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be real be wholeheARTed

January 19, 2015

being a creative person, i often get depressed when i can’t create new things. i’ve been blessed with great customers who have purchased my art over the years, but sometimes being busy recreating is not the same thing as being busy creating. in 2011, after my shop had been open for about two years, i decided i needed to take a 'creating' break. i put my shop on vacation and i tried to get inspired. i created several new pieces, but i wasn’t loving them. i was trying too hard. nothing felt just right. then my friend sent me a link to a TedTalk video by Brené Brown. she thought it would inspire me. i hadn’t heard of Brené before so i was intrigued. i watched the 20 minute video. 10 times. in a row. i couldn’t get enough of it.

it spoke to my heart.  and my very analytical math brain.  

some where in the binge watching, i ordered two of her books. ironically, i don’t really read. but i was so captivated by Brené and her message that i knew i had to get those books. i needed to know what else she had to share as i was sure that her words would change my life. i read The Gifts of Imperfection in one day. it normally takes me three years to not finish a book. but i finished that book. in a few hours. it was that good. then i read I Thought It Was Just Me. it was that good, too.  her latest book, Daring Greatly is another great read. if you haven’t read her books, you need to. they are life changing. they will inspire you. encourage you. empower you. and motivate you.  i just know it. 

i rewatched the video. with my design notebook in hand. and i wrote down all the words that spoke to me. words that i knew would speak to other people too. i added a few of my own words, because i wanted the sign to hang in my creative space. and in the creative space of my friend who sent me the link to the video. i knew we both needed those words to be a reminder for us. so i got to work creating a design. and i painted two. i mailed one to my friend. and i hung one up in my studio.

about a week later, i reopened my shop. i was scared. my shop had been closed for almost six weeks. i was afraid that no one would order. maybe i’d been closed too long. i was feeling vulnerable. so i channeled my inner Brené and i sat on the couch and waited. i got a few orders and i started to feel better. then i got THE order. the order that would forever change me. someone ordered my playroom rules sign.


the name on the order was Brené Brown. THE Brené Brown. i screamed out loud and nearly fell off the couch. then i started feeling vulnerable. started questioning whether it was really her. so i grabbed my books and looked for a clue. she was a professor at the University of Houston. the order was shipping to Houston. it had to be her.

so i drew on my courage. and i fired off an email. an email to Brené. my hands were shaking. i gushed about her work. i told her about how her TedTalk inspired my latest sign. i included a photo of the sign in my email. i hit send. then i waited. it was only a few hours. but it felt like an eternity. she responded and we started a dialogue. she told me about her wholeheARTed series - where artists created their interpretations of her topics. she included names like Kelly Rae Roberts, Mati Rose McDonough, Cindy Wunsch.  these amazing ladies were all artists that i admired and looked up to.  i was speechless. she invited me to do a giveaway on her blog. it was like a dream come true.  

over the years, Brene’s work has help to inspire a few other signs in my shop.

she ordered a custom version of this popular sign for her kitchen. i love that my art is hanging in her home, inspiring not only Brené but her family and friends, too.  

            (photo credit: 

this year, we recolored the be real sign.  we wanted to freshen it up a bit and decided a rainbow bunting was just the colorful touch that it needed.  

so remember. as you take on each new day. be real. be wholehearted. be creative.  be vulnerable.  be humble.  be compassionate.  be loving.  be imperfect.  be worthy.  be grateful.  be considerate.  be authentic. be courageous. be graceful.  be awesome. 

and be sure to follow Brené on Facebook, instagram and twitter.
don’t forget to check out her blog. she is a true inspiration.


 * over the last few years, licensed reproductions of the 'be real' design have been available on stretched canvas at retailers around the US to include Target and HomeGoods. * 


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