Episode 129 – Emily Lex, The Journey Home

This week we’re continuing our series, Going Against the Grain, with artist, blogger, and author, Emily Lex. At first, you may not realize that Emily is someone that bucks trends and finds truth in unlikely places. But as you’ll hear today, she does just that. Join Emily and Jessica as they look back on their friendship, talk about the ways that Emily’s artistry effects those around her, and oh yeah – chat about that one time that Emily and her family dropped everything, traveled the country in an RV, and moved to a new city.


Jessica: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

This week, we are hearing from Emily Lex as our next guest in the Against the Grain series. Emily is a talented watercolor artist, longtime blogger, and author. She’s a friend –she’s travelled with me to Rwanda several years ago to meet Noonday Collection artisans, and she was actually one of our first really big bloggers. She blogged about us 10 years ago and it’s been so fun to partner with her on her journey.

Her new book releases this month, “Freely and Lightly: God’s Gracious Invitation to a Life of Quiet Confidence.” And what I love about Emily is she is not someone who would come across as going against the grain. She is a self-proclaimed nine on the Enneagram, she likes to keep the peace, but she has done a lot of things to go against the grain in her life.

One story I wanted her to share is when she and her husband and her four children packed up supplies and hit the road for four months in an RV to go to all the different national parks. She pulled them out of school, and it ended up sending them on a journey of changing all of their lives, moving to a new neighborhood afterwards. And I think there’s something really brave and bold about kind of noticing when you’re not living your life according to your values, according to those things that you wanted, and you’re willing to interrupt that and change courses.

She talks about that, and then also being an artist. Being an artist to me is a way to go against the grain of our lives where we tend to flow in a scrolling life, a Netflix life. Actually practicing creativity, getting present in our bodies, is a way to combat that, so she shares a lot about that as well.

I feel like this conversation with Emily will resonate with me for a long time. Here we go!


Emily Lex: The Journey Home

Jessica: Okay, so the last time I think I physically saw you, you were coming through Austin on a massive road trip.

Emily: Yes.

Jessica: And first of all, we’ve been longtime friends. In fact, I was going through some old emails the other day because it was 10 years ago that I started the ambassador opportunity with Noonday Collection and it might have been that my first ambassador, who was from Seattle, found out about Noonday through you because you at the beginning were such a… you’ve been such a strong supporter of what we do at Noonday.

Emily: I have. You’re awesome.

Jessica: So, thank you for that because from the very beginning, you were just singing our praises and it’s just been awesome. You got to travel with me to Rwanda in 2015, you’ve met our artists and partners, and you’ve just been someone who’s just showed up. You just show up. You just show up in your quiet, confident way and I just wanted you to know I really appreciate it.

Emily: Thank you. Well, you know, I love you and everything that you do, and I have my… We always, kind of, laugh because Noonday is usually, like, really colorful and bold and beautiful and I love it but it’s just not what I wear. So, I have, like, I think the tiniest studs that you even make or these like gold cube studs and I wear them all the time. I have them on today.

Jessica: Oh, that’s amazing.

Emily: I love it.

Jessica: That’s amazing. We have a great new stud set that’s out that I’ll have to send you that’s, like, three studs.

Emily: I know. You’re always like…

Jessica: Okay, I’ll refresh your studs. We got some good studs now.

Emily: You choose the daintiest thing and then you send it to me, and I always love it.

Jessica: Yes. We know your style, girl. We got you covered.

Emily: I know.

Jessica: We have got you covered. So, when you were here last, you were on this amazing RV road trip through the United States with your four children, and this series is all about going against the grain. And I remember thinking, "Okay, wow, she’s going against the grain." Like you guys sold your house, quit your job, and you really lived in this messy middle because it was during that road trip that you weren’t even sure what life you were gonna go back to if you were gonna move. I mean, not many people do that.

Emily: I know.

Jessica: You know that, right? Not many people do that.

Emily: Yeah.

Jessica: How many years ago has that been?

Emily: It was five years ago. So, we went to Rwanda. When did we go to Rwanda, 2015?

Jessica: I think so.

Emily: Or ’14? I don’t know.

Jessica: Maybe it was ’14.

Emily: I think it was ’14. And then I remember sitting around a table actually in Rwanda one of the last days like, "Okay, well, what are you guys gonna go home to? What are some goals that you have?" And I remember saying, like, "Well, my husband, Ryan, has this idea to go on this road trip and I’m so resistant to it because I like normal things, but maybe we should do it." And so, I think it just was like a slow –over the next year— I finally was like, "You know what? If I don’t say yes to this, we’re never gonna do it." So, I finally said yes, and we did. It was four months long and we just packed up only the essentials. I mean, you’ve lived in an Airstream. They’re little. I think we have, like, the biggest one they make but we have four kids and our oldest was in sixth grade and our youngest was in kindergarten. And it was the perfect time for us to go.

I mean, there are so many reasons. And just, like, from the surface level, it’s like, "What a dream. That sounds so awesome." And it truly was. But I think one step deeper under that was we needed a family reset and I don’t know that we realized it completely until we did it and even coming back and reflecting, we just needed a reset of “Who are we? Who are we when we’re just the six of us?” Because our life was mostly spent in community with lots of other people and we just didn’t take a lot of time just to be the six of us. And when you’re living in an Airstream and you’re traveling, and you don’t really know people. Like we hung out with you guys, there were a couple of other families around the country that we saw, but mostly, it was just us six. And I don’t know, I feel like we just needed that chance to kind of reorient ourselves and figure out how to do just our family. It was incredible. It was absolutely life-changing for us.

“We just needed that chance to kind of reorient ourselves and figure out how to do just our family.” Emily Lex

Jessica: When you look back now five years later, what’s like the first image that pops into your mind when I mention this season in your life?

Emily: What is the image? I just think… you know what’s interesting is with the COVID and Coronavirus shutdown in the way that it’s caused people to slow down and really be at home a lot, it almost feels like we already did that. We did that one time when we did our road trip. So I feel like we did a lot of handholding with the kids and Ethan is our oldest and he was just going through tons of those, kind of, middle school questions and faith questions and identity questions and we got to be so present for it –that wouldn’t have happened in our normal, kind of busy, hustle life. And so, I guess I don’t know what the image is, maybe just us holding hands. For some reason, that’s a picture I have. It’s like just a chance to reconnect and be so present with each other and it was such a gift.

Jessica: How have you fought to keep what you’ve learned during that time over the last five years or have you not? Have you just drifted back?

Emily: No, I think we have. After we came home from our road trip is when we moved to our new house and where we lived previously was in a little neighborhood with tons of houses and it was so wonderful to raise our kids with the neighborhood park and a million friends in the neighborhood. And then we moved to basically the complete opposite where we’re on two acres and we’re surrounded by woods and we don’t see any neighbors from our house. But I think that for that season, we, kind of, needed that place of just this is just our family. And so, I think we got pretty protective and really…and we moved into a new community and so we had to make all new friends. So, I think we’ve just been really intentional about friendships and community and family time. I think we’ve just been, like, slower. I think it just slowed us down even though we have teenagers and high schoolers and sports and all of the activities but even still, I think we’ve just been really cautious and slower, I think so.


Raising a Family on the Road

Jessica: So how have you done that as your kids have gotten older? Because you said your oldest was sixth grade and was going through, you know, these identity and faith questions, which certainly –I’ve got two boys in middle school that are right there. And even my freshmen who’s still… I mean, come on, we’re all still figuring it all out, right?

Emily: I know. Totally. Yeah.

Jessica: But the big questions definitely start happening in middle school. So how have you managed to create intentionality for your younger kids that weren’t on a four-month road trip when they were going through that season of life?

Emily: I mean, I think so much of it is our schedule. Have you read the book, it’s John Mark Comer, "The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry?"

Jessica: Yes, yes.

Emily: So much of it is just taking time for our souls to rest really and then building that into our daily life. So, what does that look like? I mean, I think it comes from top-down. So, it comes from me and Ryan establishing that and, like, having to reteach our kids. So, when we lived in our old neighborhood, we had friends to play with all day, every day. And literally all day every day, there were friends. And so then moving here where there just are no friends in our neighborhood, we have to either invite people over or they need to be invited to other places. So, it was like breaking that habit and breaking that addiction to always needing to be with someone in order to be entertained, which I think is really hard. I have four really social kids and that was very difficult for them and it still is.

I mean, pretty much every day, Audrey is like, "What can we do? Where are we going?" Right? With Coronavirus, it’s changed a little bit. They’re homeschooled and they’re home a lot and I think even that is like reorienting us to say we don’t always have to be filled with lots of stuff. Like, it’s okay to just have an at-home day and it’s okay to be bored. And what does that look like and how do you be bored? I just don’t think that maybe this generation of kids or maybe me either, like, we just don’t know how to be bored. So, it’s encouraging creativity and being okay with, like," Sorry, guys, we have nothing to do today." And we’ve seen that guilt from…

Jessica: Yeah. And being okay that you might, kind of, be the jerk. Like, that’s what been hard for me is making these very against the grain decisions and it’s not popular. My kids… I’m not the popular prom queen in my family, you know.

Emily: I know. I know.

Jessica: I mean, and it’s hard. It’s hard.

Emily: It is.

Jessica: Like this year, we decided that two of our kids had a gift request for tech for Christmas and one was like a Nintendo Switch and something else, like, some other whatever. And we just decided, you know what, if you… our family values are creativity and stewardship and connection and generosity and integrity, and if you want tech that’s very low on our values list, and we wanna gift to you things that spark creativity and spark connection. And so, if you want those things, then we’ll let you get them, but you need to work and save for them. And it was devastating. Like, we’re talking devastating because that was like it, that was the whole list. Like, there was literally nothing else on the list. So, they had to come up with new things to put on the list and I felt… like, it didn’t feel good. Like, it’s not fun to make these decisions.

But now, you know, we’re a couple of months in and my one kid… first of all, they’ve been working. So, they’ve been working, saving, and motivated, which is great. And then one of the kids has completely changed his mind and came up with something else where… and he came in with this whole speech. He’s like, "Mom, let me tell you. This sparks creativity because it’s gonna be outside and it’s connection because I need to do it with someone else and it’s stewardship because I’m gonna have to learn how to take care of it." I mean, he had this whole speech and I was like, "Okay, okay." Plus, he’s not gonna have to wait to save $500, which is the other thing.

But, you know, I have to say these decisions don’t feel good and I think sometimes when we hear, you know, you’re just explaining like, they need to be okay with being bored. It’s probably not tra-la-la and your children are like, "Okay, Mom, then let’s just bake cookies today."

So, tell us what that has looked like informing our kids because this is not easy stuff. This is, like, making decisions that, like, our other friends aren’t necessarily making, and then they’re building their case against us and it’s…yeah. Tell us about that.

Emily: I know. Well, and it’s bigger kids. So, my oldest is almost 17, then I have 15, 13, and Audrey is almost 11. And I feel like, especially with the, kind of, spiritual and emotional transformation and work that I’ve poured myself into for the last five years, I feel like they roll their eyes at me I’m sure, but their emotional health and their spiritual health is so important to me. And so, I can look at all these teenage parents, we’re all trying to figure out what do we do with technology. And so sometimes, we’ll talk to the kids and maybe what a parent will do is be like, "You only get two hours a day," or whatever it is. And then the kids will be like, "Well, why?" And you’re like, "Well, because I said so." But I think that what I always try to do is, like, but why? Like, why do I only want you to have it for two hours?

And then I think the harder work, I think, is trying to have that conversation with them to say, "Okay, I don’t actually know because I didn’t grow up with technology so I am trying the very best that I can as a parent to make a wise choice and here’s what I know. Anytime you are filling your life with anything that’s causing you to be distracted or causing you to be addicted to it, my goal as a parent is to help you be self-controlled and my goal is to help you understand what that balance is."

“Anytime you are filling your life with anything that’s causing you to be distracted or causing you to be addicted to it, my goal as a parent is to help you be self-controlled and my goal is to help you understand what that balance is.” Emily Lex

And so, it’s having those conversations where it’s like, "Let me explain to you why so that I’m not just coming off as a jerk." And Jessica, I think you did that when you were like, "Okay, well, here’s our values and if a Nintendo Switch isn’t gonna do those values, then maybe that’s not the thing that you actually want because my job as a parent is to grow you into an emotionally and spiritually healthy person who can have some self-control." And I mean, I think that’s the hard work of parenting older kids. Little kids, it’s like let’s keep them safe and, you know, I really enjoyed dressing them really cutely. I mean that was really fun for me when they were little.

Jessica: Totally.

Emily: And now, the work is like how do you raise kids who can make really good life choices and that takes more effort as a parent to have to think like, "Why? Why is this important? Let me explain that."

Jessica: It takes so much effort.

Emily: Yeah. I have to know that for myself.

Jessica: We feel like we’re back into the toddler phase. I know. We feel like we’re back in this toddler phase again where we’re just like pouring so much effort into our family and it’s calling Joe and I to, kind of, also be like, “Are we setting these standards of integrity and connection and creativity and all of that? How do you…”

Emily: Well, and then giving –sorry. And then giving them lots of… like, also, I recognize that I didn’t grow up… I don’t know why we’re talking about technology, but I didn’t grow up with technology like this but they do live in a culture where this is what they do and this is sometimes how they connect with their friends. So to me, that seems weird that that’s how you connect but if playing Fortnight with a buddy who lives in Texas is how you connect with him, like, "Yeah, you can have a half an hour of that." And so, it’s just like doing a little bit of give also to recognize this is weird but also, it’s what they do.

Jessica: It’s also, I think, it’s just being able to ask the questions that create self-awareness for them. So, it’s like, "Okay, well, why are you going to this right now?" And, you know, and then also me just being really open, like, "Man, I’m not feeling healthy today," at which there’s been plenty of that because I am not a COVID girl. You know, it’s funny because watching, you know, listening earlier about the slowdown and, you know, I am someone that… like, I would wake up Monday and, you know, my job’s been crazy, like, has always been crazy. It’s not as much anymore just because I’m not traveling around the United States and the world. So that’s created more margin in my schedule, but I also used to be like, "Oh, what are we gonna do this weekend? Who are we gonna hang out with?" And I’m, like, already planning a party.

Emily: Totally.

Jessica: I thought, for years, that every Friday night, everyone was just having a party and I wasn’t invited. I just thought that’s what you did. And I remember a friend of mine a couple of years ago was like, "You know, we’re just, like, hanging out at home and watching a movie together as a family on Friday." And I was like…and it’s that whole thing that you said about, you know, the six of you and just really saying, you know what, it’s the six of us and I think that for sure, COVID, for me, I’ve embraced the five of us, like, this is us, you know, and like, I mean, it’s Friday night. I’m like, "I don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, you know, I don’t care," you know.

Emily: Well, and it’s not a party every night and it’s just, kind of, reorienting ourselves to like, wait, maybe that’s normal. Maybe that’s okay.

Jessica: Maybe that’s what’s normal. Maybe the party every night is what’s…

Emily: Is not normal or healthy or the expectation, and that’s okay, and we can let that go.

Jessica: Yeah, definitely been forced to let that go and I think that’s been good. I think that’s actually been good and then also not good. I think also, there’s a very unhealthy hermiting habit that’s happening where now people…we’re just so low energy and drained that, you know, we’re almost choosing isolation. I think it’s hard to unchoose it when you’re…people are just going through so much. I mean it’s really hard. I mean, it’s not just COVID, like, I have…there is no one in my life that is not going through additional grief, death, loss. I mean, it’s a lot. We’re all going through a lot.


Appreciating Beauty Through Art

Jessica: So I wanted to talk about art because I did a series at the end of last year with Dr. Curt Thompson, therapist, and he wrote "The Soul of Shame" and "Anatomy of the Soul" and his upcoming book is really about beauty and the importance of putting ourselves in the path of oncoming beauty. And he really sees that as almost like this… I don’t think he used the language weapon but that is one of these things that in this time of… we’re in a time of loss and grief and disruption and high technology use that there is an idea of like this practicing creativity that can actually draw us in. I wanna hear about how being an artist and creating has really helped you specifically during this last year.

Emily: I mean, I totally agree with what he’s saying that it is… where I’ve, kind of, landed with being an artist, like I’ve had a hard time identifying myself as an artist because it just feels like such a fancy, reserved term. Like, it’s only reserved for the people who are like in art galleries or do commissions –I don’t know, for some reason, that’s the idea in my head of what an artist is. And a couple of years ago, I just was, after going through a lot of transformation about identity, I was laying on my closet floor and I’m like, "God, just tell me, like, what do I do? What am I supposed to do now? I’ve been set free from so many things but, like, what do I do?" And I heard Him, kind of, speak to my spirit, like, "Be an artist." And so, to me, I took that as I need to go paint and I hadn’t picked up my watercolors in quite a while and so I got them out and I started water-coloring.

And then that’s what prompted me in 2019. I did a little painting every single day because it just felt, like, "Okay, God is asking me to be an artist so I think I need to just commit to, like, I’m gonna practice this every day." And so, yeah, for a year, I did a little painting every day and I think over the course of that year, first of all, I think that’s what art does, and in particular, maybe watercolor, but I think no matter what your art form is, I think it does it, it allows you to just be really present with what you’re doing. And so, like, you shut off all of the to-dos, you shut off distraction, and so you’re just there and you’re present and you’re creating and there’s something so life-giving about just being in that moment. And then at the end, you make something and you’re like, "Oh my gosh, that was really pretty," or, "Oh my gosh, that was terrible. I’m gonna throw it away." And it’s like, it’s okay either way because you just created it.

But I think what I’ve learned about what it means to be an artist is to look and to see and to find shadow and light and form and shape and color and to appreciate that and then to capture it and then share it. And so where I think I’ve landed is that the reason that we create things that are beautiful and appreciate things that are beautiful and name things that are beautiful is that it reveals the goodness of God and it reveals how orderly and how creative and how amazing –you know, with nature and color and shape and form and shadow and light –like, all of that stuff is just a reflection of God’s character.

And so it’s always… for me, like, it’s so important to pay attention to what’s beautiful because I think it just, I don’t know, it just allows you like a little moment of like, "Oh, yeah, God, I acknowledge you, you’re there, and look how beautiful you allowed this to be and you’re so good." It’s like this little act of worship. And I think when we just live with so much disorder and ugliness, I think it’s so important to turn our eyes to look at the things that are beautiful so that we can remember that God really is good.

“When we just live with so much disorder and ugliness, I think it’s so important to turn our eyes to look at the things that are beautiful so that we can remember that God really is good.” Emily Lex

Jessica: I mean, every single day, that is a discipline to do that. Tell me, what did that look like because did you give yourself structure? Did some days you just go, "Okay, I’m just gonna paint some dots and count that as, okay, I did it," you know?

Emily: I know. A couple of times. But mostly, the little watercolor paintings that I do, they’re on a very small piece of paper. And so, they take me about 25 minutes and I just feel like I should surely be able to find 25 minutes in my day to do something that, first of all, I feel like God’s called me to so it’s an act of obedience, and second of all, it’s really good for me. So surely, I can find 25 minutes. So for me, I just created a habit of, like, I think it was about 2:00 every day was when I, kind of, needed to wrap up my workday before the kids got home from school and it gave me an hour to create my thing and then take a picture and post it to Instagram. So that was my routine. I don’t think that… that’s, like, not prescriptive. But I think it’s just, like, choose something that’s really small, that’s doable, and give yourself… like, you can carve out 25 minutes, like, there’s gotta be a way to do that thing that’s really good for you.

Jessica: Yeah. What are some other avenues if someone’s like, "Oh, I hate watercolors," or, you know? Although I have to say, when we pulled away a few months ago as a family over Thanksgiving break and we’ve been working on our family values for forever but just had not landed. So, we finally were like –my kids are, like, old now. Like, they’re gonna be in college, we’re gonna be like, "Okay, here’s what…" you know."

Emily: Here’s our values.

Jessica: Right. So, we finally landed the plane and, of course, I’m still procrastinating on now. I actually had thought about maybe if Amelie could paint these for me, but one of the things we did in launching them with our kids was we brought paints and we brought some canvases and some watercolors and we just gave… there are five family values so each of us took one and just painted what that value meant to them. And listen, we’re not some artsy family, you should see. I mean, well, a couple of my kids really nailed it but let me tell you, my husband’s was rough, okay, and he’s actually a major… I mean, he’s a carpenter, yeah, I know…

Emily: Oh, Joe. Yeah, right? He’s an artist in his own way.

Jessica: In his own way, apparently not on canvas. But we all sat there, and we painted together and then –and by the way, just for the listeners, I just… our family is messy. I mean, honestly, we’re going through stuff, like, it is not… it wasn’t like the kids are like, "Oh, yay," you know.

Emily: Oh, dreamy. Yeah.

Jessica: Yeah. But then once we get into it, it gets you very present in your body. But I have to say, I haven’t done it since and I don’t know what’s keeping me from it because I do… we ended up, that whole week, spending time painting, so then the paints were just out and so then, kind of, when the kids got bored because all tech was at home, that was another thing. It was just a detox week. And so then suddenly, like, Jack was, like, making these amazing watercolors paintings and I was like, "Wow, I didn’t…" you know. And I don’t even know if that’s what’s led now, like, even all of my kids are in an art right now. Amelie is taking piano and Jack is taking choir and, you know, Holden is in art. And so anyway, what are those ways that we can if… you know, you had this moment of, like, "I am an artist and so an artist makes things and I’m gonna make."


Embrace Your Creativity

Jessica: Okay. So, Emily has a new book out called "Freely and Lightly" and it is about this journey of quiet confidence and owning your, you know, “I am an artist”. So, tell us a little bit about how we, if we’re not like, "I’m a watercolor artist," you know, how do we incorporate this act of worship and meditation into our lives of being that creator because I do think… and Emily, I’m so glad your book is coming out now because truly, it is an act of restoration being able to paint and create.

And I’m telling you, I am not a painter, and even me during that week, I was like, "Uh." I did it because of Curt. I did it because I had read some blog post by Curt and he said, you know, "Get in your bodies, create, like, be an artist." And so, I was like, "Okay." I went to the paint store. I didn’t even know what I was asking for. I was like, "Find me the cheapest thing possible." I bought a bunch of cheap brushes, you know. But then suddenly, we were sitting around a table on a random, you know, Friday night painting and I’m like, "I never would have seen that coming."

Emily: Yeah, there’s your party.

Jessica: Yeah. Do you do that as a family?

Emily: No. Okay, let’s see. Here are my thoughts. When the kids were little, we always had a big jar of crayons and scissors and markers and paper always available to them. And oftentimes, it littered the kitchen table and it was, you know, annoying because you’re, like, "There’s always just stacks of paper all over the place." But I will say that that one act of letting stuff be out that’s creative and accessible has really fostered this creativity in my kids. And so, for me, like, I have a desk that is in my office where I keep my paints and they’re out and they’re accessible. And it’s so helpful, like, you said, when they’re out, then yeah, Jack’s gonna go to them because it’s like something that’s just right out there. If it’s a whole process and a chore of getting them out of storage and then setting them up and then you have to clean them up at the end of it.

So, I think tip number one –I don’t even know that I’m a tip person, but whatever. Here’s my suggestion, is find a space where you can leave the things out and accessible or if they can’t be left out, at least make them very accessible. Number two, okay, I love barre and pilates. That’s like the way that my body wants to work out. But I have friends who love to run, and I know you like… what do you do? You go to spin class, right?

Jessica: Yes, yeah.

Emily: Okay. So, like, we all think it’s so good to work out and I want everyone to love barre and pilates as much as me, but they don’t have to. Like, it’s okay that you love spin and that Erica likes to run and Casey likes to lift weights or whatever. And I think it’s just learning to say, "This is the thing that I love doing that makes me come alive," and it doesn’t have to look like what someone else is doing. And so, part of it might just be dabbling in lots of different things, but I do think that we can pay attention to how we naturally are creative.

“Part of it might just be dabbling in lots of different things, but I do think that we can pay attention to how we naturally are creative.” Emily Lex

So, I mean, what I was thinking about when you were talking is, like, okay, you might not be a painter but Jessica, you’ve built this company and you are so fashionable and you love putting patterns and outfits together and your house is so beautifully decorated because that’s your creativity coming out. So how can you maybe say, "These are the things that I really love doing that make me come alive and how can I do that a little bit every day?"

So, if it’s like sketching new designs or I just saw the other day that Jessica Turner, a friend on Instagram, she’s really into, like, embroidery, like, or my mother-in-law knits a ton. And so, it doesn’t have to be painting, or watercolor, or knitting, or embroidery, or fashion design, but find the thing that you love doing and figure out how you can do it. I don’t know. Like, there’s my tip of the day, I guess. It doesn’t have to be one thing. And I think when we think of artists, you think of, like, drawing and painting but my kids create with cardboard and duct tape all the time and that is so creative to them.

Jessica: Pipe cleaners.

Emily: We buy them a lot of duct tape. That’s what they do.

Jessica: That’s actually a good idea. That makes me wanna go by duct tape today.

Emily: I know. Mason is 13 and he’s really into making, and it sounds so dorky but it’s like whatever, it’s very creative for you, these like Mandalorian helmets that you can make out of cardboard and duct tape and they’re actually very impressive. So, he, like, bought a pattern on Etsy and he’s been making these things.

Jessica: That’s cool.

Emily: Yeah.

Jessica: I love that. Oh, I love that. Yeah, my daughter asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. So, she’s been sewing but I have to admit that she had it out on the dining table, which you walk into our house and it’s a dining room. And I was like, "Ugh," you know.

Emily: I know. I know.

Jessica: But she’s put it in her room now. But honestly, we have this pool room, you know, we’ve remodeled our house for the last two years so we turned our guest room into a pool room and I have been wondering like, you know what, forget it, like, looking pretty. I could move those leather chairs out and, you know, I could sell them, and we could put some craft table up. I know it’s not gonna be pretty but what matters more, because it’s true, it’s when these things are out, and our dining room table was like that for the last couple of months and she got into pipe cleaners. And so, then the boys will just start doing all the pipe cleaners and yeah, it’s like if this stuff is accessible.

Emily: My kids have destroyed our dining room table with hot glue and clay and that’s sad but also, it’s okay, it’s a table, and I only have them for a few more years and then I will have a really perfectly beautifully, clean house.

Jessica: Seriously.

Emily: So, I always have to keep that –like, oh my gosh, all of these cardboard scraps are driving me crazy but also, they’re only here for like five more years, so I can do five years.

Jessica: Well, and I know you have… and I don’t know if this is a book that’s available on Amazon, but you have a watercolor book where you can actually purchase it and then… Is it just for the holidays or do you have others because…?

Emily: No. Well, so I have two. I have one that’s a little… I call it a Watercolor Workbook and it has little animals and then I had one at Christmastime. And then over this next year, I’m gonna create a flower one and a summertime one and they’re just available on my website, so emilylex.com. And I think that there’s…

Jessica: That’s a great place to begin.

Emily: The sketching is already done for you, and then you just have to paint it in, so it’s great for kids but it’s also great if you just wanna, kind of, like try out watercolor, that is a fun resource. And I try to… I mean, that’s my goal is to create easy ways to help people be creative and that’s a really… that’s a fun one.

“My goal is to create easy ways to help people be creative.” Emily Lex

Jessica: Well, and I love watercolor because it is a bit unpredictable and you’re allowed to be a little bit messy.

Emily: Totally. Yeah.

Jessica: And so, it’s a little bit less intimidating than other art.

Emily: For sure. And it’s so accessible. Everyone…if you don’t have one at your house, you can easily get an inexpensive set of watercolors.

Jessica: Yeah, it is. This is making… I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna do this.

Emily: I know. You should.


Taking the First Step

Jessica: You know what’s hard? I feel like right now, I don’t know, I’m not gonna speak for everyone but I have a very low-grade just weariness and, you know, back in the spring, a year ago, I had all the motivation, like, "I am gonna learn watercolors, I am gonna do all this stuff," and I was because I’m pretty highly motivated, get-‘er-done gal and that’s just… it’s gone. I mean, it has left me and so it’s almost like now, the discipline or just the act of going and just opening… but then once you’re in it, you know, it’s like I never regret working out. There’s never a time I’m like, "Wow, I really should not have, you know, gone on a walk today," you know. And yet, I feel like a lot of us, we’re in these habits now of not doing those things that we know are good for us because they just feel herculean, you know.

Emily: Well, and I think like in last March, we were like, "Oh my gosh, we have all of this time on our hands. What are we gonna do? We’re gonna bake bread and we’re gonna read books and we’re gonna do watercolor." And we’re almost a year into this, kind of, new life, and I think, yeah, we are all a little bit tired of like, "Okay, I’m not motivated." So, it really is a discipline. It’s saying, like, "What is really good for my soul health and maybe, you know, my physical health? It’s really good for me to go on a walk or go workout and I have to force myself to do it."

And some of this is like, what’s really good for your soul? I always think about that with reading. Like, I love reading a good novel and if I get out of the habit, I’m like, "Eh, I don’t think I wanna read." But then once I pick up a book and it’s so good, I’m never regretful that I read a really good book. It’s just, you have to get back and you have to discipline yourself to get back into it.

Jessica: And I think the encouraging thing for all of you guys listening is it’s not herculean, like, we build it up in our minds to be herculean but then, all it takes is that one step in that direction and then, you know, you’re in it. And it’s so good, especially now more than ever, and that is really…

I do believe that artists –art is a way of going against the grain, because I think that the natural flow of our lives is to consume and not to create even though I believe creating is where we find our true selves, you know, in that act of creating, partnering with God to create, bring something new whether it’s cooking… I mean, I’ve even lost my mojo around cooking, and I’m obviously not in the best place as you can tell.

Emily: We need some motivation here. It’s all right. That’s all right. But you know what, at least you’re admitting it. At least, like, there’s a lot of people who feel the exact same way. So, we’re kind of all in this together trying to figure it out.

Jessica: Emily has such a grounded presence. I love how she describes what making art means for her. They’re shadow and light, form and shape, color. You appreciate it, you capture it, you share it. And the way she’s turned making art into such a meaningful practice for creating is powerful, especially right now when we are all needing to accept these invitations into beauty.

I am finding that beauty is the way to combat some of the isolation that I’m experiencing right now, and in fact, for Lent this season, instead of taking something away, I added something: I’m taking just a little walk every day. This is not my workout, y’all know I’ve got my workout times, it’s just a short walk, maybe a walk around the block, maybe a walk around the neighborhood. And it’s simply a time to get my body to notice, to say, “Hi” to neighbors. That really came from inspiration from this talk, so go find the artist in your life and learn from them right now. I think it’s especially what we need during this moment.

To keep up with Emily, you can go to emilylex.com, and before we go, I would love for you to review and rate the podcast, share the podcast, tell other people about the podcast, that’s how more people are finding the show.

Our wonderful music is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb, Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.