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32 & 33. AMELIE CONVERSATION TRANSCRIBED

PART 1 (1ST half of conversation)

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Leith: [00:00:00] I have one question that I, it's a question I love to start with. And it's just can you tell me about the community you grew up in? And what do you remember most about it?

Amelie: [00:00:10] Sure. So, I grew up in Belgium, I moved to the US when I was about 27, I think. So really born and raised in Belgium. And what I remember, so I grew up in a small town. And like I had, you know, cows in my backyard, kind of small town. And for me, it was very carefree a very, like kind of innocent childhood. Also, you know, it was the 80s. So, it was also a different vibe. And just, my dad was like, one of the town's doctors, so everybody knew him, it just felt like everybody knew everybody, and it was really safe. It also felt a little bit for me, just restrictive, I just felt like I was expected to have a certain trajectory in life that would look like most people there. So, you know, go to college, get a good job, get married, have 1.8 kids, you know, white picket fence, all that. So, it felt both safe and a little restrictive.

Leith: [00:01:29] So, I mean, what's interesting to me is that you've come to the United States. So, can you tell me a bit about what brought that decision?

Amelie: [00:01:39] Yeah, so I feel like, you know, coming from there, I always kind of dreamed of adventures of traveling. When I was a kid, I read stories about the Wild West. It's a little cheesy, but it's true. So, I've always wanted to like, explore. I didn't really think it was going to be the US, but I felt like I was just going to go somewhere else and do something. And I think also in Europe, or at least in Belgium, we were very influenced by Hollywood, and the movies, and the songs and all that. So those just like or have like glam to the US. And when I first visited with my family, I visited San Francisco, and I just stepped out on the street, and I was like, oh, wonderful, this is home. I love it. 

Leith: [00:02:40] Oh, you had that impression right off the bat. 

Amelie: [00:02:43] Yes. 

Leith: [00:02:45] So, then you must have at some point embarked on your own adventure.

Amelie: [00:02:50] Yes, from there, I have to say that I was pretty obsessed with going back to the US, I would say to the west coast in general, but San Francisco in particular. So, it is just like, save up some money, go there for a couple of weeks, go back, save up some money, go for like a summer program, and just like start kind of this journey. And that's when I met my now ex-husband. So, you know, then it's like, the rest is history, as we say. It's a good few years, but it ended up that we got married and I moved to the US. And then when I got divorced, I just never left because I love it here. 

Leith: [00:03:33] Wow. So, you're in California?

Amelie: [00:03:36] So now I'm in Colorado. Funny enough, for all my obsession with San Francisco. I ended up moving away mainly for work.

Leith: [00:03:48] So I'd love to also like, think about a time when you have felt really stuck. And can you describe that and then we'll sort of get into maybe some of the steps that you took to move forward?

Amelie: [00:04:04] Yeah, of course. So, I'm an artist. I've been, you know, painting, drawing all my life. About seven years ago, I decided, okay, now it's time I want to actually share my work and sell my thing. And it was like, kind of a wild ride, and it was great. And about two and a half years ago, I get to a point where I felt really stuck. Like I had no inspiration, I couldn't really bring myself to paint anymore. I just kind of felt stuck. I had a day job that I didn't like and it just felt like all around, just like stuck in a routine. And it took me a while because it felt like I had worked so hard to get to a point where I wasn't enjoying myself and I wasn't happy and it wasn't working. So that's kind of how you know, at first, I tried to like, push and try and do it more and just like, throw against them, it just came to a point where it's like, I don't know what I'm doing, I just need to, like, take a step back. And I think something that made a big difference at that point, is that I kind of let go of the struggle. And I just like sort of relax and be like, okay, where should I go next, like, I need a sign from the universe or something, I just kind of like, had to trust that something was going to pop up because then I felt like I didn't know really where to go from there. And the big thing that changed is that I was at Barnes and Noble. And I pick up a book, and it was 'The Artists Way', which I think a lot of people know, which is like a 12-week program in the book. And that really kind of sparked a whole journey. And what's interesting about this story is that doing The Artist Way, I had the idea of like, okay, I need to do something that's just for fun. Something that's not a product that I'm not going to sell, I don't need to share it on social media; it doesn't need to be anything, but me playing and having fun. And I think that was a big step. Because it's like, I fall victim, a lot of just, you know, capitalist society, like, whatever I do, you know, it needs to be a book, and needs to be a course, it needs to be a product, I need to make money, it has to be productive. And I felt like sometimes it just kills all the creativity. Because as soon as I think of something, it's like, oh, it needs to be this sellable product. And that's what was keeping me stuck. And so, I started playing and experimenting, I started doing resin art because it just felt super fun. And I literally set up like a plastic table in my backyard, and just started playing with it and doing more of it. And then I started sharing it on social media a little bit because it was fun and people loved it. And now it's basically, most of my business is resin art. And it just became super popular. And it became this great, you know, product in the end. But it just really had to start with not making a product, like not putting that kind of pressure and just kind of following my bliss, as they say.

Leith: [00:07:55] Yeah, so that's interesting to me. Like, are you a full-time artist in terms of how you earn your income? 

 

Amelie: [00:08:03] Yes. So, I'm full-time for so I left my day job a little over a year ago. And it was, you know, the resin art that kind of pushed it over the edge to which I was making more money with my art than with my job.

 

Leith: [00:08:23] Was this an aspiration for you for a long time to be an artist full-time? Or just happened this way?

 

Amelie: [00:08:31] Yeah, it's been. So, I had a really kind of defining moment when I was, I think 15 or 16. I started feeling this just sense of like urgency or dread, or like, you know how you feel like, something's going to happen like I need to do something. Something's going to happen, kind of like emergency preparedness or something. And I just had that feeling of the urgency of like, I need to do something I need to act, and I didn't know what it was. And I don't really know how it came about, but one day, I was like, oh, I just want to be an artist. And as soon as I kind of realized that and be like, oh, I'm going to be an artist, like I don't care how long it takes, if I'm 80 when I make it, but I will be an artist. And from that day, that urgency kind of faded away.

 

Leith: [00:09:23] Wow. So, you had like this awareness that something didn't feel quite right. But as soon as you sort of settled on the art, that sort of dissipated over time. Wow, so did that also, like, lead you to sort of this conflict with living in a small town, like an artist wasn't part of that aspiration?

 

Amelie: [00:09:50] Definitely. It's a big part, it ties back into that because it felt like I didn't have any models of what it would be like to have a different life or the life I wanted to be an artist. I mean, obviously, I could move to Brussels to the Capitol that was an hour and a half away or something, but it just felt like it was also part of my attraction to the United States. Is that, you know, I just saw all these people like, invent new things and create and be artists and have different lifestyles. And it just felt like it was like, I could find my people there.

MUSIC

 

Leith: [00:10:37] Yeah. Did you ever get any sort of maybe even just underlying messages of like, you can't make it as an artist, and you know that suggestion thing?

 

Amelie: [00:10:47] Yeah, just only every day.

 

Leith: [00:10:51] So that must have caused a lot of conflicts too like, just even internally.

 

Amelie: [00:10:56] Yes. And that is part of why I think my journey has been kind of winding because my parents really wanted me to, you know, I did go to college, I have a master's in psychology because it felt like, okay, at least, so I'll do that. Like, they really wanted me to have a good job, be a doctor, lawyer, or something. And just, you know, the people around me, my friends really wanted me to, like, get married and have kids at the same time as them so they could play together. So that was like this whole, also, like, just pressure. And I think, for me, a big part of it is for so long, I felt like being an artist meant that I had to sacrifice a lot of other things. So, it meant that I had to, you know, be broke all the time, be unhappy in relationships, maybe even be crazy, you know, all these like stereotypes that we have about artists. It just felt like I had to sacrifice a lot of things to be an artist. So, it was like a push and pull for a long time to just get rid of those beliefs.

 

Leith: [00:12:09] How do you go about that? Because I feel like it's so hard. Unless these beliefs sort of becoming ingrained. And you think they have to be true. Like you're saying an artist has to be somewhat crazy. How do you get past that? Or even having awareness around that's a belief that might not be your own?

 

Amelie: [00:12:29] Yeah. Well, I mean one thing that helped me so much, and I know some of your other guests have mentioned Charlotte Ryan before, but she's been my coach for quite a while. And I feel like that really helped just to have an outside perspective to work on all that was so helpful. I mean, I would recommend to anyone to get a coach, especially if they feel stuck. So that was a big part. And I think also the part of just finding my community more, even if it was just like, being online and looking for other successful artists that were, you know, also had money and had a house and had a partner, maybe even kids and see, oh, that's possible, like other people are doing it. It was just like, the first time I saw a woman, a successful artist that had a partner and a kid and a house, it blew my mind, literally. So that's how I kind of understood like, oh, this is strange.

 

Leith: [00:13:39] Right it is. It gives that air of it's possible or that is possible, which maybe wasn't even in your realm of possibilities at the time. Wow, it's just so amazing to me that I mean, we grow up with it, for all of us, we grow up with these beliefs that, you know, even when we're not told adversely, but inadvertently, that we internalize and live in such a way, it's so limiting. So, you at some point along the way, you find a coach, and then, like, what even made you decide that that was a good step to take?

 

Amelie: [00:14:26] That's a good question. I feel like I don't, it just felt just so obvious. I don't know if it's, I think maybe part of it is, you know, having studied psychology, I'm always very much for, you know, whether it's therapy or counseling or coaching like I've seen, and I've experienced what it does when you have just another person to just, you know, be a mirror for you and reflect and think. So, I think I was just kind of ready and open for it. I didn't know at that time what it would do; it just felt like, oh, you know, she's going to give me an idea to make more money with my business or something pretty superficial. So, I kind of had no idea of what it would be.

 

Leith: [00:15:22] Yeah. And then did you hit like, a low point at all that caused you to like change course? Or was it just a series of things that happen to get into your world of art?

 

Amelie: [00:15:39] I felt like it was very much twists and turns because, you know, from the time that I was like 15, and I decided to be an artist, and it was like, oh, I feel kind of pressure to go to university, get a master's degree. So that was, you know, five years where that was a lot of opportunities to make. I've had kind of like, a succession of, you know, being a full-time artist, and then, oh, I want the security, I'll get a job, I'll quit my job, I'll go back travel. So, there's been quite a few like, back and forth. In coaching I've worked on I've seen those, like, part of the journey and not setbacks, because at first, I was like, "Oh, I'm going to get a day job." Like that's embarrassing, it's a setback, I have made it and now I just feel more open to the fact that it's just a journey, and it’s what fits best at that time.

 

Leith: [00:16:40] Right, because it's so easy to internalize those we think are mistakes and that they reflect on us personally. Whereas like, as you point out, it's much more of just a little clue that maybe that wasn't quite right, but you sort of course correct and figure things out. Oh, my God, that's been such my experience, too. And then I get caught in these sorts of bad places where I think, oh, my God, I'm passionless, or you know, I can't figure it out. So, there must be something wrong with me places. Have you experienced that? 

 

Amelie: [00:17:18] Yeah. And it's also I feel like, you know, going back to just other people's expectations is like, I had so much of a desire to prove myself and to be like, you'll see, I'll make it, I'll be a successful artist, and they will look like this, that it was not only my own, like, oh, I'm a failure, because this didn't work out. But also, oh, now they will all see that I'm a failure because this didn't work out. So, it's like, I felt like I had to learn to be, like, more honest with myself and with others, and not pretend everything is going well because I wanted to prove that I could do it.

 

Leith: [00:18:03] Yeah. So, tell me about a time where that was the case, where you really felt like you were trying to prove yourself and your art to your family as an example?

 

Amelie: [00:18:15] So I had probably the hardest time in my life, I had a full-time job that was like, kind of like, prestigious, I was traveling a lot working, you know, 80 plus hours a week. And, you know, everybody was like, "Oh, you're going to great places is like really successful", but I had no time to paint and I was just miserable. Because it's, you know, even though I felt lucky to have that somebody gave me the chance to do a job that I was not even, you know, fully qualified for when I started. It just felt like it just didn't feel right once again. And I feel like when I quit, most people were just disappointed and felt like I was throwing away a great chance. And why would I do that? And I didn't even have a plan. And what was I going to do? And for several months, I felt just pretty lost and depressed. And I think it was made worse by the fact that I didn't want to admit it to most anyone. So, when someone would ask me, it would be like, "Oh, it's going great, I have so much time to paint", even though I wasn't painting because I was depressed. And just like felt like, oh, I'm living this great life in San Francisco. It's so glamorous when it wasn't at all. And it just really took me getting to a point of admitting like I'm not doing so well, to start to get better.

 

MUSIC

 

Leith: [00:19:49] Wow. So, what was the first step that you took? I mean, maybe it was just this awareness that you weren't doing

well that like an awareness of yourself that you needed to make a change.

 

Amelie: [00:20:02] Yeah, it just felt like it got to a point, honestly, of just like, feeling what? Like, it just gets to a point where it wasn't working, like, why am I doing this, like this is just not worth it to continue like this just to save face, so and a big part. And I was younger at the time, so I really like told my parents, can I like come back to Belgium for a few weeks. And I just went back to live with my parents for three months. And it was a lot for me to just like, not feel shame and embarrassment of like being a failure, because all of a sudden, I was living on my parents’ couch or something. But it just felt like I really needed just like a reset and some time to not be just always in survival mode. Because that's, you know, it's part of what is hard being an immigrant is, I have no family here. And at that time, I was pretty new, I didn't have a lot of friends like I didn't have a lot of support. And it felt like, if I don't make money this week, I won't eat next week. So, it just felt like I just needed to get out of that survival mode to just be able to think about my next step.

 

Leith: [00:21:36] And how was that experience on your parents’ couch were they supportive? Or did that just add sort of another layer of challenges?

 

Amelie: [00:21:47] I didn't think we would go, it's good. So, it felt like they were supportive. I think that part of it is, it's sort of self-fulfilled their belief that being an artist would lead me to, you know, be broke. And the rest are not healthy. So, it just felt like, they were really nice about it and supportive, but it also really fit their narrative. So, in a way, it was easier to fail than to succeed for my family, because that's what they were expecting. But I think they were pretty good at just giving me the space that I needed to just sort things out. And they'll try to give me advice and tell me what to do or like push me. So that was a really good thing that they were actually able to give me some space.

 

Leith: [00:22:51] So how did you go about making the next decision, like the next step?

 

Amelie: [00:22:58] So, I feel like it's a little hard to say because it's sort of a little bit of a blur this part. And, like, almost a decade now. But it just felt like I was in like a cloud, I couldn't really see what was happening. And they kind of had to once again surrender to it. And it almost felt like one morning I got up and I was like, I'm ready to go back, I'm going to back to San Francisco. And it just kind of felt like one morning, it just kind of dissolved. And it's not like I had a lot more planned than I did. But I just felt ready to take the next step at some point, and I just flew back.

 

Leith: [00:23:52] Well, so maybe you just needed that space and that like to be able to see what the next step was.

 

Amelie: [00:24:00] Yeah, I think that you know, it's kind of like tying back to what I was saying about, you know, not needing to always be productive and have it all figured out and have a product and do the thing. I feel like it's so important to somehow be able to create a space, where we don't have to be a product of society and we can just sit there be unproductive, just be. For me like what really made a difference when I was stuck in my life, somehow being able to create that space for myself for as long as needed.

 

Leith: [00:24:39] Wow. So, then you obviously went back to San Francisco and at some point, got back into art, what was that journey like? Because here you must have felt like you'd failed or you felt like the world saw you as a failure. I'm just guessing and then, you know, to go back into it you know, I'm sure there would be a lot of personal inside conflict around that.

 

Amelie: [00:25:06] Yeah, I feel like throughout the years, what always kind of carried me is that, you know, I know it kind of sounds like very, I don't know, I feel like it sounds like I'm telling something out of a movie or something. But it was true, like that moment when I decided to be an artist, and decided I would succeed or die trying. Basically, it's kind of dramatic, but it kind of carried me. Because I mean, same now, if tomorrow for some reason, I'm not selling anything, I ran out of money, I have to go get another job, I have to do whatever, I know that I'll get back into it, and I'll just keep trying. So, it just felt like that's the only given of my life, is that I will always do arts, however, I can. And that's part of even to continue into dramatic strain. When I was at that time, I actually saw a documentary about homeless people and that this guy, would like to use his money to buy sheets of paper and pencils to draw. And then he would kind of like sell his drawings for like, a couple of dollars to buy food. And I was like, I can do that, like, I'll do that. If I'm homeless, I'll just buy a piece of paper, and I'll do drawings, and I'll sell them. And that's kind of like I had to really get so deep into my fears that I kind of like, went through the other side. Worst case scenario, I'll just be homeless, in the streets of San Francisco and sell my drawings and it will be better than a life without arts, is like how intense?

 

Leith: [00:27:01] Well, that to me is like you've got a really strong NorthStar and you keep getting drawn back to that. Which I'm sure lots of people do too, but they don't ever acknowledge it or listen to that, you know, there are so many other messages. But what you touched on there was really interesting to me that fear. Was that fear of you'll never make it or that fear of you'll never prove yourself? Or what was that holding you back maybe?

 

Amelie: [00:27:32] I think for a long time there was just a fear of, you know, just like on the survival of like, not making money, being homeless, I don't know, never finding love, like all these things that I also wanted in life, like the fear of having to sacrifice everything. Like, you know, we see like the stories of Van Gogh, and whoever, like, genius had to sacrifice everything for their art. But then underneath those deeper fear, I won't even be that genius. Like it would be fine if I was Van Gogh, but maybe I'll just always be a mediocre artist, even though I've sacrificed everything. And I think that fear, also of not being good enough, despite everything was just like a double whammy.

 

Leith: [00:28:27] I think we all live with that, yeah. I think I can appreciate that. So how did you get past the fear? I mean, I know you've mentioned a coach, was that really and maybe the book 'The Artist's Way'?

 

Amelie: [00:28:44] I mean, I feel like I wouldn't say that I'm past the fear. I think I'm still working on it. I still have, you know, weeks where somehow everything is conspiring to keep me from painting, and then they get really cranky or you know, I just feel like, it's not good enough. I don't know what I'm doing. So, I think it's just like, working through the fear enough so that it doesn't keep me from making art is all I can ask. Because I don't know if I'll ever, you know, get past it or conquer the fear or whatever.

 

Leith: [00:29:21] Yeah, it's hard, isn't it? There has to be a certain trust in yourself, I think, you know, where does that fear come from? I mean, I asked that because I don't actually know but maybe a lack of trust in ourselves that or a lack of loving ourselves, maybe. How would you describe it?

 

Amelie: [00:29:53] I think for me, I ultimately, I don't know fully. I think there's a part for me just the difference between where I'm at and where I want to be in, like, my ability to be okay with that. That there is just a difference between where I'm at and where I want to be. So, to just be okay, with not being that perfect ideal version of myself, that I feel like I need to be, to be worthy, and just be okay with where I'm at. And like that goes for everything in life or relationships for anything. 

PART 2, 2nd HALF OF CONVERSATION WITH AMELIE

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Leith: [00:28:27] So how did you get past the fear? I mean, I know you've mentioned a coach, was that really and maybe the book 'The Artist's Way'?

Amelie: [00:28:44] I mean, I feel like I wouldn't say that I'm past the fear. I think I'm still working on it. I still have, you know, weeks where somehow everything is conspiring to keep me from painting, and then they get really cranky or you know, I just feel like, it's not good enough. I don't know what I'm doing. So, I think it's just like, working through the fear enough so that it doesn't keep me from making art is all I can ask. Because I don't know if I'll ever, you know, get past it or conquer the fear or whatever.

 

Leith: [00:29:21] Yeah, it's hard, isn't it? There has to be a certain trust in yourself, I think, you know, where does that fear come from? I mean, I asked that because I don't actually know but maybe a lack of trust in ourselves that or a lack of loving ourselves, maybe. How would you describe it?

 

Amelie: [00:29:53] I think for me, I ultimately, I don't know fully. I think there's a part for me just the difference between where I'm at and where I want to be in, like, my ability to be okay with that. That there is just a difference between where I'm at and where I want to be. So, to just be okay, with not being that perfect ideal version of myself, that I feel like I need to be, to be worthy, and just be okay with where I'm at. And like that goes for everything in life or relationships for anything. 

 

Leith: [00:30:51] And can you speak a little bit to what that vision of yourself is that you have, that you aspire to?

 

Amelie: [00:30:64] That's a good question. I feel like, you know, reading a lot of just biographies of other artists, especially like very famous artists, it's like, it's great, but it's also a little bit of a trap. Because it's like, you know, Stephen King writes 365 days a year, no matter what, like, why am I not able to do that? Or like, I don't know, Picasso was making amazing paintings when he was 20. And then reinvented a jar, you know, whatever kind of like, it's both on the quality of the work, and also on what I imagined my every day would be, which probably a lot of people have like, you know, I'll wake up at 6 am and sip my tea while journaling, and then stroll over to my studio and paint for five hours this like, gorgeous masterpiece, and then go, you know, whatever, volunteer at the soup kitchen, and I don't know, mentor youth kind of thing. So it's like this kind of idealized version of life.

 

Leith: [00:32:13] And sell your masterpiece for millions. 

Amelie: [00:32:15] Yes, exactly. And then, you know, donate half of it to children and things like that.

Leith: [00:32:24] Well, I mean, from my experience, get trapped into this idea of comparison, right? And that's hard, especially find today with social media and things like that.

Amelie: [00:32:37] Yeah, social media and like, for me getting older, because it's like, I'm always, like, oh, but you know, this person was rich and famous when they were 18 and I'm 37 and like where am I at? 

Leith: [00:32:53] Yeah, I find that with those like top 40 under 40, or top 30 under 30. Is like, where is the top 70 under 70? You know, that's even more impressive for somebody I think, as they get older to make changes and, you know, honor, whatever it is they want to do, but certainly not the messaging that we get, is it?

Amelie: [00:33:16] Yeah. 

Leith: [00:33:18] It's hard. I've sort of tried to block a lot of that out, I don't know, have you? Do you do that in some way? Or try and sort of focus on only you, versus what's going on around you?

Amelie: [00:33:33] Yes, I mean, definitely, I think that's also where, like, the commitment comes from of just like, if I make it as an artist, and you know, who knows what making it means, first of all, but let's just put it out there, if I like to make it as an artist at 80. Like, that's fine. So it's kind of the removing the like timeline a thing and also trying to, once again, like see other models of people who have done it differently, and not just what is presented to us.

Leith: [00:34:13] So what about now, you are, obviously have some sort of full-time job, I'm assuming because you've moved to Colorado? Or can you just tell me a little bit about where you're at now with your art and how it fits into your life, currently?

Amelie: [00:34:30] So I quit my day job about a year ago, I did once you know, the pandemic like once, vaccination and all that things reopened a little bit, I did get a part-time job, I'd like craft space because I was missing, just interacting with people and have colleagues and things like that. So I do have a part-time job that gets me out of the house and out of my studio. But basically, it's like, a dream come true because I get to make art every day. And then somehow magically money appears in my bank account. And then I can pay my bills. So it's like this magical thing of just like, "Oh, I get to do what I would do for free, but then also I get paid to do it". So that's like, you know, ideal as long as I can do it. And you know, if there's a season where it goes down and I need to like get another job, I will. But yeah, for me, that's ideal.

Leith: [00:35:37] So how do you go about selling your art?

Amelie: [00:35:41] So right now with the pandemic, I'm doing pretty much 100% online. So I have a website, and I have an Etsy store and then, you know social media. So it's been also great. I think for a lot of people that I know, the pandemic meant that people shopped online more. So that means more people get to see my things that don't live just nearby in Colorado. So that really, for me, the pandemic was really good for business.

Leith: [00:36:22] Wow, that's fantastic. How has it been for you personally? Because I would have thought your personal space would also affect your arts?

Amelie: [00:36:22] Yeah, so do you mean like, the pandemic? 

Leith: [00:36:31] Yeah, sorry, the pandemic, the last 18 months or so?

Amelie: [00:36:41] Oh, that thing? It was an interesting journey because when the pandemic started, I was single, and I lived alone. So it was a lot of time, on my own, it was pretty isolating, especially in 2020, that it was not easy to deal with just all of a sudden, being in my house all the time. I mean, like a lot of people, but for me, it was like, I could not talk face to face to another human being for days and days. So it was hard. And also, I kind of had to just focus more, both on spirituality, which I'm very much into spirituality meditation, like, deep like inner work, and also art, which for me, it goes hand in hand. So it was actually, I don't know if I would have gotten to the point I am now without all this time by myself. So I guess it didn't feel like a blessing at that time. But maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

Leith:  [00:38:05] Right, as you reflect on it sort of thing. 

Amelie: [00:38:05] Yes. I mean, you know, we got to make the best out of it, in retrospect, but it did feel like it forced me to get deeper within myself, which I think now I'm reaping the benefit of that, in my art, in my relationship, and just my life in general. Even though I really had to literally be forced to do it.

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Leith: [00:38:36] Oh, interesting. Can you tell me a bit about what that means to get deeper into yourself?

Amelie: [00:38:42] And for me, it was removing a lot of distractions. And one of the issues that I've gotten aware of is that I don't have really good boundaries for myself. So it's like, if you know, people are like, oh, let's do this. Do you want to do that? Can you help me with this? I just kind of like let things just, you know, people pleaser tendency. 

Leith: [00:39:12] I can relate to that.

Amelie: [00:39:15] I felt like before that I was very much caught up and, you know, be at work all day, and then go to happy hour with my colleagues. Because I kind of wanted them to like me, and I didn't want to say no, and coming home super late, and being tired and helping people just like being caught up in all the things in life that didn't give me much time to, you know, sit in silence, meditate, journal, think, paint, you know, do things they're like not productive once again. So I felt like that time when I couldn't go out. I couldn't see people. I had no invitation. I had nothing to say yes to just, you know, at first it was like, very jarring. But then it was like, oh actually tonight, I will just sit and journal for three hours and see what happens. Which is also you know, since I don't have kids, it's like much easier. I feel like I have very much the luxury of time. But I wasn't using it before even though I had it. So that also helped me discover just that I have the luxury of time.

Leith: [00:40:32] So obviously one of the things maybe you did a bit more since of pandemic, is journaling? How do you find that helps you? Or what do you even like about journaling? Just write your day or how does that work?

Amelie: [00:40:48] That's a great question because it's my favorite thing ever. So in The Artist's Way, one of the practices is to do morning pages. So it's basically, three pages of stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning. And I started doing that while doing The Artist's Way, two and a half years ago, and it just never stopped. So I'm still doing it pretty much every day. I mean, once in a while, you know, things happen to pretty much every day, I just wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and just journal, three pages of stream of consciousness. And the way that the author describes it, is that it's like you have your trajectory. And when you're right, you just kind of like realign, like, maybe a couple of degrees in your trajectory. And it doesn't seem like much, but over time, it will be the difference between landing on the moon and landing on Jupiter. Because it just gets bigger and bigger, over time. So it just feels like for me, like most of the time, like someone would read it, it's boring as hell, it's just, you know, I'm talking about like, I don't know, I need to go grocery shopping. When am I going to paint, my cat is sick, like kind of thing. But it just feels like a checking every day to make sure you know, like a plane that my, my trajectory is right? And just kind of realign a tiny bit every day.

Leith: [00:42:21] So then do you reflect like, do you look back once you've written all this? Do you look back at it and say, okay, clearly feeling low? Or I'm feeling good? Or, you know, do you pass judgment on it, or is it just is?

Amelie: [00:42:38] I still like it at this point, because of doing it every day. And how kind of minute it is, like, honestly, most of the time, it just kind of feels like, I felt like I had way more judgment if I would journal less, and be like, oh, this past month has been whatever. But here, it's just kind of so just part of everyday life, that it becomes easier to be like, I don't know, right and be like, oh I haven't meditated in three days like maybe that's why I'm cranky. And that's it, instead of letting things go to a point where it just feels yucky to even look at it. It's like, I don't know, it just feels like, you know, cleaning your dishes before they just get overwhelmingly out of hands kind of thing. So it's like a little cleaning for my mind and soul. 

Leith: [00:43:34] Yeah. And how long does it take you to do three pages, approximately? 

Amelie: [00:43:39] And it depends. I feel like it's about 30 to 45 minutes, usually because I will like, you know, look over at the bird outside my window and think about things. I feel like if you're focused, it can be less. But it's like it was part of like this pandemic luxury of time thing is like, my first hour in the morning, I can just do whatever I want. Obviously, once again, disclaimer, like I have no kids, but that it's fine.

Leith: [00:44:19] No, but you're using that time differently, like as you say, compared to before the pandemic.

Amelie: [00:44:24] Yes, it felt like to me, I think that this first hour when we wake up is like the return on investment is like 1,000% of all the other hours in the day. So I feel like if I use my one first hour well to like setting myself up to feel calm and positive and ready for the day. Then, you know, even if the day goes whichever way after, it will just make so much of a difference. And it also for me it like kind of cuts on the pressure of doing things well all the time. It's like if I do great my first hour, then you know, I mean, obviously I'll try to have a good day, but it just feels like okay, I've done the right today. I'm good.

Leith: [00:45:12] Just like a good start to the day.

Amelie: [00:45:15] Yeah. 

Leith: [00:45:16] I love that. I totally agree with you. There's something about that first hour, that's really I was going to say magical. I don't know if that's the right word but really can set you up for the day. I've been thinking about this a lot and I still haven't executed on it. And I'm like, I just got to sort of get up because sometimes I'll just lie there.

Amelie: [00:45:36]  Yeah, I mean, also for me like something that I really discovered this past couple of years is that I was always like berating myself like, oh, I don't have willpower. I haven't done this, I haven't done that. And it really took like, finding the thing that I actually love doing, and now I do it. Like, I don't have to force myself. I'm looking forward to it. So I feel like sometimes we think we're the problem, but really, like, we just need to look for something that actually works.

Leith: [00:46:05] Just sort of experiment a bit. Yeah.

Amelie: [00:46:08] Do it makes it better.

Leith: [00:46:12] So for you that's journaling, I guess. Yeah. Wow. So can you speak a bit, you've mentioned that you also have maybe a new relationship in COVID. This is impressive.

Amelie: [00:46:29] I mean to me, it was really like a 2020 pandemic, and then actually got COVID in April 2021, and then got the vaccine. And it was kind of like a phase of like, okay, I feel like now I'm kind of ready to like, get back into the world a little bit, but in a different way, like better than it was before. So I feel like I'm in this stage of just like finding the right balance in it, yeah.

Leith: [00:47:09] It's sort of like re-entering the world in a new way a new Amelie? It's that sort of mindset that you have? Or is it you're just one step at a time?

Amelie: [00:47:22] I feel like it's, it does feel different for me inside, but I don't feel that need to, like, prove it on the outside and be like, oh look at me, I'm the new Amelie, but just like, doing little things that serve me better, like having better boundaries and taking time for myself and things like that, that I'm trying to work on. Just little things that make a big difference, not the wow factor that I was chasing when I was younger. 

Leith: [00:47:59] The presentation of who you are, yeah. 

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Leith: [00:47:59] So what does the next year hold for you?

Amelie: [00:48:10] So that's something I'm going to work on with Charolette Ryan next week so still working on it, exactly. I think that what I'm really excited about, is that I'm in a place where I don't feel like there's as much of a gap between where I am and where I want to be. And I kind of just want to, you know, keep tweaking things, making it better, but like, keep on this trajectory, and just like keep refining, and not needing like a big change a big wow, a big, you know, something like that. So, it feels exciting for me to be at that place of like, I'm content and eager for more, but like really like content with where I'm at.

Leith: [00:49:00] And is that eager for more in like a space of art or what you're doing?

Amelie: [00:49:07] Yes, just arts, trying new things kind of keep stretching out of my comfort zone and just trying out new things and new ways.

Leith: [00:49:23] How do you fit and play into it? How do you fit play into your life? Because this has come up a couple of times and I feel like this is sort of really important, like letting down our guard and just following our curiosity. And how do you go about that?

Amelie: [00:49:35] Yeah, I mean, that's still something I'm working on because even as a kid, I wasn't very good at playing. I was always really serious. I feel like for me, play is very much imagination, daydreaming, making things up, painting, and creating. So I feel like I'm just like, finding my own way to play that maybe doesn't look the same as other people. But just that like, unproductive quote and quote, time is for me that's play.

Leith: [00:50:16] Like, has it been challenging to get over that idea that being unproductive is not a good thing?

Amelie: [00:50:25] Yeah, I mean, I'm still working on it. Because like, when I try new painting techniques, which I know like this painting, I will not sell or share because I'm just working something out. I really need to like be present with the guilt of doing something that's not productive, especially if I do it like say, first thing in like prime hours. For a long time, I was only allowed to do something productive after my whole work was done. So it's like really stretching myself to be like, I'm going to do this painting that is not a product this morning while I'm feeling fresh, kind of thing that's still really hard.

Leith: [00:51:08] Yes. Oh, I know that I get caught in that to where I'm like, I got to do all these things before I can think outside of that.

Amelie: [00:51:17] Yeah, yeah, for a long time, I had a sign on my fridge that said art before dishes. And so that's kind of my reminder of like, art before dishes like I can't be doing, you know, wait until I've done all of my duties on all of the things to do what I love, because that will never happen or not enough. 

Leith: [00:51:41] Yeah. But how do you separate, like, productive art and playful art because they are not the same.

Amelie: [00:51:49] Yeah, I try not to. And that's also what I'm working on right now in coaching, is I've gotten good at doing productive art. But then the unproductive art is still like, what makes me feel guilty because now productive art is my job. And that's how I make money, so it's fine. So I still have to push myself to do the unproductive things. 

Leith: [00:52:17] I don't know, do you ever find this or something you don't view as productive actually turns out to be something that is worthy of selling?

Amelie: [00:52:26] Well, yeah, that's the thing. I mean, that was the thing with the resin art, it was totally unproductive. And then it was like, my biggest bestseller ever so. I know, it can happen, like, on a logical level, but it's just nice to remind myself emotionally, that's how it is, with art. That's what makes it great. That's maybe part of why being an artist is kind of had this aura of magical, special people glamour like all these things is because it kind of looks sort of a magical process. They don't do anything or they play around and then all of a sudden something emerges that's like, so new and different and inspiring. Like there's this whole thing that from the outside looks really magical from the inside kind of looks just like battling your fear and guilt and diving into something where you don't know what's going to come out of it. And you have to be okay with it. So that adventure, I love. It's like the adventure I was craving when I was a kid, like, discovering the Wild West is like the same in art. And just like going in, as I say, like, deep inside and kind of having that adventure.

Leith: [00:53:56] And, like this idea of also not knowing where it's going to go, how do you manage that? Are you just comfortable in that space? 

Amelie: [00:54:07] I think that it also it helps me to have kind of a balance of like, I know, I have, you know, my art that is a little bit more like, quote and quote, safe, like, I have a vision, I have this painting I want to do I know, it's like, I have the technique to do it. I know, you know, similar ones have sold before. So it's, like, a little safer. And then in there, I have some time, where I'm like, you know, oh, I want to learn this new, weird technique that I don't even know if it's going to work. So I feel like it helps me to, like find a balance and just push myself a little bit. Because, you know, I also need to be realistic, like, I can't just be like, playing all the time. Like, I also need to pay my bills. So it's a strange thing. 

Leith: It goes back to the philosophy aspect of it, like what is play or not even what play is, but how do you separate the two you know, if your playful side produces something, then. Yeah, that's hard for anyone. 

Amelie: Yeah, it's hard. And it's like, I try to just be open to you know, if something like an idea comes and inspiration, then I can follow it kind of have that openness to like, you know, follow my bliss, a little bit. I feel like that's important that it's, yeah. It's a little tricky.

Leith: [00:55:51] Yeah. All right, well, we're coming sort of to the end of our time. But what are you excited about for the next year?

Amelie: [00:56:04] I think I'm excited about continuing that feeling maybe for the first time in my life, like I'm in a really good place, and I'm content. I'm just excited to like, keep diving deeper and keep stretching, keep exploring and just feeling like I don't need a big change. I don't need to move to like change everything about my life like it's, yeah. And I love it.

Leith: [00:56:36] Just being content with who you are as a person versus what you're producing, yeah.

Amelie: [00:56:42] Yes, that's a great way to put it. 

Leith: [00:56:45] Yeah, I think it's an ongoing challenge for all of us. So I wish you all the best in that process. And thank you so much for sharing your journey today and just being open to talking about all the challenges that come along the way, and how it's turned into a meandering journey for you. So thank you.

Amelie: [00:57:07] Yeah, thank you so much for having me.