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Living with a creative mind

Header Jeff and Julie

Why is creativity often linked to “madness” and why do creative people cause so much frustration to everyone around them?

Why do they keep going to extremes? Why can’t they just be like normal people?

Highly creative people have unique vulnerabilities and sensitivities – ways of thinking and temperament that need to be understood and managed – for them to not only stay creative and productive but also stay healthy.

“When I was a kid, I felt like I was this skin-covered antenna, and I could never get this antenna down. I was so aware of everything around me. I would watch people looking for signs of danger all the time. It was so acute that I really was able to jump into other people’s skins. From this vulnerability, came opportunity. When I was 13, I parlayed that passion into a means of escape.”??- Ryan Reynolds (US Actor)

The creative mind is wired with the ability to feel with great depth and passion.  Creative people often experience the world in a way we call skinless – as if they lack the protective shield and instinctive filtering that we normally use to cope with the barrage of sensory information that comes at us all.  Without good strategies for managing this hypersensitivity, instead of creativity – the result can be a plunge into the emotional depths.

“It’s as if neither of us, or especially myself, had any skin…I am afraid. I am not solid, but hollow. I feel behind my eyes a numb, paralyzed cavern, a pit of hell… a mimicking nothingness.”Sylvia Plath (US Poet)

The creative mind is also wired for rapid, fluid (divergent) thinking – making quick associations but also able to control the flight of ideas in a way that turns out to be amazing. When James Lipton (Inside The Actor’s Studio) interviewed actor Robyn Williams, his (William’s) rapid thinking – drawing on a well of memories – was able to improvise comedy in the moment.

JL: “Are you thinking faster than the rest of us? What the hell is going on?”

RW: … It’s all part of it, because I think the human mind is adapting and evolving; but I am trying not to speak all that fast cause eventually … you … have … to … catch … up. But the brain is not really working all that well because you know that you – cough, you breathe, you come back, she’s about to pass out (indicating a woman in the audience laughing uncontrollably) but the ideal is to create something different, something that moves with the times, new motion – crouching dragon – hidden CD (mimicking tai chi moves) move out away from the moment, take microwave – open the door…Along with skinlessness and rapid fluid thinking, creative people often have natural highs and lows, of mood and energy.

“It’s really important when it starts to come, it’s like you are in a trance and a frenzy all the time.” Rickie Lee Jones

Rather than trying to live a normal or balanced life creative people can learn to embrace the highs and lows – and begin to see their lives as being like the tides. The challenge for the creative is to learn how  to navigate the tides not struggle against them or get stuck.

“I dwell deeply in my lows. Not till recently have I tried to push through my depressing states I get myself in -­? but I feel like I am still a bit creative in my depressing lows. It’s more of a dry lonely state of creativity, but it’s definitely a dark time.”??- Case Study from Living with A Creative Mind (from an interview with the authors)

5 Principles For Living With A Creative Mind

1. Affirmation; Creative people need a lot of encouragement. As confident as they may seem, they are also full of doubt. Affirmation helps to buffer the skinlessness of the creative person. It needs to be at the forefront but it also needs to be real. No fake compliments please.

2. Permission To Fail; Unless you are willing to fail you will never be creative. Much of the creative process involves exploration, discovery and a willingness to “go where no one has gone before” – so although failure does not equal creativity – failure and learning from failure is a part of navigating the tidal creative life.

3. Fear Kills Creativity; Creating an environment of anxiety does not promote creativity. Fear automatically inhibits the fluid nature of creative thinking – to make us focus on a threat. While you might think fear is a great motivator, it only motivates certain kinds of responses. Originality is not one of them.

4. Room to Explore; Creative people need room to explore. An essential part of the creative (fluid) thinking process involves the search for new ways of seeing things, or new connections between old things. This often comes from what seems like ‘random’ activity like going out to new places, and seeking out new experiences. Don’t discourage curiosity.

5. They Need To Belong; Creative people need a community of like-minded types because they can often feel like they don’t belong. Creative people tend to be quite tribal…musicians like to work with other musicians, dancers with other dancers and so on. Find a tribe.

I am not like other people

other people are like other people.

they are all alike;




they are both gleeful and content

and I am burning in hell.
my heart is a thousand years old.

I am not like other people.
American poet Charles Bukowski.


ContentImage-793-4980-IMG_7235Jeff and Julie Crabtree are the authors of Living with a Creative Mind, a survival guide for creative people and those who live and work with them. Their work is to help creative people be more productive without sacrificing their health, relationships and longevity.

They are also the directors of The Zebra Collective an online mentoring service that is designed for how creative people think and work. They produce short weekly bursts of highly digestible creative, psychological and management insight in visual form. They are also collecting and curating some of the most interesting behind the scenes stories from expert creative professionals worldwide.

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Let me introduce another brilliant young creative in my world. Her name is Cassie Fox. I came across a new creative business that Cassie had launched around 6 months ago at a SPARC gathering and was super inspired at the level of excellence in its execution.


So I wanted to ask her a few questions around Shop Talk; launching a creative business and introduce you to this world changer. I am sure when you check out her page that you will be as inspired as I am…

Hey Cass,

Let’s introduce the Capture Life readers to your world with a few quick, one wordish answer type of questions…

Favourite colour; Light blue

You drink your coffee; Green….in the form of tea!

Favourite internet community; Insight on making ideas happen. BRILLIANT!

Local; Beach

Hero; My Mum and Dad

Most inspiring current brand; The Renegade Collective

Listening to; Music: Vancouver Sleep Clinic- BLISS! Podcasts: Mosaic LA

Favourite pinner on pinterest; Caitlin Flemming

Now for a bit more detail about your new creative business and adventures…

Tell me when did your dream for IZRA begin?

Versions of it have existed since I finished high school in 2007. It has done a LOT of evolving, but it came out of a desire to connect kids with something bigger than themselves. There are BRILLIANT support services out there, but many of them have very broad target demographics and their branding and messaging has to appeal to all of those audiences.

I wanted to create a brand specifically for young people; in their space, in their language and using the channels that they frequent. The idea was to create a voice that was counter to so many of the messages in those spaces, connecting them with the good things that sometimes don’t seem as appealing or relevant.

What has been the biggest hurdle in setting up a creative business?

There have been several challenges, but a big one has been my own brain!

A lot of people had opinions about whether I should even try and do something like this, as well as the way I should do it.

Particularly after launching, I had quite a hard time not fixating on the less-than-encouraging opinions that people felt very free to share, which is really draining when you are stepping out of your comfort zone in so many different ways. It was such an eye-opener for me in terms of the environment I had developed for my creative work. While I had put so much time and energy and resource into this dream, by focusing so much on what others thought of it all, I was creating a pretty hostile environment for this new and fragile thing to grow.

Also, my need for perfection can be a bit of a pain. I had to learn very quickly that although it may not look like the big picture plan I have in my head yet, you have to start somewhere and there is no shame in giving things time to grow!

How do you refuel creatively after launching such a huge project?

I love reading about and listening to people who are doing much bigger and more effective things!

Also, just being creative without an agenda or time restraints. I can be rather intensely purposeful, with everything needing to produce results or be ticked off a never-ending to-do list. So sometimes just baking or painting or writing for no reason other than because I feel like it, is really cathartic.


Why bother with young people?

Because I remember so clearly what it feels like and I think I’ve spent quite a while working through some of the negative self concepts I formed in high school.

I wasn’t very good at managing my thoughts and the way I spoke to myself in high school, so when I faced the challenge of moving cities and schools in term 2 of year 12, my world kind of fell apart. It sounds really dramatic now, but I had no friends, I started failing all of the subjects I had been topping and I just couldn’t see things getting any better, ever, and I wanted it to be over.

Because I get what a vulnerable and emotional time of life this is, I want iZRA to connect young people with a community that says, ‘it’s ok to feel that way, but that’s when you need to ask someone for help.’

I want iZRA to say, ‘no matter how it feels, you’re never alone, you’re never the only one who feels like this, and it doesn’t have to last forever.’ If this can prevent some young people from feeling alone or trapped, then I’d be stoked!!

What do you believe about the next generation?

I believe this generation of young people are incredibly smart and generous and sensitive. They face very different battles to young people even 5-10 years ago. Yes, in our Western society they have unprecedented privilege, access to information and opportunity, but there are so many more voices fighting for their attention and offering labels to define them.

Developing a healthy self-concept has always been a challenge, but doing so with a million seemingly unattainable standards being broadcast to you day and night, really complicates the issue.

This is why our overall brand message is about ‘being free’, but our school presentations focus on ‘mental toughness’ and how to build emotional resilience. There is nothing free about being controlled by your emotions or things like depression, anxiety or bullying. We believe that learning to determine the thoughts you give ‘airtime’ to is crucial, so that when challenges in life do come, you’re not trying to deal with those challenges, plus fighting a battle in your mind as well.

How can people find you and your adventures?

Our website: takes the form of an online magazine with articles, interviews and content kids send in.

Our instagram is where we interact and continue our key brand messages through daily posts: @iZRA_au

What next?

Ahhhh….good question! I of course have big plans of how I want to see iZRA’s influence spread far greater than just Mandurah and Perth, but at the moment, I am pretty focused on consolidating the progress we’ve already had.

In the short term, we’ll be expanding our merchandise line soon and looking into producing some short videos around the key issues we address such as bullying, anxiety and depression.

Thanks so much for your time and your passion for the next generation Cassie. I think your creative project is amazing and you are even more so.

Speak again soon



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the free woman

the free woman

A few years ago I was contacted a young woman about her passion for writing after reading my first book capture 30 days.

Her name was Bethany Morris.

She is now 23 years old.

bethany morris

A creative soul, a lover of all things wordy and she is delightful.

Living in Melbourne, loving life and all that it brings.

Earlier this year, Bethany wrote again telling me about a new project that she was working on called The Free Woman.

I have been eagerly awaiting her new adventure and today an interview that I did with Bethany about writing, creativity and inspiration went live.

Check out her little place in this wide old internet frontier.

I am always so excited about creative people (especially young women) getting out there and just having an amazing go!







Both Photos from The Free Woman


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Shop talk with Laurén interiors


During August I have a group of guest writers, embarking on a creative series one day a week, throughout the season.

One of the new series that we have developed is called; ‘Shop Talk; I launched a creative business! What next?’

The intent is to help our readers who have the dream to start a creative business or who have already embarked upon one with some tips from people in the industry.

To get us ready for this new series in August, I thought I would interview some amazing up and coming creative business owners in my world, starting with the amazing Lauren Hack.

‘Interior stylist, Lauren Hack, established Laurén Interiors in 2009; with a vision to introduce Perth to an international quality of interior decoration. Laurén Interiors’ interior consultation brings together the perfect balance of style & comfort. Lauren’s philosophy is to create timeless interiors with a unique artistic touch.’

Not only is she supremely stylish, she is delightfully down to earth and passionate about creativity and people.

Welcome Laurén Interiors to Capture Life.

A quick introduction for our readers Lauren to your business and your creative passions;

In one wordish answers tell me about the following…

Your favourite colour;  Tiffany blue & Gold

You drink your coffee;  Often!! (totally hooked!)

You are bookmarking; Elle Decor and all things E L L E R Y

Favourite interior piece in your own home; my treasured wrought iron arched mirror (reminds me of an arched window in a parisian penthouse!)

Local hometown favourite; The glorious ‘Plane trees’ lining Mounts bay road…my favourite

Your Hero’s; My parents

Brand most inspiring you lately; Saint Heron (compilation CD from solange’s record label)

Favourite pinner on pinterest; kkmintdesign

Tell me when did your dream for this creative business begin?

It all began at the tender age of 10! I would draw pictures of console tables with lamps on them, redesign my neighbour’s front yard (haha), I would pay more attention to my friends houses, then on the games we were playing! Taking in the det
ails of what details made the space ‘work’ and also wrote in my journal, at the top of my dreams list, that I wanted to ‘have a business as an interior decorator’ one day…

I knew that’s what I wanted to do so then I simply set my mind to it!

What has been the biggest hurdle in setting up a creative business?

To be honest there have been a few, but the biggest has probably been the ‘business’ side of my business. I feel completely in sync with and passionate about the creative side of my work but was never trained in business and didn’t necessarily have anyone to show me the ropes- so had to learn as I went and it has taken a lot of courage at times in dealing with different business-related circumstances.

How do you refuel creatively after a long contract has been finished?

I am such a visual creature, so when I am lacking creative inspiration; I head straight to my local cafe, take my iPad and a bunch of the latest interior magazines and sit with my coffee soaking up the goodness of any interior images I can get my hands on!

I always feel refreshed and inspired after a good soaking session like that!

Favourite project to date?

There are a few, especially as I often form a close attachment with some clients, particularly as renovations can be a long process…

My favourite to date is definitely one of my most recent projects, a charming federation home in South Perth, which we renovated in the Hamptons-chic style.

My gorgeous client has been so easy to work with and has very similar taste to me, so it’s been a dream to work on!

I loved the video vignette you recently released about this project. Let’s have a look at your newest project together…

‘How to style Hampton’s- pt 1’

Do you have any more video tutorials planned for the future?

Yes, I have 3 more video’s that are being produced in this series.

How can people find you and your services?

The best way is via my website at :

Lauren, I just want to say thanks for sharing your passions here at Capture Life. Your video and your pursuit of excellence in your business is really inspiring.

Follow Lauren on her youtube channel linked above to be notified when her new video’s in this series are available.

If you have a creative business and would like to be featured as a part of this new series ‘Shop Talk’ contact Amanda at and watch out for our series starting with a guest creative business owner every Friday in the month of August.


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The creative narcissist


In my years of mentoring Creative Artists, I have found a really crazy emotional roller coaster that many of them ride.

One minute they are raving narcissists, completely self obsessed, believing that the whole world and every story relates back to them.

The next minute they are overwhelmed with crippling self doubt, unsure whether they will ever be able to produce anything ever again.

Do you ride that kind of emotional roller coaster often?

Narcissism is described as this;

Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterising a personality type.

Self Doubt is described this way;

Lack of confidence in the reliability of one’s own motives, personality, thought, etc.

How do we walk comfortably in the pocket that exists between these two chasms?

I have found, the only true place of peace that can be found in the reality of human experience in the battle between these two evils, is humility.

Humility is described as this;

The quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance.

I am sure you are saying?

Isn’t this definition saying that we should swing over to the crippling self doubt section of the spectrum?

Humility is not about self doubt, telling everyone how bad, crap or awful we are.

Humility is grounding ourselves in such a way that we know ‘what we are good at’, but we place ourselves in a place of service and preference towards others.

There is an old Jewish story that tells us that we should carry a little note in each of our coat pockets everyday. In each pocket there should be a piece of paper. On one of these pieces of paper it should say, “I am but ashes and dust.” In the other pocket, it should say, “For my sake the world was created.”

One of the best ways to stay in this place of humility, is building a great collaborative creative community in your life. The catch ups with these people, need to be just as much about their projects as yours.

Do you spend most conversations talking about yourself?

Do you spend most conversations with people worried about what they are thinking about you?

Do you just stop catching up with people creatively because you don’t want to waste their time full of self doubt?

Humility is not a form of self depreciation.

Humility is someone who knows their worth, who knows what they are good at, but also prefers others.

I read a great article lately about Narcissism and it was really interesting.

Let’s continue to have conversations that help us stay in the middle of the spectrum.

Not extreme narcissists, who are forever the victim, focussed on all the reasons why everyone needs to help them and be in their dramas. Nor extreme crippling self depreciators, who are obsessed with, how bad they are at everything.

Let us be a people of humility.

Creative Artists who know their strengths,

Creative Artists who know their weaknesses,

Those who find the balance between the two and create extravagantly from a place of servitude of others.