The Podcast

Cultivating Elevation

Season 2 Episode 2

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Hey there, welcome to season 2 of Discovering Breadcrumbs. This is a part of the Cultivate Project, a once a month project where I explore practices and mindsets we can cultivate for growth. I started this as an exploration of lettering art and illustration. As I created the art, I discovered words that flowed out with the art. This podcast is the place where I share those words. You can see the art in the link below. And I’d love it if you followed along in my journey by signing up for my weekly emails.


Those emails are kind of like a road trip . . . they include adventure, good music, some wrong turns, a couple of right ones, and maybe a snack. For real though, it is a journey, this artist thing and I share what I learn, the potholes I encounter, and the processes and paths I take. I’d love to have you here with me.


It’s where you’ll see behind the scenes of the art process, you’ll receive opportunities to purchase new work available only to my subscribed collectors, you’ll get special sneak peeks and for each collection release, we celebrate with free shipping for you. Oh, and you have access to a library of free downloads that include bookmarks, digital background wallpapers (there are 15 to choose from right now), and monthly calendars (you can get this art as a calendar right now) and I added a 2023 planner. You will love it, I promise.


Finally, I’ve decided to keep this podcast ad-free for right now. But if you’d like to support the art and words here and help me keep it this way, consider a listener-supported donation. That link is in the notes too.


Now, lets talk about elevating


There’s a lot of talk around progress not perfection. It’s a truth that many of us do need to apply in our lives. Yet, I get this feeling that there are some of us that take it as an excuse. (yep, I’ve caught myself doing this – especially with things I’m not fond of doing – hello Instagram captions). We tend to say it’s not perfect but it works and leave something as fine rather than putting effort into it, or at least I do. (Yes, often time controls this scenario and here I bow to priorities). But often we’re settling, working in our comfort zones and not stepping out. I think we can do better. We can always elevate what we do but it does require stepping out of complacency.


There is a fine line when something is good enough or if you are settling and can elevate it more. Something you have to determine for yourself based on your priorities, time, and needs. For me, priorities reside in my art right now, but not my laundry pile, so elevating my cleaning isn’t a big deal for me until someone comes to my house. But do you catch yourself settling when you know you might be able to do better? Often, I feel my art is good enough, but I don’t love it. There’s something mundane and it doesn’t move me. Here I find that I haven’t elevated it. I haven’t found the special thing to infuse into it that gives it a boost. I find if I let it sit a couple days I end up discovering my next steps on how to elevate it, but it takes work and discipline. Sometimes this means starting all over again because I don’t want my art be only good enough. I want it to speak to others, to move them, to connect with them, and if I’m producing work only good enough for me, how in the world will it connect with others? I need to create art I connect with, so I question if I’m sitting in a comfort zone or elevating it.


Are you settling because it’s easy or finding a way to elevate, even if it’s difficult? Exceptional athletes don’t settle for good enough, they push themselves so they can elevate their game. It’s always in their minds, how they can get better. Don’t get me wrong on the idea of perfectionism though – this is not a search or grab for perfectionism, but for improvement. It is a process, not a result. Excellence is a result. Perfectionism is a result. Instead I’m interested in a process. Elevating is a process and one that can lead to excellence but it leaves space to breathe, to accept mistakes.


It’s easy to become complacent and comfortable. We all do it and dare I say we all seem to be reaching and working for the comfortable? Often it’s easier to stay where we are and do what we do. It’s tough to shake up the state of things, even if only a little. It may take effort, but how can we make this a little better.


I usually use my phone to take photos for social media, and I fell into a comfortable habit of using it for my product photography. It’s so much quicker and easier and it became a habit. Then I decided to pull out my dslr camera and use it for my last collection, to try and elevate it. I wasn’t even sure if it would make a difference because phone cameras have come a long way.


I couldn’t tell much of a difference on social media, but when I put the photos of the new collection on my website, I saw a big difference. All it took was stepping out of doing things because that’s the way I was doing them. I tried something different, to make it better. And you know what, it did. It elevated the collection on my website (very important). So from now on, yes I’ll take the extra step to pull out the camera and tripod to make it a little more special.


How does this look for you? Is it in your daily routines where you need a shake up? Your finances? Your art? Your work? Mentally ask yourself if you’re tired of the cycle, you want something better. Then, look around and ask what you can do to elevate it. We can break cycles when we take a step out of our comfort zone.


Sometimes we can get in our own way when it comes to success. In Gary Hendrix’s book, The Big Leap, he describes a phenomena where some of us tend to dial down things that would make ourselves elevated or successful.


I found myself doing this when I showed at my first art fair last year. I planned pretty hard for it, because I wanted it to be a success. I made my tent as good looking as I could. Then I thought maybe I was going overboard. I wanted to do the easy thing and dial it back a notch – something I normally would’ve done. But I stuck with pushing to make it better. Because I don’t have a comparison point, I can’t tell you if it made a difference, but I do know I was proud of my tent. I don’t look back on it wishing I’d done something different. Elevating my tent gave my artwork a boost and my confidence a boost.


But we tend to dial back for a myriad of reasons often depending on your childhood experiences. But I think there is a certain amount of fear there, and the fear can be of many things, but it’s there. We don’t want to elevate because there is a certain unknown factor to stepping out of our comfort zones. A fear of what’s on the other side. What if it doesn’t work? What if I waste the time? What if I waste the money? What if I go down a rabbit hole and can’t get back to where I was? But my friends, what if you discover something fantastic? What if you find more success? What if you find an easier way? What if you don’t want to go back? But I’m afraid I’ve moved beyond only elevation so let’s jump back.


If we had before and after pics it, elevation would look like this: Before is comfort, complacency, easy, mediocrity, what everyone else is doing. After is pushing a limit, taking a chance on something, making something a little better, scrapping that first idea and starting over.


Before might be creating that presentation that’s good enough and calling it a day. After is creatively adding in something else that will impress or influence everyone in that meeting. Before is buying store brand coffee but after is elevating it with a gourmet bag. You can’t tell me there isn’t a difference. Before is choosing to sit and watch tv after dinner and after elevating it to take a walk after dinner. Not saying there’s nothing wrong with TV for dinner but making a change like that has an effect. Even changing what we consume intellectually to elevate it might show a change in ourselves. Tsh Oxenreider recently wrote in an email newsletter “What we consume directs what we ultimately love. Just like a steady diet of cotton candy would cause cavities and stomach aches, a regular consumption of shallow teaching and entertainment leads to laziness, poor thinking, and restless hearts.” Elevate something as simple as what you consume. For me, before was accepting a piece of art as is. After is scrapping that first one and starting over on a new one with ideas on how to elevate it.


Elevating is a process and one we should love to do, not as much for the result, but because we are pushing ourselves to learn and grow. We are attempting to become better. Notice I didn’t say we are becoming better, but we are trying. We reach for excellence through elevation, and often through that process, we get closer to excellence. It is progress, not perfection. It is cultivating elevation.

Welcome to Discovering Breadcrumbs and the Cultivate Project – the inspiration for this podcast.

Hi! I’m Mary Kathleen Scott the artist and printmaker behind Breadcrumbs Studio and the voice here at Discovering Breadcrumbs. My encouragement and thoughts to begin your creative day.

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