Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She Lives Creatively Spotlight: Dannie Huggins

"No one gets out of living alive, and NOW is the time to fly!"
~Dannie Huggins, owner of Sol Shine
Each month I love bringing you a new Q&A style interview with a different creative entrepreneurial woman who is living creatively, blazing her own trail, and writing her own rules along the way. I know there are still 2 days left in April. But I was SO inspired by May's spotlight that I decided to share it with you early!
Featured in May's "She Lives Creatively Spotlight" is Dannie Huggins! She is the owner of, and creative visionary behind, Sol Shine, an eco-lightened fashion boutique and art gallery in Denver. Dannie's wisdom and tenacious perseverance to overcome her fears is sure to inspire you!
Dannie Huggins living creatively at Sol Shine
Marcella: Congratulations on the success of your business,  Sol Shine, in the LoHi district of downtown Denver! What was your inspiration for creating the Eco-Lightened fashion boutique?

Dannie: Thank you! My inspiration was when I was living in Hawaii. I found a pair of board shorts that were made out of recycled plastic bottles and I knew INSTANTLY that I could help save the planet through fashion and art!

Marcella: As an artist, I am always looking for new places to show my art work, so I really appreciate your decision to incorporate a monthly art gallery into your boutique! Did you always know rotating art would be part of your business model?

Dannie: Yes! I am an artist myself and I’ve always wanted to have a creative center or art gallery. But I had a deeper desire to help make a difference on the planet and knew that art wasn’t enough. So when I found clothing made out of recycled plastic bottles, the hybrid concept was a PERFECT FIT!

Marcella: What sort of work did you do before you opened Sol Shine? Did you always have an entrepreneurial spirit?

Dannie: LOL! I have always been in Sales and in Customer Service., albeit this is my first time in retail.  My grandfather owned a B-B-Q restaurant and I was raised in the service industry. My grandfather, late Bennett Shotwell, taught me to work hard, to appreciate the dollar, and to see the experience through the customer’s eyes.  After he sold the company I went into the corporate world, Sales and Marketing, and quickly realized this is NOT FOR ME! LOL! I’ve always had the goal to open my own business by the age of 30, which I did. In fact, Sol Shine opened on my grandfathers’ birthday, November 28, 2012.

Marcella: What types of road blocks did you have to overcome to open your business?

Dannie: There were a bunch, but I think the biggest is FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of stepping into the unknown, fear of investing everything I had into something that I believe in and no one really saw my vision until it started to unfold. After my grandfather passed away I thought to myself, “No one gets out of living alive, and NOW is the time to fly!” So I jumped. LOL!

Marcella: Did you ever considering giving up on your dream of being self-employed? If so, how did you keep persevering?

Dannie: Sure I did! It is not easy starting a business and learning a brand new industry as you go. Many sleepless nights I thought to myself, “What the hell did I just do?!” But always to follow, “THE UNIVERSE SUPPORTS ME!!!!” I believe in making the planet a better place, and even if I fail, just knowing that I have given it my very best shot, I will die peacefully knowing I cared and did something about it.

Marcella: Since opening Sol Shine, what has been your proudest moment, a time when all the hard work, sweat, and tears, made it worth it?

Dannie: Proudest moment? Honestly I am still in a bit of disbelief that this happened and Sol Shine is thriving and I am living my dream. But I would have to say it is when customers thank me, and my staff, for doing this and for providing them a way to shop smarter while helping make a difference on the planet.  I get and give lots and lots of hugs every day!  This path has been extremely rewarding on many different levels!

Marcella: I imagine running your own business requires working long days. What does a typical day look like for you?

Dannie: I eat, sleep, and breath Sol Shine! But I love it and it doesn’t seem like work to me. I don’t have a “typical” day. The thing with retail is that you never know what is going to happen or when it is going to happen. 

Marcella: With as hard as you work, do you have time for a social life?

Dannie: LOL! Mmmm... I would say I am getting better at having a social life. But in reality I socialize all day long with my customers and I enjoy each interaction that I get to have with the people that walk through the doors. By the end of the day I am ready to read, paint, or just veg out with my pup!

Marcella: What are your go-to self-care practices (exercise, nutrition, etc.) that support your health and vitality so you can keep up with your busy career?

Dannie: Self-care practices include getting enough sleep and taking my vitamins. I recently sprained my ankle, but Rama, my pup, and I were running 3 miles every day. Mediation at night is key for me as well.  I turn on manifesting abundance-guided mediations or mediations that help me relax. Aroma therapy and yoga are other ways I try to take care of myself too!

Marcella: Any final words of advice for other entrepreneurial women who aspire to starting her own business?

Dannie: Something I realized a few years ago is that no one is going to do it for me, that I have to get it myself, and believe in it and not look for the answers outside of myself. I have had a challenging life, and not a lot of support ,so I was kind of forced to look within myself for the motivation and inspiration to do Sol Shine. And every obstacle I have had to overcome has been completely worth it because it got me to where I am today. I believe that we are all energy and we choose what we tune in to. I know we are ALL capable of achieving greatness, we just have to choose to eat, sleep, breath, our dreams – no matter what! And then one day you wake up and you are LIVING your dreams!! So get out there and know without a doubt in your mind (even if you do have doubt, LOL). Say and let it be a mantra that “The Universe Supports Me!”  BECAUSE IT DOES! LOVE AND LIGHT LADIES!!!

Marcella: Thank you Dannie! Love and Light!

To learn more about Sol Shine, visit http://shop.thesolshine.com/
Live creatively,
P.S. Join Dannie and me at Sol Shine on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 5 - 8 pm for the opening reception for the May Artist Showcase. Sol Shine is located at 1501 Boulder St in the LoHi district of Denver.




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Creativity Prompt: Mini Vision Boards

Originally posted Tuesday, May 28, 2013 as part of Just Because - A Bonus Blog

Feeling creatively blocked or uninspired? I know if I go a few days without getting into my studio I get stage freight at the idea of putting paint to canvas. To get the creative juices flowing again I’ve started to make mini vision / inspiration boards.

Get Artsy, mini vision / inspiration board, 2013

What You Will Need:
  • 2-3 old magazines. A variety is best.
  • Scissors (or you can use your hands).
  • One 8-1/2 x 11” sheet of paper. I like to work with colored construction paper.
  • Glue or other adhesive. I use Tombow MONO Adhesive, permanent bond.
  • A timer. I use the alarm on my cell phone.
  • 1 hour of uninterrupted time.
How it works:

Set your timer for 20 minutes.

Grab a magazine and turn it upside down. Yep, you read that right – upside down. The objective here is to get a different perspective.

Start quickly flipping through the pages. Don’t think, just feel. Tear out anything and everything that appeals to you and evokes a positive emotion. It might be a color, a pattern, a word, or the (upside down) composition. Don’t judge. Just tear!

Continue to flip through your upside down magazines and set tear-outs aside until your alarm goes off.  Once your alarm does go off, set magazines aside and reset your timer for 20 more minutes.
Spread your tear-outs of images and words in front of you, turning them right side up. Notice if there are any themes. This is when you can start to edit, keeping only those images and words that most appeal to you.

Start trimming the images and words with scissors. Or, you might feel called to tear the pages with your hands, leaving the raw edges.

When your timer goes off it’s time to start gluing, so re-set your timer for the last 20 minute increment.

Grab your 8-1/2 x 11” sheet of paper. White will do, but I find it fun to use a piece of colored construction paper. You’ll also need your glue or other adhesive.

Arrange and glue your torn out and trimmed images and words onto your paper.

Once you’re done, you will have created a mini vision / inspiration board that is unique and beautiful – just like YOU!
Forgive, mini vision / inspiration board, 2013

Like this creative prompt? Download the PDF instructions here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rikindle Your Inner Artist Child's Imagination

"Our artist is actually our child within, our inner playmate."
~Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
Where does our imagination come from? I believe it is a gift inherent within each of us. But as we get older, and bogged down with the responsibilities of adult life, we often forget how to tap into what was once our child-like, creative nature.

I have been feeling less than imaginative lately. So in the spirit of Living The Artist's Way, a 12- month blog series I did throughout 2013 (read about it
here), I have resumed my weekly solo artist dates.

Last week I simply went for a walk through a park. It was delightful to watch two young girls chase the shadow of a butterfly kite their grandfather was flying. Hearing their joyful giggles made me
feel like a kid again.
This week's solo artist date was a visit to the gallery at Foothills Art Center in Golden. There was an abundance of imagination stimulating pieces in, "Splinter," their current exhibition of wood art. I enjoyed seeing how other artists have incorporated curves and circles, imagery often found in my work, in their imaginative expressions.
An artist with seemingly infinite imagination is Canadian artist Laura Hollick!
In her recent TEDx talk, You Are the Art, Laura shares that she began making art as a child because she wanted to make her imagination real.
She goes on to tell the story of how she went from being a starving artist to earning a multi-six figure income with her art by imagining that she could create the life and career she dreamed. Watch her inspiring TEDx talk here.

Live creatively,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paint Away Your Pain

"Creativity is the life raft that can save us when we don’t think we can survive riding any more waves of emotion."
~Marcella Nordbeck-Richardson

What do you do when you’re experiencing low vibration emotions such as sadness, anger, or fear? Do you turn to your favorite distractions like television or Facebook? Or do you run to a familiar vice like food, cigarettes, or alcohol?  

Although comforting, our distractions and vices only temporarily mask our pain. But art has the power to heal. Creativity is the life raft that can save us when we don’t think we can survive riding any more waves of emotion. So the next time you’re moving through a less-than-ideal situation, and suffering the emotional consequences, I invite you to turn to the canvas, the page, or another creative outlet. 
"Together Through What Separates" - Acrylic - 36x36" - $1647
I first learned of the healing power of art in 2002 during the 4-weeks I received art therapy as part of my recovery from life threatening depression. Every day for a month I got to play with paint, clay, and whatever else caught my creative fancy. And then one day I had a light bulb moment. I realized that creating – just for the simple joy of it – was what was missing from my life.  

I was reminded of art’s healing power 10 years later. I went searching for my estranged father, only to learn he was no longer living. A few months later I was still weighed down by heavy emotions of grief for the father I never really knew and the 3 brothers who didn’t want to talk about it him. 

Thankfully during this time I was studying A Course in Miracles with author and life-coach Tama Kieves. One night in Tama's living room I shared with her that I was so overcome by my emotional grief around my father, his absence, and his death, that I was no longer able to paint. My creativity felt completely blocked by my tormented emotions. Tama's advice? To paint away my pain.

I resisted, saying something like, “But I’m a spiritual painter! I want my paintings to be uplifting and inspiring.” But Tama responded by encouraging me to paint anyway. She reminded me of all the sad loves songs that express the universal feeling of heartbreak, but are soothing to others who are feeling similar pain and discomfort.  

I took Tama’s advice. In the days, and weeks, that followed I sat at my canvas, painting, while tears literally ran down my cheeks. But I kept painting. Eventually I stopped crying. And a couple of months later I  put the finishing touches on, “Together Through What Separates.” It remains one of my personal favorites.  

The 4 spirals are symbolic of me and my 3 brothers who I will always love and for whom I feel a deep emotional connection do despite the years, and miles, between us. And although I was feeling intense emotional pain when I created it, when I look at the painting today I feel forgiveness for what was and acceptance for what was not. And I feel even more certain of art’s power to heal.

"Together Through What Separates" is 1 of 3 paintings currently available for sale in the Art at the Armory art show in Brighton, Colorado. Show runs through Friday, April 18, 2014. Visit Events page for details.
Left to Right: "Together Through What Separates," "Imaginative," and "Rise"
Each: Acrylic, 36x36", $1647

Not Exactly the Answer I Expected

Guest blogger post for Gallery24seven.com:
When I left my day job six months ago to pursue my painting career full-time, I had a burning question that I needed an answer to. What could I create – with painting and with my life – if I dedicated myself to my craft full-time?
Read the answer, and the rest of the guest blog post, here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

She Lives Creatively Spotlight: Erin Ivey

Happy April! I’m SO excited! It’s a new month. And I’m delighted to be launching a brand spanking new monthly blog feature: She Lives Creatively Spotlight.  

Each month I will be bringing you a Q&A style interview with a different creative entrepreneurial woman who is living creatively, blazing her own trail, and writing her own rules along the way.  

Featured in this month’s DEBUT She Lives Creatively Spotlight is Austin’s own urban folk singer songwriter Erin Ivey! 
Austin.com describes Erin as, “The queen of Austin singer songwriters.” The Daily News says she is, “Truly remarkable.” And The Oregonian says, “I’d kill for a purr like that.”  

So let’s get started! 

Erin, congratulations on recently releasing your newest album, Whisper of the Moon! I see you as an artist who is always stretching herself to grow and expand. How does this album differ from your earlier work? 

Thank you! It’s been amazing to work with Tosca String Quartet and the arrangers (Christopher Cox and Leigh Mahoney) to make these songs come to life in new ways. It’s helped me to see there are endless possibilities for a song that was written with just a guitar and voice. I hope that the quality of my work continues to improve in every aspect of the process, from inspiration to production. 

You’re a triple threat – a singer, songwriter, AND musician! Which talent revealed itself first? Or did they all emerge simultaneously, being so interrelated? 

All those things come from the same root and are interrelated, but I think I loved singing first. 

Growing up, was your family supportive of your creative pursuits? How did their support, or lack of support, influence your path? 

I am grateful that my family has always been wonderfully supportive. My Grandma is a singer and music teacher. She taught me the most about using our voices as instruments of joy and healing. 

How do you define success? 

Right now, I define success as stability, health, and giving. 

What’s the oddest job you’ve held to pay the bills while building your music career? 

Probably doing voiceovers for animated corporate training videos. “Well, Susie, it looks like your actions have affected everyone on the team…” It’s like having to sit through corporate training videos, but worse, except you get paid. 

What do you consider to be your greatest artistic achievement – so far? 


What’s next? Now that Whisper of the Moon has been released, will you tour for a while?  

“What’s next?” used to be my favorite question. Lately, though, I’m okay with not knowing the answer.  I’m taking one day at a time and focusing more on priming the well. So, stay tuned!  You’ll know when I do.  
Are you always writing new songs? Or do you go through creative phases?  

I go through phases.  I’m always writing, but songs come best and fastest when I’m away from the world for a while.   

What are your self-care practices (nutrition, exercise, etc.) that support your health and vitality?

These change as we move through new phases of life. The most important things for me right now are:

·         Physical strength to overcome chronic pain from a car accident and guitars hanging from my shoulder

·         Lyengar yoga at least once a week, walking daily, dancing often!

·         More water, EFA’s, and coconut oil

·         In Austin, Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA home delivery is an amazing way to eat more vegetables and fruit. Still trying to figure out what to do with turnips, though…

·         Slowing down, learning to chill, being kinder to loved ones. It’s a speed LIMIT, not a minimum – if you’re rushing, you’ve lost

·         Play – new instruments, DRUMS!, vocal effects, learning to solo on the guitar by playing along with records

·         Read and listen to inspiring things. I make a reading/listening list at the beginning of every month and go spend my “Waterloo Records allowance” with great joy. It’s amazing how much more time I have when I turn off the television and, as the great Maya Angelou says, “let them see you reading…”

How do you structure your days/week to balance creative time with managing your business and nurturing relationships? 

Since I got married (in 2012 to the DJ genius Mixer Rogers), I’ve had to work very consciously to construct healthy boundaries. There is a compulsive drill sergeant part of me, for whom no amount of work will ever be enough, so it’s been a tough process. One tool that has helped me a lot is thinking of the next day as starting the night before. It could be as simple as looking ahead to make sure I get enough sleep.   

Has your music career influenced your marital status or your decision whether or not to have children?  

My career has been my life for the past seven years, so they seem inextricable. My husband and I first met at a showcase I was playing, but we would have found each other eventually. There’s definitely more freedom in being unattached, in that you can travel more easily and life is less expensive without children. There’s more time for work and creative pursuits. On the other hand, love has a way of unlocking parts of your heart that you didn’t even know existed and providing stability from which to flourish. That can be a great source for creative expression.  

Any final words of advice for creative women who are aspiring or emerging singers / songwriters / musicians?

Music is its own reward. The greatest gift to yourself and others is the passionate pursuit of transcendent and inspirational musical experience. Do your thing. Keep working and playing. In the words of Leni Stern, “Get your heart not too broken and keep your spirits up. You're going to be honed like a fine diamond for all the hurt. You're going to bend the strings and somebody's gonna cry.” 

Thank you Erin! 

Thanks, Marcella! These are great questions. Congratulations on your new Spotlight!  I’m honored to be part of it. xoxo 

To learn more about Erin Ivey, and to join the Erin Ivey mailing list, visit www.ErinIvey.com.