of us get caught up in all that is going on around us, and this book is a great excuse to take a quick break and play with color.  In addition, if you are ever feeling creatively stuck or frustrated about something, following Mix It Up! step-by-step is an excellent way to challenge yourself!


Book Love: The Dot By Peter H. Reynolds

You should be reading children's books (for yourself) and you should start with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

As I have mentioned in the past, I love books. I read a lot of them, skim through a lot of them, and plan on reading even more of them. I read fiction, non-fiction, YA, and just about every genre you can imagine. However, not until I started teaching did I realize how amazing children’s books are. As a 7th grade history teacher my students are way too advanced to be reading children’s books, but yet I use them all the time with my classes.

Two reasons I use children’s books so often. First, they are often beautifully illustrated, just flipping through the pages can be inspiring. Second, the authors of children’s books get to the point. Kids do not have long attentions spans – neither do most adults – so a book that gets straight to the point is fantastic. With my classes, I often use children’s books as a way to introduce a complicated topic in a more basic way, or as a hook to get them interested in what we are learning next.

There are so many amazing children’s books out there that are obviously great for kids, but also have a message that can be extremely helpful to many adults. So in the future look for me to share children’s books in addition to adult books.

The Dot is one of my favorite children’s books. I am a Peter H. Reynolds fan. I think it is safe to say that I love everything written and illustrated him – I will definitely be sharing more of his books in the future. I will let you read The Dot yourself, but the moral of the story – just start. Everyone needs to start somewhere. In reality, there are a number of important takeaways from this book, but that is the one that stuck with me.

Is there something you are afraid to start?

Is it learning something new? Starting a new business? Meeting new people?

What’s holding you back?

It has taken me awhile to start Greens & Blues Co. Longer than it should, mainly because I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect before I “launched.” But truthfully, I was also afraid. Of what? Mainly people I care about thinking it was stupid. It is scary to put yourself out there, and I was worried (still am) about the opinions of people I care about.

I spent almost a year brainstorming, gathering ideas, planning, etc. Finally I just had to start. My website is far from perfect. There is a lot that I would like to change – create a logo, get help with the layout and design of the website, take better photographs, and much more. But finally I had to stop making excuses and just start. It is not perfect, but at least I have a starting point now. It is better than not doing anything. All of that stuff can be changed/improved as I practice those skills more and more.  I can’t improve any of that stuff if I never started.

Read The Dot– it will only take 5 minutes.

What do you need to start?

Book Love: A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink changed the way I thought about my personal creativity and the role it plays in my life.

As I previously mentioned, I am a huge nerd.  My nerdiness most often exhibits itself in my love of books. Checking out books at the library makes me so happy.  Checking the mail and seeing a box from Amazon, even better!  Since I do read so much, from time to time, I will share books that inspire me in some way.  

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink is one of my favorite nonfiction books. While I often read my favorite fiction books (i.e. Harry Potter) over and over again, I rarely open a nonfiction book twice (this is coming from a history teacher). So it is saying something that I have read this book cover to cover three times and reread individual chapters at other times.

This book was published almost ten years ago, and in it Pink states that the future belongs to creatives while the past few decades have belonged to lawyers, accountants, etc. It seems as though he was on to something.

I believe I first read this book in 2007 and it was really what kick started my interest in creativity. Daniel Pink discusses how the future belongs to right-brain careers, and as a middle school history teacher, I do not feel I traditionally fit into that group. Even though I am extremely happy in my chosen profession, this book made me wish I had taken advantage of creative opportunities when I had the chance in college. But, like many people, I did not.  This book is the perfect solution!  This is not to say that you need to quit your job and become an artist, but you can jump start your creative life, your creative journey. This book can be the kick in the butt you need to get going.

Pink uses a majority of the book to explain that there are 6 aptitudes that are essential to being successful today.  He describes each of these aptitudes in individual chapters, and at the end of each one, Pink includes a Portfolio section where he presents a number of activities or challenges for the reader so that he or she can practice the aptitude.  The Portfolio section is fantastic.  If you were ever feeling creatively stuck or in need of inspiration, this is an excellent place to start.


6 Aptitudes from A Whole New Mind

One of the activities in the Portfolio section is learning to draw. This both excites and terrifies me.  I am one of the many people who realized at a young age that I was not naturally gifted in the arts, therefore I stopped trying, practicing, whatever you want to call it.  In my late twenties into my now thirties, I have been working to regain that creativity and teach myself that with practice and hard work, I can be good at drawing, singing, etc.  Drawing is something that I want to be good at, or at the very least, not be horrible.  So I was excited when in chapter 6, Pink addresses this very idea. Since reading this book eight years ago, I have become better at drawing (using some of the resources Pink suggests), but truthfully I need to practice a lot more.

So in case it has not been made clear, I highly recommend A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.  Read it and let me know what you think.  Or, if you already have, please leave a comment below.