How I Create: Q&A with Photographer Vivienne McMaster

Every month in our interview series we take a peek into a different person’s creative process. We learn what inspires and fuels their beautiful work and how they navigate the obstacles that can potentially hinder their creative practice. Plus, we get tips that can be applied to our own creativity.

This month we’re honored to share our interview with Vivienne McMaster, a Vancouver-based photographer with a big heart and a spirit of playfulness. McMaster leads workshops and online classes that invite individuals to tell their stories using photography.

Her prime tool is self-portraiture. After experiencing a rough patch in her own life, it was photography, and self-portraiture in particular, that helped her heal and find her way back to herself.

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Can We Stamp Out Thinspiration on Twitter? Torri Singer Thinks We Can

Pro-anorexia (or "pro-ana") groups have been around online for over a decade, and we first discussed them here five years ago. More recently, with the rise of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, these groups have found a new life. Often associated with the label "thinspiration," these groups elevate the idea of being thin to a virtual religion.

People who are all about thinspiration engage in disordered eating in order to be as thin as possible -- a common symptom of anorexia. But they don't see it as a disorder or a problem, making this an insidious problem.

Nonetheless, such eating and self-image problems can result in health problems, even putting the individual's life at risk.

Some people have sought to get common words or terms that people engaged in thinspiration use banned from social networking websites. One such woman is Torri Singer, a broadcast journalism major who has recently begun a petition to get such terms banned from Twitter.

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The Wisdom of Failure: An Interview with Laurence Weinzimmer & Jim McConoughey

For their book, "The Wisdom of Failure," authors Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey interviewed 1,000 managers and leaders on one of my favorite topics: failure. The results comprise a fascinating volume on the benefits of blunders.

Here are some insights from their book.

What can understanding failure teach both seasoned and aspiring leaders that they can't learn only by modeling success?

While studying success provides valuable lessons during good times, often these lessons aren’t applicable in hard times. The road isn’t always smooth and the sky isn’t always blue. When challenges present themselves, lessons gleaned from previous failures can help leaders avoid making the same mistake twice or making the wrong decisions.

Making mistakes -- or failing -- are part of taking healthy risk. They provide us with new ways of thinking and give us new insights into how we can improve as leaders.

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Christina Gombar: An Interview About Childless Women & Infertility

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing writer Christina Gombar on the topic of infertility.

Chistina is an an accomplished writer whose commentary on women's issues appeared in The London Review of Books, The New York Times, Working Woman, Scholastic, and the Providence Journal. She is also the author of "Great Women Writers," and has been the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow.

Click through to read the full interview.

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How I Create: Q&A with Illustrator & Author Elizabeth Patch

This month for our creativity series I’m thrilled to present my interview with illustrator Elizabeth Patch. I’ve been a big fan of her work ever since I discovered it several years ago. In fact, in 2010, I interviewed Patch for my body image blog Weightless. (Here's parts one and two.)

Patch is a high school art teacher and author of More to Love, a beautiful book of illustrations that features uplifting and inspiring messages about body diversity and self-acceptance. With her unique artwork Patch celebrates the human form. And she promotes a very important message: to accept, respect and take great care of ourselves at any and every size.

Below, Patch shares what inspires her, how unstructured “sabbaths” help her slow down and create and the quick way she ignites her imagination. She also reveals how we can incorporate creativity into all areas of our lives.

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How I Create: Q&A With Artist & Author Carla Sonheim

When I first saw Carla Sonheim’s artwork, I instantly fell in love with her playful and unique creatures (like the one above). Sonheim’s paintings and illustrations are what creativity is all about: giving birth to novel, stirring ideas that surpass the predictable.

Sonheim uses her boundless, innovative approach in her classes and books, such as her latest The Art of Silliness: A Creativity Book for Everyone. I love that she makes art accessible, surprising and fun for everyone.

I’m incredibly honored to share my interview with Sonheim for our monthly series. Below, she offers her wise and fascinating thoughts on the creative process. She shares how she connects to her own creativity and how we, too, can ignite our imagination.

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How Can You Not Feel Better After Walking for 20 Minutes?

Happiness interview: Cheryl Strayed.

I wanted to do a happiness interview with Cheryl Strayed after I read her fascinating memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. In her twenties, at a time when she felt as though she had nothing more to lose, Cheryl hiked solo along the Pacific Crest Trail for 1,100 miles. She was inexperienced and ill-prepared, but determined to set herself on this adventure.

I love all accounts of happiness projects; Cheryl’s undertaking had nothing in common with the kind of things I did for my happiness project, yet I gained a lot from reading about her experiences.

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How I Create: Q&A with Media Producer & Performer Jen Lee

I love learning about another person’s creative process. I wonder how they stitched together seemingly disparate ideas, how they constructed a beautiful sentence, how they were able to see and capture the tiniest detail in a photo, how their brush could paint my emotions.

Creativity comes in countless forms. But I think the running thread is vulnerability. It takes courage to let your creativity hang out. Specifically, I think one of the toughest and bravest acts is sharing your story – and doing it on stage. That’s exactly what Jen Lee does on a regular basis.

Lee is a beloved performer in New York City’s storytelling scene, including The Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour and The Best of The Moth, Volume 15.

That’s why I was excited to get her thoughts on cultivating creativity for our monthly series, "How I Create."

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Interview with Heather King on Happiness, Spirituality

Happiness interview: Heather King.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Heather King’s new book, Shirt of Flame: A Year With Saint Therese of Lisieux. I’m fascinated with anything about St. Therese; she’s my spiritual master and I’m always trying to find new material to read, so Heather King’s book was just my kind of thing.

I was also very interested to hear what Heather King had to say specifically on the subject of happiness.

What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?

Prayer. “Simple,” yet it requires my whole mind, strength, body, heart, soul. For me, prayer is not so much an activity as a way of being; a stance toward life -- and death.

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Therapists Spill: My Mental Health Hero

The mental health field is filled with heroes. Whether researchers, authors, actors, coaches or clinicians, these individuals help others lead more fulfilling, less stress-soaked lives. They help shrink the lingering stigma of mental illness.

They advocate for better treatments. They create better treatments. They practice what they preach. And they promote a message of hope and positivity.

In honor of World Mental Health Day today, five practitioners reveal the heroes who’ve influenced how they work -- and even live their lives.

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How I Create: Q&A With Career Coach Michelle Ward

What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s the question Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach, helps her clients answer. Ward is certified by the International Coach Federation. She’s spent over 750 hours coaching hundreds of creative people to devise the career they think they can’t have -- or discover it in the first place.

She’s also a musical theater actress with her BFA from NYU/Tisch. And she’s one of the most creative and passionate people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting online. Ward infuses everything she does with creativity and her enthusiastic one-of-a-kind approach.

Below, in our monthly series, Ward shares the behind-the-scenes of her creative process, how she overcomes the comparison trap, her powerful advice for readers and much more.

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Anxiety and Panic

3 Quick Ways to Stop Worrying on the Spot

When you get caught up in worrying, it can seem hard – or even impossible – to get out. One worry leads to another, and before you know it you’re tangled up in a web of worry thoughts.

But by using certain tools, you can quiet the mental chatter and calm your anxious mind.

Kathryn Tristan, author of the forthcoming book, Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living (available December 4, 2012), shares three strategies that can reduce worrying right now.

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