Blog posts, Inspiration

What Does it Take? Grit and Virtue Launch

June 30, 2015

grit and virtue launch

There in it sits, deep in your heart. Beckoning you to come closer, asking you to lean in and feel.

But that little kernel of feeling hurts too much. You’ve felt it. Heard it. but it sounded like a far away voice muffled by the fog of doubt.

But this thing, it was made for you, crafted in love for you.


It scares you because you know deep down in your heart that once you gaze upon it for more than a millisecond, allow your mind to think about it for longer than a blink of an eye,

that it will wrap it’s golden arms around you and squeeze you so tight. Those arms will burn hot and that hotness will ignite a searing fire in that heart of yours.

And that pressure cooker top that you’ve kept on for so long will fly off from joy, and love, and knowing that you have touched that thing that God crafted for you in His love.

That thing is your calling.

I know that feeling well, my friend. The call you hear echoing in your heart. It won’t stop. It’s been their since the day you were conceived. Crafted in love.

Just. Like. You.

It’s scary because it requires you to be brave. The journey to your calling is just as daunting as the journey you must take after you find it.

Don’t mix up the two.

The journey to your calling is just as daunting as the journey you must take after you find it.

It seems like an arduous task to feel through the darkness. To make your way to the voice that is calling you. But you are not alone. There are saints cheering for you, angels singing for you, and God Himself lighting the path if you would follow Him.

Don’t be afraid, you are not alone.

The journey will cause you to build the very skills you need so that when you reach your call you can answer it. And when you answer it you can journey go on from their to fulfill your purpose.

So what does it take?

  • What does it take to muster up the courage to say yes, to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks?
  • What does it take to become the woman God created you to be?
  • What does it take to go after your passion?
  • What does it take to be a woman on a mission?

I’ve asked myself this question for most of my life.

I’ve known since I was a little girl that I’ve wanted to tell stories. After having to play a role in my acting class that I didn’t like at 14 I knew that I wanted a production company that created awesome inspiring stories with great roles for women to play. I studied acting in college. Wrote and directed plays, acted in films and commercials all through my 20’s thinking that I was answering my call and following my passion.

But I wasn’t.

I was building an idol.

An idol based on what the world told me that acting and entertainment should look like. An idol that told me how to use my creativity.

Even though I was producing “good work” my heart was still carving out that idol under the surface.

But God.

He loved me enough to let me keep working on my passion until I reached a low point in my life. See I thought that my passion was acting  all these years. But I discovered my real passion is helping other artists use their creativity to make a difference. To help others understand that their creativity is a gift given to them to give back to God so that He can make the most of it.

The world doesn’t know what to do with what you have because they didn’t create you.

Answering your call and finding your purpose takes a lot of things.





But after years of searching through jobs, businesses,  mentors, and one off projects I’ve found that none of it matter unless you do this one thing.


Surrender your dreams, your visions, your ways. Let go of what you think things are supposed to look like in your life.

I know it sounds scary and impossible. It might sound ridiculous and absurd to some of you. Maybe it sounds like going the exact opposite direction of your dreams.

I know I would have thought that if someone told me that.

We are always told to set goals and make vision boards and tell yourself affirmations.

Those things are fine.

But not when you’ve got your own vision what things are supposed to be influencing your vision boards and affirmations.

Let’s be real.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power of work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever, Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20 ESV

Now who’s vision do you want to see manifested? He can do more than we ask or think. More.


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

The hands in which you place your dreams are good. They want to bless you not harm you.

I used to think that God would forget my dreams but He never did. He was waiting on me to let them go so He could let me see His bigger ones.

For some crazy reason I thought that I was a big dreamer. That I could out dream anyone around me. Like it was some super power or something.

But when I let go of my dreams God showed me what big dreams really look like.

So make your vision boards, say your affirmations, put love out there ( I still do it) but do it knowing that His vision is bigger, His word is more affirming, and His love is greater and His will is just.

And stay surrendered because at any moment He could show you a different way, a new solution, a different material to build with or even ask you to rest.

Look I’m not saying that the journey will be easy. It’s going to be tough and their will be trials and temptations and distractions on the way.  But it’s worth it if you really want to see God work in your life.

The first step is pulling out your white flag and surrendering.

I’ll be real. Pride is a fighter. But you can do it.

Remember when I said you weren’t alone? Well I have some news for those of you that want to walk this awesome journey with other like minded women. Today I’m helping to launch something that is close to my heart called Grit and Virtue.

Grit & Virtue’s mission is to equip entrepreneurial women to build unstoppable momentum, become spiritually confident, and to never feel alone on the journey.

Grit & Virtue was founded by Charlena Ortiz, lover of Jesus, her husband, and coffee—in that order. She has been hard at work creating a place that inspires, challenges, and educates women on a mission.

If you want to get involved here’s how:

Grit & Virtue has several ways for you to get involved and be highlighted. If you’re a writer or photographer and would like to submit your work, check out their Get Involved page.


What is The Inspired Cafe?

June 29, 2015

the purpose of the inspired cafe

Hey there!

Thanks for stopping by The Inspire(d) Cafe!

This lovely place has been evolving over the past few years since it was started in 2011. The idea of being “Inspire(d)”  was birthed in 2009 when I was asking God for a vision for my life. I had come home from working to raise my three children (under 4 at the time) and I was feeling lost.

Normally a high achiever and very ambitious I was finding myself not quite enjoying life as I should’ve without any goals to reach. Every day was just being muddled through without any structure. But you know how that goes with little ones. Even in those days I could see God teaching me about letting go and trusting Him even when things don’t seem clear.

But after days of fasting and praying God did show me something. I wanted to be able to take all of my gifts and talents and passions and do something meaningful with them. I believed that we all are conduits of inspiration (or at least have the potential to be). We get inspired and we can be beacons of inspiration to others if we let ourselves be.

How does that happen?

By sharing your story.

That’s not always easy, I know. It can be a vulnerable place for sure. But if it were easy then everyone would do it right?

I never thought that Inspired would become a blog but here it is after 4 years.

Who is The Inspired Cafe for?

This is the place where faith, creativity, motherhood and business meet. It is for those ambitious, creative, wild and free women who want to love their husband’s and families with fierceness. It’s for those who want to use their creativity not just for their own gain but for the betterment of the world and God’s kingdom.

It’s for women who are brave and who want to be brave to stand up against what the world tells us we are supposed to be as creative women.

It’s also for those who are still trying to figure out their passion and their purpose in life.

When people come to The Inspire(d) Cafe I want them to feel loved, encouraged and empowered on their creative entrepreneurial, motherhood journey. Just as if we had sat down together at a cafe, warm drinks in hand talking about life and dreams and all the good stuff!

I think that my heart is for this type of woman because I am that type of woman myself. I know what’ it feels like to have that stirring deep down inside knowing that you are meant to do something really great with your life.

I was afraid to admit that at one time.

I remember what it was like to feel passionate but not to know what my passion was.

I remember feeling alone and unsure and out of place with my wild ideas of starting businesses, while raising a family.

I remember other women telling me to wait but having a burning desire to keep creating because I was a better mother and wife when I did.

And I don’t want anyone else to feel that way cause it really sucks.

How Can I Help You?

Over the years I’ve written and produced plays, acted in feature films and commercials, run businesses, coached others towards their health goals, and lead creative teams.

I only say that to let you know that all of those things never brought me clarity in my purpose like I have today.

But having mentors and guides along the way have helped me to get a little further faster.

You are amazing, talented, beautiful and gifted. Sometimes you need a cheerleader on your side. Luke Skywalker had Yoda, Frodo had Sam, Batman had Robin, Oprah had Gail. Great people don’t do it on their own.

The One Thing for You To Take Away

The one thing I want you to take away from your time at The Inspire(d) Cafe is the knowledge that all you have to do is take a step, and then another step, and then another to find out your passion, discover your calling and start living your purpose.

Your creative gifts weren’t meant to stay hidden. They were meant to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s in your community or on a global level use what you have where you have it, my friend!

If you are looking for a little bit more encouragement and inspiration on your creative journey you can sign up for free to join The Inspire(d) Cafe and get a free copy of “10 Ways to Get Inspire(d) When You Don’t Feel Inspired Anymore” as well as free 15 minute Q and A session with me if you sign up within the next 30 days!

Go on over to the sidebar and check it.





The One Thing That Will Help You Gain More Confidence

June 27, 2015


gain more confidence

Remember that song Kermit the Frog used to sing called  “Bein’ Green”? He sang the song to lament his green coloring and how ordinary he felt. How he would blend into everything in nature and not stand out. But at the end of the song he began to embrace who he was and come to a place of self-acceptance.

I think as creatives – and especially busy, creative moms who would one day like to have a business of there own -we can relate to this song in many ways. Maybe you feel like you don’t have anything unique to share. Maybe you feel hindered by the cards that were handed to you in life. But either way it’s a journey for many creative people (including myself) to come to a place of self – acceptance where we embrace our multi-passionate, creative, sensitive, wonderfully strange selves.

I know first hand the struggle that many creative individuals go through as they try to find themselves, find their style, find their creative niche or just find their confidence. I’ve been there. That frustrating place of where confidence is just not showing up. That place where you want to do so much but you keep feel like you’re falling short.

Until I figured out this one thing to help me gain more confidence.

But first let’s meet the characters that seem to hang around while you struggle to gain more confidence to go after your dreams and pursue your passions.


Doubt walks around with her head down, shoulders slumped and feet dragging. Her hair is a little flat because she doesn’t think that she would even know how to do it if she tried even though she watched a billion hair tutorials on youtube.

Doubt shows up at the most awkward times possible! After you’ve started creating and things seem to be going well. All of a sudden you look up and Doubt is there, staring back at you. Doubt loves to show up right before a launch of a product or event too. She really gets moving for that. Doubt might even nudge you while you are sleeping. Waking you up to soul sucking thoughts at the most inconvenient times.


Fear has two heads. One that he likes to just keep around with big eyes and fangs and fire. Fear makes a lot of noise. Especially right before you sit down to create or want to tell someone about your great idea. When that isn’t working fear rears it’s other head.

In the past Fear’s other head used other tactics before technology like – well – the lack of technology to other would be go getters. But fear stays up with the times. It’s the age of the internet after all.

You might not recognize fear’s other head. I’ll give you a hint. It has another name.


The one that is not too ugly. The one that kind of looks beautiful. It shows you beautiful pictures on Pinterest, and sings you songs of tweets and notifcations. Distraction will actually use anything it can to keep you unfocused in what you are trying to accomplish in life. When Distraction fails it calls it’s really cool cousin…


Comparison walks in smelling good, looking good, and sounding good. Comparison has it ALL together. Need a new gluten free recipe? Comparison can make it and make it in 30 minutes. Feeling like you can’t lose the weight you need to? Comparison’s got the body you need to shoot for. Not getting anywhere in your business? Comparison has just guest starred on Ellen and wants to tell you all about it.

If that’s not bad enough Comparison has just finished a 4 week long mission trip in Ghana and simultaneously created a full length feature documentary and accompanying devotional on doing mission trips of your own.

Comparison is making you feel waaay less spiritual.


Oh wait? Who is that? You run to the door of your heart and it’s…



Pride and Comparison give each other hugs and do their little special sorority greeting full of hand shakes, and shoulder shakes and excited high pitched words in Greek vernacular that you cannot understand. They start to exchange old inside jokes while you look on seething.

You want to think of something great that you’ve done lately so you grab your phone and get a few selfies with your friends (Comparison and Pride that is) and post on Instagram how you’re meeting with your buddies working on great stuff!

Then it sinks in.

Hours have passed and you didn’t get anything done. Everything and everyone else held your attention. You are overwhelmed with what steps to take to achieve your goals. And underneath it all you know that the life you portray is not your real life.

You want things to start being aligned inside and out.

I told this story to just let you know that I understand because I’ve been there. Actually I get visitors from all of these characters all the time. But when I discovered this little trick I started getting visits from them a little less frequently.

So here’s the not so secret secret.

Just be.

Just accept where you are at.

Know there is a journey.

Realize this truth.

I am enough.

Let me say that again.

I AM enough.

Know that you are enough. Seriously. Tell yourself that. Say it to yourself.

Do you notice your shoulder’s relaxing? Can you breath a little deeper?

I AM enough.

God called himself I AM when Moses asked Him who should he tell Pharoah that sent him to tell the Israelite to be let go of bondage.

God told Moses to tell Pharaoh I AM sent you.

So God is enough.

When you feel weak, He is strong. When you feel inadequate His grace is sufficient. We were not meant to walk through this life alone without God. You were not created to be the be all end all of everything. All of us have shortcomings. When Jesus died He left the third person of God, the Holy Spirit, to be with us. To comfort us and to guide us.

God is not surprised by our inadequacies. Those times are the PERFECT times to ask God for help and to pray for wisdom.

So remember when the door to your heart is being knocked on by Pride, Comparison, Distraction and Fear. Tell yourself I AM enough. I am enough. Get refocused and trust that the creative process is in His hands.

The interesting thing is when you remove those toxic relationships you make room for a nicer set of companions.

Instead of Pride you get Authentic.

Instead of Comparison you’ll start getting Creative

Instead of Distracted you’ll get Innovative and Focused

Instead of Fear you’ll get Faith

I know that it’s easier said than done. It’s a process for sure. Just start with knowing:

I am enough because I AM is enough.

If you’re curious here’s Kermit’s song:

Resources: 2 Corinthians 12:9, Romans 3:23, John 1:1, John 14:15-31


Entrepreneurship, For Creative Moms, Social Media Tips

How I Got My First 1000 YouTube Subscribers

June 25, 2015


1000 youtube subscribers

I have been making YouTube videos for 6 years now and I really  love doing it. I started back in 2009 when people were just starting to get a grasp on it. Even then I had no idea what YouTube would turn into. I started by watching videos by a YouTuber called Happy Slip. She would create sketches in which she played several characters in her Filipino family. She was one of the few that were using YouTube in that way.

I kept feeling this draw to participate in the YouTube Community to tell my own stories as well. See at the time I was a stay at home mom of three young kids (all under the age of 4) and I was in need of a creative outlet. I was feeling very alone in my struggle in motherhood and needed community. I thought that surely I couldn’t be the only mom out there feeling this way.

So with a hand me down laptop and a flip camera I started making YouTube Videos. It’s kind of ironic that my first video was a Mother’s Day Video in 2009 because that has been my focus since then. Trying to connect with other moms who are like-minded, creative and looking for community.

So you might be thinking.

Dija you started back when YT was new. Of course you were able to get 1000 YouTube subscribers!

Well to tell you the truth I really didn’t take advantage of it like I should have. I posted sporadically and was even featured on the spot light section on the front page once. I didn’t even know it. My neighbor told me about it. Talk about embarrassing!

But in all honestly, I don’t think anyone really knew what was happening at the time. It was a wonderful time with people pioneering a new frontier online. YT has changed how we look at distribution, entertainment, and even entrepreneurship. Before we get started let me take a few steps back just in case you are totally new to this YouTube thing.

What is YouTube?

YouTube is a social platform where you can upload videos that are hosted by YouTube. It was created in 2005 as a place to share videos. Since then billions of people have shared videos and today many people make their living from doing YouTube videos.  YouTube is now owned by Google and is the second most popular search engine in the world.

So you might be wondering what does all of this YouTube stuff have to do with me?

Why Should I Get a YouTube account?

Well you don’t have to. It’s really up to you. But if you have a business in which your target market is on YT then you need to be on there. It’s also a great way to connect with other people who share similar interests. Remember when I said that YouTube is a social platform? It really IS! People connect through commenting, collaboration and meet ups because of the types of videos that are created.

Okay now to the stuff you’ve been waiting for. Here are some things I learned on the way to getting my first 1000 YouTube subscribers.

Post Regularly

This would be one of my biggest tips ever! When things were starting out people were posting whenever they felt like it but if you want to succeed in today’s YT world you need to set a schedule and post like a regular boss. I noticed when I started putting out more consistent content I started getting more YouTube subscribers.

Pro Tip: Batch record your videos to work more efficiently. Carve out some time 1-2 days and record a bunch of videos that you plan out. Then you can edit them and release them on a schedule. This also helps so that you can always have new content to edit when you need it. As a mom I know that it’s harder to find time to record than to edit (you can do that while kids are in bed) so get some help with the kids so you can knock a few videos out at one time.


Everyone always stresses this but it’s really true. Collaborating really does help get you out in front of someone else’s audience. Start by commenting on someone’s video with genuine comments. YouTube also has a function where you can directly message a YouTuber. Never spam anyone! It’s not cool. Start out with being genuine and sincere. Make sure that you give before you ask. That’s just being nice.

If you want to go straight for collaboration you can join collaboration sites. That way everyone knows up front why they are there and it’s not a problem to go straight for the collaboration phase of things.

Pro Tip: I found this platform called Channel Pages where you can connect with other YouTubers in your niche and with similar followings.

Good Quality

Good quality doesn’t mean that you run out and by the most expensive camera that you can find. It means that there are basic standards that you need to meet and then you need to exceed them.

For example, when I started out I got my first 1000 subscribers with a flip camera. Eventually I upgraded to a Canon Rebel series but I started out very basic. In 2015 there aren’t really flip cameras but there are comparable cameras out there that you can start with. In fact, mobile phone cameras are great ways to start out. The quality is HD and if you film in a lot of natural daylight with decent sound you can build an audience.

I always made sure that I told compelling stories whether it was a DIY tutorial, or a sketch for moms.  I wanted to make sure that I could bring the best quality I could not only technically but in story telling ways as well.

Online Personality

Make sure that you find a way to be engaging on camera. Make sure that you have:

  • Energy
  • Engaging Eye Contact When Appropriate
  • Be Yourself
  • Be Confident

There is nothing worse to watch than someone who looks like they don’t even want to be on camera. Make sure that your speech is not too fast or too slow. Watch out for speaking in monotone. Take advantage of the different levels of your voice. Don’t forget to let your emotions move all the way from the inside to your facial expressions.

Pro tip: Imagine that you are speaking to a close friend if you are video blogging. Keep that person in front of you as you speak and converse the same way you would if someone were actually sitting in front of you.

Your Set Up

Make sure that your background is not cluttered with junk that is distracting. Do you want the viewer to focus on you or your dirty laundry? Unless the video is about dirty laundry like this poem I wrote then make sure that your back ground is simple, neat and tidy.

Take the time to makes sure that you look decent too. Maybe you don’t have the budget for make-up and hair (yet) but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to these things.


  • Don’t wear things with too many small patterns
  • Wear something that is in contrast with the background
  • Make sure your glasses aren’t causing a glare on your eyes
  • Keep your hair out of your face
  • Be aware of too much shine on your face (very distracting)
  • Remember that although jewelry is pretty it can be noisy on camera too

Pro Tip: My favorite make up is Make-Up Forever from Smashbox. It is specifically made too be camera ready since it was created by owners who also run a photography studio. It looks great on camera.

Pro Tip: Film with natural daylight. It’s the best and most flattering light! Nothing beats the light that God made.

Call To Action (CTA)

A call to action is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a statement in which you ask someone to do something. On YouTube it’s mostly to subscribe to the channel. You would be surprised at how much this little ask makes a difference. You can simply say it to the camera or create an box in the YouTube editor that links people to your channel to subscribe.

Pro Tip: If you have a business you can use your channel to drive people back to your website as well as a call to action.


You’ve worked so hard to create and edit your video. Don’t let it just sit there on your channel. There are billions of videos out there. You have got to share it! When you upload your video and it goes live you can use the sharing buttons to share to your social networks. Ask others to share your videos as well and you can do the same for others.

Pro Tip: This is a newer platform that wasn’t around when I was starting out but I hear good things about it now. It’s called tribrr where you can connect with different groups of people with similar goals that help support one another find their tribe. I am checking it out as we blog.

Don’t Give Up

Over the past 6 years on YouTube I’ve wanted to give up several times along the way. Sometimes I did find that I was burnt out and needed to take long breaks. When I did I was able to come back with more passion and more focus than before. I would encourage you to give it a good effort sticking with these tips for at least 6 months.

Pro Tip: When I first started out I was making sketches for moms because that’s what I enjoyed. Once I made a DIY video and all of a sudden I was getting a ton of views. It made me think that I should do more DIY videos. Even though I LOVE crafting I felt pushed into that direction and got lost on the numbers. I began to feel really unsatisfied and started comparing myself to other crafters. I began to just feel like I couldn’t find success. But after I did some major soul searching after some life events I realized that my heart was really with moms. That’s why I started in the first place!

My Pro Tip would be to spend a good amount of time thinking about the purpose of starting your YT channel. Don’t get side tracked by what other people are doing and get caught up in the numbers. Your first 1000 subscribers will come eventually. You want to stay true to your passion so that you attract the right audience and you can continue enjoying YouTube for years.

So if you made it this far in the post, here are a few more tidbits you might want to know.

How Has YouTube Changed Your Life?

When I started making videos I was really shy in front of the camera. Now it has really helped me in my acting career because being in front of the camera is like second nature to me. YouTube has allowed me to gain skills in editing, camera work, visual composition and mostly story telling. I get inspired by every day life to make videos. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a filmmaker one day and doing YouTube has given me opportunities to be a part of many projects.

What is Your Biggest Accomplishment Through YouTube?

Through YouTube I was found by a woman named Nicole who runs mommytipsbycole. We hit it off right away and began to collaborate on different projects. Eventually I was invited to go to New York to perform my one woman show for moms at her NYC Mommy Meetup in Brooklyn, NY! It was a dream come true to go there to perform. I loved meeting all those awesome moms trying to make their creative dreams happen.

Here is my recap video. Check it.

What are Some of Your Goals With YouTube?

I would love to have 10,000 subscribers one day. I mean that would be really rad. But I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter unless the people that follow me are genuine and are part of a community. That’s what I started out looking for and I want to be a catalyst to creating something that benefits mothers everywhere.

Is there anything else you would like to know? Just comment below.

Mommy life, My Creative Life

How to Give the Perfect Father’s Day Gift

June 20, 2015

the perfect father's day gift

Tomorrow is Father’s day!

Do you know what you’re getting your father?

We know that these very special days can sneak up on us during our busy day to day lives and it can be a real challenge to find something that is meaningful on such short notice.

Somehow ties, and shirts, and wallets just don’t cut it when you are trying to do something special for someone you care about in a short amount of time. Maybe you’ve spent hours trying to figure out what the perfect gift will be only to have it fall apart. Maybe you’ve rushed to buy what your best guess was that he would like and inside you felt really bad that you didn’t get something more meaningful.

What if you could have a gift giving method that worked every time to communicate your love and appreciation? What if you could spend a little bit of time to discover his perfect gift that would also result in not having to spend a lot of time shopping for something as well?

Here is a method that I have used over the years that can literally be used for any special holiday in which you need to give a gift. Ready? Here goes.

4 Steps to the Perfect Father’s Day Gift

1. What is his Love Language?

In his book The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman explains that we all have a love bank and it can have deposits and withdrawals. When we are loved in our primary love languages we get our love banks filled up and it creates a lovely cycle of being able to give and receive love that fills each other up.

However, even if your spouse (or whomever) loves you in a way that is not your primary love language you can still walk away not feeling loved even if you are loved.

Here are the 5 love languages that he describes in his book:

Words of Affirmation – This one uses words to affirm others and loves to receive words of affirmation.

Acts of Service – Those who have this as their love language feel loved when you show it through actions

Receiving Gifts – Others feel really loved when they receive gifts (many times it doesn’t matter how big or small)

Quality Time – Give this person your full attention. No phones, no TV, no nothing but them!

Physical Touch – To this person the appropriate touch means being showered with love.

Okay now that you know the main ways that people feel loved. Can you identify which one your loved one feels most loved? Think about ways that they show love to you. That will be a great clue as to how they receive love. We usually give love the way that we want to receive it.

2. What Does He Need?

Think about something that continually pops up for that person as a need. Do they continually say that they need some more shirts but never have time to go shopping? Did something recently break like their phone charger? Do they have trouble keeping their car clean and always seem to complain about it? Take time to think back over something they have repeatedly said for clues for picking out their gifts.

3. What Does He Want?

What is something that would just be icing on the cake of life if they received? It might not necessarily be something they need but it’s something that would enhance something they love to do. Maybe it could be a special tool that would allow them to dig deeper in their hobby? Maybe they’ve always wanted to take a road trip to the Niagara Falls.

Again this is a thinking exercise for you to recall what would be the icing on the cake for them. Ask their friends and other family members if your loved one has ever mentioned anything to them about what he has spoken about wanting in the past.

4. Presentation

Presentation is everything. It can make an awesome meal seem sub par if not presented well. That’s why 5 Star Restaurants work so hard on presentation. It matters! My husband is all about presentation. It doesn’t matter if something is necessarily wrapped beautifully but he loves it if all the family is together with pictures and video ready to capture the moment. He loves when everyone is focused on the one receiving the gift and we can fully partake in the moment together.

So last night when I presented him with one of his father’s day gifts I made sure the family was together and we were recording the moment. The children helped me shop for his present and I told them how their dad had been wanting this particular thing for a long time.  Since we are in the middle of moving I didn’t have any of my gift wrapping stuff. I had to give it to him in the shopping bag which I felt terrible about. But it was something he had been talking about having for YEARS!

I think he loved it.

Make sure that you think about how he loves to receive gifts. Does he like things to be quiet and intimate? Does he really love to be around family and friends? Does he have an appreciation for design or maybe he loves nature. Here is where you can incorporate all of the things that make his world go round.

4. Bring it all together

If you are reading this article then you probably fall into the group of us who are doing some last minute gift shopping since Father’s Day is tomorrow. However now you are armed with some valuable information.

His love language

His needs

His wants

Ideal Presentation

Now it’s time to put all of your work from your investigations together.

Just for an example let’s say  your loved one’s name is Darye.

His love language is words of affirmation.

He is in need of some serious rest because he’s been working on back to back projects at work.

He really has been talking about wanting a waffle maker for years because he LOVES waffles. He also wants to spend some quality time with his family because things have been super busy with a recent move into a new house.

He comes from a culture in which it’s normal to spend several days celebrating one holiday and he loves to extend any American holiday a few more days for maximum celebration.

So what you could do is present small gifts every day for three days to give a shout out to his heritage. Those gifts can include letters from the whole family telling Darye how much he is loved and appreciated. Another gift could be letting him sleep in and making him home made waffles for breakfast. When he wonders where you got the waffles from so early in the morning that’s your opportunity to say “Well honey, now you can have waffles as much as you want because I got you a waffle maker!”

By the way. Don’t wrap the waffle maker at this point. It’s probably too hot from all of the waffles you made. Just wrap the box to give him the idea.

Then take the whole family out for a movie that he’s been wanting to see like Disney’s Tomorrow Land. Make sure it’s a matinee so he knows you are being conscious of the budget for extra points.

Lastly, leave some time open for him to decide if he wants to rest, play with the kids at the park, or chill with some sports on TV…and be okay with it.

Do a little work before you buy a gift to make sure that it fits the person you are buy it for. You might find that you don’t have to spend a lot of money if you can be creative and discover the high impact ideas that mean the most to your loved one.

I really hope these tips helped you out. What are some of your favorite gift giving tips?


Blog posts, Blogging, Entrepreneurship

The Benefits of Blogging for Your Creative Business

June 18, 2015


I constantly hear creative entrepreneurs worry about finding clients.

It’s a hard hustle, I hear you.

You are not only trying to create, you are trying to market, promote, lead, coordinate, sell, prospect all while trying to maintain your artistic integrity.

Welcome to being a creative entrepreneur.

Let me tell you a story: A long long time ago (actually not that long ago) it was impossible for the little creative guy to get anywhere without a record label or a big Hollywood agent getting them in front of tens of thousands of people in order to build their audience for them. Then after years of building an audience for the artist, they really only could keep a small percentage of what they made.

Years later technology has made a way for artists and creative people to harness their ideas and make them happen.

  • The artist can buy film gear and editing software
  • The crafter can make and sell their own products on places like and
  • The life coach can coach people anywhere in the world with online tools like or
  • The writer can write and self-publish books

But even with the advent of technology  being available to the small creative business owner it’s not enough.

Recently I finished producing my first short film for the 168 Film Festival. It was an amazing experience to say the least! We were blessed to have the help of the very film students that I had done work for over the past several years while they were in film school!

All of them had graduated and where sharing about the production companies they were starting or the films that they were planning on making. But the problem was that they didn’t know the business side of their craft.

It really blew my mind (and made me a little upset)

That these amazing, talented, awesome individuals had spent 4 years and lots of money to hone their craft and came out of film school with know business saavy and entrepreneurship training.

The same thing happened to me over a decade ago!

I graduated from a wonderful program with awesome teachers who taught me the craft of theater. But I stepped out into a world that was rapidly changing it’s way of working. I mean only a few years after I graduated YouTube started, blogging got popular and DSLR video cameras were the new hot thing. I was not prepared for the world of artist entrepreneurship and unfortunately over a decade later these recent grads were faced with the same challenges.

But fortunately the challenge is not insurmountable.

I am a huge believer in what the online community can accomplish but I was even more so convicted after I read “The Gatekeepers are Gone: Hustle + Technology = Success” by Lamar Tyler. Lamar Tyler and his wife Ronnie are co-founders of the site where they strive “to combat the negativity by focusing on positive messages about marriage in the black community.”

In his book, Lamar talks about his journey with creating his own audience through the blog and eventually becoming a filmmaker with sold out theater audiences.

He is a prime example of someone who was able to take their passion and calling and create something that could eventually support his family (and his purpose).

And it all started with a blog.

So how can a blog help your creative business?

Blogging for Your Creative Business Helps You Connect

You can use a blog on your website to connect and share information with potential and current customers. Keep them updated with new events, give recaps of projects, share ideas and spread your message with your blog. A blog is a great vehicle to bring that personal touch to your creative business. Your readers, listeners, viewers, etc. will be able to get to know you as a person and as an artist through the valuable content that you provide.

Not only can you connect with your audience but you can connect with other like-minded people that can eventually join your team, become a master mind group, or future mentors.

Blogging for Your Creative Business Helps Your SEO

Every time you publish a new blog  you are helping your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that you can rank higher on search engines when a certain topic is searched. Search Engines are currently in love with:

  • Valuable content
  • Long form content
  • Good layouts
  • Nice balance of keywords
  • Constantly updated content

Blogging for Your Creative Business Brings You Customers

According to a survey by Hubspot business owners who blog have 55% more visitors. 55% MORE! What would you do with more customers? What would it allow you to do in your business and with your time? Start a blog already!

Blogging for Your Creative Business Helps Your Brand

Your brand is more than a logo or how nice your website looks. Your brand is the way that your customers look at your creative business. Your brand is what you bring to the table when you come to work on a project. Your brand is the whole package of your creative business’s awesomeness. It’s what people think of when they think of your business.

Use a blog to tell your brand’s story and get people connected to your mission.

When I blog here at The Inspired Cafe I want to convey a brand that inspires others to dare to dream bigger and pursue those dreams with a plan. I share my stories, things I learn in life,  as well as curated information about the creative industry to share with others.

Use your blog to share your brand’s story and start attracting your ideal customer.

Blogging for Your Creative Business Keeps You Creative

Let’s face it. Some parts of business can be a drag for creatives. Many of us don’t get super excited about taxes, and spreadsheets (unless you’re my husband), and customer service. Sometimes running a business can take you away from the actual creative activities at times. Blogging can keep your creative juices running as you work on new content, new ideas and are forced to stay on top of your industries advancements.

Blogging for Your Creative Business Creates Free PR

Creating content that you can share through your blog is a great way for you to get your business out there on the interwebs for free! If you create valuable and engaging content for your target audience they will share it for you helping to spread your brand’s message.

The wonderful thing is that you are the one in control of how the image of your brand is developed and shared. Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? Publish thought provoking articles? Is your business’s strength understanding technology? Share tips on how to use editing software to create awesome videos.

Think about how you want to be seen and start creating content that reflects that.

Blogging for Your Creative Business Develops Character

This is a lofty statement, I know. But if you made it this far in the post I want to leave you with something super inspirational.

I have been blogging for over 7 years as of the writing of this post. Over the years I’ve questioned my intentions, redirected my path, and had to do some major soul searching to keep going. It’s crazy to say I know but blogging has been one of my greatest sources of self-development and character building.

Blogging has forced me to hone my voice, focus on what’s important to me, reflect on life and take the time to understand who my audience actually is. Once you begin to connect with your audience it will fuel your passion and refine what you are doing.

Are you a creative business owner? Do you blog? How has it helped your business?

Artist Inspiraiton, Blog posts, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration

4 Lessons for Creative Entrepreneurs from The Blue Man Group

June 15, 2015

Blue Man group

Have you ever wondered how other creatives started their careers and made a living doing what they love? For years I’ve wondered how it seemed that certain people made it or were able to make a living with their art. I have a secret

I found an inspiring article on Inc. Magazine’s website that talked about the Blue Man group’s rise to success and how they did it.

Who is the Blue Man Group?

The original Blue Man group was made of three friends named Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, who were fresh out of college, struggling as artists, and fed up with how things were going.

They started in 1988 by having a parade in Central Park that was a funeral for the 80’s to establish the end of one era and the beginning of another. After they performed in Central Park they started performing in Art Houses in Down town New York City and were able to create a following.

They eventual created a character called the Blue Man that represented the every man that struggles to make his way in the world. They introduced this “curious character” into a theater in New York City that produced a revolutionary performance that went on to give them amazing success.

Today Blue Man Productions is an international sensation performing all around the world to millions of people. The shows are always full of new music, stories and they are always inventing new types of instruments. Their shows are able to cross cultures as well as generations because the blue man is really about what it means to be “human”.

They have expanded to concerts, albums, and serving as the face of branding campaigns for Intel and TIM/Brasil as well as appearing on shows like “The Tonight Show”, “Ellen”, “Arrested Development.

Lessons for Artist Entrepreneurs from the Blue Man Group

1. Do Something Bold

It’s easy to try and appeal to everyone for fear of excluding some people. As creatives it’s important to know who you are as an artist, understand the type of brand you have and what your purpose is. This is how you create a niche for yourself because you are being yourself instead of what you think others want you to be. Knowing who you are who you are not are big components to being overcoming fear and being bold.

2. Be Resourceful

Look around you and see what is available to you when you are in need of something. Are you trying to start a business where you refinish furniture? Ask for people to donate their old furniture to your business so you can fix it up and sell it. Do you need props for an upcoming production? Ask your cast to reach into their networks (or their houses) for those props.

My favorite story is when we were producing a film for the 168 Film Festival last month my co-producer decided to just ask a camera rental company if they had a camera we could use for a project. We couldn’t get it for this project due to some insurance issues but they offered it to us for another project. Now we will have access to the same camera the Avengers was shot on for free…all because he asked.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Grow

Eventually the Blue Man Group had to hire other blue men to keep their brand growing. What if they let fear of growth stop them from delegating and bringing others into the blue fold? They wouldn’t have been able to continue for 25 years, perform internationally and grow such an enormous following.

You can’t do everything alone. No man is an island as they say. And who wants to be anyway? Being on an island all alone isn’t fun. Be aware of the time when you are becoming a bottle neck and stop it! Or rather UNstop it by going ahead and not stunting your own growth.

4. Just Start

When the Blue Man Group started almost two and a half decades ago they had no intention of becoming what they are today. They simply had to take that first step of faith and start with a small show in Central Park.

What is holding you back from starting on a project? Are you getting hung up on the details? Are you trying to envision the entire picture before starting? Get honest and ask yourself what really is holding you back from starting. Don’t give yourself the PR version of what’s stopping you? Dig deep and challenge your fears.

What are some other lessons you have learned on your creative journey?

Check out the article from Inc. Magazine called How I Did It: The Blue Man Group

Blog posts, Faith, Inspiration

How Passion Leads to Purpose

June 8, 2015


Have you ever wondered what your purpose was in life? Do you ever feel like you are just surviving every day without really moving towards something? Do you wish that there was a way that you could just get some clarity?

I believe that we have little clues that we are already experiencing that can help us find our purpose in life.

Those little clues are our passions and passion leads to purpose.

As creative people we can sometimes feel as though we are being pulled in many directions with our many interests and passions. Sometimes we can even feel like we have no idea what our passion is. It can be really confusing, frustrating and down right depressing.

I used to marvel at people around me who seemed to know exactly what they were supposed to do in life. They would live with such focus and seem to be content that they were on the right path while I floundered around trying to figure out what I should be doing until that magical day when I would all of a sudden figure life out and fulfill my dreams of being an actor…or actress for those of you that want to get technical. (But technically actor means both actor and actress.)


I studied theater in college and always thought that eventually I would start an acting career. I had no idea what it really took to become an actor other than I had to work at my craft. I had no idea about marketing, networking, or business. It’s counter intuitive to think that a creative degree should include entrepreneurship but I think it’s necessary.

After college I got married and my husband and I started a family. I realized that I didn’t have the time to go to extensive play rehearsals. By this time YouTube was starting up and I used to peruse it wondering if I could do something like that. 6 months after wondering my husband gifted me with his hand me down laptop and a flip camera.

With my new instruments in hand I started a YouTube channel and blogging for a creative outlet. I was able to continue to grow in my creative passions and over the years I wrote and directed my first show called A Song for Peace that would continue to run for 4 years.

(I started doing much of this while working full time, pregnant and raising kids so please don’t think that you can’t find time to pursue your passions as well!)


I continued to write and eventually got to fulfill a dream by performing  a one woman show for moms called Sweatpants and High Heels. In between I started a few businesses but never really felt like I had found my passion. I always felt like something was missing. Like I was doing all of these disjointed awesome things but I wasn’t building towards one thing.

The problem was that I was searching to find out something that I already knew. I knew that I had a passion for acting and telling stories. I already knew that I had a passion for writing and producing plays.

The problem was that I hadn’t found my purpose.

If you are looking for your passion…pause.

You probably know exactly what your passion is. You probably have several of them.

And that’s okay.

I used to think that I was only allowed one passion in life.

That’s totally ridiculous! There is no rule that you only are allowed one passion!

You probably have a passion for your friends, your family, your art, music, your pets… the list could go on and on. Don’t feel like you have to pick just one (at least right now).

But I don’t know what my passion is, Dija!

Okay. I feel you. I’ll slow my roll. Everyone is feels this way at some point in their life. I’m no exception. There were times when I didn’t really feel clear on what my true passions were. I was merely experimenting and trying different things.

But what is passion really?

Passion means a powerful or compelling emotion.

So your passions will result from anything that draws out that strong or compelling emotion of yours. But we’re creative, sensitive people who feel things deeply, right? So it can be quite confusing that you feel deeply for so many things causing you to be unsure of which passion to follow.

That’s okay too.

But remember this…

Passions are discovered through experiencing more and more of life.

At the end of the day no one can tell you what your passions are. Knowing your passions comes from getting out there and trying different things.

For example, if Michael Jordan never saw anyone playing basketball he wouldn’t have known that he wanted to try it. Even though he tried out for his high school team and didn’t make it, didn’t stop him. He kept going because it was his passion and he became one of the greatest ball players of all time The fact that he was great at it, enjoyed it, and excelled at it makes me think he had a passion for it.

And he found it relatively early in life.

Some of us take a little bit longer to find out what our passions are but all of us have to keep trying different things until we discover them. Usually your passions will be linked to your talents and your gifts. Your talents and gifts can be great indicators as to what direction you should go to discover your passions. When you find something that engages your natural abilities, gifts and enjoyment you’ve found something to be passionate about! Congratulations!

So why do many of us still feel unclear about our life’s direction?

It’s because we aren’t asking ourselves the right question.

Instead of asking yourself “What is my passion?”, ask yourself “What is my purpose?”

What is Purpose?

Purpose is the reason that something exists. When you find your purpose you feel like you know why you were put on this earth. All of us are here for a reason and all of us have a purpose.

Your purpose will be the through line of all that you do in your life. It will permeate every area of influence. The wonderful thing is that you can live out your purpose no matter what you are doing or where you are living. You do not need to be engaged in your passion to live out your purpose…but it’s a whole lot more fun that way.

I am slowly discovering my purpose which is to encourage people to embrace and share their gifts, talents and passion. I LOVE to see people shining and doing the thing that they were born to do. It took me a long time to embrace this for myself because it sounds so…


My purpose is to see other people fulfill their purpose.

I know. I’ve barely begun to figure that weirdness out. But I embrace it now.

My passion is in acting, film making, and writing. It’s most enjoyable to me to be doing my purpose while I’m engaging in my passion. Those are the times I feel like I’m in my flow. When time stands still and I’m so happy that my cells feel sparkly.

(Kind of like Edward Cullen without the vampire-ness)

Can you tell I’m struggling to find the words to tell you what it feels like to have your purpose and passion meet? You might have had those sparkly moments in your life too. Where everything just seemed to come together.

By pursuing your passions in life you can get great insight towards your calling and purpose.

Think about your passion as clues towards your purpose. As you engage in your passions they will help you grow as a person, meet more people and get more insight into why God put you on this earth.

I used to think that your purpose was this thing that you discovered one day like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But  purpose is slowly revealed along the journey of life. I learned that you cannot receive the full vision of your purpose until you reach certain milestones of understanding and growth. If you got it all at once it just wouldn’t make sense to you.

It’s frustrating and lovely at the same time.

Here are some practical tips to discovering your purpose:

1. Pursue Your Passions

By pursuing your passions and growing in them you will meet more people, grow as a person and discover what things you want to let of and what things you want to keep investing into.

2. Listen

You will be surprised by what you discover when you listen. If you need to get away and get quiet, make it a priority.

Ask yourself those hard questions about what you want in life and write down  your answers. Ask yourself if you’re happy or not. Ask yourself what your dreams in life are. Ask yourself what you would regret if you found yourself on your death bed in the next minute.

Morbid I know. But do it anyway.

Ask your friends and family what talents and gifts they see in you. When do they see you light up and become most yourself? Sometimes it’s hard for us to see what comes so naturally to us and it helps for those who know us well to provide some reflection.

Listen to the one who created you. He knows you better than anyone else. Ask Him and then listen.

3. Don’t give up!

The worst thing you can do is to stop seeking out time to pursue your passions. Most people just give up because of…

  • time
  • money
  • time (I repeated this on purpose)
  • fear
  • whatever

It’s important that you make time do what makes you sparkly. If you are a parent find ways to include your kids so they can see an example that it’s possible to find a little time to do what lights your heart on fire.

If you don’t you will surely sink into a mediocre life.

4. Stay Inspired

If you ever find that you are not continuing to learn new things or your beginning to feel uninspired that is a clue that you are not moving in the direction of  your purpose. When that happens start to shake things up by trying something new and getting out of your comfort zone.

If you need some more ways to get inspired you can sign up for my newsletter and receive a free copy of my e-book “10 Ways to Feel Inspired When You Don’t Feel Inspired Anymore”.

By continuing to move along this path of passion your purpose will continually be revealed to you as you hone in on the most important things in your life through growth and wisdom.

So share with me your passions and how you discovered it.



Blog posts, Creativity, Dealing with Fear, Self Development

Tips to Help You Create Even When You are Afraid

May 22, 2015

overcome fear

When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.
–Tina Essmaker

I talk to a lot of artists and creatives that struggle with putting their work out there in the world. They desperately want to know that other people will  receive their work, like their work and are changed by the work they do.

Not all creative people want to share their work. Some write poetry or paint just for themselves. They might create for personal expression or to work through some trauma in their lives.

But at the end of the day if an artist wants to be a professional or make a living at what they love to do they must learn to share it.

And it can be scary.

I understand that feeling well.

The Courage to Try Afraid

I’ve been a creative person my entire life. I used to write story after story in my journals as a child. I knew by the age of 9 that I wanted to be a writer. I remember some of my earliest independent prayers would be to ask God to let me become a writer when I grew up.

As a child I would create stories and games with my siblings that went on for days. I mean they were EPIC! When we played dolls our stories revolved around spies, kid heroes, and global adventures to bring the bad guy to justice.

When I got older I discovered artistic gymnastics after a team did an exhibition at my school. It was love at first flip! It was so joyous to be able to be expressive through the art of gymnastics!  During that time I got the courage to take an acting elective at school which led to my first encounter with being part of an improv troupe and then performing in school plays in high school.

When college came around I thought that I had to make a responsible decision. I never thought that I could make a living acting so I went into the freshman engineering program at school. I made it all the way into the mechanical engineering program at Purdue University before I got the courage to switch my major to theater.

It was a scary decision to make.

I prayed for a year and a half about my decision. I asked God to use me for His purpose. The Freshman Engineering Program wasn’t as hard academically as it was emotionally for me. My heart would ache for creativity during during chem labs, my health began to suffer and I was getting weird stress symptoms because  I was overworking myself trying to still find ways to be creative. All the while I was going to my calculus based physics class during the day I was going to rehearsals for plays at night. I was living a double life and it was getting to the place where I had to choose.

I finally made the decision to double major in Kinesiology while getting my Theater degree. My days were exponentially more enjoyable. Even the hard work of two majors was bearable because every day I knew that I was working towards pursuing my dream of being a professional actress.

Since graduation I haven’t had the safety net of a university setting where I was required to put out creative work for a grade. I no longer had the comforts of academic theater where props, costumes, designers, and stages where available for use (for free) . I had to learn how to borrow, beg, raise money, scout locations, audition, and produce all on my own. I had to have the courage to let my passion and calling lead the way.

I’ve produced several plays, written hundreds of scripts, blogs, and youtube videos. I’ve performed all over the country for thousands of people, in films, commercials, and plays.

And every single time I’ve experienced fear at some point.

Fear in the writing, rehearsals, editing, producing, location scouting, leading teams and more. Every time I hit publish, step out on stage, or take my breath to speak after the director says “action” I have a moment of fear.

Fear that it will suck, or someone won’t like something I created. Fear is that it will be ignored or not be helpful to someone like I want it to be.

When that fear hits you it can make you recoil like a pie to the face. It can make you ask yourself paralyzing questions:

  • Am I supposed to share this?
  • Was I imagining things when I got this idea?
  • Am I really called to do this?

And my personal favorites:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • There are a million other people who are doing what you want to do.
  • Who wants to hear what you have to say?

Dealing with Emotions of Fear

So how do you deal with all of these emotions as an artist? How do you overcome fear and forge ahead?

I think we as artists need to embrace the fact that we are going to feel this emotion for the rest of our lives. If you want to stand out you’ve got to acknowledge the fear and learn to feel comfortable with pushing through it. Think of it as a door you have to walk through and on the other side is your creation.

If you think about it, the people that we are inspired by all had to walk through that door. No one has done anything great by letting fear stamp out there passion.

Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther all had to do it afraid or risk dying without having fulfilled their callings.

I’ve found it liberating to remember that my job and calling is an artist is to create, not to make sure that I’m loved and accepted (Christ already did that for me).

My job isn’t to make sure that my work matters to the masses.

My job is to create.

Tell the stories I was given to tell.

Dance the dances I was given to dance.

Eat the pudding I was given to eat…wait what?

You know what I mean.

In essence, run your race not someone else’s. (and for goodness sake’s don’t eat anyone else’s pudding either.)

Courage, especially for the creative person, is found in daily decisions to pursue momentum. To keep moving. To do the thing only you can do, regardless of the fear you feel. You must make things.

You can only control what is in your control, and sometimes that means doing your work afraid. Which is a whole lot better than not doing it at all.

-Jeff Goins

I will never ever ever EVAH forget the day I had to do some crazy flippy thingee off the end of the beam. I was scared of this particular trick. (For those of you who don’t know the beam sits 4 feet off of the ground and is only 4 inches wide. It’s just asking for you to fall on it.)

Anyways my coach asked me if I was afraid.

I said “yes”.

She said that it was okay to be afraid. But she said it’s not okay to let fear stop you.

She told me “Do it afraid.”

Do it afraid.

Somehow it gave me permission to feel those feelings of fear without shame. And by just accepting the fear I could finally move past it. Like if you are walking down the street and you see a NY pizza stand (in the middle of wherever you live) and it’s just asking you to stop and give it your attention and your money. But instead of ignoring the aroma of pizza you just say to yourself. “Yeah that pizza is there and it smells good. And yeah I could give into it. But I’ll just keep on walking because that Jamba Juice is only 2 more blocks away. If I keep going I could burn a few more calories and reward myself with a protein peach mango smoothie in 10 more minutes.”

Got it?

Back to gymnastics.

So I said, “Okay flippy thingee off the end of the beam. I’m scared of you but I that doesn’t mean that I can’t execute you!”

Actually I didn’t say that. I got up there and flipped off the end of the beam and landed on my butt.

But you know what? I did it. I kept practicing until I was able to land on my feet and then perform that skill in front of others.

I think a major step in being an artist is to be okay with feeling afraid. Don’t fight it or feel like you have to talk yourself out of it. Realize it’s there and it’s always going to  try and stop you from executing.

Your fear is not you. It doesn’t define you. It doesn’t define the quality of your creative work. The only way it can destroy your work is if you let it. -Dija Henry

Practical Tips to Overcome Fear When Creating

I know you don’t want to hear this but the best way to deal with fear as an artist is to just go and create.

Create, create, create.

Keep practicing the thing that you want to create. If you want to write screenplays. Write them. Write a lot of them. Write bad ones but keep writing. If you can do the daily discipline of writing you will stop being shocked when fear shows up. But you know who else will show up?


The fact that you know that you’ve done this before and the world didn’t end. You did it before and you survived.

When you’re learning to battle fear it’s important that you learn how to start and finish a creation. It’s also important for you to define what success is for you as an artist. If it’s about things you can’t control like how many subscribers you get, or how many people love your work, or trying to please everyone you will not succeed. You will always feel like you are failing.

And that gets in the way of creating. It gunks up the creative pipes. It sucks your energy. It wastes your time.

It just sucks. So let it go of what you can’t control. Do the self-work to find out what is most important to you (and only you) and define your vision of success from there.

So I have a question for you…

What if you didn’t give fear all of your power?

Types of Fear

There is the rational fear that tells you when something is dangerous or that danger is around the corner. The fear that tells you not jump out of a plane just to see what it’s like to hit terminal velocity.

There is irrational fear that creates so much anxiety that we begin to believe things that are not true about ourselves and our work. It is not based in reality.

At the end of the day fear is an emotion.

Let’s look at this emotion as it applies to your creative journey.

What if that feeling inside actually indicates that you are actually on the right track? It’s not fear but the deep down knowledge that you are embarking on a a great journey that will result in you getting closer to your dreams and goals in life?

The feeling of unfamiliarity that happens when you’ve taken steps that you’ve never taken before but deep inside you know that those steps of faith could result in you living out your purpose with joy.

I keep thinking of the moment that Moses and the Israelite were about to pass through the Red Sea. The moment God said they were supposed to escape death by walking through the impossible. I’m sure that they were all afraid as they faced the sea on one side and the Egyptian army on the other. To them death was certain. But God told them to walk towards freedom even though it was scary.

Just because they were afraid didn’t mean they shouldn’t have moved. It didn’t mean they were alone or wrong or abandoned. It meant they needed to trust God and have faith that these unfamiliar steps would help them survive. Because going back to the familiarity of the slavery would have been death for sure.

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chodron

Do you ever have times when you just know you’re supposed to do something but it feels a little nerve racking to think about it? You know that taking those steps of putting yourself out there, making some art, going to the networking event are the right things to do but it’s all so scary?

I’m trying to reframe how I look at those moments in my life when I’m faced with choices that would take me outside of my comfort zone that cause me to be afraid. Would I rather move towards my dream and trust God in the wilderness or would I rather go back to what’s familiar and be a slave to fear?

If you are like me and you have a passion to discover your purpose and live that out you are going to experience fear. There’s just no getting around it. But I love to remind myself that those are the moments and opportunities to grow your faith and move towards freedom. We just have to trust the One who put that passion within us.

Even though you are afraid don’t forget the truth.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love power and a sound mind.
-2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

When I read this in college and it really hit me for the first time I can’t even tell you the burden that lifted off of me! I was dealing with so much fear and uncertainty that it was suffocating me. I was in a position where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to complete my degree because of lack of funds. I prayed every morning for God to make a way (and He did.) I wanted more than anything to graduate with the degrees I had worked so hard for.

This scripture reminded me that I wasn’t created with fear but with love, power and a sound mind. And those are the characteristics I needed to embrace rather than the fear.

I am working really hard behind the scenes to bring focus to The Inspire(d) Cafe. I’m scared every time I talk about narrowing my niche. But I know that trying to be everything to everyone is futile…and not even possible.

I’m nervous about announcing my new purpose for the blog

but I know it will bring clarity to my visitors.

I’m afraid that I won’t be equipped enough to write about certain things

but I also know that I want to be a writer who writes about hard things.

I think deep down inside those emotions are just indicators that I’m going in the right direction. The thing is I’ve never been that direction before so their will always be that feeling of uncertainty that could be mistaken for fear in the traditional sense.

How about you? Can you identify which of these feelings you are actually dealing with when you sit down to create?

Take a moment to acknowledge what you are feeling and tell yourself it’s okay to be afraid. But today I’m going to do it afraid anyway. I’m going to walk through that door and meet my creation on the other side.

Don’t expect fear to just go away one day as an artist. You will have to go to battle each time. But you will soon become an experienced veteran that knows how to handle the fight to get the work done.

Remember that courage is found in your daily decisions to create.

Want more inspiration? Check these resources out.

Overcome Your Fear (video)

6 Famous Artists Talk about What it’s like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

Courage and the Creative Pursuit (podcast)

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Blog posts, Self Development

How to Finally Stop Playing the Comparison Game

May 11, 2015

stop comparison

I love Instagram.

I love how I can quickly scroll through so many people’s lives and see what they’ve been up to. Sounds crazy right?

If someone were to tell me we could do that 1989 I would think what kind of future am I going to be growing up into where it’s legal to stalk someone? Is “Peeping Tom” going to become an actual job some day? Is the internet somehow going to let us be Carey Grant in Rear Window for realsies?

“Well, my dear…”

I would say to my younger self.

“Yes. Yes you will have the opportunity to spy on the lives of many people around the world.

Except in the future they will be giving you permission to do so.”

The windows of the world take many shapes and sizes now. You can peek through the windows of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, blogs, and many more platforms and look into the lives of other people.

It’s a blessing and a curse.

We can experience the joy of feeling like we are part of the lives of our beloved family and friends miles away across the country as well the twinges of envy that come from seeing someone on yet another amazing vacation on a beach somewhere…

in their amazing bathing suit…

with their amazing body…

with their amazing well behaved children that they birthed out of that amazing body.


Enter the Comparison Game.

I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of playing the comparison game. Comparing my life to others even though I KNOW that what I see is  just a snapshot of their lives. I mean I know for a FACT no kid is actually that well behaved all of the time and that just because someone has an amazing set of abs doesn’t mean they don’t have bad hair days too.

I KNEW all of these things in my head but it didn’t stop my heart from sinking with feelings of “failureness” (is that a word?) when I saw yet another person getting closer to their dreams, launching their new products or being fearless in pursuing their passion.

It seems ridiculous to even struggle with these feelings at times but it’s quite common (and quite human) to struggle with feelings of comparison. But I believe that over time I’ve come up with ways to stop playing the game of comparison…or at least take a time out from it.

But before you can take a time out from the game you need to recognize that you jumped into this game in the first place.

Because some times the comparison game can sneak up on you like a hungry lioness stalking a baby gazelle.

Recognize When You Are Playing the Game.

One major way that we observe others we don’t know personally is through external measurements like money, clothes, cars, houses, physical appearances, accolades, etc.

There is no way to tell the condition of a person’s heart just by the clothes that they wear or the car that they drive.

But even if you could see who they are on the inside you still don’t have grounds for comparison!


Because you are unique. You are one of a kind, baby.

I love this quote:

Be yourself because everyone else is taken. -Oscar Wilde

It’s so true! One of the main reasons that we compare ourselves is because we are trying to be something or someone we really aren’t.

For example, in an attempt to grow my online brand I started to really examine what the successful people were doing online. Although it was a  good idea initially to look at characteristics of successful brands, I started to find that I was beginning to feel as though I needed to do exactly what they were doing to be successful. I thought their path to success would be my path to success as well.

The truth was is that they were actually successful because they discovered what they passionate about and gifted in and ran with it. Their passion, talents and gifts converged together allowing them to run fast and achieve more than I ever could trying to be like them. I kept finding that I couldn’t keep up with the bigger DIY vloggers or Natural Hair gurus because that wasn’t really the full scope of my calling.

The funny thing is that when you hit your stride with living and breathing in your own gifts, talents and passions you can then  run  free creating, producing, and building your own dreams. In fact, when this happens you might cause someone else to feel  like they can’t keep up with you!

The other thing that I noticed is that the pressure to deliver has gone down significantly. I don’t feel like I have to hurry up and put things out to keep up with other people. I’m actually happy that I wasn’t successful at those things I was striving after because it kept forcing me to focus more and more on discovering what my special gifts, talents and passions were.

[Tweet When you stop comparing what you are doing with what someone else is doing you find that your creative work becomes better. It’s more authentic and therefore more enjoyable to create. – Dija Henry @inspiredindy]

Hi Self!  It’s Nice to Meet You.

When I was striving towards things that I thought I “should” to become successful, I kept finding that I wasn’t feeling aligned, peaceful or content with what I was doing previously. On top it, I kept finding that I couldn’t even articulate what my own calling in life was when people asked me what I did.

So I started taking a ton of personality tests to find out more about my unique tendencies strengths, and weaknesses. I started to talk to people who knew me well and had my best interests at heart in order to get help in discovering the  potential that I couldn’t see in myself.  I also had to take some time off from social media because the more I was looking outward at others the less I could hear my own authentic voice and focus on my own passions.

I needed to get everything quiet around me and really observe what made me happy every day. I had to do a lot of prayer and soul searching to discover what my calling was.

I had to ask myself questions like:

  • What is most important to me?
  • What made me feel most alive when I was doing it?
  • When did I feel most energized?
  • What kind of life did I envision for myself in the future?
  • What were my God given talents, passions, and gifts?
  • What legacy did I want to leave behind?

These are just a few of the questions that  I had to work through in order to discover my passion in life. Believe me, this was a long intentional journey over several years.

I intentionally had to get clear on my purpose in life.

I intentionally had to be able to articulate my passion in life.

I had to intentionally discover my calling in life.

The more I did these things the more I began to feel confident that I was moving in the right direction for my life.

There is something really freeing about that.

Cultivate Your Circle.

I started to cultivate friendships that encouraged me to be my unique self and started phasing out relationships that made me feel…well…less than myself. I found that by pouring energy into valuable, edifying relationships I started to see more value in my innate gifts. Having supportive friends and family that love you, encourage you and keep it real with you is so necessary to building self-esteem and discovering your calling.

This made me start thinking about what it means to accept yourself for realsies.

Think about it like this:

Wouldn’t you be stunned if your best friend tried to change herself to get the approval of someone else? Wouldn’t it hurt you to know they didn’t love themselves enough to be the awesome person that you believe they are? Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to help them know how special and loved they are?

Give yourself that same gift of acceptance, my friend.

Dr. Margaret Paul co creator of the Inner Bond Self Healing Process, has worked with people that the world would say had it all in terms of looks, education, finances and opportunities who still, in spite of everything they had, felt worthless.

Dr. Paul concluded that:

“The reason they continued to believe they were not good enough is because they were judging themselves based on their external, transient qualities of looks and performance, rather than valuing their authentic and enduring intrinsic qualities.”

In other words, those who judge themselves on temporary qualities like looks, money, performance, etc. still did not have any self-worth. Someone is always going to have more money, better clothes, or more beauty. Someone else will always run faster, have more power, or a nicer (or more) cars.

But NOBODY can be more you than you! NOBODY can be a better version of you than you.

So remind yourself how awesome you are the next time you feel that comparison game calling you in the ring. Celebrate the other person who is being themselves and remember that your time will come to show the world who you are. Until then just keep growing as  a person so you can be ready to step into your opportunities when they come!

Compare You to You.

I realized that if my goal was to be more of myself everyday then all I could do was compare myself with my past self. And the only practical measurement I could make was to try and be better today than I was yesterday. Instead of looking at transient qualities I tried to grow in qualities that are more inherent to who I was created to be.

  • Am I growing in my gifts?
  • Am I more patient, kinder, more loving?
  • Am I getting closer to understanding my calling in life?
  • Am I happier today than yesterday?
  • Do I feel more at peace with myself?
  • Am I growing in my faith?

These types of questions are more connected to the inherent characteristics that make up the person of you. They are connected to your self-worth more than those temporary measurements that don’t really contribute to true self-worth. Thinking about these topics instead, made me feel motivated to be better for myself and for my family.

Not in My Strength.

I have to add this small caveat.

Not every day is going to feel like you are moving forward and that’s okay. I’m also getting in the habit of recognizing that I need to give myself grace when I have a bad day or I felt like I didn’t make any headway on a personal goal.

If things don’t go right today, so what? Tomorrow will be better.

For me, my faith is something must lean heavily on as I try and grow as a person. When it comes down to it I want to see growth in the areas that God wants me to grow in. If that is your goal too remember that we can’t grow in godly ways without the help of His spirit. Be careful about trying to do everything in your own strength because you will most certainly get worn down and frustrated.

I know from experience.

The day that I surrendered trying to control the outcome of my life is the day that I found the most freedom to just live me life.

Learn to Reframe Your Thoughts.

You have more power than you think over your thoughts. You’ve probably heard of the glass is half full or the glass is half empty analogy. The glass and the water do not have any inherent meaning. The fact that only 50% of the glass is full of either water or air has no inherent meaning either. We ascribe meaning to the situation concerning the glass from our past experiences, current situations, and even our mood at the moment.

The same thing is true in life. Events and situations do not inherently have meaning. We ascribe meaning through our thoughts and emotions.

For example, just because you stubbed your toe getting into the car doesn’t mean you are a clumsy, worthless person who can’t walk a straight line sober. It just means that in that moment you stubbed your toe because maybe you were in a rush or pre-occupied.

So how can reframing our thoughts help us stop playing the comparison game?

Know that it’s normal and even part of who we are as humans to compare ourselves to others.

Dr. Leon Festinger proposed the Social Comparison Theory in 1954 stating that  humans have a basic drive to evaluate their opinions and abilities and that people evaluate themselves through objective, nonsocial means.

I do think that humans have a natural drive to compare themselves or else we wouldn’t have such an issue with it. But I don’t think that we are able to be objective about comparisons in order to evaluate ourselves. That’s just not real life. But in order to stop playing the comparison game I do believe that we have to find a way to be more objective about the thoughts that run through our minds when the comparison game comes a calling.

I’ve learned to take hold of the thoughts that naturally come up and run them through a process:

  1. If I have a negative comparison thought I make my self STOP as soon as I notice what I’m doing.
  2. Then I acknowledge that thought.
  3. Then I try to take a huge step back from what’s happening.
  4. Next, I remember my personal strengths, my personal goals and life vision. I remember that I’m on my own path to fulfill my own calling and no one else’s.
  5. I mentally celebrate the other person’s accomplishments in a genuine way.
  6. Lastly, I tell myself that I’m going to get there one day. One day I will make my mark and reach my goals because every day I’m taking steps towards fulfilling MY calling in life.

And before you say this is easier said than done. Let me say it for you.

This is easier said than done.

It has taken me a lot of practice to catch myself. I do it because I don’t like the icky feelings that the comparison game leaves me with when I play it to long

However, it’s really very freeing to remind myself that the only person that I should be comparing myself to is myself. And even then I have to give myself grace because I’m going to have good days and bad days but definitely no perfect days.

Celebrate Others.

Now when I see someone doing something amazing on social media or in real life the first thing I do is mentally celebrate them for what they’ve accomplished. Especially people who are doing what they are truly passionate about and finding success.

My secret trick: I celebrate others  by momentarily placing myself in their shoes and allowing myself to feel those good feelings I believe is being conveyed in their picture, video, etc. That way I can immediately create a positive reaction in my heart. As if they were a friend and I was truly happy for their accomplishments.

I believe that if they can find joy doing what they love that means that I can too. It’s possible!

By taking a step back and remembering that each of us has our own journey in this life it can give you a better perspective of their success. Remember that we each have our own unique purpose in life. Don’t feel jealous because someone is fulfilling their calling. Remember what your calling is so that you will feel free to celebrate them knowing that your time will come too!

Get a Clue from Comparison.

Many times the feeling of comparison can give you wonderful clues for your own life if you are willing to look for the signs.

If you can take a breather and observe your feelings in the middle of the comparison game, you can access a gold mine of insight into getting clarity in parts of your life that feel unfulfilled. You might be able to use these illuminations to awaken a part of you that has been dormant and motivate yourself to work harder towards your goals.

I love what Maya from Shamelessmaya said one day on social media. She said when you are comparing yourself with someone take note if you are envious of what you see or the feeling they are exuding? Do you see someone who is pursuing their passion and fulfilling their calling? Could that possibly be why you feel those negative feelings?

Maybe your reactions are a clue that you actually desire to feel what they are feeling rather than desiring what they have.

Remember Your Value.

Your value is inherent as a human being. It was created the moment you were conceived. You are valuable  not because you are on the cover of People Magazine. The President of the United States is just as valuable as a little baby born in  a remote village far away.

Your value is not:

  • how many twitter followers you have
  • how many Youtube subscribers you’ve gotten
  • how much money you have
  • how small your waistline is
  • how happy you are
  • If you are married
  • if you have kids
  • If you are the highest scorer
  • How many awards you have
  • how pretty or handsome you are
  • What your job position is

Get the jist?

You are highly valued because you are here on this planet. You make a difference whether you know it or not.

Since you made it to the end of this post I will leave you with this:

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, my friend. You were created for amazing things. For a little more inspiration when you are feeling low check out how you can be creative when you don’t think you are and 10 ways to get inspiration when you need it.

God Bless

stop comparison