Create in 2016: 100 Days of Creative Living

Back in April, I chose my 100 Day Project: 100 Days of Creative Living

So, for the next 100 days, I am going to notice my own life. To see the tiny moments that create my existence. To lovingly describe the moment, using my preferred craft of writing.To honor the way creative living plays into my everyday life. For this is what the core of making is to me: making a life.

I began them over on Instagram and somewhere in the middle, the project stalled.

It isn’t that I stopped noticing my life, it’s just that I didn’t always stop to photograph it. In our social media world, do you ever wonder that failing to photograph and share a moment means it didn’t really happen? A bit of a joke, but also the reality of thinking these days, right?

And stalling a project is, honestly, a natural part of being a maker.

Yes, we need to be true to our need to create, to give power and time to our creative life. But we also need to be realistic and compassionate when a project stalls or other projects take center stage or real life demands temporarily get in the way.

I’ve picked up a day here and a day there, with the goal of finishing the project before 2017 arrives. A good way to honor my Word for 2016: Create.  Here’s a selection of some of my #100DaysofCreativeLiving Photos.

Day 2

Day 6

Day 15

Day 26

One thing I know for sure is that sleep is crucial to the quality of my daily life…yet on rare occasions I rise long before dawn. The waking isn’t by conscious choice, but rather than curse the dark, I am choosing to seize the opportunity to tend my creative life in some way. Upon finding JB’s pillow vacant around 1:30 AM, I slipped into a robe and found him wide awake…his mind too distracted by work matters to sleep. I went back to bed, but my own worries over his inability to sleep continued to roll around in my own brain. He showered. I made coffee and his lunch. He went into work. At 4 AM, I came downstairs to my own office…lit my candles and said a little prayer. It would be so easy to click around the internet and fritter away my time. Instead, I grab a 2nd cup of #coffee and sit down to #write. This is the art of creating a life: to choose myself and my creative life when it could be so easy to just choose ways to numb. This is day 26 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100dayproject #love #soultending #amwriting

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Day 38

Day 44

I took myself on an Artist Date today: A manicure and pedicure followed by lunch al fresco the patio. Then a long walk around the park where I ogled Super Hero Sand Sculptures and chatted with the artists….into a café for a double espresso and some writing…and wrapped the day up with a stroll around the farmer’s market, where I got a dozen eggs and pork burgers from @carrollcreekfarms We all need to take time and fill the well and being around other makers, like the sculptors and the farmers. To watch the people and eavesdrop on conversations… And it doesn’t hurt to pause with my journal and caffeine. #love #coffee #soultending This is the art of creating a life: to fill the well when we’re feeling parched. This is day 44 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100dayproject #love #soultending

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Day 50

We’re on Day 13 of John being out of the country and it makes the days long and the nights longer. Skype helps bridge the distance and we talk every morning and evening. No matter how long they may seem, time still advances and passes from one day to the next. And as we share the stories of our distant days, I turn my camera to the setting sun here in Ohio and he turns his camera to show the approaching sunset in Bogota out his hotel window. Even when we aren’t with loved ones, we are all still connected, witnessing the same sun set in different ways. This is the art of creating a life: bridging the distance between lovers with the reminders that we are still connected. This is day 50 of#100daysofcreativeliving for the#100dayproject #love #soultending

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Day 54

Day 56

I order a doppio espresso, a go-to order since my dairy-free experiment began in May. I sit and slowly sip the slightly bitter brew and watch the constant flow of office workers from the building next door stream in. When I was waiting to order, I notice the pastry case has been decimated and now see that in addition to creamy caramel macchiatos and thick iced lattes, almost everyone exiting the gauntlet of a line has a pastry bag in hand. This is the 3rd day of our trip… and never has the pastry case been this empty during previous visits and it gets my mind to wondering if the rainy morning is responsible for the cravings of sweet and flaky pastries. Or is it the need for hand-held comfort? Because despite it being a Thursday, the weekend still feels like a world away in the high-stress environment of DC and interoffice politics. This used to BE my life: high heels, sheath dresses, and seeking comfort in liquid and carby forms. This used to be my life: navigating the shark-infested waters of Office Politics. This used to be my life: dealing with the undercurrent of intense energies of people running on adrenaline, caffeine, butter, and vodka. I miss this city when I’m away and when I’m here I still love the city, yet am reminded how peaceful and drama-free my life is now that THIS isn’t my daily life. I am grateful for the hard choices I’ve made when it comes to career and doubly grateful that I have the support to choose creating my life on my terms rather than existing in the high-stress environment. This is the art of creating a life: to look at our past selves and be grateful for the hard choices because they were worth it. This is day 56 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100 day project #love #soultending #Starbucks #grateful

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Day 65

A summer storm is brewing and the air is thick with humidity. Four miles on the bike, and since I’m already sweaty, I head downstairs and tend the flowerbeds. I intended to only pull the weeds and grass encroaching the periwinkles, and find myself stripping away dead strands from the daylilies. It’s before 9 AM and I’m feeling pleased as punch about my morning productivity. Now to sit a moment, sip some sparkling water, and breathe before I head inside, take a shower, and start to work. This is the art of creating a life: to honor the holiness of a tiny now in our day. This is day 65 of #100daysofcreativeliving for the #100dayproject – and in honor of @ModernCreativeLife #NewMoonCreative prompt for 7/7 is: “A Tiny Now”. #love #soultending #creativeliving #latergram

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Day 90

This is the first moment today I have taken to just sit and BE. My bed is beckoning me…but first, a few minutes to sip this glass of wine, write in my journal, and read the latest issue of @bellagracemagazine . Today was my first full day back #OnTheGround at home after spending the early part of the week in DC. There were necessary errands to run – mailing copies of my books out…..and so much editing to do. Finalize a new ebook for subscribers to help them choose a Word of the Year. Work on the 2016 Anthology for @moderncreativelife . Transcribe my column for Sunday from my journal to Word. John is still in DC til tomorrow …which means I stayed at my deak til after 9 tonight. It’s 12 degrees and snowing…and a smidge may stick…and the woosh of the wind can be heard over the sound of the furnace kicking… This is what creative living looks like some days: the push push push to move projects along…then delaying bedtime a few moments to fill the well with nourishment. #love #soultending The prompt for #decemberreflections2016 is “On the Ground ” This is my Day 90 post for #100daysofcreativeliving for my #100dayproject

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

Day 91

On my way to pour my 2nd cup of coffee, I got distracted by this: the edges of the sunrise from the Northeastern perspective….the soft pinks tinged with gold as it melds into the pale blue…. Until the leaves fell, I hadn’t noticed the little nest in this tree. I am glad the occupants have moved somewhere warm…but look at how well-built and sturdy it is, clinging to the branches after all the snow and winds. Maybe that’s my lesson for the day: you are made of strong stuff…no matter the winds and storms…life always has beauty This is my (almost forgotten) (almost completed) Day 91 of #100daysofcreativeliving for my #100dayproject : the reminder to pay attention to the signs from nature. #love #soultending #sunrise

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

As I mentioned, my goal is still to finish this project before January 1st rolls around, to complete at least the 100 Days of Creative Living – on Instagram by then. But my work as a maker, my real work in the world, is not to stop noticing my own life and the details that make it richer.

As I said when I began this project is still true:  if we want our creative lives to be sustainable, we need to learn to subsist on tiny sips of inspiration and see the infinitesimal moments of beauty and perfection as our building blocks. 

To see the small moments of my life as holy as the big ones. To recognize that the way the light falls across a birds nest left in the maple tree outside my dining room window is as important to my creative life as publishing two books this year. To recognize myself that these days of not feeling at my best, yet sitting in the side-by-side companionship with John are just as important, or maybe more important than our vacation this fall.

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
― Mary Oliver

100 Days of Creative Living

I’ve believe that in order to live the kind of life we desire, we must choose to create it. It’s a concept that sounds good 100DayProjectWannaPlayon paper, yet making it happen can be harder. We humans tend to look at things from a lens of the big picture concept side and though they say that the devil is in the details, we rush past the smallest of details.

We look for big signs that we are succeeding and hope that huge leaps will result fast and life changing results.

The truth is that if we want our creative lives to be sustainable, we need to learn to subsist on tiny sips of inspiration and see the infinitesimal moments of beauty and perfection as our building blocks.

What will save us, therefore, isn’t grand gestures or sweeping changes, but the small moments.

A perfect cup of coffee, a still fresh ten day old bouquet of grocery store flowers, the way the flame on a candle flickers as it reaches the end of the wick.

It’s time for the 100 Day Project. 100 Days of Making. Today is the day to proclaim the intention of your project (though you can hop in anytime).

Last year, I set up a goal of 100 days of fiction for my 100 days project. I stopped at day 30. Over time, I lost the romance of it due to a case of comparisionitis.

Photographing words in a notebook, even when I changed up where I laid the notebook, felt lackluster. Especially for a visual project. I wanted to play along this year again. To challenge myself. To play within my own craft as a writer and find a way to share it in a more visually pleasing way.

This morning, I walked outside to place a Netflix video in the mailbox. My phone was in my pocket and a cup of queenofthenightcoffee in my hand. I paused to watch the changing sky as the rising sun colored my view with tinges of pink and shots of gold against midnight blue sky. Then I gazed to my left where my Queen of the Night tulips are finally blooming as my (RED) begin to fall apart. Such stark beauty was all around me, and if I had hurried just a little, I would have missed it.

We tend to believe that when we talk about “making”, it must be something done with from a high art perspective: writing, drawing, making music, etc.

Yet, my core truth is that we are always making. Each moment of living is a choice in creative living. We just have to notice them.

It’s noticing the way  the raw sugar settles into the bottom of my cup, watching it disappear as I add coffee, and then observing the bloom of dairy goodness as I splash in some milk.

It’s watching John load the car in the mornings and being reminded how much I love and adore him.

First goes his lunch box on the passenger seat, his briefcase on the John in Dublin (Guiness Tour!)floorboard, his coffee cup in the cup holder. Then, moving the lunchbox to the floorboard and wedging it between his briefcase and console so his cup of orange juice won’t spill.  He leans over and puts the keys in the ignition then shuts the passenger door. He always looks up at me  standing in the doorway at this point, smiles and waves goodbye. He opens the back passenger door to lay his suit coat on the back seat so it doesn’t wrinkle. Once everything is in place, he walks around to the driver’s side and gets in the car. He buckles up, hits the hazard lights and adjusts his music. He carefully backs out of the garage and once the car has hit the driveway completely, he hits the closure on the door.

But the moments that make up my day continue.

It’s the smile I get from the butcher as he packages up a pound of ground chicken and a pound of ground sirloin for me to try a new meatloaf recipe.  It’s the lame yet funny joke the cashier shares with me.

It’s the quick kiss I get as John walks in the door and the scent of him against hours old starched shirt, faded Old Spice, and the workday. It’s gazing in the mirror and seeing my own inner light as I fasten a necklace. It’s the laughter shared as we watch the golfers go by in the evening. It’s the shift in light as the day is swallowed up by night.

So, for the next 100 days, I am going to notice my own life. To see the tiny moments that create my existence. To lovingly describe the moment, using my preferred craft of writing.To honor the way creative living plays into my everyday life.

For this is what the core of making is to me: making a life.

You can find me over on Instagram using the hashtag: #100daysofcreativeliving

100 Days of Fiction: Days 9 through 12

One day, I will tell you more about Paula….

Day 9

Day 10


Day 11

Day 12


100 Days of Fiction: Days 4 through 8

Though I am doing this project and some writing, I am officially on sabbatical so am not on the computer as much.  Here are days four through eight.

Day Four

Day Five


Day Six

Day Seven


Day Eight

And the Special Prompt Posted on Day 8:


100 Days of Fiction: Day Two

Happy hour was a curious animal that brought out all kinds of beasties. And the thing is, it didn’t matter what bar you wandered into one an average Tuesday anywhere or in any neighborhood across the south. The cast of patrons were always the same.

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

There was the regular. Always in the corner spot of the bar. Everyone knew his name – be it Norm or Mark or Walter. He was a fixture, there. He drank draft beer and alternated that with the occasional shot. He knew all the bartenders and half the patrons by name.

There was the business suited woman sipping on a Merlot.  She kept her iPhone in her hand and, though she looked a little lonesome, she didn’t speak to the other patrons.

The pair of happy-go-lucky guys dressed in the male version of the business casual uniform: khakis and polo shirts with company logos over the left breast, drinking beer, planning their next golf game, and razzing each other over whatever sport was in season.

And then there’s the bombshell. A beautiful woman, though not classically so. She was vibrant and alluring, yet seemed clueless to her own  sexiness. She wore silky blouses and fitted tees paired with form fitting jeans and high heels, which she hooked over the bottom rung of the bar stool. Her eyes were bright and friendly, yet the most sensitive patrons saw the secrets deep within.

100 Days of Fiction: Day One

She pulled into the drive-through of Starbucks, her body craving a mocha. With an extra shot of espresso and extra whip cream. It had been one of those kinds of days where all she could think about was medicating the heartache with sweetness.

Ahead of her was a woman in a blue Toyota Carola with lots of curly red hair. She had one of those carrying voices that was not just loud, but sounded like she was always perky and cheerful. As the woman finished her order (an Extra Hot Caramel Macchiato and a Blueberry Scone), a giant dog with a slobbery tongue stuck his head out the passenger window. It was a Bernese Mountain Dog and he was grinning.

Dogs in cars always looked so happy. She longed to feel joy -or anything – that strongly again. Briefly she wondered if getting a big old dog was the answer to experiencing that deep sense of happiness.

But life was just too complicated to add a dog.

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

100 Days of Fiction

When The Great Discontent featured the lovely Elle Luna and introduced the 100 Days of Making, I was intrigued. luna-100dayproject-pledge1Though I didn’t know exactly what my project would be, I felt a deep call to do it.

It’s a scary prospect in so many ways. Committing to doing it would be committing to doing something for 100 days straight. It would mean that others would see me and possibly judge me.What if I slipped up? What if I lost interest?

And, with the project on Instagram, it would “have” to be visual, right? I am not an artist (my Mandala class has made that obvious). My photography is passable.  I’ve done month long photography projects (like In Plain Sight), but I didn’t want to to take 100 days of Coffee Photos, no matter how much I love coffee or photos. Because, photos are not my art. Words are my art.

But no matter how many ways I tried to talk myself out of it, I decided to commit. Because my heart asked me to.

What would 100 Days of Making something – anything – show me? About myself. About my body of work. About my process. About my muse.  What would surrendering to 100 days lead me to?

I wanted to do something out of my norm, yet something that would feel nourishing. My art is writing, yet I write all the time. The average week produces between 4000 and 8000 words of content.

I didn’t want to commit to 100 days of writing in my journal because often those words aren’t meant for anyone else’s eyes, and making it this project would taint my journal, a demon I’ve sought to banish for the last decade. I didn’t want to commit to 100 days of blogging, that felt like work, too. The thought of one more piece of consumable professional content per day felt like a prison, not a delight. And writing consumable content that was reflective of my business brand felt contrary to the goal of the project, which is to show up each day and commit to luna-100dayproject-pledge3the process, not fetishize the finished product.

Then it hit me: write fiction.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” –Rumi

Though I read a lot of great non-fiction and creative non-fiction. And though I enjoy poetry. What I most passionately consume as a reader when it comes to words is fiction.

I spend the bulk of my writing time deep within the bowels of non-fiction these days. I write blog posts and newsletter articles that directly support my coaching practice. I record recipes. I craft eBooks for subscribers with worksheets and exercises. I put my coaching tools to work in the form of courses. I write articles for YourTango and other websites. I ask the questions that need to be asked so that people can fall in love with their own story.

And the thing is, I used to write fiction. I used to write vignettes. I used to write short stories. I used to work on a novel.  And as I was pondering ideas for 100 Days of…. I realized I hadn’t written fiction for at least four years. The thought of writing fiction when “I have so much writing for work that needs to be done” felt frivolous and UN-productive.

Yet, it feels so right and aligned with the intent of the 100 Days Project.

Beginning Monday, April 6th, I will be writing fiction for 100 days. Some days may see full paragraphs. Others may see two. Many days will likely see a single sentence. I’ll be handwriting my fiction in a segregated notebook purchased just for this project so that there is no “cross contamination” in my journal or work papers.

If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be sharing my project over on Instagram  which I will sometimes post to Facebook or Twitter) and will be tagging it with the official  tag: #The100DayProject as well as my personal one #100DaysofFictionByDebra.

What would 100 Days of Making manifest for you? What would it show you? I’ll be looking for other 100 Days projects for inspiration, so be sure and let me know if you’ll be participating, too!