EP4 – Subconscious and mindfulness with Laura Lake

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Welcome to Creative Conflab, where we have honest conversations about creativity, art, design, and craft. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Tara: Thank you everybody for listening to Creative Conflab, this is episode four with Laura Lake. Thank you so much for being here. Welcome, thank you Laura for being here. I like to start on a positive note on every show. So, I’d like you to share something that has recently brought you joy.

Laura:  Oh so many things, but I guess one of the things I’m most excited about is, I’ve been working on this collaborative book with a bunch of other entrepreneurs, and it’s coming out very, very, very, very, soon! We just did our final edits and our final book cover so in the next few days people will be submitting their final edits and then it’ll be going to print. So very nice thing.

Tara: Amazing!! And what’s the book about?

Laura: Business life in the universe. It’s called Blue Talks, it’s kind of like TED Talks only specifically for business, life, and the universe.

Tara: Amazing! For those that don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you might be able to help them, especially now when we’re all struggling.

Laura: That’s always a difficult question for somebody who’s heart centred to talk about themselves. Yeah, my love has always been in sustainable lifestyles. So even since the age of five, I loved architecture. I got myself into that. Always a high achiever, super curious, super passionate, [meow] but then I was in a bicycle accident in 2011. That was the best thing, actually, that ever happened to me and from that, like, I’ve created what I call the BEDMAS of wellness formula. It’s just a formula for holistic health. What I do now is I still have that core of sustainable lifestyles, but it’s all about mental health for higher performance. So, I help people, mostly heart-centered entrepreneurs, just like you, turn the four reasons they fail into their four keys to higher performance, and success the way that they want it. So, I go from you being extended to more intentional. So, intended.

Tara: Yes, I love that. I love that you’re taking the negative and turning it into a positive and how to thrive when often the things that are making us fail are because we’re like overextending ourselves or doing things for free, I know I’m guilty of that, because you help people, but we need to value ourselves and ask for, right now it’s hard, because you know, it’s better to exchange services because we’re all short on financial funds because everything is slowed down but I love that you transform that negative into a positive.

Tara: So, how do you define creativity?

Laura: ooh, so you and I were actually having a conversation about this a couple weeks ago and I’m trying to expand my own definition of creativity. I wrote a blog post last week about creativity, inspired by you, called ‘Creativity is not art’. I talked about it being here’s what we had the conversation on: the expression of making the intangible, into something tangible. So, I’m exploring that part of the definition, but it’s also about emotion. It’s about bringing the subconscious to the conscious. Our subconscious thinks in concepts, not words, so it’s putting those thoughts into actions and expressing ourselves by adding value. It’s problem-solving.

Tara: Yes, I like to define graphic design a lot like problem solving because you’re taking a problem or a difficulty that someone is having and you’re trying to visually represent that and give them a solution on their logo, their branding, or, you know, how do you communicate with people with a print piece, or your website. Yeah, so problem solving is a good way to define it.

Laura: Like the bare minimums, but like, the work that you do is why the whole intangibles to tangible thought had crossed my mind. Like, I want to learn more about that in the way other people see their creativity and work with it.

Tara: Yes, in that discussion we were talking about how does an idea or inspiration become a thing? Right? Like there’s so much in that, I know, and people always say to creatives, and I’m sorry creatives that I’m repeating this, but people will give you a task to do and they will say, “do your magic”. And it’s like, it’s not magic! I don’t just go POOF! and it’s done. There’s work and energy that has to happen to be creative and to produce something. And because it’s mostly invisible, I find that’s why we as a culture devalue it. Because when someone’s building a building, you can see the structure coming up, you see the concrete being poured for that underground parking garage, you see the workers there for the months and months that it takes to build that building. But when you’re creating something, when you’re an artist or designer, when you’re writing a book, nobody sees that work, so it’s like invisible, and not valued. And I think as a creative community, we really have to stand up for ourselves and be like, this is hard work, and I’m not gonna do it for free anymore!

Laura: Can I get into give in to like just a little bit about how the brain actually helps you with creativity? Just a little?

Tara: Yes, yes.

Laura: OK, so we had already mentioned that the subconscious speaks and communicates in concepts, but it is the storage of everything, all of our experiences, all of our our five or more senses, we keep all of that data into this database, but also there to protect us because we get to and from it with our emotions. So, if there is something that is traumatic happening, it will shut down those experiences, those thoughts, those belief systems and stuff, and not show us that in our conscious until we are ready for it. So, our conscious is what we choose to think about. And only when we decided to be creative about something do we feel those pieces of information are relevant. so that’s why they pop up but it’s something that we practice and it’s a skill we can develop to become more creative.

Tara: Amazing.

Laura: So, it’s our subconscious that dictates whether or not we’re going to be allowed to be creative. It’s super fun. I just love it. Read the whole article.

Tara: Yes, I will. I haven’t had time yet, but I will, because I love this concept. I know we’re all dealing with a lot lately, a lot of people are experienced prolonged periods of anxiety, fear, doubt, uncertainty, like nobody knows what’s gonna happen in the future. I mean we never did but now it’s even more so, because a lot of our routines and what we relied on has been shed away. So I feel we’re in the perfect storm to create a mass amount of people to experience burnout. So, I thought this would be a great topic to talk to you about. What are some signs that we can look out for in ourselves, our co-workers, our family, and friends, to sort of determine when they might be expending themselves and doing too many things and are spreading themselves too thin?

Laura: Ah, it’s very sweet of you to care about your family and friends. May I just say that I have been there, multiple times. I have anxiety, PTSD twice, like, I understand not just the concept of it, but living through it multiple times. But something like overwhelm and burnout is a very individual thing. So, depending on how you’re burning yourself out, how much you’re burning yourself out, and in which areas of your life are you extending yourself will determine how you react. So it’s your emotions, it’s your self-regulation, it’s all these other skills that you have or don’t have or don’t have enough of that will determine how it affects your body, your mind, your spirit, all that. But essentially, it like, burnout itself is too much output, not enough input. That’s where being overextended comes from, so doesn’t matter if it is work, it doesn’t matter if it’s your life, you’re just overextending yourself. So you’ll feel things generally like a loss of meaning or you feel powerless or you feel useless. How many times do you feel useless right about now?

Tara: Netflix and chill!!

Laura: Yeah, right! But it’s because of things like lack of recognition you know all those for repetitive tasks where we don’t see ourselves moving forward.

Tara: I find myself putting things on my to-do list that used to be just subconscious routine, but now it’s like, you know, shower before twelve, feels like an accomplishment. It feels like progress.

Laura: Even having those lack of healthy relationships, which are difficult to nurture right now are making things more difficult. Just as you said, like having online situations, where you have the day that you used to have, and it’s no longer that day anymore. So now you feel like there’s no direction. And then feeling disconnected between the task and the goal hand. But burnout, specifically, people will say they’re burnt out, but they’re not, they’re just overwhelmed. The difference is that burn out, you have these small changes, but then you crash. It’s not like having a stressful day, part of your mind or body will shut down. It’s an extreme form of overwhelm.

Tara: Yeah, in my circumstances I become a lot more forgetful, like my memory will start to just be like, you don’t need to remember this, so I’m gonna forget it for you. Also, trying to talk with people, I start to lose my words, I can’t find the right word, and so it sounds like English isn’t my first language, because I’m like: [gibberish talk]. So, those are things I personally look out for when I’m doing too much, and I personally like to think of it as doing tasks that raise my energy. Sort of like when you recharge your phone, so like, going for walks, or going into nature, or you know, staring at a flower for a few minutes, like that raises my energy. Where, you know, doing client work, or a task that isn’t that rewarding for me, drains the energy. So it’s that balance of keeping enough coming in as that’s going out which you also mention like that balance. Yeah, definitely. So most people associate burnout with their day job, with like, what they do for quote-unquote “work” and right now a lot of people don’t have a regular routine, or job. They’re not doing any of their regular things, so does burnout also creep up in other areas of our life?

Laura: Every area. So think about how you’re being extended. Is that too much time being spent on something? Is it too much of a person? Is it being in the wrong environment? Is it just like there’s, so many different ways to be burnt out. So look in your life, Where am I being overextended and how can I take some of that back? Reorganize my priorities and values and really, because we have the time right now, pay attention to what is the most important. Do that. What needs to get done?

Tara: Right! I love that.

Laura: me!

Tara:  Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Self-care number one. Everything else can wait. That’s how I feel right now.

Laura: Well, safety comes first.

Tara: Safety, not just me like cookies, potato, chips.

Laura: Oh my god, I tell my daughter, “What does my job as a mom”? She’s like, “to keep me happy, healthy, and safe, but in the reverse order”. It’s like, yes, thank you.

Tara: I love that. Are there different types of over exhaustion or burnout? Because, I feel drained differently, depending on the circumstance. Like if I’m over exerted and working on something for months and years, that drained me, that’s different than working a 10-hour day and feeling tired. So is there a type of burnout or exhaustion that is more concerning than another?

Laura: I guess, that is also very individual. So, part of it depends on how well you self-manage in different areas of your life. So maybe you manage your physical self really well. Having that overwhelm or that burnout in your physical body will heal faster because you have the skills and you have everything set up to heal. But if you’re not used to it, and you don’t have those skills, and of course emotions are involved because, let’s link it back, emotions is just energy in motion, and if we’re not letting it be in motion, it’s going to be stored in our bodies. Therefore affecting our physical self. It’s also what kind of self-regulation, emotion management, that kind  stuff, do we have? What are our skills? It’s all about skills. You can build these skills.

Tara: Amazing. And, it takes practice. Because you don’t wake up one morning and you’re just self-aware of everything that you’re doing wrong. Right?

Laura: Oh, I wish!

Tara: Yeah, I could have been so much farther ahead if that was true. In my growth and my business, and my life. But part of that is also you have to truly feel it and, like, get to those depths, to recognize how good it is when you are in the right place, and also how good it feels when you’re doing the right things, when you’re making art that aligns with who you are, and what you love. You can truly tell and I find when you talk to people you can even like start to get an idea of, do you really love this job? Do you really love what you’re talking to me about? Because the emotion and the excitement the body language, facial expressions, it’s all there. I was chatting with someone recently who was talking about they used to do a job that they thought they wanted, but once they were there, they realized I’m not really happy about this. And they were at a networking group and they were telling someone about here’s what I do, and blah blah blah, and the person they were talking to was like, you don’t like what you do, do you? And he was like, no I don’t actually. Well, you need to stop that, and do something that you do love. Which I thought was hilarious, because it’s it’s so true.

Laura: I didn’t like 100% leave the architectural field, part of me still loves it, but I have focused on my side hustle for the last umpteen years. So, that’s what I am doing now.

Tara: Well I love having the courage and confidence to do something different than the nine-to-five. I think there’s something amazing about that.

Laura: Well, there was a false happiness. Like, I still love architecture, I love the reasons, but I knew that I was built for so much more than that. And I could not do that in that field. I had to get out, I had to take control of myself, not others.

Tara: So, are there certain people or personalities that are more likely to burn themselves out? ‘Cuz, me, I’m you know, everyone knows who works with me, I’m a people pleaser, and I will give people things for free because I want to help. Which in the past has meant that draining of my energy without gaining it back, so are there others? I know people pleasers are one, are there others?

Laura: I don’t want to get too specific, because again, that’s very individual, but there are personality types that are the feeling types. So, I am definitely a feeling type under the Myers Brigg I’m an ENFJ. Which stands for, extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judger. So, I connect with people through my emotions, and through my gut feelings, or my intuition. So, I can see that type of personality, I can’t speak for all of them, succumbing to more overwhelm because people-pleasing is not a personality type or character, but it’s emotionally related. I’m always talking about emotions, it’s a mental health thing.

Tara: Well, yeah. I mean, we’re emotional beings.

Laura: But because that is is my first go-to, is my emotions and my intuition, I could, I can see myself being more susceptible, because I tend to do the people-pleasing, I tend to be a perfectionist, because it’s, I don’t really want to say poor emotional management, but lower-skilled emotional management. And it’s just because we’re not taught, or we’re not seeing, we’re not identifying that there is an issue. We see it as common, therefore, we think it’s okay. But just because it’s common, doesn’t make it okay!

Tara: Right, so true, so what are some daily tips on being more mindful about susceptibility to burnout and overwhelm and overexertion?

Laura: Well, first off, I like that you used the word mindful, because I teach mindfulness. It is connected to everything that we do because mindfulness is not about clearing your mind, it’s just about the practice of noticing without judgment.

Tara: I love that.

Laura: And we’re being present, we’re trying to not judge ourselves and be in the present moment as the observer. This is part of emotional management, this is part of understanding your feelings and not allowing them to control you, but understanding that they are a part of you, not you. So scheduling time for you, for any activities, any connections that recoup, you know, to have intention to not extend yourself. Having those boundaries, which I’m learning about currently, because of my last PTSD, you know, just building those skills to level yourself up. And, I felt myself level up at least twice since this whole pandemic and uncertainties happened. Because we’re forced into it and sometimes, unfortunately, that’s the best way to learn.

Tara: Yes, I feel the same, especially being a people pleaser, boundaries has always also been an issue. Even in business, at the end, when I decide the end of the day is, I don’t look at the email anymore, and I don’t respond to emails anymore, like that’s a hard boundary that I’m trying to keep. And when this whole pandemic situation happened, it became easier for me to say no, because I need more of my me time. It’s more important now, because we’re not just dealing with the regular world, we’re dealing with the world in a crisis and we’re still trying to be a little bit productive. So, when people are like, can I call you on Saturday? I’m like, NO! That’s my time

Laura: And you do, you really need to teach people how you want to be treated. So you have to practice, it doesn’t mean you have to do it perfectly, you need to practice doing those things that you want other people to observe because that’s how they learn best, and then they’ll do that same thing for you.

Tara: Yes, exactly. I love that. And we can do it in a kind way, I mean, I joke that I said no, but I was like, sorry, does some time, you know, Monday to Friday 9 to 5 work for you? Because that’s when I’m available.

Laura: I don’t work till 5, I work till like 3

Tara: Yeah, realistically it’s more like 3:30 or four for me. Depending how much energy I have that day and like, am I getting into the bottom, like are there just fumes left in my tank? If so, it’s time to put off till the next day what needs to get done.

Laura: But then it’s our choice, right? After that earlier time?

Tara: Yeah.

Laura:  If it’s not expected of us then we don’t have to carry that energy. Now it’s, if I feel like I want to, or if I have the extra energy to do something, I can choose to do so.

Tara: So, where do you find motivation these days? What makes you keep working towards your goals despite this … I’m I’m motioning to the tornado that’s going on around us right now …

Laura: So, I’ll clarify something for you. Inspiration is different than motivation. Inspiration comes from within, okay, it’s something that we develop with our whys and our purpose and the reason that we do things. Right?

Tara: And everybody’s inspiration is different. Which is partly why I started this podcast because everybody and everybody is so individual on motivation and an inspiration and the process to get from that idea to a tangible thing. So, I feel like I’m a lifetime podcaster now because there’s millions of people to talk to about this, right?

Laura: Yeah, so I’ll give you a tool on how to find your way here in a second. It’s really quick. But motivation is different, motivation generally comes from external factors. So, the people, places, and things around us. How we experience life with our five or more senses. I always say or more because you just never know with people. Motivation is outside, we can get those they’re like a trail of candy, ooh a piece of candy,  ooh a piece of candy,  we need that consistency for motivation to be working. Since inspiration comes from within us, we can just look in at any point and have it, just like that. Right? So inspiration is linked to your why. Here’s how you found your why. Think of any goal that you want, any dream that you have, anything that you love, be big, be bold, okay? Do that. Then, ask yourself why? Why do you want that? And then, take that answer and ask yourself why you want that? So now we’re two answers deep. And then, ask yourself why you want that second answer, and keep doing that until it stops changing. And that’s when you’ll get to your core values. Usually, it has something to do with freedom, connection, that kind of thing.

Tara: Yeah, I’m big on collaboration.

Laura: And what is it about collaboration?

Tara: I get that deep connection with people, sorry to steal your word.

Laura: Don’t say I didn’t say so.

Tara:  Yeah, it’s that it’s that connection between people. It’s that I’m getting to know someone while they get to know me and then we equally add to a project to parts of it like this podcast. Like I can’t have this conversation right now alone? I mean, I could, it wouldn’t be as good and I feel people wouldn’t listen as much if it was just me, and then there’s a lasting relationship there that goes beyond that project. And so that’s what I love about collaboration is that connection.

Laura: So to sum it up, connection?  With people, places, things, purposes?

Tara: yeah. That’s my why, one of my whys.

Laura:  As long as you keep those core values as your intention, so you’re not being super specific about how you want to experience freedom or how you want to experience connectedness, you just know that you want to experience joy and connectedness and freedom. Yeah let it come however it comes, life will figure it out.

Tara: One of the things that I’ve become in love with which I never thought before this whole pandemic happened. I love zoom now. Before this happened I was very reluctant to ever be on video or a video call because of all that self-doubt and you know people are gonna see me when I’m not at my best and maybe I’ll say something stupid or insert a million reasons and without the pandemic forcing me to use it, I probably would have continued to just say no to video conferencing. So, is there something that you’ve experienced similar to that that you see is a positive coming out of this pandemic that you hope continues when we get to hug again?

Laura: Oh, so many positives. I know because it’s happened so many times in my life that the hardest things I’ve ever gone through have been the catapult that have launched me so far forward there’s no way I could have thought but that’s where I’d end up. So this whole pandemic has really taught me how to manage all of my skills, not just time management, or parenting, or being in a relationship, or you know work ,and love, and planning a conference, that’s probably not gonna happen live. I don’t know how to do this stuff, I just do it because it matters, because it’s my intention, and people need to feel that way. Just, so much. I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned so far is that I am so much more powerful than I give myself credit for. I just stopped myself, even now, and I’ve done, pardon my language, like a shit-ton of personal development. It needed to be impactful, so I swore. I’m sorry.

Tara: It’s okay, I just click that box for explicit. You are my first explicit podcast, which is hilarious because I never would have thought you would be that person.

Laura:  No, I’m not. It’s funny coming out of my mouth.

Tara: I feel it when I’m super passionate about something, that’s when the f-bombs come out.

Laura: Oh not me. No f-bombs come from me, not unless I’m singing a song where I don’t notice it’s in there.

Tara: Sorry, I cut you off.

Laura: That’s fine. Even though I’ve put in this much work to grow myself, I’m still stopping myself. But yet, I’m still working on my subconscious. There’s always gonna be stuff there because the more I work on myself, the deeper I get, which means the more my subconscious will let me see things it hid from me before to protect me. But I’m stronger now so I can handle it, so it lets me see it, and then I level up again. So, I’m stronger now and it lets me see more until eventually, hopefully, I get to a point where I have dealt with all of my past. I can just live in the present

Tara: Thinking of this subconscious protecting us, this is not a question that I originally had for you, but like because some people have truly blocked those things from their memory, and that’s our brains way of easily protecting us. How would one know that this might be happening to them? They might not remember anything traumatic in their past but all of a sudden doing this thing like makes their heart race and get a panic attack and they don’t understand why. Is there a way to make that association easier?

Laura: I always suggest that people get help working with their internal selves right it’s not something that I suggest to do on your own. Do get help from a professional. And there are many different types of professionals that help you do it in different ways it doesn’t have to be a psychologist. They have their own skills too, right? There are just so many different modalities. They have their place. And some people are perfectly happy getting help from them.

Tara: Yeah, I need more. Like, for example, one thing that I hated about traditional therapy is I like that connection and like you can’t hug your therapist. It’s just not okay in today’s world. Right? Most therapists will not. So if you’re really talking about an emotional thing, like, yes it helps to talk about it, but really for me, I want a hug someone and feeling that energy of them and saying it’s okay while they embrace me. But anyways that’s as aside.

Laura: I’m generally a touchy person too. And sometimes, I don’t even need those words, sometimes I just need, I’m an extrovert, so I feed off of your energy, right?

Tara: The last time I did what is it called the Briggs

Laura: Oh Myers Briggs

Tara: Yeah, last time I did the Myers Briggs.

Laura: Can I guess? This is fun. you’re definitely an introvert, you’re definitely intuitive, you’re definitely a feeling type, I’m still not exactly sure the difference between a judge and a perceiver. So, I can’t pick one for you. But, I know that you are the introverted version of me and that’s why we connect so well.

Tara: Yes, I am INFJ. I’d be interested to see if I still am a  J or if now I’m a P, perceiver, instead.

Laura: You can always build skills on the other parts of those, but it doesn’t change who you are at your core. So, I can learn to be very introverted and while depressed or our healthy versions of ourselves tend to express the opposite or just have unhealthy patterns of what our core labels are. And they’re not exact, none of these are exact, but they give us a great guideline

Tara: And I feel as a society we’re so like we want to put things in categories because that’s how we understand. Right? That’s how we, oh well, you’re a this, then here’s the list of assumptions I make and here’s how I communicate with you, here’s the expectations I have of you, which is a whole nother show we can do. You know, when in reality, people aren’t just one category. I feel I’m in so many different categories, so many different boxes, and so many different things, that when you put me in one box, I get angry with you.

Laura: Well here’s where one of my superpowers come in. I’m what is called a web thinker. Which is different than most people. Most people would like to label things, so they’re box thinkers. There’s one maybe two places to store different types of information and in my mind like when I look in somebody’s eyes and I can see their personality and how they think I can picture the warehouses or the tables with covers off of them. But web thinkers what we do [meow] is we don’t label things and we don’t have a specific place for them. We know that everything’s connected and we see those connections so even though I know that I’m ENFJ in Myers Briggs, I’ve done like 10 other personality types and I look for the patterns amongst all these different systems to really truly dig at a deeper level of who am I?

Tara: So before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with the listeners?

Laura: There were like 20 things during the show and I don’t even remember. The biggest thing I guess that I want to say about creativity in general is that everybody has it. It’s a skill. It has to do with your subconscious, so please oh please, learn how to level up your self-regulation and emotional management, emotional intelligence, you know there’s that new word coming out right now. Just understand that emotions are important for most of the things that we do and learn to love yourself. Like it’s okay, we don’t have to have these expectations, and if you want to be creative just be yourself as you are. Get rid of other people’s baggage and expectations.

Tara: Oh, I love that!

Laura: Own it, okay? Own it.

Tara: Yes, that’s an amazing sentiment to end on. I love it.

Laura: Here’s one more. Earlier you had mentioned being afraid of not being liked by other people in a video call thing. So, here’s the thing, you, even at your best, will not be liked by the wrong people. I think we’ve had this conversation before. Even at your perfection, absolute perfection, you will never be liked by the wrong people. You will always be liked, even at your worst, by the right people, because they see who you are on a deeper level. That’s what they’re going to connect with, so you can do no harm. Okay? So, put yourself out there. Ignore the wrong people and go all present and forcefully, okay not forcefully, just be you. Like show them your light so that the world can be brighter.

Tara: I love it. I got goose bumps. love it. So, if someone wants to reach out to you after the show, what’s the best way to get in contact with you?

Laura: The best way cuz I’m planning on upgrading my website to quote-unquote a real website, I’m so excited, is on Facebook. So, go to facebook.com slash Laura Lake designs with an S on the end or you can join the Facebook page for the solopreneur conference that I’m planning. Hopefully it’ll just keep going so that is facebook.com slash solopreneur conference, either one. Everywhere else is just @LauraLakeSD

Tara: Well thank you so much for being on this episode.

Laura: thank you for having me.

Tara: It’s always a pleasure to chat with you, as you know, because I think we’ve chatted four or five times this week, but anyways thank you so much it means the world that you’re here and willing to share with all the listeners. And I hope that the creative people out there got a lot out of this episode.

Laura: Love you guys.

Tara: Awww, yes, love you from Laura and I. I hope you have an amazing day, I hope you get to do something creative, and I will talk to you soon.

Laura:  Bye

And that’s it for episode four with Laura Lake. Thank you so much for listening it’s been a pleasure to have you with us I hope you enjoyed our many creative tangents and our conversations. If you’d like to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, look for @CreativeConflab. If you’ve listened to the show and you enjoy what you’re hearing just head on over to Apple Podcasts and give it a review or send a tweet, I’d love to hear from you. I hope you get to be creative, be kind, and take care of yourself.

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