18 comics that explain how to be creative when your family and self-doubt get in the way.

I love being inspired.

Feeling inspired sends a pulse of golden energy through my body. And with it comes a buzz of flittering excitement.


All images used with permission from Sara Zimmerman at Unearthed Comics.

Like a wave, inspired creative energy brings with it a notion of hope, creativity, optimism, imagination, endless possibilities, and purpose.

Inspiration makes me feel invincible and aligned with my purpose for being on this planet. When I feel inspired, I feel like a superhero.

However, like one of those shady infomercials that promotes an uncomfortable sense of urgency, there is often a sense of timeliness that comes along with my inspiration, as if this creative effort needs to be done now or else I might lose it. Or worse: Someone else might get this idea and publicize it first.

If life went exactly as I wanted it to, I would drop everything and respond to this call of creativity right away.

But often, even when I schedule time to create, it goes less like my ideal situation and a little more like this:

Regardless, my creative drive is so strong that once the distractions are dealt with, I can usually manage to get in a few minutes of creativity.

Like a stubborn dog, inspiration doesn’t always come when I want it to, either.

Sometimes it comes at 3 a.m., rudely waking me from a comfortable slumber with a confused pomp and circumstance.

I toss and turn with thoughts as equally restless as I am, wondering what was so important to steal me from my dreams of gold and glory. After about an hour or so, I may get a hint of something glorious that needs to be manifested into this world.

Or sometimes it will come in the middle of the day, at work, when I really, really, really need to get other projects completed.

But at some point, when inspiration comes knocking at my door so loudly that the only option I have is to answer it, I make time to create — I have to. If not, I get edgy, resentful, and throw some artful adult temper tantrums.

After my pity parties and tantrums subside, I usually allocate some time to create, either after my daughter goes to bed, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, or even 15 minutes between projects during the day.

Then, just when all is quiet and in place and nothing else needs my attention and is absolutely perfect — just then when I think all will go my way — just then, my own thoughts can even backfire sometimes.

Instead of optimizing my precious time, I start feeling those waves of guilt that kept me from creating in the first place because I am not sure if I really should create or if I should be a responsible mom/wife/friend/business owner instead.

But, like I said before, if I don’t honor my creative spirit, I get cranky — super cranky.

So I do some self-talk to justify taking a little bit of time during the day for me. And yes, though I still feel some of the guilt when I start creating, it always feels so worth it when I am done.

If my internal judge shows up and decides to start criticizing, saying that what I am making is utter crap (which she does quite often), sometimes I completely embrace it by creating the absolute ugliest thing possible.

I choose the ugliest colors and just go, pushing paint, spreading paint, scraping paint, sometimes even smearing or removing paint. Or if I'm drawing, I work heavily in pencil with that handy kneaded eraser nearby, knowing that in the end, Photoshop can help me remove those little horrors if need be.

When I settle into it, just creating something can help me as a form of meditation.

And no, the initial product is usually nothing I want to show anyone. In fact, it can be terribly embarrassing when someone comes over to see something in this stage.

I used to get worried that people would think my art was crap. And though that is really frightening, I’ve found a lot of freedom in this process. So I push through the fear and embrace that the "ugly" stuff is just a representation of some of my more flavorful parts (like my anger, frustration, etc.), and these layers of "ugly" are just part of this whole process. All I can do now is just accept it.

Perhaps after I get through the layers of psychoanalysis and am able to remove my deep dark issues of unworthiness, abandonment, and repressed anger, my process will go more smoothly.

But for now, this is just one part of my creative process, and it's a part of me. So, as uncomfortable as it is, I usually choose to embrace it and just paint and create. And, despite the icky-ness and frustration, in the end, it feels amazingly freeing. And, though all of those processes seem sometimes so crazy and complex, once in awhile, when I just surrender to the will of the world, the trifecta of a beautiful meeting of time, inspiration, and effort will occur for me.

I don’t know when this trifecta will happen, and I can’t force it. Yet, when it occurs, I feel so blessed, like I have won the lottery.

It may be only five minutes, it may be five hours, but when the three come together: time, inspiration and energy, that is the circumstance where truly insightful creations can be manifested.

I have made it a priority for me to have creation time in my life because creating is a integral part of who I am. But the time I allocate for my inspiration doesn’t always procure masterpieces.

So I have to just take the inspiration when I can and realize that though I have a thousand ideas, some inspiration doesn’t need to be acted on.

I can choose to revel in the yumminess of the times when I can create, free of true judgment of the outcome of the piece and self-criticism, even if it is only three minutes of creation.

When I allow those hints of inspiration to come through, free of all the "shoulds," it is the best feeling in the world.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.