One of the most common misconceptions about kids who go to art school is that they have any idea what the heck they’re doing.

They don't.

Most of them, anyway.

See, I went to school for art history and painting. But, due to a bunch of bull shit there was a VERY long period of time that I COULDN’T (not wouldn’t, couldn’t) actually create any work. I was an artist with a degree and zero ‘art’ to show for it. I was much more comfortable talking about work than I was approaching a blank canvas! I knew whose work I loved and I knew about the Philosophy of Art, but I couldn’t put anything down on paper. I felt like a complete failure and I very much so felt like a freak.

I didn’t get it.

People around me were putting series out right and left, and here I was crying in my studio again.

How could they be coming up with ideas? How did they just? Do? The things?

It suffocated me. I became so much smaller than I thought I would, metaphysically and otherwise. Ultimately, like the stereotype goes, I gave up and got a job in the coffee industry. A booming business, to be sure, but one that wasn’t exactly….anything to do with my hearts work. It was so strange, feeling so alone in my brain but being so constantly immersed in too many people.

I had tried to find resources about creative paralysis that surpassed that of typical ‘“writer's block” but it was uphill. See, people would tell me to just “paint my feelings” or “create artwork to process my trauma”  to “do it anyway” but what no one seemed to understand was that it was debilitating to even stand in front of my easel.

Oh yeah, I had an easel.

Almost a decade of silence as far as art-making goes, but you better believe I had art materials Up. The. Wazoo. Turns out, that’s definitely not the answer.

Years and years passed and it wasn’t until one of my own employees decided to leave my shop for work at a bead and crystal store that I was lifted out of my doldrums. They showed me a bracelet that they’d made and it lit me the heck up. I’d never considered putting my creative brain to work creating wearable artwork, it never occurred to me.

I started throwing myself into what became kirastinystudio - a place for those who wanted energetically healing pieces. I wasn’t afraid of doing those types of things NEARLY as much as I was 2-D artworks, and for whatever reason, I was really flourishing. I still create work for kirastinystudio, and it brings me great joy to this day.

But it wasn’t the whole story.

I didn’t just want to be creating something, I knew that I wanted to paint again, even if it killed me. You’d think I was going to die based on my fight or flight response at the canvas, so I really mean what I said there. I began doing tons and tons of research, spoke almost exclusively to my therapist about that aspect of my life, wrote notebook upon notebook about my heart and my brain and what I found was this: I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t really all that unique. Not only that, it wasn’t my fault.

I was carrying this burden completely alone and completely unaware that its something so many sensitive people struggle with. How to express themselves freely, free from anxieties and insecurities and shrinking comfort zones and the blues and the old stories running around in their heads on loop. I wasn’t alone. So, I put together the things I’d learned and started painting.

By working on mindset, release, kindness, and momentum I was able to put work out for the first time in years. Due to severe lack of resources for my own damn self, I knew I had to spread that system as far as possible. It was so debilitating to feel so alone, so I created The Intentionally Creative Collective, a community that’s been my passion project for a while now. Helping sensitive folks release their old stories and breathe life into their creativity is an absolute dream come true.

Do you know who’s inside the collective? Regular people! People with arts degrees, people who are suffocated by the weight of expectations on them by society, people who you’d think are doing creative stuff all the time but in actually lay awake at night feeling like they’re fighting a losing battle every day, and it is a triumph to all of us that we KNOW we aren’t alone in the feelings we have.

One of the biggest things I needed when I was flailing (and crying) all those years was just someone who got it. I just wanted someone to say that they understood, and with TICC it’s many-fold.

One of the members even said that she was proud of herself for the first time ever all because of the life she has now. The life that the work inside TICC made possible.

I’ve been working for myself full-time for almost two years now, and I’m able to help people help themselves through the chaos and take the life they really want for themselves.

Truthfully, I’d say it was all worth it in the end.