Tag Archives: Creativity

Katie’s Bookshelf: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

brenebrownletgo“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown is one of her earlier works but such a “go to.”  It’s a book on letting go of our perceptions and “shoulds” of who we are supposed to be and cultivating who we are.  Much of Brown’s work focuses on shame, vulnerability, authenticity, and empathy.  One of her messages about dealing with the shame monster is to “share your shame with someone who has earned the right to hear it.”

The book starts off exploring Courage, Compassion, and Connection.  I think this ties in nicely with her common themes as we need courage to be vulnerable and share our shame, which breeds compassion, and drives connection.  The next section is on Love, Belonging, and Being Enough.  Sit with that for a minute.

“It’s as simple and complicated as this: If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.”

The remainder of the book is filled with 10 Guideposts of cultivating and letting go.  She has chapters on topics such as self-compassion, resiliency, creativity, and calm and stillness.  I just love the topics that she chooses and how she frames them as what we need to cultivate more of and what we need to let go of.  At the end of each chapter, she has a section called, “Dig Deep” where she provides suggestions on practicing what we are cultivating.

Overall, I loved this book!  It’s such a simple read and can be read at various times not necessarily succinctly.  Brene Brown’s work is so hot right now and she does an incredible job of making the material so relatable and easily digestible.  You cannot go wrong with any of her books!

Read this book if:

  • You are a human.

Buy it here

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden.

Katie’s Bookshelf: Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz

IfsIntroduction to the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz covers the basics of the therapeutic model that works with our internal parts.  Schwartz developed the model to help us understand our inner workings better and as a way to “be curious” about all of our parts instead of judging and shaming.

This concept of “parts” is not new to any of us.  Oftentimes we say, “a part of me wants to go to work and be productive, and a part of me wants to stay in bed all day.”  Internally, we have these sometimes conflicting messages.  The book and model helps us identify our parts, determine their role as well as how they originated, and allows us to reconnect with our “Self.”  The parts that Schwartz describes are our “Exiles” which hold painful emotions; “Firefighters” who act in response to our exiles to “extinguish” and soothe those parts; and our “Managers” who protect us and try to exercise their control.  Lastly, we have our “Self” which is made up of who we are at our center and embodying calmness, connection, compassion, courage, curiosity, etc.

This book helps the reader in dipping their toes into this therapeutic model.  I am a strong supporter of those interested finding a therapist to help guide them with this process.  This book can be helpful for those beginning this work and wanting more knowledge and understanding.  The IFS model and information found in this book can be helpful in a variety of mental health areas as well as those who want to understand themselves better.

After reading this book, I am interested in going deeper with this model as it seems to make sense and fits in nicely with other mind and body work that I provide.

Read this book if:

  • You are a therapist interested in a quick and light introduction to the model
  • Your therapist is trained and using this model with you
  • You are interested in learning more about yourself and all of your parts

Buy it Here

Schwartz, R. C. (2001). Introduction to the internal family systems model. Oak Park, IL: Trailheads.

Knock Out Holiday Stress Tip #2 – Creativity


If you’ve been following the Knock-Out Stress Blog Series so far, you know that meditation is a great form of stress relief.   Although one of the best forms of stress relief, it’s also one of the least popular options because it’s difficult for people in our fast-paced society to let their minds “be still” long enough to realize the benefits.  An easy way to achieve the same health benefits of meditation is to practice something creative[1].

“But I can’t be creative.  I don’t have any artistic talent.”

Is that what you’re thinking?  Stop!  You don’t have to be Van Gogh to have fun doing something creative.  In fact, you never have to show anyone what you create.  Let it be just for you, unless you decide you want to share it with someone else.

Here are some easy tips for getting started[2]:

1)      Make an appointment and keep it.  Try to set aside fifteen or thirty minutes of each day to be creative.  Too tired?  That’s even better!   It is easier to achieve a meditative state when your conscious mind is duller, and you’re less likely to be critical of your work when you’re tired!

2)      Keep it simple.  You don’t have to sign up for an art class or invest in expensive materials to get creative.  Start out with something as simple as a notebook and pen, or even a coloring book and crayons!

3)      Don’t be critical of your work.  Remember, your work is for you.  Don’t judge your work, just enjoy the process.  You’re not under any pressure to create something magnificent; your only objective is to have fun and relax.

4)      Don’t set rules.  You don’t have to just draw or paint to be creative.  You can write a story, take photographs, or even create new recipes in the kitchen.  Be open to letting your creativity take you to new places; you may start out sketching a dog and end up doing something completely different.  Just go with the flow!

Being creative is fun and empowering.  My favorite creative activity is knitting.  What’s yours?

[1] Scott, Elizabeth.  “Art Therapy: Relieve Stress by Being Creative.” Retrieved from http://stress.about.com/od/funandgames/a/learningtodraw.htm on December 8, 2013.

 [2] Adamson, Eve.  “Creative Therapy.”  Retreived from http://www.netplaces.com/stress-management/more-stress-management-tools/creativity-therapy.htm on December 8, 2013.

“Cool Down Basket”

DSC_0205I began to develop this idea 2 years ago after I received a basket full of Christmas goodies and had no foreseeable use for the basket.  So the “Cool Down Basket” was born!  As an Outpatient Therapist, I regularly meet with people who are anxious in my office and need something to take the edge off or children who benefit from practicing various coping mechanisms with me to use at home or school.  Parents come to me as well for assistance in helping their child with emotional regulation.  The “Cool Down Basket” is perfect, fun, and soothing for all ages!

Start off with a basket, box, or other container to put the items in.  Fill it with various “fiddle toys” that you can find at the dollar, party, cheesy touristy, or toy store.  I have found many items online at Trainer’s Warehouse or Amazon.  For those children who like to draw, include a piece of paper and some markers.  The “Calm Down Jar” is all over Pinterest.  For children, I suggest making it out of a plastic bottle and hot glue the top on to avoid colored glitter water from getting all over the place!  Making your own items or having your child create something for the basket keeps it personal.

Some staples for any basket include:


A stress ball


“Calm Down Jar”




Pinwheel(to practice deep breaths)


Random squishy things


Something happy


and who doesn’t love “Bug-Eye Bob?”

This idea can translate to a smaller version for the car or school.  Therapists can create a similar one for their office and what adult doesn’t like to have a fiddle toy or two on their desk for those stressful days??  Most of all, be creative, have fun, and “cool down!”

Noisy Toys

noisy toysHave you walked down a toy aisle or through a toy store lately?  Most kid’s toys these days make some sort of sound or require batteries.  I do not remember many toys when I was a kid that I owned that did this.  Toys with sounds and actions are exciting for children, but also take away from their creativity.  Children are forced to use their imagination and create their own actions and sounds when the toys do not do it for them.  Young children love engaging in imaginative play.

It is important for children to use these toys because they are being creative and expressing themselves the way they know how.  Typically, when engaging in this type of play, children will ask what this object is used for or what a particular object is. Letting a child know that the object can be anything they want it to be helps them be creative while engaging in imaginative play.  It is also important for children participating in pretend play to know what the real world use of the object is.  In pretend play, many children will also imitate what they have seen in the real world.

Some examples of toys that will increase creativity in children are; blocks, puppets, play kitchens, toy telephones, dolls, trains, and cars.

You do not have to get rid of all your noisy toys, but try something without noise next time you visit the toy store…it may preserve your sanity too!