Greta – mixed media on watercolor paper

One of my favorite things about exploring so many different interests and curiosities is how the lessons I learn in one field can somehow magically apply to others. I’ve recently been getting into abstract painting, and this week I was learning how what we take away in art can be just as important as what we add. It works for illustration and art – but it’s also a spectacular reminder for life. With the year coming to a close, what do you want to release to open up new space next year? What can you remove from your life that’s no longer serving you (or perhaps worse, holding you back?)

I often talk about the importance of habits and discipline for creatives. Habits are what form our day, and our days are what form our years — and in turn, our careers. While I’m always in favor of a healthy and productive habit, it can be just as important to break those habits that aren’t working for you anymore. With the new year coming up, now’s a perfect time to take stock. See what’s been working for you. See what habits you’ve built that are really creating some magic in your life and supporting you. And if you find that your habits or mindsets aren’t really jiving — let ’em go.

I named this piece “Greta” because it reminded me of what the earth’s heart might look like. Chaotic, beautiful, messy, but overall powerful and full of life. Unwilling to be ignored. And once again, the lessons apply — what we remove can have as big an impact as what we add. Removing our massive carbon footprint is such a crucial step to help climate change. Removing some that’s not working to create space for new life that can thrive in a better way.

Just like in art.

Just like in our lives.

Pretty cool how it all ties together, right?

I’m often asked what drives me to tie together so many different things in my career, and in particular I’m so vocal about not picking one single career or interest to pursue when I’m speaking to kids. The answer is simple: whether it’s art or science or baking or sports or education or fitness or nonfiction — it’s all the same to me. These things are just ways of expressing ourselves and exploring the world, and that’s why at their base level the lessons we learn from them are all linked.

We are the common denominator, and those human elements to the things we love don’t change. Just the uniforms do.  I’d much rather ask kids “what do you love?” — this way we leave them open to give twenty answers, rather than presupposing there is only one.

There’s a common phrase in ecology: “It depends”. From a scientific perspective, it means that every one thing is connected to another, so you can’t fiddle with one part of an ecosystem without it having an effect on everything else around it.

I’d say that thinking applies to life, too. It’s all connected, just like we are.

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