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Joy And Celebration / Gratitude Journal/ Collectivitea

I am grateful that fall is here and that summer is finally on its way out. I am happy that this time of the year is full of festivities even though it’s easy to get overwhelmed with work, the kids’ school, and other activities. I am grateful for these occasions to celebrate even though they can sometimes feel like one more thing added to the already crazy days. At these times, I remind myself to take deep breaths and release any fear or anxiety about things I cannot control. I will do what I can, and remind myself that it’s about joy and celebration, and not stress and perfectionism. What are you grateful for today?

This post is part of a gratitude journal that I maintain and update almost daily. To read the gratitude journal entries so far, click here. – Priya

 


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Abundance/Collectivitea

A very short, succinct post on gratitude today. I am grateful for every real or perceived, good or bad experience that has brought me to where I am today. I am the result of all of them. What are you grateful for today?

This post is part of a gratitude journal that I maintain and update almost daily. To read the gratitude journal entries so far, click here. – Priya

 


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Nupur/ Storyteller / Collectivitea

Who: Nupur

HR professional, Blogger, Writer, Stylist, DIYer, & Amateur Photographer

The story of what you do/your journey: 

You will find me collecting my memories and jotting them down on my blog. I am an HR professional in the IT world by day. I love to burn my lamp oil in the night, exploring and creating ideas. Some I manage to pen down on the blog but some just remain bubbling in my head. My creative journey began at a very early age, however, I call myself a late bloomer. Once my elder daughter left for university, and although I do have my younger one beside me to keep me busy, I was left with a strange emptiness around me. The empty nest syndrome was almost overpowering, and I knew I had to come out of it. That’s when I started writing my blog. The idea of blogging was always there in my mind but I never really pushed myself to start it. Once I started writing, it opened a completely new world for me. A world where all like-minded creative people came together, shared unique ideas, created amazing spaces, discussed multifarious opportunities etc. I realized I had a strong passion for photography, home decor, writing, styling, and recently found interest in DIYs.  I have a lineup of many more wonderful skills that I still plan to learn and explore in coming times, taking each day as it comes.

Nupur/ Storyteller series/ CollectiviteaWhat does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

Creativity to me is an art, an art of showcasing one’s feelings, pouring out one’s thoughts, sharing one’s passion, motivating oneself to pursue what makes one happy, and engaging in activity that gives one immense personal satisfaction.

Being creative to me means achieving a sense of self-satisfaction after doing something that you have always wanted to do. Creativity seems to be like an addiction, the more you express yourself, the more you discover about your hidden talents.

Nupur/ Storyteller series/ Collectivitea

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity? 

I feel everyone is creative, in their own special way. It is just a matter of acknowledging our creative merit. I remember as a child I loved to write and even won a couple of essay writing competitions but never really thought of pursuing writing until my daughters grew up. Once I started writing and blogging, I discovered my passion for photography, home decor, DIYs, styling … so I am still exploring to see where this takes me in my next step.The more I blog the more I am discovering about myself, discovering that the world is an open white space for creative souls waiting to be filled with colors of creativity.

Nupur/ Storyteller series/ Collectivitea

What helped?

Just throwing myself out there and playing it by ear has helped me. I have never been a planner so creativity comes to me in bits and pieces. In my childhood, my dad has played a very important role in my life always encouraging me and my siblings to follow our instincts and pursue our hobbies and interests. Once I got married, the support of my husband and both my daughters led me to believe in myself more. They have always been my source of motivation.

Since social media has changed the perspective in today’s times completely, connecting with like-minded people who are immensely talented and learning from them has definitely helped in honing my skills. The more I blog and read other creative blogs, the more I get drawn towards expressing myself.

 What didn’t?

Doubting myself sometimes becomes a hindrance for me, but then the belief of my loved ones in me makes me overcome this and keeps me going. So, as soon as we let go of the fear of being criticized for our work and take criticism in our positive stride, the self-doubt just evanesces and converts into self-confidence. This self-confidence is the most important contributor in bringing forward one’s creative nature.

The act of balance in today’s technology dominated world is another aspect I struggle with. Time online and time away from the internet is something I am still struggling to find a balance within my life…. hoping one day I will definitely learn to balance.

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired? 

Getting on platforms where like-minded folks share their ideas and creativity has been my biggest source of inspiration. Each new day is a new learning and that’s what keeps me going. Finding inspiration from everything around me and still upholding my uniqueness is what I strive to achieve.

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know/ or the most important thing that you would tell your younger self? 

If I was to go back in time and tell myself to change a few things, I would tell myself “do not let the fear of others’ opinions withhold you from going ahead and following your dreams.” Do not quash your creativity, thinking you are not going to be same as others. Pursue what gives pleasure to you, it is easy to get carried away and do what everyone else is doing but always difficult to stay inimitable.

Sharing a quote that I came across recently – “The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist”.

 

Images are courtesy of Nupur/Life Across The Seven Seas. You can find Nupur at her website and on Instagram.


The takeaway…

 

 

Collectivitea Storyteller Series

 

Collectivitea Storyteller Series

 

 


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Self help / Collectivitea
I hope you had a good weekend and got to spend time with the people you love, and doing the things you love. For some time now, I have settled into a sedate, much-loved weekend routine- a book or two, brunch or dinner out, long walks, a movie, and time at the library or bookstore. My excitement on Saturday was that I had two books listen to on Audible- Coming Alive: 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul’s Potential by Barry Michels and Phil Stutz; and Braving The Wilderness: The Quest For True Belonging And The Courage To Stand Alone by Brené Brown. (Insert eye roll from resident teenagers). For a while now, the books I’ve read have all had titles like these- long and involving some soul-searching. It started 2 years ago with the realization that I had more questions than answers about the way my life was unfolding, and like any dedicated bibliophile, I looked for the answer in books. After reading what seems like almost every book in the self-help aisle, my searching has slowed. I have reached a point where I can see the common threads that run through many of these books, and by extension, in people’s lives. And I have learned to take what I can apply to my life and leave out what doesn’t resonate. I disagree with the disdain that many people for the genre because when I am lost or seeking answers, I am grateful for writers, storytellers, and teachers who share the lessons they’ve learned, making them available and accessible to all of us. Take what works, and leave the rest. For a while, it seemed like all I ever had was questions and doubt, and today I am grateful to feel closer to the end of that tunnel.

I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on gratitude? Do you keep a gratitude journal? What are you grateful for? Share your thoughts in the comments section! Have a lovely day! – Priya


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Sep 15

On Gratitude

 

On Gratitude / Collectivitea
I wasn’t able to post my gratitude journal entry last night because I couldn’t find my computer charger, and it was really late and I was tired. Thursdays are when I feel the weeks’ stress the most, and it felt better to let myself rest than striving to find the charger and finding something to write. I have learned to honor those feelings and practice self-care when I feel tired. I am grateful for all those preceding moments and lessons that have taught me that self-care is important, and not an add-on. I am also grateful that it’s Friday and I have the day off. Next week, my older son goes off to college and I am so excited for him. I remember my college days as fun as well as challenging and filled with diverse experiences. I grew up in those 6 years of staying in a hostel and attending college far away from home. But it is true that as long as we let ourselves, we can continue to grow every year. I hope that I’ll be that person who is still curious and excited about learning and growing even in my 70’s.

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity for being the parent of this young man- his curiosity, drive, and openness to learning from his triumphs and challenges have inspired me greatly ( and remembering these words from Kahlil Gibran). Parenting has taught me as much as I, as a parent, may have taught the boys, and I am grateful for that. It’s a reminder that we all have someone or something to be grateful for at any given moment. I am grateful that we have the company of my younger son- though there is nothing like having a resident teenager to keep you, and your ego, in check- he is growing into himself and it’s like watching a flower bloom.

It’s the end of the week, and as I get ready to share the story of my third creative of the week, I am so grateful for Collectivitea-  there is nothing more beautiful than celebrating everybody’s creativity.

I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on gratitude? Do you keep a gratitude journal? What are you grateful for? Share your thoughts in the comments section! Have a lovely day! – Priya


image credit: Studio Collectivitea


 

 

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Gratitude Journal/ Collectivitea

Grateful that today is over! Not because it was not good but it was so busy. Grateful for a long evening walk, cooler weather, takeout food, and for a comfortable bed at the end of the day. I volunteer every week at a local organization and I am grateful for the opportunity. I write this post just before bedtime and it has a way of making me look at my day and discover all the hidden and not so hidden awesomeness of every day. So here goes!I am grateful for YouTube how-to videos because they have an answer for everything (for example, how to open coconuts without any tools!)- what an awesome world we live in! Grateful for the local radio station whose radio hosts have to be most cheerful ever, especially the ones at 7AM, though you know they must have left their homes in the middle of the night (almost) to get to work. Grateful that I live in a dog-loving neighborhood – we don’t have a dog but so many of our neighbors do. Walking is more fun because we have to stop often and say Hello to canine friends! What are you grateful for today?   – Best, Priya

image credit: Studio Collectivitea


 

 

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Ambika Sambasivan/ Collectivitea

Who: AMBIKA SAMBASIVAN

ARTIST; CO-FOUNDER, YALI BOOKS

Where: ALBANY, NY

The story of what you do/your journey: 

I am the co-founder of Yali Books, an independent publishing venture with a focus on South Asian cultures and the artisan behind Studio Yali, our store for art and handmade collectibles. Yali Books began when my mother Kala Sambasivan, who is a writer, and I (as an illustrator) wanted to work on an illustrated book together. Our first book, Bye, Bye, Motabhai! was launched in 2013. We were thrilled that young readers and parents enjoyed our story! A reader recommended we send the book in for the South Asia Book Award and we were absolutely floored when they picked our book as an Honor Book for 2014. This was the moment we decided to take our venture to the next level. We have since invited authors and illustrators from around the world to join our publishing family. We are humbled by the talent within the South Asian community and proud to have published author D. Kalyanaraman’s fantasy novel, The Sorcerer of Mandala and illustrator Chandra Prabha Radhakrishnan’s eye-catching coloring book, Wanderlust: A Coloring Journal.

Yali Books / Collectivitea

Our first picture book is set to release this October!

At the moment we are excited about our very first picture book (and sixth title), Milky Way, set to release this October. Set in the remote mountains of Ladakh in India, Milky Way is a sweet tale of friendship between a boy and the moon. Author Mamta Nainy and illustrator Siddhartha Tripathi have worked their magic to bring this charming story to life. We are hoping our youngest readers will love this story as much as we do!

Being an independent publisher, I get to wear many hats within the company. I handle book design, marketing, and sales, while my mother is the primary editor. We are constantly learning and evolving. There is never a dull day here at Yali Books!

Do you consider yourself creative? How so? 

Book Fair_Yali/ Collectivitea

Yali Books at TRICIA’s Spring Festival in Albany, NY

I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to live a creative life. Entrepreneurship is inherently a creative profession and I get to work with some incredibly talented authors and illustrators, so it is really a dream job! Nothing is routine at Yali Books – every book is a new challenge and I have to approach each one with an open mind and a creative outlook.

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

To me, creativity is the ability to spot opportunities. It is finding a captivating story within an everyday moment. It is discovering new ways to use a raw material. It is solving a problem in a way that hasn’t been explored before. At the heart of it, it is about having an open and joyful outlook towards life.

If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity? What helped? What didn’t?

I am a proud alumna of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (NID). I believe NID has played a large role in shaping my thought process and my approach. However, my mother has always been my creative role model. She is incredibly talented and she never stops creating something, whether it is a handmade gift or a new story she is working on. My childhood was spent in a whirlwind of games and projects she invented for my sister and me. She epitomizes the open and joyful outlook I admire in creative people.

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired? Do you have a creative practice? 

I am active on various social media platforms for Yali Books. I have virtually met and followed a number of amazing people over the years. I consider social media to be my primary source of inspiration. I look for different ways of looking at the world, new techniques, and practices, visual and narrative approaches. When I start working on something, I consciously try to come up with alternative ways of approaching the problem. It could be as simple as finding different ways to draw something as an illustrator. This helps me examine various possibilities before settling on one method.

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know/ or the most important thing that you would tell your younger self? 

I would say—never get too comfortable. The best ideas come when you step out of your comfort zone, make a mess, fail and try again. In our quest to produce perfect, social media-ready images, we hesitate to make mistakes. My biggest learning over the years is to not fear the imperfect, the wonky, and the downright ugly. They are all steps in the right direction.

As a publisher and as a creative, what do you think of how creativity is viewed within the South Asian community? For example, my experience has been that creativity is usually seen as something to do with the arts within the South Asian community, and that’s considered something you do in addition to a traditional career. While that may have been true considering economic factors for earlier generations, is it valid in today’s day and age? What are we teaching our kids about thinking creatively? 

This is a very important question. As commercial careers, creative fields of work are certainly gaining more traction and people are much more accepting of such professions. However, I think we have lost much of the respect we had as a community for creatives.

There was a time when poets, writers, and artists shaped nations and publishing was a courageous and politically-charged venture. We don’t award that kind of status to creatives anymore. The role of creatives in culture and politics within the community requires much more discussion and debate.

Additional comments: For example what would you recommend (ideas, things to do) for someone who thinks they are non-creative?

I don’t believe anyone is really non-creative. We just give ourselves these labels and limit ourselves. As an exercise, take an everyday situation, say your morning commute, and question different aspects of it. Ask ‘Why?’ like a child. Try and imagine alternatives. Start this as a game and soon it will become second-nature. The world will look very different, I promise!

All images are courtesy of Ambika Sambasivan. You can find Ambika at her website, on Collectivitea, on Etsy, and on Instagram.

 

 


 

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Gratitude/ CollectiviteaGrateful that I was able to show up here tonight because it’s already late! While we all want to make the right changes and choices (eat right, exercise daily, have an attitude of gratitude, work hard, not procrastinate etc. etc. etc.), day to day ‘stuff’ just gets in the way, doesn’t it? We mean well but with so many things competing for our attention, it can be hard to do all the things we want to do. So today, I am grateful that I logged in to write out what I am grateful for because I know that when I slow down and start counting the people, the situations, the things, and even the hard lessons, there is a lot to be grateful for.  Grateful for superhero shows on TV because I love superheroes! Grateful for my daily 20-minute meditative practice for helping me combat daily stresses. I use Headspace or one of the podcasts from Hay House. I thought I was so tired that I would only be able to write a sentence or two, but as always happens, I remember more things I am grateful for… the ladies who do my eyebrows at the local salon. They are unfailingly cheerful and helpful. I am also grateful for an idea for a book that has been haunting me this last week with its possibilities. I haven’t actually done anything about it, but the idea is just shimmering gently, out there in the distance. Am I brave enough to do something about it? I don’t know.

What are you grateful for today?   – Best, Priya

image credit: Studio Collectivitea


 

 

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Kelly Moe-Rossetto / Collectivitea

Who: KELLY MOE-ROSSETTO

ART TEACHER; FOUNDER, CARDAMOM COLLECTIVE

Where: MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

The story of what you do/your journey:

It is sort of a long winding one, as I would imagine most peoples are, but I will try and give you the abridged version! I am currently a public school art teacher, and back in school finishing my Art Teaching license. I went to undergraduate college in Missoula, Montana, and during that time spent a semester at an art school that changed my way of looking at the world, Marchutz School of Painting and Drawing in Aix-en-Provence. I went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota for Art Education and International Education. After college, I taught English in France, then moved to Florence, Italy for a summer, and traveled a bit in between. Most of my teens and twenties were spent waitressing and working in retail at clothing and import stores. Retail taught me a lot about working with people and helping them find things that brought out their best self and waitressing, which is not terribly creative, did give me a lot of freedom to save money, go somewhere, and come back to do it again. I also made jewelry.

Kelly Moe-Rossetto / Collectivitea

Kelly playing the festival of colors, Holi, in India

Eventually, I knew it was not what I wanted to do long term, and I got a job as the arts coordinator at the school I grew up in. I worked there for about six years, and in that time was able to go back to school for my Masters, where I studied Folk Arts and the different ways countries approach arts and education in their school systems. My graduate program was an incredible experience for me and was what solidified my desire to work in education long term. However, after the rich learning and conversations brought up in graduate school, I was still in my same job and having a hard time finding a new one in my desired field, which at the time I thought would be Study Abroad. I started a small blog to give me a creative outlet and named it Cardamom Collective for a variety of reasons. I started a book club as well and for a year we read interesting stories, had great discussions, and took engaging “field trips”.

Through this book club I was hired at Khazana, an Indian art and textiles gallery in Minneapolis, and for the next year and a half, I helped manage that, adding classes and programming surrounding the incredible pieces and stories the owner Anju had collected. I loved being in the art world again but did see the teacher in me trying to emerge. After going to India, I started my own small textile business, Cardamom Collective. A year ago, my husband and I decided to move to Milwaukee and we both left our jobs without much of a plan, other than to settle in Wisconsin for a while to be close to his family. I found myself in a very unexpected position but one that makes sense when I look back at the path I have taken, as a K-8 art teacher in a public school. It’s allowed me to use so much of what I have learned and try and enrich the content that I offer my scholars with my life experiences. It is unequivocally the hardest job I have ever had, but the most rewarding as well.

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

My thoughts on creativity have changed quite a bit since I was younger. I have always been involved in the arts in some form and got the messaging early on that I was a creative child. So I saw it as something you were just kind of born with, and either you were or you weren’t, like a character trait. I realize now that while we are perhaps born with these tendencies it is also something that can be taught and nurtured, a skill set. My focus in my work now is helping to create an environment where students who didn’t grow up with the opportunities I did have access to the tools that help them be creative, as well as use that lens to look at their own experiences and how they can draw from them. It is also important to me to teach them how these skills can transfer across subject matters, how being creative and approaching the way we solve problems and look at the world in a creative way can enrich what we do. Creativity is about more than just painting, sculpting or studio arts.

In my personal life, being creative means continuing to take classes, try new mediums, travel whenever possible, and put myself into new situations and experiences.

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity? 

I do consider myself creative, it is a word that has been a consistent part of my life; on report cards, in the way others describe me and in how I see myself. This is not to say that it has always been positive. I identify strongly with the idea of being a creative in some form but I think I have perhaps leaned on it too much at times. I have let it get in the way of me pushing myself in other areas when I was younger such as organization, or subjects in school that I felt (at the time) aligned less with a creative nature. Maybe that is a whole other conversation!

What helped?

Having parents, teachers and a family that supported my interests were huge, and something I most likely took for granted even up until a few years ago. I just assumed most people grew up with that support for their curiosity (a word and idea that I think go hand in hand with creativity) but I realize that many children (and adults!) do not. My parents happily bought art supplies, signed me up for things I showed interest in and also showed an interest in what I was working on or learning. So support is a huge part of this, but I also think that being able to travel, to meet people from around the world, and to see art from around the world feed my creative process. Having said that, recognize that privilege and also acknowledge that it is not necessary to travel far to have rich experiences and grow creatively.

 What didn’t?

I have a hard time thinking of something that didn’t help me when I was younger because I feel in general I was able to explore many different things and benefitted from an encouraging family. The biggest creative zap that I deal with now is honestly, juggling technology and social media. It is something I use and appreciate but at the same time, takes up much more of my time than I could ever have imagined it would even relatively late in my twenties, and I often struggle with that balance. I will look up from my computer and realize it is the time I could have been ready, painting, or even just being still with tea or coffee and my thoughts. My goal this year is to focus on spending less time in these areas and more time actively engaged with my hands, mind, and inspiring mediums.

“…we can be born with creative tendencies, but they still need to be developed and nourished.”

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired? Do you have a creative practice?

I think this goes back to what I mentioned briefly above and part of what I am realizing as I get older; we can be born with creative tendencies, but they still need to be developed and nourished. I would not say I have a consistent creative practice but in the last few years, it is something I have felt I needed to start. My creative energy has been focused in different ways throughout my life, from drawing and painting, writing, playing with textiles and jewelry making. But it seems my heart and creativity have found their home in textiles and that is where I see my practice growing. I have gone through long stretches of life where I have journaled and realized I need to get back to that this year, but I do try and pick up a book from my collection or play with watercolor paints almost daily. Something else that helps to clear away the clouds is my yoga practice. I started in college when I was eighteen and it has become an important part of my life. It helps to calm the chatter and allows for ideas to flow. However, the amount of time I have dedicated to it has waned in the last few years and I am working on expanding the space in my day that I make for it. Heading into this year, carving out my own creative time is something I am committed to doing. I am an art teacher at a public school and I think it will inform not only my personal practice but also my work with students, which is so important.

Seek What Feeds You /Collectivitea

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know/ or the most important thing that you would tell your younger self? Oh, this is difficult, there is so much! I will share something that ran through my mind recently after returning back from a trip to Guatemala. As I sorted my photos, my eyes were filled with color, textiles and truly incredible experiences and all I could think was, “seek what feeds you”. So that is what I think is important to find out what that is, that feeds you, your curiosity and your creativity, and keep seeking it out. It doesn’t have to be travel, for me that is what resonates, but people can be fed in so many ways, finding out what works for you and understanding how to tap into it is half the battle!

 

Images 1 and 2 are courtesy of Kelly Moe-Rossetto; image 3, Studio Collectivitea.  You can find Kelly on Instagram (@moeroindigo and Cardamom Collective)


 

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Gratitude Journal/ Collectivitea

Hello Monday. I am grateful that Hurricane Irma is now a Tropical Storm, and am sending my prayers and speedy recovery wishes to the people that were in the path of Irma, and earlier, Hurricane Harvey. If you’d like to donate towards relief efforts, the Red Cross site is here and the NYTimes has a list of more links. Here’s to hoping Hurricane Jose doesn’t strengthen further. It seems like all the news that we read these days is horrifying and scary, and it can overwhelm us, and make us feel helpless. In those times, focus on doing what you are able to, helping in whatever way works for you, and don’t forget to take care of yourself.

I am also grateful today for a number of other things. That Mercury Retrograde, if it’s really a thing, is over; that library book fines are just 25 cents/day. And immensely grateful for my husband who assures me every evening that whatever it (errands, chores, kids’ demands)  is, it can wait- so that I can take that long walk with my audiobook. It’s my favorite to-do of the day. Thank you!

Now that summer is over, I have decided to update the gratitude journal daily again. There is something about a consistent practice of gratitude that really helps to put your life in perspective and stops you from taking the people, situations, and things in your life for granted. So I will be back every day to update this journal.

Lastly, I have three amazing storytellers this week, from different walks of life, sharing their creative journeys and I am so grateful to them! I worked all weekend on a new look for the Collectivitea front page to echo the new direction that we are headed in, and I really like it. You can check it here and let me know what you think. Have a wonderful day, and I will see you tomorrow!- Best, Priya

image credit: Studio Collectivitea


 

 

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Curiosity/Gratitude Journal

 

Welcome to September on Collectivitea! Over the last year, I have read a lot of self-help books. Self-help seems a rather glib description for a category that asks you to go inward for answers, doesn’t it? Anyway, I read a lot of these books to seek answers to questions I had, and as part of a general mid-life examination of my life choices and decisions. The books ranged from pragmatic ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ list-making types to explorations into the more mystical aspects of life, about higher forces, and spirits, and taking guidance from them. If I could distill my year’s worth of reading down to one sentence, it would be these words by Elizabeth Gilbert from her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” To this, add gratitude. Start every morning with gratitude for the people in your life, and for the experiences you’ve had. (Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth, and do it 3 times a day.) Then step into the magical wonderland of your life with curiosity for what the day will hold.  After just a few weeks of doing this, I can already see the difference- I am more aware, more inspired, more resilient, and happier.

So yet again, I am grateful for books, and for teachers that write them. I am also grateful for second chances- you know, people talk about the forties as if it were the beginning of the great decline. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to enjoy your journey anew. Life, 2.0, if you will. Of course, that holds true, no matter how old or young you are. Life begins anew every day. I am also grateful for the end of summer, for new friendships, and for being able to write here. Talking about writing, I’ve always thought I would love to write a book. A photo journal essay type, or a work of fiction. Today morning, as I was driving back from dropping the kids off at school, a whisper of an idea showed up. I came home and wrote it down quickly before I forgot. We will see what I can do with the idea and if I can grow it, but I am already grateful to it for showing up and taking my morning from mundane to magical. That’s all we really need, don’t we? What are you grateful for this week?

This post is part of a gratitude journal that I maintain and update weekly. To read the gratitude journal entries so far, click here. “ Priya

Image credits/copyright: Studio Collectivitea

 


 

 

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Kriti Jindal/ COLLECTIVITEA

Who: KRITI JINDAL

TEXTILE DESIGNER & FOUNDER AT KARI BY KRITI

Where: HYDERABAD, INDIA

Kari By Kriti / COLLECTIVITEA

Story of what you do/your journey:

My story begins with two baby quilts, and a strong desire to work with block printed textiles.

I studied Fashion Management from Pearl Academy, New Delhi, and worked as a home textile merchandiser for a long time before moving on to my last job as a Sourcing and Buying Manager in Sydney. An ankle injury rendered me immobile, and I lost my job. That is when I decided to explore the possibilities of doing something that I really loved  – block prints and baby quilts. I returned to India in 2013 with Kari by Kriti formally launched in my head.

I wanted to create baby bedding that was not gender specific, but modern with a touch of bohemian. It took me a long time and a lot of persuasion to find a printer who would execute just two baby quilt pieces so I could test my designs and color ideas. The two baby quilts were sold on Etsy within 15 days of listing. This was nothing short of a miracle for me and gave me a lot of confidence in what I had set out to do. A few months after I launched my second collection of baby quilts, I received several requests to do them for adults. With a little hesitation but a lot of enthusiasm, I set out to design and sell quilts in all sizes. There has been no looking back from there. I am filled with gratitude for all the kindness and appreciation that I have received. The two baby quilts have now been pinned over 4000 times on Pinterest.

Kari By Kriti / COLLECTIVITEA

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

Creativity to me is an expression of individuality. It’s the ability to find your own self, and discover what motivates you to live an inspired life. To me, it is the challenge to reach my highest potential on a daily basis.

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity? 

Yes, I consider myself creative. In fact, I believe that being creative is not necessarily limited to the visual arts, design, music or dance. I have met people who can write computer codes like poetry, and that to me is creativity. I have also met people who can hold and sustain interesting conversations for hours, and that to me is an art.

I would also say that being creative is about living an inspired life. My mother wears a saree everyday, and her passion for her sarees was really the start of my interest in textile art and design. I give a lot of credit for my creativity to my teachers. I have been lucky to find teachers who allowed their students to explore and carve out a niche for themselves. I once had a teacher to whom I went with a dilemma about not being able to decide on a color scheme, to which she asked me to first find inspiration. Her words at that time felt like she didn’t want to help, but I only realized later that once I had inspiration, everything else flowed on smoothly. I continue to practice finding inspiration in daily life to create designs and color schemes for my work at Kari by Kriti.

What helped?

I think connecting with like-minded creatives helped a lot. I am grateful to be living in an era of social media where finding your ‘tribe’ is much easier. The tribe constantly works as a push to work harder and get more creative.

My family has always been very supportive but I think my mother unknowingly pushes my limits every single day. She is constantly questioning me “ what new did you do today?” and I am always thinking about new ideas to throw at her when she brings up her question during our evening phone calls. Those ideas don’t always work, but I’m glad that her question helps me grow every single day.

Kari By Kriti / COLLECTIVITEA

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired? Do you have a creative practice?

While I believe that all humans are creative in their own way, I think there is a group of niche creatives who are inventive. These are people who take creativity to a whole new level and once in a while invent something that is simply mind-blowing. My friend, Gunjan Aylawadi, creates absolutely stunning murals in 2D and 3D out of hand rolled paper. Her work is something that is inspiring for creatives like me. I depend a lot on social media apps like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest to find inventive and creative individuals to fuel my inspiration in the world of visual and textile arts.

I also enjoy reading books for inspiration. My recent favorite is Handcrafted Indian Textiles.

Kari By Kriti / COLLECTIVITEA

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know/ or the most important thing that you would tell your younger self? 

I think it is important for me to practice creativity. At times we sit around waiting for an idea to erupt, and that can lead to a lot of frustration. I think practicing creativity simply means moving out of our comfort zone to exercise imagination, and get inspired. For me this exercise means reading a lot, discovering my own city, taking random photographs, and maintaining a log of ideas. I think my best investment so far has been a DSLR.

You can find Kriti Jindal at her Collectivitea store, Etsy store, and on Instagram.

All images are courtesy of Kriti Jindal.


 

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Online Gratitude Journal/ Collectivitea

Welcome to a new week on Collectivitea! We all have some days when we feel that the work we do, whether within our families or in an outside work environment, is not appreciated. And, by extension, that we are not appreciated. On those days, instead of waiting for someone else to appreciate what you do, appreciate yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back and acknowledge the efforts you make.

This week I am grateful that my injured foot continues to heal allowing me to slowly resume my walks (and audiobooks!). I am also grateful for those moments when I recognize that I am waiting for appreciation and recognition from the outside. What do I do in those situations? Well, first I recognize what I am doing- I am placing a silent expectation on the people around me, and then being resentful when they don’t respond the way I (silently) will them to. Read Gretchen Rubin’s article Taken For Granted for tips on how to gracefully cope with this need for appreciation. Which also makes me so grateful for the internet because it has made information (and even knowledge, and wisdom) more accessible. I am also grateful for the luxury of time to introspect, and learn. What are you grateful for this week?

This post is part of a gratitude journal that I maintain and update weekly. To read the gratitude journal entries so far, click here. – Priya

Image credits/copyright: Studio Collectivitea

 


 

 

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Welcome to a new week on Collectivitea and to a new story in our Storyteller series, If this is your first time here, the Storyteller series features interviews and personal essays on creativity and what it means to the individual. I started this series to learn more about what creativity means to each one of us, and to document and share it as a source of inspiration.- Priya

 


 

Josephine Nirmala/ Essays on creativity/ CollectiviteaWho:   JOSEPHINE NIRMALA (Nimmy)

JEWELRY DESIGNER & FOUNDER AT SANSKARA DESIGNS

Where: London, UK 

Sanskara Designs/ Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

Story of what you do/your journey: 

I design and make jewellery using gemstones, semi-precious stones and silver in my home studio in London. I fell into jewellery making serendipitously after taking a beading class almost 4 years ago. It was an instant affinity between wire, bead, and my hands. Coming from a purely academic family of engineers & IT professionals, I too had pursued the corporate path and this foray into something creative was like opening Pandora’s Box. My necklaces are hugely inspired by my formative years in Kenya, and my deep rooted affinity to the land of my birth – India. During the past four years I have learnt so much more about the gemstones I work with and the significance of the antique & silver elements I use. The process of acquiring a sought after vintage or antique piece is often as exciting as the making of the jewellery.  In recent times, I have also developed an academic interest in jewellery and enjoy reading up on the provenance of the pieces I acquire as much as making them into wearable heritage pieces. This adds to the story of the piece I am making and culminates in not just a necklace, but a piece of wearable history.

Josephine Nirmala /Sanskara Designs/ Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you? 

‘Just as blood is a fact of your physical body and nothing you invented, creativity is a fact of  your spiritual body and nothing you must invent.’ -The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

This quote from one of my favourite books encompasses what creativity is to me. Creativity to me is an everyday unconscious activity. It can be the way the old lady elegantly uses rice flour to make a design (kolam) on the ground in front of my mother’s home; it can be the florist at the local station whose display of colourful blooms is enough to make even the most harried traveller stop in his tracks, if only for a second or it could even be in the way my mother chose to make her ‘murukus‘ (a salty snack) for Independence Day in the colours of the national flag.  Anything that lifts the ordinary mundane to the extraordinary, even in the minutest way, is to me a laudable attempt at infusing creativity into one’s humdrum life.  In this sense, I find that all of us are inherently creative, and all it takes is perhaps a beading class or two to crack open that door! 

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity? 

Yes, I am unabashedly creative and my jewellery making has only opened up other avenues to explore a myriad of possibilities. I have always wanted to write and The Artist’s Way was my first step towards this a good few years ago. But since taking up jewellery making, I have started to learn calligraphy and water colour painting and a few more creative pursuits are in the pipeline.  I will never be an expert at either of these pursuits but it gives me great joy and pleasure and an immeasurable sense of calm when I wield a paintbrush or a pen these days. Social media has also brought into focus the legions of creative individuals out there and their interpretations of creativity implores one to push the boundaries of one’s own capabilities.

What helped?

It might be clichéd to say this but I find I have more time to pursue these creative interests now that I have a grown-up daughter. The more I do, the more I want to do. Running a business as a solopreneur means I do everything from making, photographing, marketing etc., and sometimes the creative aspect of the design process feels a little forced but when I own the process and allow the joy of creation to permeate, then things fall in place and the outcome is what you see as the end product. I also collaborate with a few NGO’s and this gives me an even greater impetus to use my skills for the betterment of the less fortunate.

Josephine Nirmala /Sanskara Designs/ Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea What didn’t?

As much as having an online presence is a given these days, it also has a crippling effect on creativity as it restricts your access to what really matters. I am consciously trying to reduce my online time and have found that it is having a positive impact on my thought patterns and will hopefully translate into more mindful creativity.

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired? Do you have a creative practice?

I travel a lot, and my travels inform my view on design per se. But inspiration can be found anywhere one looks for it. Textiles, nature, and books to a large extent never fail to cast their magic on me. I am acutely aware of the beauty that surrounds me everywhere I go. When I’m not travelling I rely on the rich vibrant culture of the place I now call home – London. After Nairobi this is the place I have spent most of my life in and I could not imagine living anywhere else. The variety of cultural exposure one gets here is second to none. As part of the Indian diaspora I get to meet some amazing creative individuals from back home and also explore other cultures at close quarters.

The one practice I try and follow from The Artist’s Way is to have an artist date. Basically what Julia Cameron says is that you need to set aside a block of time to nurture your creative consciousness, your inner artist. You need to go alone – just you and your creative child. And this child needs one on one time with you, the parent. So going out and doing something fun like visiting an antiques store or an art gallery – the commitment here is time not money. Spending time in solitude with this creative child is essential to self-nurturing.

‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’- Pablo Picasso

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know/ or the most important thing that you would tell your younger self? 

The one thing I would tell myself and other creatives is not to be afraid to try something new, to experiment, to explore and push your personal creative boundaries.

Additional comments: 

One of your previous contributors said that to be an artist you need to be either an amir or a fakir (a rich person or an ascetic). And I am truly blessed that my life affords me this opportunity to create and affect change into the lives of those less fortunate than myself.  I hope to be able to continue doing this for as long as I can make jewellery.

 

Images courtesy of, and copyrighted to Josephine Nirmala. Visit Sanskara Designs and find them here on Facebook and Instagram.


 

 

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 Gratitude Practice / Collectivitea
Hello! Hope you had a great weekend! Welcome to the latest entry in my gratitude journal. It’s the morning of the solar eclipse as I type this and while we are not on the path of totality, it’s still a momentous occasion here in the United States. The light is changing as I type this and it is so exciting! Wherever in the world you are, I hope you are excited for the week ahead.

As I reflect on what I was grateful for in the past week and what I take with me into the new week, it’s this – I am grateful to have learned that gratitude is the only attitude that points us forward. I started the gratitude journal a few months ago, and in the beginning it was something I consciously reminded myself to do. It’s so weird that even when we have many people, circumstances, and things to be grateful for – and at any given moment, we all do– gratitude was something I still needed to remember to feel.

We traveled to meet family over summer and I was grateful for all the love in my life. I wasn’t writing every day, but I slowly started to feel a background hum of gratitude woven into my day.

I wondered if a time would come when, having learnt and read about gratitude, mindfulness, of letting go of ego, of being present and more,  I would achieve a state where I am always calm, peaceful, joyous and focused. A permanent state of being. In my experience and from all my readings, it seems that while there may be a permanent state, we have to start by feeling it from moment to moment. Which brings us back to life’s favorite lesson- it’s the journey that counts, and not the destination! So I focus on being grateful this moment.

To incorporate more gratitude into my day, I have set up a gratitude practice. I start my morning by taking a few minutes to list 5 things I am grateful for. I do the same before meal times and before going to bed. I list just a few things, and the only requirement is I find different things to be grateful for during the day. It can be as mundane as thank goodness, I did the laundry yesterday, to as meaningful as a thank you for the wonderful people in my life. The first few days I had to make sure I remembered, and to stop myself from unconsciously reaching for my phone first thing in the morning. The way I feel on the days I have followed this are different from days when I don’t- I react less to people and situations. I worry less. I laugh more. I am more patient. Even people with whom I have a history of differences- I tend to let go of all the he-said, she said. Seriously, I don’t know why I it took me so long to learn this. Definitely the most important thing to be grateful for, to have finally learnt this! Do you have a gratitude practice? I would love to hear about it!

In addition there was a trifecta that I was thankful for- the weather with it’s cooling trend, my boys who always manage to bring a smile to my face, and the availability of books. The first one because it means fewer migraines, the second because they are the loves of my life, and the third, books, because even those times when I am stuck in bed with my injured foot, I can imagine myself in a grand adventure.

I waited till Monday morning to update the journal, because some days (like yesterday) the words are a gooey mess, and other days (like today) they flow! Have a wonderful week! – Priya

Image credit: Studio Collectivitea


 

 

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This is the 5th in the Storyteller series, If this is your first time here, the Storyteller series features interviews and personal essays on creativity and what it means to the individual. Why creativity? Well, as Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Big Magic, ““And since creativity is still the most effective way for me to access wonder, I choose it.”


Who:   NITYA CHANDRAN, SCIENTIST, & GRADUATE STUDENT

Where:  METRO DETROIT AREA, MICHIGAN

Nitya Chandran / Essays on creativity / Collectivitea

Story of what you do/your journey

I came to the United States close to 2 decades ago to pursue higher studies in Pharmacology and then went on to get a PhD in Neurobiology. I met my husband in graduate school and after a few years of living the carefree graduate student/medical resident life, we had 2 boys and decided to settle down and call Michigan home. After working full-time for a few years, I decided to take time off to focus on my family and think about what next. I plan to return to graduate school in the Fall.
I have had an interest in learning about folk art and textiles from a young age. I collect folk art and textiles and try to incorporate them in my home and life. The three big loves of my life are family/home, arts and crafts, and science. For me, the journey is all about figuring out how to balance the loves of my life. So, my creative pursuits involve weaving these three loves into an ever evolving tapestry of my life’s journey.

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

I have a rather simplistic view about creativity. Nature has endowed humans this unique capacity as a means for survival. Creativity to me is about a conscious choice to engage in order to find or make meaning in life, and to connect either with oneself or with like minded individuals. To me, creativity can occur in any facet of life. Being creative to me does not have to involve making art, composing music, or writing stories etc. One can be creative about their approach to parenting, or improving their relationships, or teaching a concept in math. What most of us may not realize is that as we are going on about our life, we may be applying creative ways to do so many things, but may not categorize those tasks in our mind as “creative” tasks. If we broaden what creativity is in our minds and become aware about how we all have that innate capacity, then imagine the potential!! It all starts in our own mind, if we are consciously aware, then we can accomplish much more and also feel fulfilled.

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity?

Based on what I just suggested, I would like to believe I am creative. But, for some reason, it is hard for me to shout that out from the rooftops. Why, I am still trying to figure it out :). Perhaps, like most things in life, maturity, age, and experience have something to do with it.

My maternal grandfather had a strong influence on me and helped me develop a keen eye for detail. He was a self taught artist, who painted Indian mythological paintings. I recall family trips to Ajantha Ellora and how he walked through each cave explaining the cave paintings in great detail to me. He adored his daughters and often bought them handloom sarees. Everytime, he would describe the workmanship and the need for patronizing artists and craftspeople. He was also a voracious reader. He could talk about almost any topic.
My mother is also a big influence in my life. She is one person who is never afraid to learn something new. Most importantly, she has always made time for the things she wished to learn and grow in despite all the responsibilities she has. I wonder how my mother managed to find the time for it all, whether it was sewing, knitting, writing poetry, creative writing, Hindu philosophy, socializing, Carnatic music, or multiple intelligence in education. I believe, it was her positive spirit and her eternal quest for knowledge that were constant driving forces.
I also learned Indian classical dance and singing. My mother took me to art and craft exhibitions and concerts and recitals all through my childhood. These experiences helped nurture my artistic side. Most of my creativity appears to stem from keenly observing the world around me. Social media and technology has only made that world a little closer, which is a big plus for creative stimulation.

What helped?

My most creative moments oscillate between times when I am absolutely calm and feel present in the moment or when I am struggling hard to find that balance between the three loves of my life :).

What didn’t?

Self-doubt. When I second guess myself, it kills the spirit a little bit. My creative output is best when it is spontaneous.

Do you have any comments about creativity and spiritual experiences? In my personal experience, when I am engaged in problem solving in science or when I am trying to take a photograph and suddenly, I make a mental leap to a solution, there is this moment of mindfulness that makes creative exploration almost spiritual. Thoughts?

Yes, absolutely. When I am deeply connected to something I am doing, sometimes, I feel the oneness between the action and my state of being. It is fleeting no doubt, but deeply satisfying. One of my life’s challenges involves reminding myself that everything is transient, a moment come and gone. Joy, sorrow, pain, bliss, all will come and go.  So there’s no point dwelling in any one moment for too long. I am deeply interested from a social science perspective to try and understand and learn about how this philosophy ties in evolutionarily with how humans have developed social and psychological mechanisms to cope with being alive.

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired?

I have built a wonderful community of individuals on Instagram who inspire me daily. Yoga and connecting with nature help me allay fears and self doubt. My life’s journey complicated or easy, however it is, remains a constant source of inspiration to me.

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know?

Don’t let that self doubt monster grow in you. You don’t need external validation. One with yourself, means one with the world :).

 

Image courtesy of Nitya Chandran. You can find Nitya on Instagram here.


 

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Hello Monday! Hope you had a great weekend and are ready to be inspired by Day 4 of our interviews and stories on creativity! Today, I am reminded of two quotes from Dr. Maya Angelou. One, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Two, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”


Priyanka Sacheti / Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

Who:   PRIYANKA SACHETI, WRITER & EDITOR

Where: BENGALURU, INDIA, BY WAY OF SULTANATE OF OMAN 

Story of what you do/your journey

I am a writer, and currently an editor at a Middle Eastern news platform, Mashallah News. My journey began when I published my first poem when I was eight years old; I had published three volumes of poetry before I finished school and went on to pursue my undergraduate degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at University of Warwick (UK). I had anticipated working on books of poetry and fiction, but I instead worked as an independent journalist in Muscat, Oman for several years, writing about art, culture, heritage, gender, and the environment for a diverse range of publications. In the course of that journey, I have explored fiction, poetry, blogging, and creative non-fiction, in addition to focusing on the marriage of art, text, and image. I currently continue to pursue new experimental forms of writing, in addition to focusing on community, art, and gender-centric journalism. I am currently collaborating with fellow creative artists on certain projects; for the last many years, I have been wanting to complete my collection of short stories and sincerely hope it will fall into place this year.

Hibiscus/ Priyanka Sacheti / Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

I remember reading somewhere as a child that poetry made you look at something in a way you had never done before. I feel this is what creativity is for me: it is an all pervasive state of mind, constantly motivating me to alternatively look and approach the world around me. For a long time, especially when I was younger, I used to think that creativity was synonymous with only art/humanities; as I grew older, I began to see how one can use a creative approach across all disciplines, whether it is pure mathematics or cooking or engineering. Personally speaking, creativity has represented a multitude of things for me over the time: it has been a deep source of healing, definitively shaped my identity, and translated the multiple, myriad thoughts in my mind into tangible forms. Creativity constantly hones my focus, compelling me to constantly innovate. If I was not creative, I would not be me.

Collage - Blue Stories/ Priyanka Sacheti / Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity?

Yes, I definitely consider myself creative and I attribute it to my childhood. Growing up, I was a shy, introverted child who much preferred solitary pursuits to that of group activities such as sports, for example. I was constantly reading and painting; I would go rock-collecting, research my finds, and write detailed reports with illustrations. When I was seven years old, I recall reading a passage from a book (how I wish I could remember its name!) which made me aware and in awe of the power of language. I want to do this too, I recall thinking. My writing was what helped me articulate all that was brimming inside me and which I could not otherwise express – and I subsequently wrote reams and reams of poetry and stories. Having lived in several different countries also greatly shaped my creativity; I appeared to locate a new creative facet to me and mode of expressing it wherever I lived. For example, when I moved to Delhi in 2014, I became deeply drawn towards nature and developed an abiding interest in nature writing and creating nature art from found natural treasures. The deserts, oceans, and mountains of Oman forever haunt my imagination and percolate into my work. Finally, my hugely supportive and loving family, my parents and younger brother, have always given space for me to be me throughout my life – as well as my husband and dear friends in the recent years; that support has been crucial for my creativity to flourish.

Bougainvillea in Oman/ Priyanka Sacheti / Essays on creativity/ CollectiviteaWhat helped your creative process?

For me, it became crucial to find a safe, comfortable platform from which to present my creativity. I had started to blog in 2011, but it personally never worked out as an apt medium for me. I was starting to lose my creative mojo and didn’t really feel inspired to write or create. However, in 2013, when I got married and moved to the United States, my husband gifted me an iPhone and I happened to discover Instagram. Initially, I used it as a way of documenting and sharing my new life in America; however, over the time, it evolved into a visual journal, where I experimented with photography, showcasing my art (I took up oil painting after many years), narrating photo-stories through objects, and more. I found both an encouraging and like-minded community in Instagram where I looked forward to sharing my works, receiving feedback, and of course, discovering and connecting with some beautiful souls who have become good friends today.

What didn’t?

I have worked independently most of my life, and only occasionally in office/structured environments. Even though I would find it exciting every time I started an office job, I would find myself getting bored with what became a mechanical routine – and which would adversely affect my creativity. I look forward to working something different every day: writing an article, putting the finishing touches to a short story, brainstorming with a fellow creative about a collaboration or editing a piece for Mashallah News while exploring creative experiments on Instagram – and I now realise that this is the kind of structure which best facilitates my creativity and subsequently, my creative output. I have struggled in the past, questioning as to why I didn’t go for a conventional job or routine but I now realise what works best for me. However, it is important for me to point out that I am aware of the privileges in my life that allow me to lead this kind of life that is conducive to my creativity.

Bougainvillea in Oman/ Priyanka Sacheti/ Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

What do you do to inspire yourself/ stay inspired?

Even though it is so necessary to cut down my amount of screen-time, the undeniable truth is that social media is a sea of inspiration. I am constantly encountering a multitude of incredibly talented creatives on social media and which in turn feeds my creativity. Prior to social media, I was a total magazine junkie; I would buy so many magazines and pore through them all, fashion or architectural or travel editorials shaping my imagination. I diligently kept scrapbooks full of torn out pictures and notes although pinterest now has taken care of it! Other than that, travel, obviously, new places yielding so much inspiration but I also feel that even a simple walk down a street can offer so much to be inspired by: the tangle of tree branches against the sky, a fallen bloom, a portrait of a window, and more. The quotidian for me often yields the greatest sources of inspiration.

The one thing that you think is important for any creative to know/ or the most important thing that you would tell your younger self?

I am now in my thirties and enjoying the most creative phase of my life; however, while I was in my twenties, there were too many other things that were taking up my mental bandwith and which meant that creativity was simply not a priority. I was also so self-conscious about sharing my creativity; it was that most innermost and intimate part of my self that I was too shy to share with the world, thinking I would be labelled as weird or frivolous. What I didn’t realise then was that creativity was what truly nourished and supported me – and limiting or silencing my creativity was in short greatly stunting my growth both as a creative and person. I have also now greatly realised the significance of sharing my work and see it as a means of conducting dialogue with the people around me. Priyanka Sacheti / Essays on creativity/ Collectivitea

Additional comments:

I grew up and spent much of my early adult life in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, where I regularly wrote about the arts, artists, and creatives in my capacity as an independent journalist in the then evolving art scene there. When I happened to meet a gifted poet and writer, Rym Aoudia, who is now one of my dearest friends, we both started talking about how much we missed poetry readings and creatively inclined events which we had attended in the countries where we had studied, UK and Australia – and thus developed the idea of Khayaali (‘imagination’ in Arabic). We designed it as a platform which would provide emerging artists and creatives an opportunity to showcase and talk about their works at events as well as enable people to dialogue with them; we also wished it to facilitate interaction between like-minded individuals. We held several events in Muscat between 2010-2012 where we enjoyed introducing artists to the community and facilitating dialogue. Rym and I still nurture the idea of Khayaali and we hope to revive it one day for sure! I am also greatly interested in the idea of pursuing a venture that combines community, gender, and creativity and would like to devote time to that too.

All images are courtesy of Priyanka Sacheti Mehta. You can find Priyanka at her Instagram account here and on Twitter here. Her blog is at www.iamjustavisualperson.blogspot.in.


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Online Gratitude Journal / CollectiviteaHello! Hope you had a great weekend! If you’ve been following my online gratitude journal the last few months and wondered where I was, my apologies! I was dealing with some health issues but am slowly getting back on my feet.  I hope your summer was fun and that you are ready for the best time of the year- fall and winter! (Best time of the year, according to me anyway).

  • Tonight, I am grateful that my injury is slowly getting better and while I am not fully recovered, I am making progress.
  • Grateful for our amazing bodies, and the resilience of our minds.  I miss being able to go for my daily walks. Until the injury, I walked regularly, and for many miles, everyday. I usual have an audio book and I have been ‘reading’ these, and finishing them at a brisk rate. I am hopeful that with proper rest, I can get back to what was my favorite time of the day.
  • Grateful for supportive family who made cups of tea, did the laundry, brought me books, and kept me company while I recuperated.
  • Grateful for birthdays because though each one may bring to end another year, there is always more that I learn. Every year brings more awareness, humility, and maturity and that makes it hard for me to look back at youth with any longing!
  • Grateful to recapture my joy in writing here. I always feel lost when I am not connected to my creative side. Nothing seems to be able to replace the sense of joy that photography and writing bring to me. We all have something like that, don’t we?
  • Grateful to have you here, dear reader! I recently started a new path for Collectivitea- more storytelling (like this inspiring interview), but with a focus on creativity.  I am so grateful for the amazing people that have been with me, some of them for nearly a decade, and who immediately shared their stories. You are the absolute best!
  • It’s Sunday evening as I type this and that being the case, I am so grateful for a new episode of Game Of Thrones.

To give myself time to not just write words to gratitude but to actually let the feeling weave through every day, I will be updating the gratitude journal every Sunday evening. Have a wonderful week! – Priya

Image credit: Studio Collectivitea


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Day 3 of the Storyteller series brings to mind this quote by Picasso, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Read on for Bakula Nayak’s story and her take on the creative process and journey.


Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ Collectivitea

My story:

With an undergraduate degree in architecture and an M.S in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, Manhattan; I began my career at a fragrance house in New York. I followed that up with a long stint in retail package design with L’Oreal, Mikasa, and Ralph Lauren. After more than a decade in New York City, I moved back to Bangalore, India, and had my own design studio. I gave all that up 3 years ago to paint full time.

 

Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ CollectiviteaCollecting vintage paper is a passion I have had for several decades. I love to imagine their life stories and the people who owned them.  I started illustrating on them 2 years ago to give them a life outside of the cupboards they were stored in. My illustrations are an attempt to give new life to these forgotten pieces of beauty. Aged gorgeously, they form the perfect canvas to interpret the reality of my world, an unfinished inventory of my day dreaming, my love for all things vintage, and reflect my insane desire for romance, aesthetics, poetics and seduction in everything.

Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ Collectivitea

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

I live in an alternate world. Or maybe THAT is my real world; I look at this world passing by – in montages, sometimes in fast-forward and sometimes in slow motion. Reality constricts me, and I am not in sync with it. Motherhood thrice over, has further complicated my crazy bonhomie life. It has led me to a whole new elevated level of vagueness, amnesia and franticness. The chaos within me is a danger to my beautifully ordinary life that mostly revolves around a great husband and 3 lovely kids. But one day they both collided in my illustrations and became beautifully extraordinary together. My work is inspired by the stories woven in the paper themselves, my own life, and peppered with liberal doses of my story telling abilities. My work is my escape from my reality, a chance to pause and enjoy the romance in the mundane.

Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ Collectivitea

I live in an alternate world. Or maybe THAT is my real world; I look at this world passing by – in montages, sometimes in fast-forward, and sometimes in slow motion. Reality constricts me, and I am not in sync with it.

Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ Collectivitea

 

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity?

I think I am. All credit though goes to my mother. I liked to paint but was reluctant to make it a practice. She however ensured that I did, and nurtured my talent relentlessly. Also, as a young child she made me think beyond drawing mountains and trees. She encouraged me to come up wth concepts for my drawings – something that has gotten so ingrained in me that any project I do has a “thought” behind it.

As a young child of under 10, I had painted the Ethiopian famine, the famous treaty between America and Russia, the horrific practice of sati in India, etc. One day, I was cleaning my parents house (both have passed away now – my mother nearly 2 decades ago) and I found a file full of drawings from my childhood. Surprisingly, I seemed to have liked to draw the same things then – flowers and birds! I loved firangipanis even then… I didn’t know this.

Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ CollectiviteaI restarted my painting 3 years ago, and my biggest support is my husband. I sometimes lose sense of reality for days at a time painting, absorbed in the ancient literature or my current inspiration for paintings and he will take over the responsibilities of life seamlessly – kids (I have 3), homework, school, cooking etc. My children are my loudest critics and biggest fans. They are so involved with my work that we have frequent discussions on art, art movements, poetry and history – this encourages me to move because I want them to have an appreciation for these things in their younger days. That is my biggest motivation to continue.Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ Collectivitea

What helped your creativity develop? What didn’t?

Constantly painting and putting my work out there in the world through art competitions, exhibits and exposing it to the world at large helps. When people love your work and show interest and tell you that your paintings made a difference in their life, however small… it helps. It encourages you to do more.

I don’t think there really has been anything that is a roadblock.

Bakula Nayak / Storyteller/ Creativity/ Collectivitea

The most important thing for any creative to know or that you would tell your younger self?

To not be distracted and to have quit. When I turned 16 and started college – I was too absorbed with friends, college, boys and my studying that I totally gave it up. I wish I had recognised that I had a gift and that I needed to nurture it. I have now returned to it after nearly 25 years. I have been painting nearly everday for the last 2 years and I see the progress I make with time spent on painting. The 25 years lost is a tiny bit of regret I carry.

Images courtesy of Bakula Nayak. You can find Bakula Nayak on her Facebook page, Art by Bakula and on Instagram here.


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Welcome to Day 2 of the Storyteller series! Is being creative something to do with just the arts? Is calling someone a creative identifying them as an artist, musician, poet or sculptor? Or is it a way of thinking, of being, of practicing? Or even better, as Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”


Meera D'Souza / Storyteller/ Collectivitea
My story:

“Professionally, I lead the Training and Development function of a BPO company where I oversee Operational and Leadership Training. My education is an eclectic mix of an undergraduate degree in Statistics and Mathematics, a graduate degree in HR, and an MBA. I usually have no answer for those that ask me why I would have chosen two very opposite fields of study- one very logical, and the other very people centric. I enjoy the unique combination of both disciplines. On a personal level, I have always enjoyed the arts- especially theater and paper crafts. I grew up in India and relocated to the US after getting married. My husband and I live outside of Detroit, MI, and we have 2 children. ”

What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?

Meera D'Souza / Creativity Quotes/ Collectivitea
When I think of creativity in others, I am drawn to their interpretations of themes and ideas. I see other creatives as having original and unique ideas. People with a special gift. I love seeing creative interpretations via theater, films, art, music and writing. Museums and boutiques always make me happy. All those ideas in one place to admire and be energized by.
When others say I am creative- I don’t feel like I meet the same definition of original and unique. I definitely tend to be more “crafty”- where I may combine two or more traditional ideas to come up with a new interpretation of a theme. It’s a mix-and-match philosophy. Whether this is in creative problem solving in a corporate setting, combining vintage with graphic in home decor, or a western-desi aesthetic with my wardrobe. I think my creativity is in bringing an element of the unexpected into a traditional theme. Its about introducing a subtle newness to an existing idea. I will say that I am rarely bold in my creative expression. While I don’t play it completely safe, there is a certain deliberateness to my creative expression.

Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity? What helped? What didn’t?
I don’t have the same idea of creativity for myself as I have of others. Where I see other creatives as having a true and natural gift, my own abilities feel a notch lower. More like above-average talents. A talent to recognize patterns, mix-and-match and combine ideas. In my work, this helps me bring a unique perspective to business problems. I enjoy the creativity that business problem solving and instructional and training design provide.
My earliest exposure to creativity in the home setting was seeing my father draw. He was very good at sketching. But he only sketched when there was a purpose. Usually it was a school project for my sister or myself.  Creativity was not discouraged in my home. But I took away the subtle message that it is best showcased in the context of education or building an accomplished professional career.

I was also very influenced by the work of Edward De Bono from a very young age. I was in high school when my father had brought home his book on Lateral Thinking and the 6 Thinking Hats. This book was fascinating to me. It introduced a structured process to creative thinking- my sweet spot. It’s here that I was introduced to the concept of combining two unrelated things to come up with something new and different. I think this was my first time realizing that we can all be creative. I also learned that creativity is not always inspired. It can be a deliberate and structured process.Creativity Quotes/ Collectivitea

I always found it easy to use creative techniques in my school work and professional pursuits. These were very acceptable platforms for a creative outlet because they supported the success formula of impeccable educational credentials that would lead to a successful corporate career. The corporate setting has always been my playground to try new ideas- whether its process design or use of technology to scale ideas. I remember getting the opportunity to pursue a business process reengineering project at my first job at the age of 22. We designed a financial process that needed technology that did not exist at the time- mobile hand-held devices, mobile signature capture, freely available internet access. All this, in Bombay, in 1995. It was so futuristic.  I had so much fun working on that project. The end outcome was completely impractical at the time and not executable. But the thought that we could think like this in a work setting was very exciting to me. Eventually all of these ideas did come to fruition. I remain intrigued with ideas like this in the corporate setting- the possibilities of dreaming up things that seem impossible in the moment. I thrive in an environment where I can use lateral thinking to solve business problems. I gravitate towards organizational roles with a high degree of creativity.
Of course, growing up, the more artistic pursuits were relegated to a “hobby” status. Hobbies also meant that you could develop these talents further only if you had the luxury of time and money. They could be pursued, but had to be in addition to your traditional success model of education and professional career. Never a career in itself. In some ways I felt guilty spending any money on art supplies. But it also forced me to get creative. Like using glossy magazines for paper crafts, cards and origami, saving up my bus or rickshaw money to buy crepe paper to make paper flowers. Using potatoes to carve out stamps for fabric printing- my diy version of block-printing. Old habits die- hard! I still collect acorns, pista shells, buttons, pinecones etc. I love thinking that I can transform these throw-aways into something pretty.
When I came to the US, my first year was very hard. I went from an active working life to staying home till I figured out how to drive and get around! My inventiveness with kitchen supplies, a hotel sewing kit, make-up and a few colored pens helped me spend time creating cards. My husband then made two mistakes (I say this in jest of course)- he showed me how to get to Michaels and how to surf the internet (even in pre-google times, you could type in “cards”, “rubber stamping”, “paper crafts” in the Yahoo search box and there would be ideas to try!).  Slowly we expanded to art fairs, craft shows, visiting unique boutique stores. Conversations with artists that opened up the vast world of creativity for me. Blogging and social media have come later- but still very much a strong influence in learning new ideas.

I decided in my 30s that I wanted to see if I really was as creative as i imagined myself to be. It’s one thing to find pretty things for home decor or make a casual card or two and call yourself a hobbyist. But totally a different ball game to put yourself out there in the “creative” world.  I will admit that I feared judgement from others to take it any further than a hobby. The fear of rejection or ridicule were very strong. But I decided to set myself a challenge. I would submit my paper craft ideas to the leading Paper Crafting magazines at the time and become a published crafter. The first few tries proved futile. There were no takers for  my extreme inventiveness in making cards that used recycled materials. But I didn’t want to give up. I studied the ideas that were accepted. Eventually I got my first idea accepted. I then set a goal to get 100 ideas published. At the time, there just a handful of us South-Asians in the craft world. The other ladies were much more gifted than me. But I persevered. I stayed true to my lateral thinking mix-and-match style of creativity, and reached my goal. It was very fulfilling to achieve this small milestone outside of my professional career.

The most important thing that you would tell your younger self? 
I think I would tell my younger self what I tell my daughter these days. Pursue your creative side. Make it more than a hobby. It could translate into a career choice. Or it could give you something to practice as an activity for yourself- as a way to relax, to meet new people, as a mindfulness activity. I also tell her to set a deliberate plan to practice getting her ideas out in whatever form of expression- be it art, writing or music. The more you provide an outlet for your creativity, the more mastery and fulfillment you will achieve. Conquer your need for perfection and fear of rejection. You will only regret the chances you never took.

 

Meera D'Souza/ Creativity Quotes/ Collectivitea

 

Image courtesy of Meera D’Souza. You can find Meera on Instagram here.

 


 

 

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Welcome to the first in the series of interviews and stories where I asked people from different walks of life what they thought of creativity. Did they think of themselves as creative? What helped the process? What didn’t? What’s the one takeaway lesson? My goal with this direction is to see if there are common threads that run through it all, and if yes, to identify and share those ideas. After all, as Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.”



My story:  

“I work on my designs in Singapore where I live, and collaborate with artisan workshops in Jaipur, India and Bali, Indonesia to produce my designs in small batches. It is a crazy circus because I focus almost entirely on idea development based on instinct. My concepts throw curve balls during executions. Multiple iterations across borders, phone calls and emails are normal for me. When you’re a solopreneur building your own brand, you push several faculties; in my case, it is jewellery design, managing production, photography, writing, editing, publicity – and whatever else it takes. I guess that’s what keeps me interested. I thrive in the chaos of the design process as I do working alone. Jewellery is a space for me to question conventional perceptions around things, experiment with what-ifs and to appreciate the world I live in.” 

Vyshnavi Doss/ Dvibhumi/ Collectivitea

“When you’re a solopreneur building your own brand, you push several faculties; in my case, it is jewellery design, managing production, photography, writing, editing, publicity – and whatever else it takes.”- Vyshnavi N. Doss

Vyshnavi Doss/ Dvibhumi/ Collectivitea

 

What does creativity or being creative mean to you? Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity?

Creativity is the ability to connect the dots in unprecedented and transformative ways. My music teacher once told me that to be an artist you need to be either an amir or a fakir (a rich person or an ascetic). I think that’s true for creativity too. It’s when you have nothing material or spiritual to lose that you can be creative. I like to think of myself as someone who is attempting to walk the creative path, hoping to make new meaning someday. With every new piece of work I break away from the previous experiment and try to find something new to say. I believe creativity is different from routine cleverness or adding a lazy swirl to something. My ideas on creativity will evolve as I go along, as they rightly should. I am right now in a required idealistic phase of my journey. Everything is changing everyday.

“My music teacher once told me that to be an artist you need to be either an amir or a fakir (a rich person or an ascetic). I think that’s true for creativity too. It’s when you have nothing material or spiritual to lose that you can be creative.”- Vyshnavi N. Doss

What helped your creative process? What didn’t?

I feel jewellery lacks the platforms necessary to generate public discourse and appreciation around it. There is a lot of good work out there but it reaches very few people. But I am hopeful. Jewellery is going through an exciting phase. A small niche of forward thinking retailers and enthusiasts is starting to value jewellery as wearable art rather than a product of skill, high intrinsic value or labour intensive processes. I find this gradual riddance of expectations both necessary and encouraging because it broadens the canvas for experimentation and appreciation.When it comes to creative entrepreneurship, we live in a time when anyone can be anything they want to be. The Digital Age has made everything accessible – knowledge, inspiration and easy tools to set things up. It’s a lot easier to reach out, collaborate and do basic marketing. Technology has given me a great start and has allowed me to do my work by instinct, discovery and experimentation.

Vyshnavi Doss/ Dvibhumi/ Collectivitea

 

“…gradual riddance of expectations (is) both necessary and encouraging because it broadens the canvas for experimentation and appreciation.” – Vyshnavi N. Doss

About my new collection

I have just launched my latest work, Ruchi. It is inspired by the industrial elegance of the modern South Indian kitchen which it explores as a sanctuary of lovely objects, creations and magical rituals. It looks for beauty in the ordinary. Kitchen implements, for instance, speak a fascinating visual language. Food preparations – traditional snacks in particular – have innate aesthetic values beyond contrived ideas of plating and presentation. It is a 20 piece range of jewellery and accessories for men and women, with some unisex styles. Ruchi has moments of drama as well as quiet contemplation, and is entirely handcrafted in silver and brass. (Webstore: https://www.dvibhumi.com/collections/ruchi. Ships worldwide.) 

Vyshnavi Doss/ Dvibhumi/ CollectiviteaVyshnavi Doss/ Dvibhumi/ Collectivitea

Images courtesy of Vyshnavi N. Doss.

 


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Guidelines For A Happier Life / Collectivitea

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to Collectivitea!  It’s almost 9 years since I started writing a blog and exploring my creativity, and along the way, I’ve learnt so many life lessons that I feel completely different from the person I started out as!  What would we do if not for the lessons life keeps sending us in the form of people, and situations?!  As we step into the next phase of Collectivitea, I want to share with you some guidelines for a happier life that I’ve found beneficial in the hope that they may resonate with you as well. I combined a few from earlier posts as well so that I may share a comprehensive list with you. So, here goes…Guidelines For A Happier Life / Collectivitea

  1. Writing and photography are two things that I love doing. I never find excuses to put them off; I manage to find time for them in the middle of everything. In fact, I need to do a little of one or the other every day. Writing or taking pictures grounds me, helps me connect to my soul, and gives me something to look forward to even on the most stressful of days. It’s like being face to face with divinity, that moment of quiet bliss when I take a picture. You probably know what makes you feel that way- dancing, writing, scrapbooking, collage work, swimming, singing, sewing, knitting, running, sitting by yourself in silence, working in a lab, solving a math problem, meditating, making jewelry, drawing, pottery, yoga, biking, cooking- the list is endless, and there are as many activities as there are people. Do it every single day. Find time for it. Don’t trivialize it. Don’t neglect it. Stay connected to what makes you feel alive. Even if someone says, surely, you have more important things to do, blah, blah,.. it doesn’t matter. Find time to do what nourishes your soul.
  2. Don’t get attached to labels. You are creative. Not creative. Don’t get attached to any of it. Those labels do not define you. Most importantly, don’t let labels hold you back. Remember what Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
  3. You are not the work you do. You are so much more than that.  
  4. Life in only about the journey. Sure, on a material level, things can change and improve. But if you are waiting to reach that perfect place at which point you will start being happy, the bigger house, the grander space etc., there is no such˜perfect place. Start being happy now.
  5. Don’t work so hard that you lose sight of what life is really about. I did this for about 2 years. I worked so hard that all my days kind of blended together. I was a creative entrepreneur. A solopreneur. A mompreneur. Whatever. ‘I work hard’ became a motto, a point of pride, and a way of life. As any small business owner will tell you, there’s always something to be done and I kept on at it. Fast forward to earlier this year- I was so burnt out that nothing inspired me and worse, I developed some health issues. I was tired all the time and I lost the joy I felt when I was behind the camera. I found the loss of the second worse than the first one! So, do work, but also make time to relax, exercise, and do something you love. Don’t postpone it for later. Do it now. Take that break. Pace yourself. Remember, it’s only about the journey. The destination is just a lure, a mirage that only moves further away when you get there. Set realistic goals. Define your next step. Take them. Then go have some fun, exercise, and take good care of your health.
  6. If you feel blocked, chip away at the block a little every day. Sure, there is the school of thought that says wait, the muse will return when you are ready, or when she is ready. But not doing anything can become a habit, making it harder and harder to get back to doing what you love. If you are a writer, write a little every day. The sentences may suck, but keep at it. I have found small steps to be more useful to remove creative blocks. (also read this post).
  7. Let it all go. Don’t hold on to anything. Not anger, resentment, jealousy, he-said, she-said, he-did-this-she-did-that stuff. It’s done. Forgiving someone for the hurt they caused you is to let yourself heal, and move on. Let go of things that don’t serve you anymore.  I’ve spent a lot of time pruning projects I take on as well as letting go of toxic relationships. It’s okay to admit and accept that something is not working out, or isn’t what you hoped it would be. It’s okay to not see it to its bitter end. If you want to change it and build something else altogether, that’s okay too.
  8. Embrace your pace of growth. This is a big one especially in the context of how much of our lives are lived out on social media. When I was a teenager, back when video cassettes were still a thing (!), there would be ‘Best Of The Year’ music collections that would come out. It made you think there were no bad songs that year, only hit after glorious hit. Kinda of what our social media feeds look like, all perfect days and perfect smiles. Don’t compare yourself to the ‘Best Of’ collections of someone!
  9. Be careful about who you choose to share your vulnerability with. I have always struggled with the idea that we can only share our hopes, dreams and fears with a chosen few.  I still feel that if someone does us the infinite honor of sharing their dreams, we are bound to show them the respect that dreams deserve. But a few experiences have made me wary, and I have realized that not everyone maybe in a space where they are receptive. However, I also live in the constant hope that we can do that for each other, show honor and respect for each others dreams, regardless of whether they are among our close intimates or not.
  10. Be happy for others’ successes. In my opinion, one reason that we may not be happy when someone we know succeeds at a project, job, relationship etc. is because we are letting fear dominate our thinking. What if is doesn’t happen for me? Start shifting from that mindset using some of these techniques.
  11. Practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. Write in it and you will be surprised at how many things we take for granted.

An most important lesson for me has also been that being creative was not about me.  Exploring my creativity has been the most rewarding and defining experience of my life. It’s brought me joy and confidence and made me understand that vulnerability is a strength. It has also shown me that we are all creative, that we all have something to offer, to teach, and to share. Which is why it is my great pleasure to share with you the next steps for Collectivitea. Starting this month, I’ll be sharing with you interviews with people from all walks of life, their journeys, whether they think they are creative or not, what helped, what didn’t and what lessons, they want to share with everyone. The purpose of Collectivitea is to share stories and resources that empower the reader to live a more authentic and creative life. Join us in this next phase! – Lots of love, Priya

 

Image credits: Studio Collectivitea


 

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Aaraa By Avantika / Collectivitea

Hello! You maybe familiar with the India-based jewelry label Aaraa By Avantika. If you aren’t yet, it is my great pleasure to share with you the work of jewelry designer and maker Avantika Kumar. (This post has been months in the making, but I am a firm believer that everything has a way of coming together at the right time.) So without further ado, meet Avantika Kumar! I have followed Avantika’s work for some years now and have always been impressed by its boho maximalism. There is the homage to traditional jewelry lines, but then exuberant creativity takes over and the result is bold, beautiful, and joyous. Flamboyant. Goddess like. Jewelry that you will treasure for a lifetime. Collectivitea is my way of collecting and sharing stories of creatives with you so that they may inspire, and I am sure Avantika’s creative journey will inspire a lot of people! The jewelry featured here are from the designer’s Ista collection (more on that below). Read on for Avantika’s story. – Priya

 


Aaraa By Avantika / CollectiviteaAvantika Kumar: “I was born and brought up in Pune, India which is called the ‘Oxford of the East’. I had a very humble upbringing and drawing, painting and crafts were my favourite pass-time. I had more paints, brushes, crayons, and pencils than I had friends as a kid. Academically, I was a sincere student and performed averagely well which made my parents hope for me to be an engineer. Initially as a teenager, I wanted to be a painter or join a creative field, but the calling towards this at the age of 16 years was not strong enough that I could defy what my parents had thought about my future. While I pursued my engineering course of four years, the creative side in me grew stronger each day. After finishing off my college assignments I would spend hours painting and sketching. Along with my studies, I also started making jewellery out of paper, wood, or any other freely accessible material and began supplying the same to a few local boutiques in and around Pune. For me, academics turned out to be very unsatisfactory at that point of time and by the end of the course I realized that I needed to make a career out of something that I loved doing. Even my parents realized the creative thirst within me and helped me find my calling.”


Aaraa By Avantika / Collectivitea

“I appeared for the entrance test for the Post Graduation course in Lifestyle Accessory Design at National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad and to my amazement, without any design prerequisite and knowledge, I got through.  NID is touted to be India’s most premier and finest design school. The transition from being an engineer to a designer was a difficult one but has been a beautiful journey of self discovery for me. As an engineer I had been disciplined to work from a scenario with many variables and reach to a single conclusion, while as a designer I was being trained to think of as many outcomes to a single question. It was difficult for me to understand these conflicting ideas but with strong passion, hard work, determination and good guidance, I was able to logically balance and equate my thinking with creative ideas. While pursuing my course, I was selected to make my debut at IIJW 2010 (India International Jewellery Week). It happens to be the only platform in India at the moment, exclusively showcasing jewellery on the ramp and showcased my collection of unconventional range of handcrafted jewels titled “Aurum”, I received rave reviews and admiration that encouraged me and stirred up my inclination towards being a jewellery designer. I further went on to work with the prestigious jewellery house Amrapali Jewels, Jaipur for a year where I learnt the fine skills of jewellery making.”

 Aaraa By Avantika / Collectivitea
 

On inspiration…. “Design is not only my profession but a reflection of me and my constant state of mind. I have a strong affinity to Indian history, culture, tradition and architecture along with ancient jewellery making techniques and crafts. Cultural symbols and motifs are some of the mediums which influence me to great lengths.When we talk about inspiration, I feel so proud that I belong to this wonderful country, India where everything, right from food, textiles, jewellery to architecture, performing arts etc has very interesting history and legacy attached to it. Thus traveling acts as a stimulus for me; it allows me to discover so many crafts, craftsmen and lesser known facts about our heritage.I have explored quite a bit with varied materials as a student at NID and so different and unique materials do interest and inspire me a lot. Hence I like to work with a fusion of diverse beads and gemstones creating some unusual, contrasting and yet beautiful colour and texture combinations.”

Aaraa By Avantika / Collectivitea 

About ISTA collection: “Ista (इष्ट) is a Sanskrit word for desire or wish. When I start working on a collection, I first work on the concept, the name and colour palette of the jewellery line. But this time I decided to go the other way round. I named the collection Ista after having completed the entire range of neckpieces. Because once I saw all the pieces laid out in front of me I instantly connected with the desire, the desire of owning each one of them, the desire to touch and feel each one of the pieces. This is one collection where I have worked more intuitively than ever.
The collection boasts of some beautiful and bright colour combinations of gemstones that have been sourced from all over the country. Few of the pieces even have these custom made, handcrafted glass beads that have been sourced directly from the bead craftsmen/makers.
You will also find some out of the box and unusual silver pendants, most of them have been sourced from various parts of the country as well as the world, over a long period of tiIme. Quite a few pendants are antique and vintage in nature. Hence each and every piece has a story of it’s own, right from the texture and finish to the hues of the gemstones.” – Avantika Kumar.
 Aaraa By Avantika / Collectivitea
 Aaraa By Avantika / Collectivitea
To see more, visit Aaraa By Avantika on Facebook and on Instagram.
All images are taken by and courtesy of Avantika Kumar. The model in the picture is Pritika Chakraverty.

To subscribe to the Collectivitea blog, please add  www.collectivitea.com/blog/feed to your feed reader/aggregator. (Feedly, Bloglovin etc.) To visit us and see what’s new at Collectivitea, you can find us at www.collectivitea.com. We are a blog and boutique marketplace; visit us, and you are sure to find something you love!

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Happiness / Gratitude Journal

How was your Monday? I hope it was lovely. I am currently taking a 3 month course on happiness (it’s an early birthday present I gave myself) and the biggest lesson that I am learning is to let it all go. The hurts, anger, disappointments, the worry, the he-said, she-said, that thing that happened to me so many years ago or 10 mins ago, the oh-my-god-I-have been -through-so-much or so-little (whichever applies!), new stresses and old, festering wounds – all that gunk. Don’t let it hang around, don’t let it stick. Let it all go. You don’t have to hold on to the stuff that happens to you. Let it go. Tonight, I am grateful for being in a world where there are courses and teachers for everything, even happiness. Especially happiness! I was wondering if there was a thought provoking quote on happiness that I can share here, and I came across this one that literally paraphrases what I just learnt, “Happiness is the art of never holding in your mind the memory of any unpleasant thing that has passed.” I don’t know who said it but they are onto something.

If you are interested in online courses that you can take on happiness wherever you are in the world, UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center has one coming up in September. Have a fabulous day and I will see you tomorrow. This post is part of a gratitude journal that I maintain and update almost daily. To read the gratitude journal entries so far, click here. – Priya

Image credits/copyright: Studio Collectivitea. I shared this picture on my Instagram feed yesterday as my homage to folk art.


To subscribe to the Collectivitea blog, please add  www.collectivitea.com/blog/feed to your feed reader/aggregator. (Feedly, Bloglovin etc.) To visit us and see what’s new at Collectivitea, you can find us at www.collectivitea.com. We are a blog and boutique marketplace; visit us, and you are sure to find something you love!

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Friday night / Gratitude Journal/ Collectivitea

Honestly, what is one most grateful for on a hot summer Friday night? I will tell you what- a lovely, home cooked dinner, fresh fruit for dessert plucked right off the tree (plums are here!), shared cups of chai, air conditioning, and the sweetest people in the world to share it all with. I hope you and yours have a lovely weekend and that you get to rest, relax, and do all the things you love.

This post is part of a gratitude journal that I maintain and update almost daily. To read the gratitude journal entries so far, click here. – Priya

Image credits/copyright: Studio Collectivitea


To subscribe to the Collectivitea blog, please add  www.collectivitea.com/blog/feed to your feed reader/aggregator. (Feedly, Bloglovin etc.) To visit us and see what’s new at Collectivitea, you can find us at www.collectivitea.com. We are a blog and boutique marketplace; visit us, and you are sure to find something you love!