Eleanor said it best...I say give yourself permission to start. Dionne Thomson - In Her Element

When I started to really think about what I wanted to do with my creative life

I used to get very overwhelmed by all the things I didn’t know. Which was pretty much everything! I had no idea how to draw, how to use Instagram let alone manage multiple social media platforms simultaneously, how to paint, how to write, how to hand-letter or most importantly how take time for myself and listen to my heart. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I had never had a hobby or a desire. I spent hours upon hours desperate for a flash of insight, a fleeting thought, anything that would lead me to understand my purpose on this planet.

My husband is a musician, writer, actor, all around artist and I would lay awake in envy just wishing for half of the self-understanding that he had. I knew that I wanted to be happy I just didn’t realize that I had the power to make that happen. I considered myself somewhat capable of learning but I was pretty fearful of failing at even that.

Then I just did it, I just started. That was a year ago and today something amazing happened…it might not be huge but it’s frickin awesome…I took a chance, mustered all of my courage and I brought my art down to an amazing local book store to see if they might be interested in hosting a few of my pieces and they said YES!!!! I wasn’t scared, strangely it felt like the absolute right, batshit crazy, thing to do. 


Feature wall at Georgian Bay Books

In the beginning the steps were small and almost invisible to the naked eye. The actions I took seemed innocuous yet the impact was building up like a tsunami. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew that “not doing” was killing me. I got stalled by many things (most of the time just garbage I made up in my head) and some of the new endeavors I wanted to embark on cost a fair bit of money (money we did not have) but my ever-loving husband with the wisdom of a true artist said “yes it costs money but your unhappiness costs so much more”. Yep..yep he did…husband of the year 10 years running! So the stalling became less and less.

Permission granted…

To overcome much of my fear of “sucking” I spent a fair bit of time taking notes… whenever I read something new, listened to a podcast, watched a TED talk, or conversed with a new and enlightened friend I would pull out my notebook dedicated to just my notes and write like crazy. The product of my feverish learning was messy barely legible notes…some I re-read, many I didn’t.

The act of taking notes forced me to be present, to pay attention, the notes themselves may or may not have been of any value. When it came to creating art I made myself accountable with Instagram…I set daily challenges which I would broadcast to “the world”. Just the idea that I had committed myself and my work to an audience, that I had said it out loud made the creation of art automatic.

Quit Hiding Your Magic - Dionne Thomson In Her Element

Everyday (well almost everyday), usually right after the girls went to bed, I would sit and create a piece, post it on Instagram then go to bed feeling accomplished and pretty proud of myself. A few times I had forgotten and I actually got up out of bed to do my artful duty. Each time that I tried something new and each piece I created taught me more than just art, it taught me that I can learn. (Which for a fixed mindset perfectionist that’s a pretty big fucking deal!!) The time I took, that I had set aside to “learn”, quickly became the most energizing parts of my day.

Early on in my journey I noticed that naturally the huge issue of time and not knowing where I would find it to do all that I wanted to do, became a non-issue…all of sudden I had all the time I needed, once the act of learning became not just a priority but a necessity my schedule naturally began to shift so that everyday there was dedicated time to learn.

My family took to this very easily I think because they could tell that this shift in my energy was having such a positive impact on my behaviour. I actually started to be a better mom and a better wife, a more patient daughter and understanding daughter-in-law (to my 4 mother in laws…whole other story!). I took some much-needed time to observe my surroundings and truly get my bearings. Where am I was in space and time. And I began to really focus on what actions and steps I could take to create forward momentum.

One of the most meaningful things was to create a weekly score card for myself…a checklist that I lovingly refer to as the Work before the Work. A detailed checklist (man I love to check shit off lists!!) broken into the zones of my life that I wanted to see change in (so yes every part of my life). And every day I would check off what I had accomplished, each thing, some very small, created minor shifts in my behaviour that all together created a significant impact on my life. I don’t think I have ever checked everything off in one day. More often than not it’s about half, but the beauty of looking at this elaborate list, like a structured vision board, is that it keeps me focused on what I want by drawing my attention to the bits and pieces that will get me there. Doing the Work before the Work made the real work not feel like work. 

What I really want to tell you is this…

Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of acronyms you don’t understand or the tech language you don’t even know how to learn, or by the skills you don’t have or the people you don’t know. Let go of having to know what the end WILL look like and recognize that by putting in the work you will get to the end and it will be glorious. The key word to add to each of those statements is yet. Don’t get bogged down in the feeling that you are missing out on crucial information you need to get started, because what you need to do it just start.

We are fortunate enough to live at a time where anything and everything is available digitally. If you want to spend your time doing anything start with learning how to learn and begin to recognize the positive almost visceral response that your body can have when your hit the right vibe. When you are on the path that is right for you, you will know, you will feel it. As you hunt and gather the bits and pieces of your Self you will notice that one day in conversation you will toss out some acronyms, refer to cutting edge tech or be recognized for skills that others are still dreaming about. At that moment I want you to pause take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for being brave and scared, persistent and committed to you. 

So here it is, the root of the root, the bud of the bud…just start, listen to your heart, trust yourself to make the right decisions, and know that you will figure it ALL out as you go.


My last insight comes directly from my personal experience which I am still amazed by every day. As you purposefully chip away at each small piece of your work before the work, you WILL see progress in all of goals, trust me. The key is in taking time to periodically reflect on where you are at with each one. Give yourself permission to have twenty completely different goals, make it a hundred if you like, really there is no limit. But make them specific so that you can clearly see them in your mind. The more specific and detailed you can be with your goals the easier it will be for your mind to connect your small but significant work before the work to them. You can achieve anything but remember that you can’t do everything at once. Be patient with yourself make time for your small do-able tasks (like minutes a day) and through consistent reflection acknowledge that every small thing you do is moving you closer to your dreams!


I believe so strongly that you can do this. I know in my heart that if you believe in yourself, are willing to do the work and be accountable for your actions you will see big change!

No, you’re right it’s not easy, but I’m here. Let me know how you’re doing, we can work this out together!


All good things are rooted in love laughter and learning!

Give Yourself Permission to Start.In the beginning the steps were small and almost invisible to the naked eye. Once I gave myself permission that all changed....   - Dionne Thomson - In Her Element