Monday, 22 February 2016

Creative Round Table: an interview with Sarah Starrs!

Welcome to the premiere installment of the Creative Round Table, a gathering of wisdom, advice, and inspirational stories from some amazing creative souls.  Today, we're talking to Sarah Starrs.  Grab a glass of green juice, get comfy, and have the glitter ready!  Click the pin to read this inspirational interview.

Hello, beautiful writers!  Welcome to the premiere installment of the Creative Round Table, a gathering of wisdom, advice, and inspirational stories from some amazing creative souls.  Today, we're talking to Sarah Starrs.  Grab a glass of green juice, get comfy, and have the glitter ready!

Victoria: So much has happened to you in the last year [ETA: As you'll see momentarily, I mixed up this timeline a tad; when I was rereading Sarah's posts to craft my questions, I had so much fun that I started skipping all over the place!].  You've settled into a new life in London, England; gotten married to the love of your life; created a luscious, thriving community for badass babes; and carried on your own personal and spiritual development.  If you could travel back in time to your one-year-ago self, what would you tell her?  Is there anything she might tell you in return that you could do with remembering?

Sarah: I’ve been in London for about two and a half years now but it’s true that the past 12 months have been particularly momentous for me as well: I moved into a new flat, we adopted a cat, got married. I quit my job. I started a podcast and launched new programs. If I could go back to this time last year and tell myself something it would be to allow myself to process all of this change gently and with a lot of love for myself.

Even though these were all wildly positive changes they also meant integrating massive shifts in my identity. Any change requires a loss of some kind and necessitates a type of grieving: a recognition, an acceptance, a letting go. That’s not to say that last year wasn’t a tilt-a-whirl of excitement for me! I’m so proud of the work I’m creating in my business and the life I’m co-creating with my husband. But what I perhaps wasn’t prepared for was how much all of this change would rock my foundations. How much rebuilding it would take to feel secure again.

So I’d go back and tell early 2015 Sarah to go easy on herself. To be prepared to feel wobbly. I’d let her know that this was all natural and it was going to be okay: in fact it was going to be out-of-this-world-AMAZING. And the more she explored creatively what she was feeling, the more it would make sense.

Victoria: In crafting a life you love, what's been your most effective ritual for keeping your dream alive, for carrying on when the going gets rough?

Sarah: I think this is very individual to the person, the season of their life, and the particular dream at hand but I will say this: it is absolutely essential to understand your WHY. Beyond just the outcome, why this dream? Why now? Where will it get you? What will it allow you to feel? If your motivation is caught up in someone else’s expectation or a feeling that you “should” be doing it, it’s probably not a good goal for you to be pursuing.

To get really clear on your deep down why, set a timer for 15 minutes and write down your dream. Then write, “Why?” Don’t overthink it, just write the first answer that comes to mind. Look at that answer and write “Why?” Answer again, as quickly as you can. Keep going this process, continuing to scratch beneath the surface, to peel back the layers of the onion, until you reach something that feels true. That makes your skin tingle a little bit.

Make your why the background on your phone. Hang it up on your desk. Reread it often. Definitely come back to it on any days when you’re feeling wobbly and ready to give up. Remembering why will absolutely help you to keep going.

Victoria: What activities or pursuits are you most passionate about right now?

Sarah: I’m incredibly passionate about building my business and helping my clients to design lives they adore. A lot of my time goes into creating new content, conducting interviews for my podcast, and building community in my private Facebook group, Girl Gang HQ. I’m also working on a crowdfunding project to create a new community called The Girl Gang Missions which I’m really excited about.

I’m also extremely passionate about my health and after having some health issues over the past year, I’m making it my top priority. This means cutting out a lot of things (namely sugar, alcohol, dairy, & gluten) and adding in lots of goodness: fresh green juice, yoga, dance, meditation, and really healthy, whole foods. I’m focusing on making it an adventure and having as much fun as possible, so let’s just say there are a lot of messes in my kitchen these days!

I also get a lot of pleasure from exploring the city, taking photographs, reading (a lot of personal development books mixed in with some poetry and fiction), going on adventures with my girl gang, collecting memories in my scrapbook, making my own chocolate, and writing in my journal.

Victoria: Do your various passions play well in the sandbox, or do they ever start to compete for time and attention?

Sarah: I always have so much on the go that it’s inevitable that sometimes I feel over scheduled or that I’m having to sacrifice time on one passion for another. That’s why I’m very intentional about planning out my time. Every week I sit down and look what needs to get done, what I want to do, and I plot it all out. I use three different colours to highlight work, self-care/life admin, and pleasure/fun so that I can get a really visual representation of how I’m dividing my time, whether it balances out, or whether I need to adjust anything.

Victoria: What does creativity mean to you?  What forms of creativity are present in your everyday life?

Sarah: To me creativity is quite literally about creation and being a conduit for new things to come into the world. Creativity is a part of my life in lots of big and little ways. It’s in the words I write. In the new perspectives I help my clients cultivate. In the new projects I birth for my business. In the pages of my journal. In the meals I create. In the rituals I give life to with my husband. In the connections I create with my loved one. In the pages of my scrapbook. In the photos we take. I think too often we think creativity is only the high-level stuff: the novels, the works of art, the high-brow if you will. But creativity is present whenever we bring something new into the world or choose to look at the world in a new way.

Victoria: On days when you're feeling drained of energy and inspiration, how do you deal with it?

Sarah: I actually had one of those days today! I woke up feeling a little bit bummed out and really lacking in energy. It’s  difficult to be creative when you feel this way but because I work for myself, there’s no one to pick up the slack when I’m not in top form. In these situations I choose to be really gentle with myself. Today I had a slower start to my day. I made myself a huge green juice because the mega blast of nutrients gives me a boost and then I made a batch of juice pulp crackers because I find cooking very soothing and meditative. When I’m low energy I always move my body; today I did Layla Martin’s 10-minute sensual yoga practice. Movement helps you to drop out of your head and into your body, which can help pull you out of a slump. Afterwards I worked on a creative activity that I knew would perk me up: writing snail mail letters to my Patreon subscribers. These are little blasts of positivity and it feels good to send them out int the world.

It’s important to understand that, especially as women, we are cyclic beings. We are going to feel different on different days and that’s okay. Work from where you’re at and tune into what you need so that you can give that to yourself.

Victoria: If one of your coaching clients came to you and said they felt like they weren't good enough to make their dream a reality, that if it was going to happen it would have happened by now, what would you tell them?

Sarah: This is a really difficult question to answer because coaching is about helping my clients unearth their own answers and solutions through a conversation. Before working together I’d know a lot about their goals and obstacles so I’d be able to tailor any mentoring their specific situation. However, for anyone who is struggling with thoughts about not being good enough to achieve their dreams I’d encourage you to learn about Byron Katie’s The Work. This is a simple 4-question system for coaching yourself out of negative thinking. You can read all about it here but essentially you ask yourself these questions:

1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? (Yes or no.)
3. How do you react, what happens, when you
 believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

It’s a deceivingly simple and extremely powerful tool for getting past internal resistance and changing our thought patterns.

Victoria: In your recipe for living a creative life, what would be the top three ingredients?

Sarah: My top three ingredients for a creative life are consistency, space, and variety.

I’m a huge fan of Steven Pressfield, who says: “This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

I think that a huge part of being creative is showing up every day and doing the work, no matter what. Sometimes that might look like a messy first draft that no one ever sees or writing “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know…” over and over again but you still write.

I think it’s equally important to give yourself space from your writing. It’s usually when I’ve set my intention to find a blog post idea and then walked away from it that the perfect topic pops into my head. I also write in layers. I give myself a full week to write a post so that I can come back to it every day and allow the ideas to ruminate in between.

In the same vein, you need to live life and experience many different things in order to be truly creative. Creativity is all about bringing together ideas in new ways and variety is key for this. Go try activities that are way outside your comfort zone. Read books from all genres and on every topic. Seek out creative expression in all forms. Fill your mind to bursting with ideas and words and images and experiences and see what comes out!

Victoria: Bonus Round: If you could add one object from a fictional story to your altar, what would it be and why?  Also, if you could invite any fictional character to be a part of your real life girl gang, who would it be?

Sarah: I love this question! I would definitely choose to have the perfume bottle from my favourite book, Jitterbug Perfume, on my altar. I’ve always been so curious what beetroot would actually smell like in a perfume (in the book the scent is so powerful that it causes immortality) and the bottle has a beautiful engraving of the god Pan on it. As for a fictional character joining my girl gang, definitely Weetzie Bat! I’ve been reading and rereading the Dangerous Angel books since I was 12 and Weetzie Bat’s eclectic style, punk rock spirit, romantic worldview and loving philosophy has inspired me on so many levels!


Sarah Starrs is a writer, coach, and host of the Punk Rock Personal Development podcast who helps women get their shit together and create a life they love. She's a Canadian expat living in London, England with her husband and cat, Hagrid. Having struggled with depression and paralyzing self-doubt for many years, Sarah is now an advocate for romancing yourself and dreaming big. She transformed herself from a neasayer into an expert dream wrangler and followed her passions to start a magazine, move across the world, and launch her own business. Now Sarah teaches other women how to adore themselves and gives them the tools and strategies to bring their dreams to life.

To find out more about Sarah, make sure to check out her website, Twitter, and Instagram!

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