The Creativity Interviews: Yoga teacher, blogger/writer, and designer Lyn Girdler (and TWO sweet giveaways)

As part of my ongoing quest to explore what it means to live a creative life, I periodically invite kick ass creatives to come play with us on the blog.

Today’s episode:

Productive procrastination, the magic of an amazing mullet, and what it *really* means to be creative.

LynGirdlerI first met Lyn when she wrote to tell me that she’d stumbled upon my poem, “My Religion.” She told me that she’d read it to a room full of yogis and they loved it. I got her email on a day when I was feeling overwhelmed and blue, and it totally turned my mood around, as out-of-nowhere love notes tend to do. Since then, I’ve learned that Lyn just generally has that mood-lifting effect on me.

Besides teaching yoga, Lyn is the founder of We The Wholehearted (where she interviewed me!). She blogs at Love Yourself Naturally, shares her unique view of the world on Instagram, and writes kick ass travel pieces for sites like Johnny Jet and Fam Tripper. Lyn also designs inspiring t-shirts and hip accessories, which she sells in her Etsy shop. (I love how she describes her design style: “vintage, eclectic – think punk rock meets Alice In Wonderland”.) You can like Lyn’s Facebook page and/or follow her on Twitter.

Lyn just got back from an impromptu 3-month trip to India. I know. An impromptu trip to India? The answer is yes. In a bit of magical synchronicity, the opportunity to go to India more or less dropped in her lap, and Lyn said yes, because that’s what Lyn does. Her emails, blog posts and photographs from that trip are funny, fascinating, and deeply insightful… as are her answers to my questions. (I love what she has to say about dealing with critics… one critic in particular. And her last answer… I think she could start a creative revolution with that one.)

Read on…

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j: Life is demanding. What are your tricks for getting into a creative space.

Lyn: Not having a separate creative space. I’m always looking at my world in a layered way and my regular life IS my creative space, you know? There isn’t a ‘creative head space’ that I have to get into. It’s all about who I’m being and what I’m doing. It’s about what I consume as much as what I produce. I people watch. I am the queen of finding quirks in people and images. I love love love to find the absurdity in life. My inner world is pretty serious, I’m an obsessive thinker and dreamer, so I love to find ways to keep it light-hearted through conversations with quirky people and random strangers.

I spend hours finding and listening to music. I call people who inspire me, I write long, descriptive emails to friends because, inevitably, the casualness and comfort of writing to someone I care for will spark an idea or a sentence I’ll probably use somewhere later on. I keep a notebook and pen, or some kind of record keeping tool at all times so I am prepared for spontaneous ideas or sentences or direction. I listen really intently to people. I embrace my own quirkiness. Outside of work engagements, and a few important social events, I keep my schedule spontaneous. I let myself daydream A LOT. I try to be as honest and raw as I can to the people I trust because that ALWAYS generates something genius from my friends that I can expand on.

When I want to procrastinate, I organize and clean my apartment because it simultaneously makes me feel like I am doing something constructive and allows me to daydream. Then I always have a creative idea that I have to act on which is why my places are often only half tidy. I mostly don’t believe I own the creativity so I just try to stay open for it. The short answer? I observe.

j: What’s the weirdest thing that inspires you?

Lyn: It’s hard to say because there isn’t one thing. I’m often surprised by what inspires me. Most recently, while I was in Melbourne, Australia, I saw a man walk into the trendy cafe I was sitting outside, and he was sporting the most amazing mullet and a safari vest. It inspired a short story that I am currently writing. And synchronism.  I’m an absolute sucker for omens and signs and mystical collisions in the universe. It annoys me sometimes!

j: What do you do when you feel blocked?

Lyn: I just don’t buy into the energy around being blocked so I stop trying for whatever creative spark I am seeking and move the momentum somewhere else. I practice yoga. I write unconsciously.  I meditate.  I go for a walk.  I call my friends.  I entertain my vices.  I have come to understand that when I am feeling blocked it’s because I haven’t mentally, emotionally or physically released the everyday-ness of life to let the magic in.

j: How do you deal with critics?

Lyn: I sit her down and say “Lyn, you should probably have a glass of wine and the chill the f@*k out.” I haven’t met a harsher critic than myself. In regards to others, mostly I feel relieved that there is one less person I have to worry about whether they like what I’m doing or not. I’m forever wondering when someone is going to call me out on something, so when I don’t hear anything, I often have that “oh, I’ve gotten away with it this time – but I might not be so lucky next time” feeling!

But, actually, I embrace intelligent critics. I start to mistrust myself if everyone is liking what I am doing, or saying, because it makes me lazy. I have been fortunate enough, so far, not to have been on the receiving end of anything really nasty, but I consider those who are actually offering intelligent criticism a gold mine for me, creatively.  They push me to do better. I think it’s also the culture that I grew up in. Being Australian, we were raised not to take ourselves too seriously. In fact, you get criticized if you are actually doing well. It’s called the ‘Tall poppy syndrome’ and it’s very indicative of commonwealth countries. I’m probably a little bit more comfortable with criticism than I am with praise.

But, I am human – no one likes to be told they suck or that someone else doesn’t resonate with what they say or write. So, there is always an initial gut reaction when someone unsubscribes from my newsletter or they don’t come back to a yoga class, but I move on from it pretty quickly and think about the positive feedback.  I think that’s the best way to honor the people who do support you.

j: You just spent 3 months in India on your own. I imagine that’s like a crash course in living creatively. What was your most important (or most surprising) lesson?

Lyn: Gosh, I want to be simple with this answer but it’s just so ripe for depth since every day felt like I learned an important and surprising lesson. First and foremost, Bless the s*@t out of your life, even if you don’t have a God you believe in.

Yes, India is fertile ground for creatives because the order is in the chaos and they are not as interested in living in a structured way as they are a spiritual and spontaneous way. It’s a very boldly human society – if that makes sense. You know, you have an entire country either shitting, pissing, farting, burping or snotting in public – all the extremely natural ways a biological human being unravels and detoxifies, and not blinking an eye at it. There are people practicing very extreme and illogical ways to get closer to God, and doing it publicly so it is built into the system to create your channel to the source. And they just allow you to be so expressive and unravel before God, so whatever that looks like for you, you can own it. For creatives, our channel, or the way we express a connection to a divine source, is usually the art we create. But the west, in contrast to India, likes order and we sacrifice our creative, spontaneous and very bold human tendencies to spend our days creating a kind of order that keeps us clean, but emotionally toxic, hard-edged, and pointed – an order, ironically, that we need to be medicated to endure.

Also, they don’t have a lot of distraction like TV and videos and technology – not outside of the cities anyway – so there is just so much time in India. I think it is true to say that, for most creative people, the need (and having the time) to unravel and be spontaneous and raw is paramount. I came across a lot of people who started drawing again, or writing, or singing, or taking photos after many years of not even feeling the desire for it.

What I was most surprised by was the version of myself I stepped into. I didn’t go to India to find myself, or contemplate the meaning of life, or write another Eat, Pray Love memoir, you know? I just accepted an invitation and let that be all that I knew before I got there. I just let things happen – and by that I mean I let my instinct be just as important as thought – which left me wide open for some pretty wild experiences and also forced me to be vigilant in a way I wasn’t used to. It taught me that it really doesn’t matter where you go, or what you do if you are honest and kind, but go somewhere and do something.  Whether you decide to sit in mediation for hours on end, practice asana everyday and get your foot behind your head, hold your arm up for the rest of your life to reach God, sit in groups and talk about enlightenment, or take hallucinogens, uppers, etc., and dance your ass off all night; you can’t escape yourself. It’s all just a way of being in this world.

But, most important or surprising was having the tangible experience of my creative self as being ‘myself’. To be creative doesn’t mean to produce a type of art, or a product, or some kind of tangible expression for the world. It’s about you and your interactions. To be creative means that, when the children who are holding children and begging for money come to you and you see a lifetime of experiences they should not have had yet in their eyes, instead of feeling uncomfortable and sorry for them and brushing them off with 20 rupees and a wish that life wasn’t like that for them, you lean in and give them the kind of fun, playful attention children need. You talk about their pretty dress, ask how old they are, tell them that their smile makes you smile, ask them what games they like to play. You give them time and feed their self-worth. They’ll feel like children for that brief moment, and you’ll see those children take your 20 rupees and skip down the street. And even when other people flippantly hand them money which they hungrily stuff in their pocket, they’ll hold your note in their hand and smile. You’ll feel like you just created an exceptional piece of art – called connection. I experienced emotion and connection with a clarity I hadn’t before and that was just as fulfilling as anything I’ve produced.

I learned countless lessons that I’m finding it difficult to stop writing.  But, I also learned to let simple be enough!  So.  Namaste.

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I love Lyn’s assertion (and her example) that being creative is not about producing tangible evidence of your creativity; instead it’s about the way we live our lives, the quality of our interactions, and the depth of our connections. I’d love to hear what you guys think, about that and about all the rest of what Lyn had to say.

I timed this interview to coincide with the release of my new Yoga Life cards. Here’s one of the set of five…

YogaNamaste-Etsy

I’m so excited about these designs that I’m going to give a free set of them to a commenter chosen at random. And Lyn is so excited (or maybe she’s just so incredibly cool) that she’s going to give away one of her sweet yoga shirts to yet another commenter.  (Click here to read the wonderful story behind the shirts.)

LYNshirt

Join the conversation! We’ll chose winners first thing Saturday morning.

xo

*** Update***

Congratulations to Bron and Naomi who won our giveaways!

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39 Responses to The Creativity Interviews: Yoga teacher, blogger/writer, and designer Lyn Girdler (and TWO sweet giveaways)

  1. June O'Reilly May 2, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Awesome interview :~)
    life …. a creative thing… saying YES … oh how awesome that feels.. especially now that I’m about to head off by myself for a month long adventure across Ireland looking for energy, allowing it to reach it and connect with me.
    Love the cards Judy… they make me smile instantly whenever I see them

    thank you

    • j May 2, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      You are quite the globe trotter these days, June! I’m a little bit jealous, but mostly delighted and inspired by your adventures. You go, girl!

      (And thank you on the cards. Designing this collection, in particular, was soul-filling.)

    • Lyn Girdler May 2, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Oh June, you’re off to Ireland!? How fantastic. I’ve never been but it is on my list. I’ve only heard amazing things about that country and what a joy it is to travel around. Thanks you for reading the interview. Saying YES! Indeed. Good luck on your adventures.

  2. Becky Sain May 2, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    Great interview.
    Looking forward to clicking all the links.
    Australia has always been high on my list of places I want to visit, but this “tall poppy syndrome” thing sounds scary… as someone who wears every feeling and emotion on the outside of my skin, exposed to the world.

    The shirts and the new yoga cards are really incredible!

    Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself.

    • j May 2, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      Ha! I’m thinking “tall poppy syndrome” is about the dangers in standing out too much, but maybe Lyn will come and enlighten us…

      • Lyn Girdler May 2, 2013 at 11:10 am #

        J, yes, you’re correct on that. We’re a socialist society – everything has to be even. It can be stifling as an artist at times…..but, it’s not as bad as it was when I was growing up. Australia has a deeply expressive, and strong artist community – it’s more of an attitude to keep your ego in check, don’t congratulate yourself too much and just keep going at it.

        • j May 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

          Ahh. Actually that’s not bad advice (as long as you remember to celebrate your wins a bit before moving on).

    • Lyn Girdler May 2, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      Becky, keep Australia on your list. It will treat you wonderfully. The ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is only for natives….tall poppy’s are only allowed to be foreign. I suppose though, in a healthy way it is there to keep our ego in check. But, taken too far and, if you’re a sensitive person (as I was, growing up) it can be a challenge. Like I said, it is a deeply ingrained, mostly inferred, attitude within our culture.

      You’ll be welcomed with open arms. Go, you won’t regret it.

      Thank you for reading the interview and, aren’t those cards just divine?! I am in love with them.

      L

      • Becky Sain May 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        Okay… got it!
        I’m totally the opposite of a tall poppy.

        Although, a little celebrating can fill my soul for months!

        I’m totally going to start calling people “tall poppies” when they forget to be humble and appreciative!

        • Pam May 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

          I second the advice to keep Australia on your list. I have loved both of my visits there, & would happily go back anytime.

  3. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) May 2, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    “you should probably have a glass of wine and the chill the f@*k out” made me lol! Great interview!

    • j May 2, 2013 at 10:08 am #

      Me too. Loved that. Reminds me of when my boys were little and I was on the phone with my mom telling her that I worried about them – that I wasn’t spending enough time with them, or too much, or not the right kind of time, or…

      She said, laughing, “Judy. Relax. Have a glass of wine.”

      Best mom advice ever.

  4. Lyn Girdler May 2, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks for reading the interview Annie! I loved reading yours too. A glass of wine can hold off the crazy for a while, can’t it?

  5. Ashly May 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Love this interview!!
    “To be creative doesn’t mean to produce a type of art, or a product, or some kind of tangible expression for the world. It’s about you and your interactions.”
    Beautiful.

    Lyn do you have any of your writing workshops coming up soon?

    • j May 3, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      I loved that part too, Ashly.

    • Lyn Girdler May 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Ashly – but isn’t it true? Don’t you feel the most creative when you have made a deep connection and when you are being completely yourself? Thank you for reading. I am working on booking some more yoga/writing workshops. I’ll always send out notices through the site, facebook, twitter etc. Would love for you to attend again. xox

  6. Marcie May 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    As a yogi/yoga-teacher and ‘creative’ – myself – Lyn speaks right to my heart. Thank-you for introducing her to me here!

    • j May 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      My heart too, Marcie. (But that’s not surprising!) You’re very welcome!

  7. Pam May 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    I’m looking forward to clicking on more of the links, but in the meantime–wonderful interview!

    You find the loveliest people, j.

    I love the idea of not having a separate creative space because now I can talk about that as if I’ve been doing it on purpose! (I tried to set aside a spot, but I find I doodle, draw or paint all over the place, not just there.)

    • j May 3, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      Actually, in this case, the loveliest people find me. It’s like a reverse superpower!

      I need to remember to carry a notebook all the time. I don’t right now. I always have a book though, so I do use my stolen moments well.

  8. Taylor M May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    One of the most creative, beautiful, intelligent beings I have ever met! To have lived with her…my life is forever changed and forever inspired. One of my favorite people in this world – love love love! Thank you for sharing, Judy!!

    • j May 3, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      Wow! You know someone is truly lovely when they can induce this kind of esteem from someone who they actually lived with! (I knew the awesomeness was real.) ;)

    • Lyn Girdler May 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      I’m kinda speechless – but, T we both know … you are the company you keep! Love you.

  9. Lyn Girdler May 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Oh Marcie, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I have just been over and checked out your creative/yogic life online. Great stuff! I love how you’ve pulled the yogic/creative life together. The practice is such a conduit for expression isn’t it?

  10. carlyweb May 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Loved this interview! Having just started my morning with a yoga and meditation session it’s great to read such an uplifting article that speaks so many truths. Especially that I am my biggest critic and definitely need to chill out some days so I’ll keep that one close :)

    I’m also Australian and while there are some that can be a bit harsh sometimes, there are many that are very supportive. If you’re thinking of visiting we are very welcoming and friendly!

    Thank you Judy and Lyn, you’ve made my day x

    • Lyn Girdler May 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Oh Carly – a fellow Aussie! (I just held back from saying “G’day and Hey Mate”! – it’s hard work fighting my cheesy impulses). Yes, I do hope I made it clear that the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ is more of in built attitude within our culture, most foreigners never really experience that. Australia is an extremely open minded, friendly and welcoming country. WE have a wicked sense of humor and a really comforting, laid back attitude.

      I implore everyone to visit.

      Thank you for reading Carly. A morning of yoga and meditation – that get most days off to a good start..Enjoy the rest of your good day!

      • j May 4, 2013 at 7:50 am #

        I have to laugh at all this talk around the people and culture of Australia being scary. There are lots of things to be afraid of in Australia, but neither of those is on my list. I got as far as typing “Australia thin” (not even finishing the word “things,” much less the rest of my search critera), and “Australia Things That Can Kill You” popped up as a choice. (Cracked.com has a hilarious piece comparing Australia’s deadly nature to the rest of the world’s.)

        But before anyone jumps on to tell me that Australia isn’t deadly and I should visit, I already know I should visit. It’s seriously on top of my list of places to go. :)

    • j May 4, 2013 at 8:14 am #

      Ever since reading Lyn’s “chill the fuck out and drink wine” answer, I’ve been consciously stopping the rants in my head. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. I just stop. Do something else. I haven’t quite made the leap to reassuring myself that I’m, in fact, a badass, but stopping the negative rants is a solid first step.

      Thank you back, Carly. You made my day, too.

  11. bron May 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    awesome interview, thank you judy for interviewing lyn. I have reposted this and forwarded on to family and friends to read. have a fabulous day, namaste

    • j May 4, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      Aw, thank you for forwarding! And interviewing Lyn was absolutely my pleasure.

  12. Naomi Wittlin May 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Oh wow, oh wow! This is such a great interview! I totally agree with what Lyn speaks about when she says creativity is a way of life, but I never really thought of it that way before. When I turn around a whining preschooler with distraction and a loving smile, or when I can shift my perspective and get a new insight, I’m living creatively too! Love that. I enjoyed Lyn’s sense of humor and her spontaneity. Thanks, Judy!

    • j May 4, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Oh, Naomi, I love your example of everyday artistry. YES!

  13. julia May 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Wow. There’s so much depth and goodness in Lyn’s responses.

    This (below) jumped out at me…

    “I have come to understand that when I am feeling blocked it’s because I haven’t mentally, emotionally or physically released the everyday-ness of life to let the magic in.”

    And I absolutely love this…

    “I’m always looking at my world in a layered way and my regular life IS my creative space.”

    This feels so key to me…to not separate any of it, to let the everyday be what inspires the creating, to let the creating inspire the everyday. We can always start with what’s right before us, inside us…let what IS, right here, right now, feed the creating. This resonates hugely.

    Thank you for this J & Lyn…what a rich, beautiful conversation.

    And J…you know how I feel about those yoga cards. I hope you’re wearing your cape because your seriously are a superhero.

    • j May 4, 2013 at 8:05 am #

      I agree with you that the creating should (and does) inspire the everyday. I think Lyn is going even one step further in saying that the the everyday can be the work of art… depending on how we live it. Which is a really beautiful thought.

      Thank you on the cards, Julia. Compliments from you on my art are like getting an A on my report card. Plus a really, really good hug. xoxo

  14. Nina May 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    This was exactly what I needed to read right now. Someone close to me has been very critical of my writing/blogging. I liked your comment, Lyn, about having one less person you have worry about in terms of whether or not they like your stuff. That’s a great way to look it! Because hey– I for sure know how this particular feels now! Also, like the point that we honor the people who support us by focusing on their positivity.

    Thanks for this! Great interview!

    • Lyn Girdler May 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Hi Nina,

      I am very sorry to hear that you have been receiving negative comments about your writing. It’s also important to follow the advice of a lot of the other interviews too which was to note the source. If someone isn’t being constructively critical then do whatever you can to dismiss the pull toward self doubt – I’m suspect of who is actually being critical.

      Also, I tend to find that if someone is being critical, but they are honest and it’s intelligent, then I know it in my gut anyway.

      We can’t please everyone and, we’re not supposed to. That’s too much responsibility.

      Thank you for reading, and commenting.

      All the best.
      L

  15. bron May 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Judy, thank you for my cards, they are great and I have decided to frame them. Bron

    • j May 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Yay! And thank you, Bron! That just made my day!

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  1. What is means to live a creative life – an interview | - May 2, 2013

    […] very grateful and honored that Judy Clement Wall, the illustrator of those cards you see above, chose to interview me as part of her ongoing series of interviews exploring the creative life. […]

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