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

In need of some inspiration? These comics are for you.

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.

Family

Prince Harry isn't just a member of England's royal family - he's also a new dad. He and Duchess Meghan of Sussex welcomed Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor into the world last month. He joins William and Kate's three offspring (George, Charlotte, and Lewis) as royal grandchildren. I assume he's being accordingly spoiled with elaborate titles, jewels, and small islands.


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A celebrated teacher's 5-point explanation of why she's quitting has gone viral.

"The school system is broken. It may be broken beyond repair."

Talented, dedicated teachers are leaving public schools because the system makes it too hard to truly educate kids.

When I studied to become a teacher in college, I learned what education can and should be. I learned about educational psychology and delved into research about how to reach different learners, and couldn't wait to put that knowledge into practice in the classroom.

But after graduating and starting to teach, I quickly saw how the school system makes it almost impossible to put what we know about real learning into practice. The structure and culture of the system simply isn't designed for it.

The developmental default of childhood is to learn. That's why four-year-olds ask hundreds of questions a day, why kids can spend hours experimenting and exploring in nature, and why kids are so much better at figuring out how to use technology. Children are natural, fearless learners when their curiosity is nurtured and they are given an environment where learning can take place.

Most teachers know this. And many find themselves so frustrated by trying to teach within an outdated, ineffective system that they decide to leave. I only lasted a couple of years before deciding other avenues of education were worth exploring. A viral post written by a celebrated teacher highlights why many teachers are doing the same thing.

Michelle Maile was a first grade teacher before she resigned this month, and her 5-point explanation of why she did it is resonating with thousands.

Maile shared on Facebook why she, a celebrated teacher in a great school district, decided to turn in her classroom keys. Her post has been shared more than 67,000 times and has thousands of comments, mostly in solidarity.

"Why would a teacher of the year nominee, who loves what she does, who has the best team, the best students and parents, and was lucky enough to be at the best elementary school not want to come back?", she wrote. "Let me tell you why….

1. Class size. Everything in my training, what I know about kids and what I see every day says that early childhood classes should be at 24 or less. (ideally 22 or less) Kids are screaming for attention. There are so many students who have social or emotional disorders. They NEED their teacher to take time to listen to them. They NEED their teacher to see them. They NEED less students in their class. The people making these decisions are NOT looking out for the students' best interests, and have very obviously NEVER taught elementary kids.

2. Respect. I feel disrespected by the district all year long. They don't trust that I know what I am doing. I have a college degree, go to trainings every year, read books and articles about kids, and most importantly, work with kids every day. I KNOW something about how they learn and what works best for them. Please listen to us.

3. Testing. Stop testing young kids. It doesn't do anyone any good. Do you know which kids slept poorly last night? Do you know who didn't have breakfast? Do you know whose parents are fighting? Do you know who forgot their glasses and can't see the computer? Do you know who struggles to read, but has come so far, just not on your timeline? You don't, but I do. I know some of my best students score poorly on their tests because of life circumstances. I know some of my lower students guessed their way through and got lucky. Why stress kids out by testing them? How about you ask ME, the professional, how they are doing? Ask ME, the teacher who sees these kids every single day. Ask ME, the teacher who knows the handwriting of all 27 kids. Ask ME, the adult in their life who may be more constant than their own parents. Ask ME, then let me teach.

4. I felt like I was drowning. So many things beyond teaching are pushed on teachers. Go to this extra meeting, try this new curriculum, watch this video, then implement it in to your next lesson, fill out this survey monkey to let us know how you feel (even though it won't make any difference), make clothes for the school play, you need to pay for that yourself because there's no money from the school for it. There's no music teacher today, so you don't get a planning time. There are weeks I truly felt like I was drowning and couldn't get a breath until Friday at 5:00. (NOT 3:00)

5. Pay. I knew becoming a teacher would never make me rich. That has never been my goal. I wanted to work with kids. I wanted to help kids. I wanted to make enough money to take care of my own kids. Sadly this isn't the case for so many teachers who have to work two jobs to support their own families. This isn't right."

Maile says the system may be broken beyond repair, which is why she's tapping into a growing educational movement.

"The school system is broken," Maile continued. "It may be broken beyond repair. Why are counselors being taken away when we need them more than ever? Why are art and music classes disappearing when these forms of expression have been proven to release stress in an overstressed world. Why are librarians being cut when we should be encouraging kids to pick up an actual book instead of being behind a screen? Do you know how many elementary students are on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications? Look. The number will astound you.

So where am I going? Because I still love kids and want to help them with their education, I will be an online charter school teacher. I will be helping families who have chosen to homeschool their kids. They also see that the school system is broken. When I told my school I was leaving, I had multiple veteran teachers say, 'I would do the same if I was younger.' 'I am so glad you are getting out now.' 'It is only going to get worse.' 'I don't see it ever getting better.'

It makes me sad. I have three kids that are still part of this public school system. If you are a public school parent, fight. Fight for your kids. Fight for smaller class sizes and pay raises for overworked teachers. Fight to keep art and music in the schools. Please support teachers whenever and wherever you can. I have been so lucky to have so many amazing parents. I couldn't have done what I have without them. I am sad to leave, but happy to go."

What do you do when an enormous system has so many inherent flaws it feels impossible to change it?

What to do about public education a hard question. Many former teachers like myself strongly believe in public schooling as a foundational element of civilized society, but simply can't see how to make it work well without dismantling the whole thing and starting over.

When I chose to educate my own kids, I was surprised by how many former teachers end up in the homeschooling community. Many of the most well-known proponents of homeschooling were or are public school teachers who advocate for more effective models of education than what we see in the system. There's a lot that could be debated here, but alternative models may be the best places to look for answers to the question of how to fix the system.

At the very least, until we start moving away from copious amounts of testing and toward trusting educators (and paying them well) to do what they've been trained to do, we're going to keep losing great teachers—making an already problematic system even worse.

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A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

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From Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales to Malala Yousafzai, young women are taking the microphone, organizing movements, and demanding the world's attention on major issues. And it appears they are just getting started.

Imagine you're 18 years old, preparing to go to college, and being invited to join a panel in the opening session of a huge international conference. Imagine that panel includes four current heads of state, and you'll be speaking before an audience of thousands of people from around the globe.

Now imagine standing up on that stage and telling those world leaders to their faces, in no uncertain terms, that they need to step up their game. No pussyfooting. No apologies.

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