Truths and Myths about Accomplishments


I am mixing it up with a podcast only message today! Tune in to see what’s up with that! This podcast comes from a  place of love as I talk about what I see missing discussing within the creative community.

My podcast today will help you understand the truth behind the myth that someone is juggling their life more deftly than you are. What has happened in the fast paced age of magazines and blog features is that no one is discussing the compromises and choices that are made during different seasons in our lives or the fact that there are different seasons. Different parts of your journey will produce different results, tune in as I talk about what I gave up to start Smart Creative Women. Lean in, lean out-let’s talk about it all candidly!

Today I want to you understand why you need to know what it looks like when the curtain is pulled back. Why women need to share with each other so we are not left alone standing in the dark,  judging ourselves or comparing  our accomplishments. You may feel like the sprint you are running is making you weary, so today I am talking about what to do instead.  Tune in for a bit of wisdom and some encouragement in this special episode of Smart Creative Women.  Join the discussion in the comments!


Photo by Etsy artist Elle Moss

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  • Are you talking to me ?! lol 🙂 Completely agreed. Whenever I get personal and talk about my fears on my blog – as I did recently – I get so many supportive comments but also I am surprised how many people say they admire my honesty; as if they don't dare do the same themselves. I suppose it's a risk isn't it? That by writing in black and white you might put off potential customers or businesses by showing that you are human; because of course in most cases the very act of writing your fears gets them out there and you tend to feel better almost immediately. So I wonder if it's sensible on the whole…probably most people don't think it is! 🙂

  • Are you talking to me ?! lol 🙂 Completely agreed. Whenever I get personal and talk about my fears on my blog – as I did recently – I get so many supportive comments but also I am surprised how many people say they admire my honesty; as if they don't dare do the same themselves. I suppose it's a risk isn't it? That by writing in black and white you might put off potential customers or businesses by showing that you are human; because of course in most cases the very act of writing your fears gets them out there and you tend to feel better almost immediately. So I wonder if it's sensible on the whole…probably most people don't think it is! 🙂

  • Caryn L Dahm says:

    I love this post. Very real and so true Monica. I find that I'm learning to give myself a break and with 3 kids – times of great productivity come and go. It's OK to have those times where the focus must shift away from your work knowing that it will swing back in The Lord's timing. Not to force it when your family needs you! Thanks for your wise words. I've loved hearing your interviews and encouraging words.

  • Caryn Dahm says:

    love this post. Very real and so true Monica. I find that I’m learning to give myself a break and with 3 kids – times of great productivity come and go. It’s OK to have those times where the focus must shift away from your work knowing that it will swing back in The Lord’s timing. Not to force it when your family needs you! Thanks for your wise words. I’ve loved hearing your interviews and encouraging words.
    Reply · Like · Unfollow Post · 2 seconds ago

    • Monica Lee says:

      Oh Thank you so much and your kids are blessed to have a mother that is gentle with herself!

  • Virginia Lindsay says:

    wonderful podcast Monica! so true. We all need to hear this! Thanks for your honesty. We are so nuturing to everyone else but sometimes can’t see when we need it ourselves!

  • Betz White says:

    Loved this Monica! This weekend at my book signing someone asked me how I appear to “do it all”! You’re answer is much more eloquent than mine was. I told her that my kids are older and I don’t clean my house (meaning it is dirty!). I should’ve told her that I often wonder the same thing about other people. We’re all on our own paths.

    • Monica Lee says:

      haha! It is almost shocking when someone thinks you are doing it all! I suppose it is a compliment that we get anything done 🙂 Yay!!! You and a book signing, so happy for you!

  • Robin Faye Gates says:

    Thank you, Monica. You know, I used to be able to listen to each and every one of your shows and I loved them! However, life has been very stressful over the past year and I haven't listened as religiously as I used to. But something grabbed my attention this morning, when this appeared in my email, and I listened. The timing of this is perfect and just what I needed. Thank you!

  • BJ Lantz says:

    Fabulous message, my friend. I have been there/done that so many times. For instance, 14 years ago, I worked my butt off getting my art licensing off the ground while still serving my graphic design clients. I was eventually able to let go of my graphi design clients and focus soley on the licensing, but what a BUSY few years that was building that business! I was in the office early every morning, worked thru lunches and into the nights. I said no to a LOT of things, including my friends & family. There’s been a few other sprints & marathons in between, but fast-forward to present day… in regards to your comment about age and time in your life…I am going through menopause and it has really socked my energy – more than I could have ever imagined – both physically and mentally. I came to the realization just recently that I had been beating myself up for the past year for not being that über-productive and organized woman I always had been. I finally realized that’s just not who I am anymore and that’s OK. Not sure I actually *want* to even be her anymore. But it took a while to come to that understanding with myself. As you say, it is easy to beat ourselves up for not getting enough done. Instead we should be going to bed every night, grateful for having accomplished what we did that day and knowing that it was enough, no matter how great or how small.

    • Monica Lee says:

      Preach it, sister! Why do I beat myself at the end of the day instead of just appreciating the sunset and what work actually got done! My grandmother farmed…do you think she felt this way? Or did she just do what needed to be done and then start over the next day?

      • BJ Lantz says:

        I’m guessing she did just that, Monica! This morning, as I look around my messy office, my long to-do list, while thinking about packing for Paris soon, I am overwhelmed. Time to stop and be grateful that I have a to-do list and the opportunities to travel. It’ll all get done – and what doesn’t – doesn’t! I have also learned, even though it is hard to remember sometimes, that it is perfectly OK to let things slip off the list…

    • Pamela Wingard says:

      BJ Lantz – is that why I’m tired? Had iron checked, thyroid checked, everything is good – still tired! Loved your comments about being grateful and accepting where you are.

      • BJ Lantz says:

        Could be, Pam! I never thought it’d be like this… I am jealous of the women who sail through it with nary a hot flash. I just keep telling myself it does get better on “the other side” of this transition….
        Thanks (about the comment 🙂

    • Monica Lee says:

      I love that you and Melody are think ing the same way-being ok with who you are today and with you you want to be tomorrow!

    • Kim Moulder says:

      I’m in the middle of trying to get my art licensing bus off the ground, and still raising my young children (elementary age). But—I wonder when menopause will start? How do you know it’s started!? eek! 46? older? I feel tired and tend to do a lot of staring into the computer screen lately, but that may be that I need to go to bed earlier…

  • Oh I am so glad! That makes me feel like my thoughts are timely and relevant and that means so much to me!

  • Pamela Wingard says:

    Great podcast Monica. I spent a LOT of hours when my children were small, just trying to accomplish SOMETHING. My youngest is in high school now, and I wish that I’d have just given myself a break. However, when I look back on those times, I REALLY enjoyed that time with my kids and now I realize that I was right where I was meant to be. Maybe my art career wasn’t soaring, but I was making art, and making a little money doing it, which was perfect for me at the time.
    Now I’m transitioning into putting more time into it, and the challenge is that I have no excuses now that I have more time. Oh, and yes, even though my kids are in school, the days still feel short! My list of things to accomplish may always be longer than the time I have to do them. I think part of that is impatience. Thanks for reminding me to relax and enjoy the ride.

    • Monica Lee says:

      It’s a different kind of focus, right? And what I bet you don’t take into account is that you are still running your house hold! Those groceries don’t appear in your fridge by themselves, haha! Unless you have one of those miracle husbands who shops for you!

      • Pamela Wingard says:

        Ha – husband thinks they magically appear in the pantry…and on to the dinner table.

    • BJ Lantz says:

      >>>My list of things to accomplish may always be longer than the time I have to do them.<<< I hear ya! Look at the comment I just added to my post below…

  • Well, I don't think letting people know that I have messy closets and buy packaged meals is going to turn people away but you never know. You are finding your perfect rhythm, Gabriella!

  • needed to hear this today as our upcoming move is taking over my life and it's so hard to get work done! thanks for the encouragement!

  • Poppy Westwell says:

    Wow this is exactly what I needed to hear, I feel I am so behind where I want to be. But I have got married which is very time consuming and stressful, as well as being amazingly fun! But it has really put my change of career on hold. But you have reminded me that I am very determined and I know it will happen if I just keep going at it!! Thank you Monica Lee-Henell

  • Kim Richards says:

    great post today – thank you. I listened to this after I left my work behind 3 times today to take my son to the Dr., pick up his missed work from school and pick a movie up for him to watch while he is home sick and bored out of his mind for the 3rd day in a row. One of the reasons I work from home is so that I can be here when my kids need me, but the challenge is to not beat myself up when I don't get as much done.

  • A generous and supportive reminder to be kind with ourselves and appreciate the now, thank you for your candidness and generosity with your self. I recently created a collage on this very subject! I wish that I could share it here!

  • Lena says:

    Thank you, Monica, for your kind and wise words. As I look back on having nurtured babies who became toddlers then preschoolers then medium-sized people, I now cherish my concentrated chunk of “productive mama time” (for art, learning, and a minimal bit of cleaning!) during their school day. I remember feeling the pressure and frustration as a new mom that I was not accomplishing more. Now, the recognition that comes with experience, that I cannot do *Everything* all at once does give me inner peace (case in point = the sad state of the garden). These days I mostly cook from scratch but I also plan for frozen perogies or potstickers on soccer days. Our home is not very photogenic (unless photos are extremely cropped!). Your words really do resonate with so many of us who are on a creative journey…thank you for putting them out there in such a heartfelt way!

    • Monica Lee says:

      I love your response! Cropped photos! Amen, that is hilarious because it is so true! And i think my neighbor is bummed out because I was so into gardening and now it is a sad pot here and there!

  • This podcast is much appreciated Monica! My friend just recently said I am truly "Girl Interrupted", whether it has been my own health issues or taking care of my aging Mom, seems like every time I got the momentum going something else came up. Sometimes I truly felt like giving up on my work but I am glad I didn't because when I look back and then see where I am now there was still progress in spite of everything. It may not be as much as I would have liked but it is progress none the less. Thank you for your honesty and reminder that no one is exempt from life's detours even though on the outside it may appear that way.

  • The funny thing is-is that you are doing all the running around for the sick kid and they are bored! Makes you appreciate your own mom more!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Monica!
    I just want to let you know how meaningful your website and your interviews have been to me! This post seemed an appropriate place to comment.
    I found you a couple of months ago by chance. I was so excited that I had found such an rich and wonderful resource. No words can say how much inspiration I have experienced from listening to your sweet voice ask every single question I would have asked each woman (and man) you interviewed. I truly appreciate what you have done here and I HOPE that you will not stop! Your artwork is beautiful, your personality is so charming and you are the cutest thing ever. Thank you so much for doing what you do! Just a quick note about me…I am a 50 year old art director at a fortune 500 company who has discovered that I need to do something else. I have dreamed of having a design business of my own, doing what I love to do most for years! I have listened to many, many, many of your shows and rushed home from work so inspired to work on that dream. I have never been so motivated to work on it…and I think you have helped me to move over a lot of hurdles that have blocked my path for so long. Wish me luck! Best wishes to you!

  • Jennifer! I do wish you the very best of luck and am so sure you are so much more equipped than you may believe! Thank you for letting me a part of your days, it is an honor! It is time for you to PLAY BIG!

  • This is so relevant Monica (and good timing for me)! And I will remind my other creative friend who just had her first baby… Although I should have known. I mean, I knew, but hearing it from another smart and experienced woman definitely cement it in. I have to remind myself that I did two big moves in the last 4 years, learned English, while taking care of a 4-year-old + a newborn and a stressed husband. My career was put on hold and it was almost painful to think about what I could have done if, and if…As a girl borderline workaholic, it was like going through the desert; I felt dry, thirsty and very hungry (and angry too ha!) at moments. But! I always tell myself that this period was there to teach me something, and! I would have never met the great friends I have today.
    I got back to my creative self about a month ago, part time, and from home. The balance between the studio and family duties are working out, although of course, I wish I can accomplish more in my business. But now I'm not beating myself up and *try* not to play the comparison game 😉

  • Melody Cassen says:

    Thank you so much for making this a topic of discussion, Monica! I really think it’s a component of doing business or growing a business that’s overlooked. BJ Lantz – I am right there with you in regards to energy and not wanting to work ALL the time, yet still wanting to be productive. I think the phrase for me lately is, smartly productive. I’ve always been full steam ahead girl, but lately I’ve been wanting to sit with not really knowing what’s next and being ok with that. A lot of looking around and feeling things out, not necessarily an action time. Looking forward, I want to pinpoint what I really want to develop and build as a creative person. And that takes a lot of quite time, love and belief in yourself.

    • Monica Lee says:

      Yes…I agree with “not knowing what is next and being OK with that!” That is a HUGE stretch for full steam ahead girls!

  • Linda Tieu says:

    Thank you, Monica. I really needed to hear these truths and realities. You are right that sometimes so much of the “real stuff” is hidden behind the scenes and it gives such a false impression of what life is supposed to be. Comparison sucks! I’ve really been trying to tell myself that I’m doing fine… just take it a step at a time… baby step at a time!

    • Monica Lee says:

      You are doing amazing Linda, I think you were just harder on yourself than you may realize, hard for really smart achievers (i.e. you) to shift into fixing boo-boos! But it is no less important to know how to loving fix them! PS I loved that shot of your teary eyed son eating an ice cream cone, precious!!

      • Linda Tieu says:

        It’s crazy how every week is a new challenge and adventure. For someone who used to be a rigid planner, it’s like I’m some wild child now, just riding the wave! Hah! I’m lucky to have a great kid, but he’s definitely a handful… whew!

  • It sounds like you have done AMAZING things (hello, learned ENGLISH?) Borderline workaholic is a tough one-you know just enough to keep those those from taking over and just enough to be dissatisfied when you don't feel like you are doing enough!

  • Melissa AuClair says:

    Loved this podcast; I’ll be re-listening and sharing with others. Thank you for your honesty and transparency; I’ve fallen into comparisonitis too, too often. I didn’t realize established creative women go through the same thing. I’m excited for your journey as you produce more podcasts- hopefully even more creatives will find you and the Smart Creative Women you feature.

    • Monica Lee says:

      Thank you so much for all your support, Melissa! i always appreciate you happy little face when I see it pop into the comments!

  • kmericks says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Monica. Sometimes the business aspect feels so slow going with the family priorities, but “life is long” as you said! 🙂 You are such an inspiration.

    • Monica Lee says:

      And just step back and realize how much YOU have done in the past year! You have been FUN to watch!!

      • kmericks says:

        Thanks, Monica! That means a lot. You have made some crazy major amazing strides this past year yourself!

  • Kim Moulder says:

    I hear you! How did this cross my path at just the right time!?
    I had a fast and furious and successful Winter/Spring. Then with the kids it seemed that everything stopped for the summer. Then with a studio move and everything in upheaval I am finally sitting down to really focus on my business and my work. But it is so hard being involved in online groups where, although I get SO much encouragement and inspiration, I also get the feeling that I will never be able to do as much as it seems that others are doing. And I start to have a bit of a panic that I’ll never be able to keep up. . .

    One day at a time. Stop worrying. Stop comparing. Stay off of Facebook for a bit. . . .
    Thanks Monicalee for this podcast at the perfect time. xx

    • Monica Lee says:

      Oh, I know that panic feeling so well, which is why it is important not to “go there” in your brain. It is so much more pleasurable when productivity comes straight from inspiration instead of panic!

  • Barbara Zuckerman Chotiner says:

    wow. this timing is so perfect. Thank you for todays podcast. I feel overwhelmed with pressure trying to balance my work/home/kids while creating new (fabulous) art all between the hours of 9:30 and 2:30. Everyone says oh – the kids started school you must have so much time. But it's not enough to do it all. My kids are still little. they're 3 & 5 and i know this time in their lives will go quickly. I love the "embrace where you are on this journey & don't miss what is in from of you today." Its hard not to want it all – immediately. But you're advice was what ironically what I heard from my art mentor last night and what Ive been needing to hear. So thank you for the reinforcement and encouraging words.

  • Susie Cassens says:

    Purse in the refrigerator….Too funny and lots of great advice, Your course is on my Bucket List:)

  • Lynda Malachesky Metcalf says:

    Wonderful post! I've been beating myself up off and on for the past few years trying to do art while raising two small children. I found it very frustrating when loved ones would say "when both kids are finally in school, then it's your time". Now both kids are in school and it's hard to have enough hours. I haven't found my rhythm yet but I'm working on it. I admit I will miss your video interviews. I make art out of my home and don't see a lot of people during the day. I felt like I was sitting at the table with you and the person you were interviewing as I painted and watched on my iPad. I hope you'll keep the videos up for a long time . I am happy to hear it'll be easier to listen to them in my car. Thanks for all you do.

  • Michelle Schneider says:

    Wow, Monica, I’m pretty sure you were speaking directly to me in this podcast! I’m due in just a few short months and have been wondering how in the world I will handle having a baby in my studio. I’ve scheduled in about a month of down time with NO painting on my calendar, but I wonder every day if that is too much or too little time. AND, once I do begin working again, what will my productivity be? I’ve grown so used to my current lifestyle I think I might just go into shock once the baby comes! ha! I SO appreciate your words of wisdom and permission to live differently according to different life stages.

    • Monica Lee says:

      Michelle, no reason to fret over a baby that is not born yet or mourn you current lifestyle. Thinking about babies is more frightening than actually caring for one (at least in my experience) I think is is going to open up an entirely NEW form of creativity in you!

  • Yay! I am glad the message was reinforced at just the right time for you-and "doing it all" is a funny abstract concept anyway, right? Let some stuff go, I say NO to making the bed, haha!

  • You are so sweet Lynda, trust me, I am not going anywhere soon. I need you too! I just may be doing some no make up no combed hair podcasts, haha!

  • Abigail says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this. It’s such a relief to finally hear someone say it’s okay not to do everything. It’s one of those things I know deep down, but struggle to remember on a daily basis. Thanks for such a terrific reminder!

  • vanachupp says:

    You are so wonderful Monica! This is WHY I love you so much and am so proud to call you a friend! This post needs to be seen by all the women out there, creatives or not. Totally nailed it! Thank you for this!

  • Emma Henderson says:

    I finally got a bit of time between the snotty noses and huge work pressures to listen to this today and I'm so glad I did. I can't promise I actually will give myself a break but I'm certainly going to try. I've got two children under 3 years old, we just moved house and I still find it really hard when I think that my business isn't how it was a couple of years ago. I need the money even more now but I have no time to earn it! Its so frustrating.

  • Thank you so much for this podcast (I’ve been listening for a while now) and in particular this one really helped me today. I’ve recently been getting over Glandular Fever which I think had contributed to my feeling low and depressed much of the time (bad diet, lack of exercise etc…) and affected my ability to work because I would literally fall asleep while doing it or be in too much pain from years of repetitive strain working at the computer. I also took time out last year to do an art course which was something I had always wanted to do but had been putting off. In between all this I moved in with my partner- I thought that would be really stressful and had been putting it off but it was the most positive thing I’ve done because I have a little box room just to myself for art now. Because I gave myself permission to just get better and be a better partner to him rather than pressure myself about jobs and my business all the time I actually feel like I have 10 times more energy and more creativity than before and I’m much happier as a person to boot.

  • Laura Edwards Wooten says:

    Thanks so much for this uplifting message. This was so important for me to hear today! I was listening at the gym and found myself bursting into tears (in a good way!) on the elliptical. Tears of relief and forgiveness for not being able to “do it all.” Your words really resonated with me when you said to stop shaking yourself, saying “focus focus focus!” and pushing ourselves so hard when what we really need is more acceptance around where we are on the journey. All the stuff that “distracts” us from our creative pursuits can inspire and enrich our life and our work when cast in a new light. Today I am reminded to practice more compassion for myself, find the humor and joy in where I am right now and enjoy the process. Many thanks!

    • Monica Lee says:

      Laura, this was so great to read and it means the world to me that it resonated with you! I love how you mentioned forgiving yourself, those are powerful words! Wish we could workout together-I’d make you laugh and cry at the gym! Haha!

  • Monica, I'm an "older" woman whose life has taken many of the same turns as yours. I'm a freelance illustrator, have a shop on Etsy selling my whimsical wall art prints, and have put several products (which I put my heart and soul into) on the mkt that bear my art. So, I completely can relate to all that you said in this Podcast! YES … It is so true that we go through life changes that affect how we expend our energy. Though my products have been successful, I decided at this stage in my life that making art is my real passion, and doing all the PR, and all else that goes into the manufacturing business took away from my true creative self time-wise. But would I change anything? Absolutely not! I LOVE your mindset that you can do ANYTHING! Perhaps ignorance is bliss, because youth often doesn't have the experience of negative results, so persuit isn't so scary. I was driven by the belief in what I was doing. Now, after years of hard work and passionate ideas that I put to fruition, I'm realistic about what it takes to do certain things, and can focus on what I now know does or doesn't work for me. I'm excited FOR you about your handbag venture, and love that you put yourself out there to talk about it. Your vulnerability is what keeps me listening to Smart Creative Women. ~ Susan Drawbaugh

    • Monica Lee says:

      This is such a nice comment, Susan! Thank you so much! What is hear you say is that “wisdom” that comes with experience is a good thing 😉

  • I just love the way you encourage us, Monica! Thank you for your beautiful words of wisdom. I remember trying so hard to 'be it all' when I was a young mom and trying to also kick off my art business. As expected I failed at that goal of being 'it all' and at times I would become so discouraged and frustrated. It seemed like everyone around me was able to manage the juggling of life and work and creativity so much better than I could. This post, and your website in general, would have been so helpful to me back then, and flash forward … even though my children are grown now I still keep expecting to 'be it all'. The times and situations may change but the patterned way of thinking doesn't. Thank you for reminding me that life is a journey, not a race! xo

    • Monica Lee says:

      Oh That is so nice to hear, Kate! The journey is the destination, right?!!

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