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Thank you, Austin.

For many years, as a workaholic designer, I’ve abandoned my wife and five kids.

I was suffering, so I sold everything and moved with them to live in a motorhome, traveling across the country for three years.

Recently, we moved to a cabin, and I’m learning to carve space to draw and write.

I’ve just published a book about the adventure and all the lessons. If you guys are interested, the book is here: https://a.co/d/iQ3pxrL

Should money be a concern, just let me know, and I’ll send a link where you can read it for free.

I'm happy to be part of this community.

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just got it!

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Thank you, Lisa. I’d love to hear your opinion and suggestions for another edition.

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Great reminder! This week I’m writing about giving permission to do the holidays differently, aka not trying to keep everyone happy or keep all the commitments that don’t mean anything. The idea is terrifying for some people but might be necessary.

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so many "commitments that don't mean anything." When I get to December my unconscious mantra (becoming more conscious every year) is "just get to January." It has always been difficult to maintain an art practice for me this month, but this month (so far) I'm leaning into it a bit more. Plus, I put up my tree and only put 9 ornaments on it. That's a win! I'm looking at Christmas through the eyes of my granddaughter, who will turn one on Christmas Eve, and realizing what a WEIRD holiday this is!! Your posts, Austin, are always so helpful and hit at just the right moment.

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Another good post. Thank you. I have a couple things that help me. One is what Wendy Mac calls Morning Drawings. They are similar to Morning Pages. Do them in the morning, early. Wendy suggests to set a timer for ten minutes, draw, and stop when the timer goes off. Another things that helps a lot is Susan O'Malley's "Art Before Dishes." I live alone, so I can get away with that. I look into the kitchen (visible from the living room), Oh, it's time to make some art.

In reference to the holidays, last year I came across a post by Rebecca Cooper. One of her suggestions was to make a list of one to three words you want to keep in the front of your mind, words that embody the feelings you'd like to create for yourself during the holidays. Let these words guide your actions and decisions. Last year the words I chose were simplicity, economy, intimacy. They worked well then. Am using them again this year. She also said the one word formula to a simple, joy-filled holiday is "no."

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Make NO!vember every month haha

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this morning i left for my commute early and stopped at our local Gage Park for a walk around the loop - the entire time my brain was insisting i move faster, check my phone for the time, don't be late, but (with effort) i didn't take the bait - i walked at a steady rate and noticed what i noticed (also picked up a cool seed pod from an as yet unidentified tree) - this is a small practice i can easily add to my winter work days (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

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Waking up at 5am. Reading. Writing on my Diary. It has kept me quite functional for most of the days. It is impressive how much difference it does if I can't do it. This quote fits well with it:

"Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it" from Richard Whately

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Great line!

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Fortunately, for this book artist, the winter holidays offer a chance to make books celebrating the holidays. Heck, I have a limited deadline to get the stuff done! So I grabbed some Trader Joe's brown paper bags which has some lovely art on the bag of snow flakes falling on a house, and made a book out of the bag with some blank pages. (It came out great).

I took a friend's photo of a bright red trolly car (taken in Prague) on the tracks in the falling snow, and ran it through some Adobe designs to make it look more like a painting. I then made an eighteen page accordion. I rewrote two lines of an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem to accompany the photos. Also very pleased. Oh, and did I mention the star book ornament I made?

Holidays often (not always) give me an excuse to make something new concerning that particular celebration. And I can hardly wait till winter solstice next year...I have a great idea. (And maybe I won't wait.)

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I’ve been exhausted like one of those things in the Phantom Tollbooth’s doldrums lately, so that it can be hard to find energy to even cook for myself. ♾️

Something that draws me out a bit into doing is buying food I’ve never had before: a different kind of fish at the fish counter, a bergamotte, a yuzu, parsley root... and making something simple with them.

Just discovering the other flavors our world already has *feels* like creating. It makes the house smell good, and it does (should I say literally?) give energy!

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I always enjoy working with colorful veggies!

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Austin Kleon

Oh I wish I'd found this space decades ago ==but better late then never. This is turning into an unexpectedly difficult holiday season. Things that are far from my control. Having a practical set of suggestions to actually pratice for not only my benifit but the benifit of those around me is wonderful.

Thank you! This is a wonderful space/community

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Glad you’re here. Hang in there! :)

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So here I am reading a pile of Substack posts first thing in the morning when I should be starting the day with some kind of creative practice - new art, new words. Karl Jung used to draw a colorful mandala every morning. Time now for me to get out my journal and my colored pencils -- thanks for the reminder, Austin!

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Another great post, Austin! I wish I had known and started practicing this years ago when I had kids at home. I do it now though, and find that what works for me is actually making something with my hands. It can be as simple as spending 20 minutes folding paper into some kind of prototype, or as complicated as getting into a painting in progress. It's that daily touching base that matters.

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Austin Kleon

I often forget that my daily pages, which are necessary for me to function, are a creative practice. I also realized that practicing guitar is beginning to fall into that necessary creative practice category.

Thank you for bringing this to light.

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It’s funny how the “necessary” parts of my practice aren’t even necessarily the most “productive” ones in terms of immediate results. They just need to happen!

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Agreed. Sometimes even just sitting on the couch for while is a necessary part of the practice.

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Thanks for this post Austin! Lowering the bar is difficult but necessary; with a baby on my lap (2,5 months old) and 2 kids of 7&9. My remedy: reading multiple books at the same time, depending where I sit; having these books available at different places (on a cupboard, on the table, e-reader next to my bed etc). Reading books with short stories, letters, short chapters, etc. Hence best fitting into my life right now. And keeping a diary on my phone. Only the drawing part, which I usually love doing, stays behind. Should make that possible as well, maybe during the holidays. What I find most difficult of this time is my lack of energy. I know I need my creative space and time but so often I feel too tired to even start the attempt.

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Dec 12, 2023·edited Dec 12, 2023Author

Something I wish i had thought to use when my kiddos were little: Apple Notes! So many ideas I could’ve typed up one-handed and pullled open on my computer later :)

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Same here! Only had this epiphany with the third child…. ;)

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Austin Kleon

That photo of you with your baby and book is Everything Good in the World!

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Austin Kleon

Oh, these words (especially that sweet MO quote) arrived just in time. I am historically solid at getting daily “practice” in during the holidays (journaling, reading stay afloat), but what I skimp on or lose entirely is the longer form playtime to write with guitar in hand. For me, holidays mean lots performing - which has an aspect of play, absolutely- but I’m wondering lately about how to balance THAT play - the kind that happens in the company of others, with the solo, more wander-y play.

Thank you for this letter!

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I also have a hard time finding the sweet spot between solo and social, thank you for the reminder, both are needed!

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Austin Kleon

THANK YOU for this post, life has intervened recently and I am totally off my game and my art has suffered. You have gently nudged and reminded me to get back on my practice as a gift to myself and a responsibility to me. Thank you again. Happy Holidays Austin:)

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Austin Kleon

I really love that Beth Pickens book. So helpful and supportive, along with being so practical.

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