The Creative Genius Podcast | Ep. 019 | Phoebe Gander “No light, No shadow: How creativity helps us embrace darkness AND shine our light”

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“No light, No shadow: How creativity helps us embrace darkness AND shine our light” Phoebe Gander on The Creative Genius Podcast 

Episode Summary

In this episode Kate speaks with New Zealand Visual Artist Phoebe Gander

Phoebe shares how difficult it was to live most of her life with undiagnosed ADHD, how for years she believed there was something deeply faulty about her and how that was the root cause of self-hatred and years of depression. When her own young son was diagnosed with ADHD, it led her to her own diagnoses which set her on a path of creativity, deep healing and self acceptance which ultimately allowed her to step into the superpowers that ADHD had in store for her.  


Episode Notes

In this episode Kate speaks with New Zealand Visual Artist Phoebe Gander. 

Phoebe shares how difficult it was to live most of her life with undiagnosed ADHD, how for years she believed there was something deeply faulty about her and how that was the root cause of self-hatred and years of depression. When her own young son was diagnosed with ADHD, it led her to her own diagnoses which set her on a path of a deep healing and self acceptance which ultimately allowed her to step into the superpowers that ADHD had in store for her.  

So many of us KNOW from a young age what we love and what makes us happy but in a misguided effort to be like everyone else we so often talk ourselves out of following those dreams. 

Phoebe’s story is a reminder to me of how important it is that we commit to seeing each other's differences as gifts, not things to be scared of. So much suffering and trauma can be avoided if we are encouraged to lean into what makes us different, rather than trying to make it go away. 

One of my favourite moments in the episode is when Phoebe talks about her painting “No light, no shadow” and how for her it is a very clear example for her of what she feels creativity is trying to do through her; which is to remind herself and others that without darkness there can be no light. 

When I think about little Phoebe and ALL the little people everywhere who are trying so desperately to achieve all the same things in all the same ways as their peers despite the fact that that is simply not how life works - my heart gets a lump in its throat. I wish we could just wave a magic wand right now and let every single person past present and future know this:  the thing that makes you different IS the thing that makes YOU so special. I am roaring encouragement at you to not waste another moment: LEAN into this thing. 


Things Phoebe and I talk about

-How so many of us KNOW from a young age what we want to do, but in a misguided effort to be like everyone else we talk ourselves out of following our dreams.

-What it was like to have undiagnosed ADHD for much of her life (no explanation for why she was so “different” 

-What the gifts and challenges of ADHD have been - learning how to balance those. 

-What creativity really is and what it is trying to do through her 

-Why she calls herself an emerging artist (even though she is very accomplished) 

-How the two years she studied art and theatre in university were the “best two years of her life: 

-The pressure to come up with a “reasonable” job when we are younger. 

-How she hit rock bottom and what brought her back 

-Post-natal depression, post natal anxiety

-Whether you can be a “real” artist even if you can’t draw (spoiler: the answer is yes) 


About Phoebe Gander:

Phoebe Gander is a mixed media Artist, inspired by the beautiful ocean, skies and landscape where she lives with her family in Wainui Beach on the east coast of New Zealand. She predominantly uses acrylic paint and epoxy resin, as well as other fluid mediums such as acrylic ink and alcohol ink. She is self taught in these mediums however has a BA hons degree in printed surface design, which she gained studying at Falmouth College of Arts in the UK. She began creating art regularly again in 2018 and creates work using many layers, using paint and sometimes resin or other media to create depth and intrigue. 

Phoebe is fascinated by creating artworks that pull the viewer closer and drawn to creating abstract landscapes, full of textures and marks that tell a story. To her, there is something captivating about nature - it’s a never ending source of inspiration, ever changing with the seasons, the weather... in a time where everything is fleeting, where people want to consume things so quickly, she creates artworks for you to stand still and consider a moment caught in time. Living just across the road from the beach and with a backdrop of hills behind her home studio she feels a strong connection to the landscape that surrounds her.

Originally from the UK, Phoebe has lived in New Zealand with her husband for the past 15 years where they’ve since had three children.


Kate Shepherd: art | website | instagram

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Phoebe Gander: website | facebook | instagram


Resources discussed in this episode:

If you or someone you know is suffering with Post-Natal or Depression of any kind, please reach out to your local health-care provider 

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Phoebe's hilarious viral Instagram video we talked about in the episode 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Phoebe Gander 0:02
So my whole lot like my whole childhood, right up until 39, or whatever it was, I had the shadow of the ADHD, which I was not aware of, you know. And it wasn't until I realized that I had ADHD, it kind of illuminated all the good or positive parts of my character, my personality, I suppose. And the shadow parts, you know, that you can't have one without the other, you know, the end without the end. Everything has to exist in equal balance. And I think for me, my work is kind of trying to tell that story to other people that all of the darkness you know, it's not there without the light, and it's just where you choose to focus.

Kate Shepherd 1:03
Hello, love. Thank you to everyone who's been leaving reviews for the show. They are such a powerful way to help us grow the show and reach that many more people. There are so many people who write in to tell us how much they are deeply benefiting from hearing these conversations. And every time you leave a review or share the show with someone you love, you're helping that message reach that many more people. So thank you for doing that. And please think of somebody today that you might do that for if you find yourself thinking about someone as you listen to today's episode, don't think twice about it just for them the episode, you could quite literally be changing the course of someone's whole life. And then head over and leave a review for the show and Apple podcasts before you sign off for the day. And you can give yourself a sweet little hug for having done a lovely little act of service for the day. Today I get to talk to artists Phoebe gander. Phoebe is such a beautiful soul. I feel so grateful that our paths crossed when they did. Even though she lives a world away her in New Zealand and me and Canada, and we had never met. I instantly felt like she was an old friend, a kindred spirit. Phoebe if you're listening to this, thank you for opening up to me and sharing yourself with me and all the listeners so generously. Your bravery and honesty and openness continue to move my heart. I hope you will come back and talk to me on the show again soon. One of my favorite moments in this episode is when Phoebe talks about her painting, no light, no shadow. And how for her is a very clear example of what she feels creativity is trying to do through her. I teared up in the conversation and again in this part during editing, and I hope it touches you too. This is the part where I asked you to please consider becoming a Patreon of the creative genius podcast. I need some financial support to continue producing the show for you. I offer some lovely extras only available to my supporters to sweeten the pot. Head over to patreon.com/creative Genius podcast to see if there's an option that feels right for you. Phoebe's work is so beautiful and evocative. I think you'll want to hang a piece of her work in your home as much as I do. As you're listening, head over to the blog on Kate Shepherd creative where we've posted some images of her work. I want you to see what I mean. And before we get into the interview with Phoebe today, I just wanted to take a moment again to remind you about the beautiful intimate online community I've recently created for us. It's the creative genius family. It's a magical little place on the internet where we can gather to be in connection with each other about all of the things we talk about in the show. It's a safe place to share our triumphs, epiphanies, vulnerabilities. Ask each other scary questions, cheer each other on grow and expand into our true creative selves. It's a private Facebook group, head over to the creative genius podcast page or Kate Shepherd creative.com. To request to join, we would love to welcome you. And now here's my conversation with the lovely, gentle, extremely talented and very generous Phoebe Gander. Welcome, Phoebe.

Phoebe Gander 4:08
Hi.

Kate Shepherd 4:09
Hi, thank you so much for making the time for the show today.

Phoebe Gander 4:12
Oh, you're so welcome.

Kate Shepherd 4:15
Yeah, one of the reasons I was really excited to have you on the show today is, well, there's so many of them. But before we get into those, I want to sort of give a little bit of context for maybe some of the new listeners who are just joining us who haven't had the chance to listen to all the previous episodes yet about the intention of the podcast and why why we're having these conversations. And for me, it's it's really clear, I feel like humanity is glitching like when I look around everywhere in every sort of facet of society and, you know, our relationships, our institutions, our corporation, like everything just feels like it's glitching. And you know what, I really sat with that, because I wanted to know what that was about. And, you know, can we fix it because you don't have to understand where something's coming from in order to be able to fix it and I realized is that it comes from, we've really set ourselves up with a whole host of really limiting beliefs about creativity. Because creativity is a is a really important function of being a healthy human. And everybody has it in them, and everybody needs to know how to express it. But because of all these limiting beliefs we've generated for ourselves, you know, who can access it, what it is, what our definition of creativity even is, what the products that would have to look like, all of that, think feed into this huge pressure to get it right. Anytime we're trying to express any kind of anything creative, we feel like we have to get it right. And so we just don't we sort of shut down and we think, Okay, well, we better not get it wrong, it'd be better to not be wrong and or look stupid or be vulnerable. So I'm just gonna, actually, we really, really need to be able to express ourselves creatively. So I'm on a mission to help as many people as I can, through these conversations, remember, what is true about creativity? You know, which is that we do all have it in us and that it's really important for us to, to express it.

Phoebe Gander 6:01
Totally. Yeah. No, I love I love what you do. It's I wish I had heard this podcast like a decade ago. I need to do them.

Kate Shepherd 6:11
Yeah. And I feel like that's, I mean, I feel like now that I see things this way, it feels like a responsibility to have these conversations out loud. So that, you know, people today who are feeling like they, you know, can hear it. And so, yeah, you refer to yourself, I love this, you refer to yourself as an emerging artist. And I wanted to ask you about that. Because from here, it feels like you're actually really an established artist. But I wanted to ask you, what are you emerging from? Or into?

Phoebe Gander 6:42
Oh, you know, it's, see, I had my bias as that's on Instagram, hey, on my bio third emerging artists, I had it set as artists for a while, and then I just, then, you know, like, my, my sort of my subject matter. And what I'm interested in, is always evolving. And I just sort of thought, you know, what I feel like, I'm, I didn't, I suppose I could put evolving artists perhaps, but I felt like, you know, what I don't, I do feel like new to this. Because really, it's only been since 2018, that I really started to paint again, or even create art again, properly. And that just feels, you know, when you look at other artists out there that are, you know, creating work, that have been doing it for like 1520 years, they're established that, you know, I don't feel like I can say I'm fully established when I when I feel so fresh into it. And I just want to, I don't want to say that I've stopped and I'm this is it. This is what I do. Because I feel like I'm still I honestly feel like I'm still just scrabbling around in the dark, trying to figure out who I am what I'm doing.

Kate Shepherd 8:03
But I think that's probably what makes what makes you so magic. Right? Like, I think when we think we've arrived, that's actually probably really dangerous territory to be in. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. So you and you just studied surface design in college, right? Yeah.

Phoebe Gander 8:17
I just Yeah. Textile surface design printed textiles. At uni.

Kate Shepherd 8:22
And what did you think? What did you think? What? Oh, I'm going to study this and this is what my hours gonna look like, what did you

Phoebe Gander 8:28
know what I didn't even think like, I was so young. You know, when you're 18. And you like, this is pre internet. Yeah, that was like that we I had to go to this the library with you know, and look at prospectuses for universities where they just like told you what degrees you could do and I was doing what was it called it was called a god I'm so bad at remembering it was it was our like, multidisciplinary art kind of pre University thing got I forgotten the name of it, but detec is going to be tech. And so I was doing art. But like all different artist and graphic graphics, bit of painting bit of you know, photography, ceramics, textiles, all a different sort of things to do. That was great. It was like the best two years of my life. And I actually did theater studies at the same time, which I wasn't actually supposed to do but my friend and I convinced the lecturers that we could do an A level as well. And we did we sent a squeezed it in and we'd nip off and do that because it was that was just so fun. I loved it. We come back to the art rooms and do the art and and I just I loved the painting like that was what I love the most but then it was like well, you know, let's sit down and have a careers chat and it was kind of like what are you gonna do afterwards? When you leave Hear, you've got to go to university, if you're gonna go to university, you got to pick something that's vocational, basically. And, you know, I didn't have the gall to think that, like, I could make a vocation of being an artist, because like, that was like, you know, Willy Wonka getting the golden ticket, kind of people, but it wasn't something that was going to necessarily be me. So my, my textile teacher was like, Well, you know, you're really strong at color, and, you know, your, your drawing skills be great and textiles. And so she sort of showed me all these prospectuses for textile designs, so that it kind of it felt like the best out of a not very big selection of, of careers. You know, it was like, well, it's better than nothing, you know, it's crazy. And I went, and I loved the uni way I went, it was great. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely loved it. And it's from Falmouth, it's now called Falmouth University in Cornwall. It was great. But I was living with people that were doing fine art that had been brave enough to do fine art. And I was a bit jealous of them getting off going off and doing that and going to the painting or the sculpture studio, and I had to get a bus and go to the textile design department, which was like over the other side of which I didn't realize when I was like, Oh, I'm all the way over there. Can we meet lunch with you? And I did try and leave like halfway through. I said to my tutors, like I don't, this isn't really me, I'd, I don't want to do it anymore. And I thought maybe to leave to do photography, because I thought, well, that's another vocational thing that I liked. I loved photography. But they talked me out of it. They're like, No, no, no, no, no. Do you stay and do this, I stayed, and I did it. And then, you know, at the end, I got a good degree. And, you know, but that was it. That was like literally the last time I did anything to do with it. And

Kate Shepherd 11:59
I find it so interesting that you, I mean, you were in one sense, very lucky, because at a young age, you knew what you loved. You know, I think that actually, so many of us, it takes us a really long time to even get to that point. And then I hear this story over and over again, you know, how we get talked out of whether we talk ourselves out of it, because we believe that it can't be, you know, commercially viable, or whatever the word is you want to you know, you can't make a career out of it. But we talk ourselves out of it. And do you remember if that led you like, What did that feel? Like? You know, you were saying you felt jealous of your people in your cohort who felt like they could.

Phoebe Gander 12:36
I remember sort of just thinking, I just must, I just don't think I'm good enough at painting. Like, I wasn't a very confident person. Then anyway, I was pretty shy. And I'm still an introvert, I guess. But I was not. I didn't know who I was. And I was, and I actually didn't really like who I was, really. And I think I just sort of I felt like, I just wasn't good enough, or worthy enough to say that I could be an artist.

Kate Shepherd 13:13
Do you feel like that came from the world around you? Or where do you think you came from?

Phoebe Gander 13:18
I came from undiagnosed ADHD. Definitely, like not not knowing my whole life that I had ADHD and just thinking that I like not been given the script to life, everyone else caught up. And trying really hard. Like, because I was fairly bright child like I was, I knew I was clever, I could remember, you know, facts. And I did well, on exams, I was always really good at exam. But in class, you know, just anything, any subject that I, I was always like, felt like I needed to try so much harder to achieve the same that other people couldn't achieve net, like, easily. And so and then when you get told, like, Oh, this is really good, but like, you just need to try a little harder to keep it neat. Or you just need to try a little harder to like, finish the work in time. And when you get told that and you're like, oh, okay, and then inside, you're like, I physically cannot try harder. I am trying so hard. And yet, I am not meeting the expectation. And, you know, that is like trauma over 1520 years, you know, and so yeah, it was really difficult. always feeling like I no matter how hard I tried, I never quite was capable of being as competent as other people. And yeah, I think now I know why that I struggle with, you know, retaining facts and tasks and sequencing and all of that you know, those Exactly. To the kind of functions that people a lot of people are gifted with when they're born.

Kate Shepherd 15:04
Well, and I feel like that's, that is so much about like. And it kind of goes back to him saying at the beginning of like, there's this idea that we have about like, what's good? What how do you have to be in order to be a good little human in this world? Like, how can you have output that's just like everybody else's? And how can you fit into this little thing? And, and, you know, the reason so many of us actually don't even bother trying to be creative at all is because we feel like intuitively we just know, well, I'm different. I can't. I don't I can't do it that way. And I mean, I think that that's kind of it sounds like from what you're saying that that was, what was happening for you is that you were really different in these ways. There was nobody cheering your on saying, hey, actually, the way this that you're different are going to be your superpowers like, no, there was nobody to tell you that at that time. But every single time I've met somebody with ADHD, it's so clear to me, that it really is a superpower. And so I want to ask you about that, because I feel like, you know, superpowers can be hard to wield sometimes for sure. You know, like, it's like, okay, you're born with this big sword? And how do you? You know, it's not you have to learn how to use it. But would you? Would you characterize that that way for you? Like, are there have there been gifts in it for you? Now that, you know,

Phoebe Gander 16:18
yeah, there's definitely are 100 Yeah, 100%, there are gifts. But it's, for every gift, there's a consequence. And I think it's, it's, it's learning how to balance those, it's like your set of scales. And, you know, on one side is the gift and the other is like the lead weight. And you just, it's Once you tap into what you are passionate about and what you're good at. Because, you know, I think that everyone has something. And once you can lean into that, that's when you can turn it into a superpower. But if you're not pointed in that direction, or encouraged, then the the the, you know, the negative parts of ADHD can be so difficult to navigate and overwhelming that it's like your gift just gets buried in the ground, and to all the other parts are just so overwhelmingly difficult.

Kate Shepherd 17:29
So how did you unearth them? How did you get how did you turn that around? How did that what was that transition like for you?

Phoebe Gander 17:35
Um, well, I hit rock bottom. And then when you've hit rock bottom, it's like, you just, you have to either lie then just given or you have to dig your way out. So I think that it got to the point where I Yeah, it was not very well, mentally, emotionally. And my doctor kind of told me, I needed to, you know, put self care as a very high priority, in order to get better. And that was when I started doing art again, like, and I made it a daily part of my life to do a little bit of art. And I think, once I broke down the doing it for me doing a little bit, rather than thinking because I'm the thing with ADHD is I would almost call it like all or nothing disorder. So I kind of didn't do any, because I wanted to paint giant paintings, and I didn't have the capacity, the space, the skills. And so that's, it's, it's kind of like you, I want to run a marathon or I'm gonna sit on the couch. That's it, there's no in between, there is nothing in between. And you get very blinded by that. And then you get very stuck to thinking that the couch is the only option. But when my doctor and my husband and good friends sort of nurtured me to just like, just do a little bit, you know, every day that you feel like it and once I started to do a little bit and I realized, like how much I've missed it. You know, it was like, oh my goodness, I had no idea. Like, how thirsty I was until I took a sip. And then I started to you know, to share it on Instagram and do a little bit more and and, and then it was and then it was the option of not doing it was was just worse than you know. I could imagine. So. Yeah,

Kate Shepherd 19:58
so really, I mean you even As you're saying that you'd like I saw you perk up feels like it really did bring you kind of back to life like it. It was a lifeline for you in a really dark time.

Phoebe Gander 20:08
Oh, yeah, it was very, it was a lot of things. But it was it was sort of having children and postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety. You know, my son, he having him diagnosed with ADHD and understanding him. And then then that was the start of like me creating art again. And then probably two years into creating art was when I realized that I too, have ADHD. And that I think, was the big epiphany moment when all of the dots suddenly joined up. And I sort of like, and it's then that you look back on your life and everything that didn't make sense. Make sense? And that clarity is just, like, it's insane. I mean, it literally just all of the shame, sort of about who I was and why I was incapable and why, you know why things were so hard, everything just sort of fell away. And I was still there occasionally. But the power it holds over me is is diminished. And I can I don't beat myself up with this internal narrative of like, not good enough for not trying hard enough. And. And yeah, just realizing that I like for me, might you say about your superpower? Like, I don't actually think like, my creativity is my superpower, I think my curiosity is my superpower. Because I'm, if I'm interested in something, I will do everything I can to find out about that thing and learn about that thing. And and then try and, you know, succeed at that thing, if I, if I'm interested in it enough. And so that was what I mean, because I didn't start with painting. I started with alcohol ink, because I wanted to do something that didn't require too much space or materials. And also, I was still frightened, frightened, but not confident enough to do something that had like, my direct hand involved, you know, like, drawing would have been too vulnerable. But there was something kind of there was a sort of element of chance that when you're doing sort of fluid art, there's, there's you're not in control completely you are to an extent. But if it's terrible, you can kind of blame it on

Kate Shepherd 22:51
my permission rather

Phoebe Gander 22:51
than wasn't me. I will. Exactly. So I'd started with that. And but I found out everything I can possibly find out about that, and there wasn't that much at the time about that. So one, and then I moved on to resin. And again, there wasn't that much about resin. art out there. And I, I saw I just spent a lot of money and a lot of time figuring out how to create resonance. And, and that's kind of how my following grew because I was sharing a lot of videos and tips and back then, you know, you got rewarded if people liked your video got shown to hundreds of 1000s of people. And then a lot of people were interested in that at the time, too. And so I think there were certainly people before me doing it, but I was someone who was prolifically making a lot at the time and sharing a lot of it and but then then there was a voice that was like, this isn't really you like, you're good at it. And you could just carry on doing this and selling it and getting money from it. But it's this isn't really what you want to do. Like what

Kate Shepherd 24:07
is that? What was that voice for you? What do you what would you say that voice was?

Phoebe Gander 24:12
I think it was just like the opposite of your ego. I don't know what is it to you like your actual view, you're very you're the knowing I think with that Glenn Glenn and Doyle call it I think it was just me, the very core of who I am, was like, paint, paint, paint, you need to paint you want to paint and I would see other people's Instagrams of paintings. And every there was just a longing and it was like it's time in a it's been long enough like stop dilly dallying around 10 times over you need to paint now and but you know, I wouldn't change it and I do I could I needed to, like learn to crawl and then to walk and then to run. And you know, back to the marathon and I still don't feel like I'm a marathon runner, but I feel like I'm you know, a 5k. Or now at least.

Kate Shepherd 25:18
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Phoebe Gander 27:00
I think I think you're I think probably I used the wrong I think what I meant, I should have said was my, like, talent of being artistic. Because people would say, like, Oh, you're so artistic and so talented, or whatever. Yeah, you can. And but creativity, yes, definitely encompasses everything that you've just said. So my Dad, let's go back and edit.

Kate Shepherd 27:24
But this is beautiful, that even people who are living this and what and walking through it every day, can get caught up in the story. Because the and that's why we need to have these conversations. I feel like out loud as many times as we can on repeat. Because even as artists who are, like I said just a second ago, we're professional artists, we're living this we're breathing it every day, we can still get caught up in the collective narrative around what creativity is and what it can be and what its limits are. And I think that's just because we it's just a product of that we live for humans living in this world. And I think that it's I think it's okay, that we get caught up in that sometimes.

Phoebe Gander 27:59
Yeah, I think it's, it's, it's interesting, because it's, it's so funny how people kind of pigeonhole like, creativity and being artistic and having talent. And they put them in these all these little boxes, and like, you've got to have all of them ticked to be an artist, you know. And it's funny, because I remember I did all these recordings, and then a little while, like, not even quite recently, really, I shared a draw, I started doing some more still life and some more drawing. Because that's actually what my real real love is. Painting

Kate Shepherd 28:39
your microphone, giving them a lollipop.

Phoebe Gander 28:41
Yeah, but even before that, I did a I did a couple of like, still lots of like, like, I didn't want to have a puppy and one of like a jug with Mandarin and things like that. And when I shed those on my Instagram, like the amount of message like the amount of comments from people like, oh, wow, you're really talented. Like you can draw. I had no idea that you could, like, you're actually really talented. It really made me laugh. It really makes me laugh. But like you like you, okay? They're like, Oh, wait, hold up. You're really, really troll. Yeah, I just I missed one. And I almost want to like, not do it. Because I just want to be like, you can be a real artist. Drawing really well, yeah. We kind of cross but then I can do it. So then part of me is like, and I think part of it. I kind of I think part of me is held back from doing it because I want to prove to myself that I can be considered realized without the leaning on my drawing skills and my observational ability to paint like that. I think that's partly why I've really wanted to get good at doing things like the abstract landscapes because that is the challenge for me. Like actually drawing and painting well, has always come easily to me. And that's just, you know, like having green eyes. Like I didn't choose that that just was an innate skill that I was born with. But doing painting an abstract, that's good, is the challenge. Okay. Does that make sense?

Kate Shepherd 30:29
Yeah. And I think we need both. I would say that, I think yeah, one is like, you know, your old, like an old love or like a, you know, your best friend or like, your favorite pair of shoes. It's like, you know, they're just comfortable. And they're wonderful. And they'll always be there for you. And there are days when you just need to be with that part of yourself. And then there's that other part of you that that curiosity that comes from that place. Is this alive creativity, that's like, Okay, well, we have that we know, we're good at that. And I want to take you here and I want because I think yeah, so I want to ask you this, I often feel like creativity is trying to do something through us or take us somewhere or show us something. Do you feel like that? Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah. What is it trying to do? I? I ask everybody this?

Phoebe Gander 31:14
Yeah, I like without being too kind of woowoo? Don't be woowoo. Let's be okay. If I'm gonna be really willing to do it, then I'm gonna say that I think creativity is is like, the source of all energy experiencing itself through you. That's what I think it is.

Kate Shepherd 31:35
feels right to them. That's, that feels, that's how I would say it. I would say, yeah, oh, they must be true. Well, and I think we're, I think we're actually coming to a place now in our culture, where, you know, we've tried living through the rational mind, for all these decades, or hundreds of years, or however long we've done it. And it got us places we built stuff, we were able to accomplish great feats technological, like, you know, medicine, wonder, rational mind and math. And it's very useful. But when we're just operating from that, and we're leaning on that to be our everything, we're missing this other stuff. And I feel that that is also equally important to being a healthy human. And that leaves leaves room for all the ways that we're different, right, and lets us express things and I think we're coming to a place where, well, my sense of it anyway, is that we're coming to a place where it's starting to be okay to admit that it's starting to be okay to admit, we have this other more ethereal dimension or element to ourselves, and it's okay to talk about it. And, you know, we we tended, and I do this to the tendency is to sort of dismiss it as being woowoo. But I think it's starting to become more acceptable to just name it because we all we all have it even though Yeah, even the mathematicians and scientists and the lawyers and that, you know, that they all get, like Debussy, that that soft feeling people get in their eyes with like, Oh, I wish that I could that I mean, that's because they haven't I mean, it's trying to get out.

Phoebe Gander 33:05
Yeah, I think it's anything. I mean, there's creativity in solving an equation, you know, or there's creativity in, you know, the people that came up with the vaccine, you know, there's creativity is beyond the limits of what the rational mind thinks it is, anyway. And I just think that that moment, when you allow yourself to channel pure creativity, and you, you are in that flow state, in that zone, whatever it is, you're doing, whether it's making bread or painting painting, or, you know, just looking at an atom in a microscope, whatever. Like, that moment, is, that's the universe just being like, Oh, yeah. Now it took you. You know, I just because I don't know, like, I honestly, there are paintings. There's paintings that I've painted. I don't either. I don't know how I did it. I couldn't tell you how I did it. I don't know. And it wasn't me. That sounds weird. But I was there. But it wasn't really me. It was me. But some thing else. And me.

Kate Shepherd 34:26
It was something it was something coming through you which is because of what you were saying a minute ago. And I you talk about, you know, wanting to tell a story with your work. And I wanted to ask you about that because I feel like well, it is really wild and free. I think creativity does sort of, or this energy that we're talking about, that moves through us, whatever we want to call it, I call it creativity, but whatever. I do feel like it sort of has like an overall message that it's like, oh, I'm going to use Phoebe to show people that I'm going to use Michael to show people this and I'm going to whatever it is I'm going to show Kate definitely no i because it's using us as instruments to bring to life the symphony of things that it's, you know, conducting. Yeah, I wanted to ask you, what do you think it's trying to say through you.

Phoebe Gander 35:11
Now I can look at all that, because I used to think all my work was so different and all over the show, and you know, not necessarily a theme and but now I look at it. In retrospect, I can see. Like, a lot of it is quite nostalgic, and quite, quite lonely. It's quite this lot of stillness in my work. And I'm really interested in shadows and light. And I think the one of my favorite things I caught is called no light, no shadow, and it's of a mug with a pair, and little jug, and it's this light coming in. And I love I love that I painted that again, that was one I painted without pain without knowing I was paying, like, without me really painting it, someone else something else was painting it. And after the time was like, I was just a system organ. In our system, we're going to pair kind of just a boring thing, why? Why am I paying this, and then I looked at it afterwards. And I just thought, you know, like a pair is a symbol of femininity. And the mug has these mountains on it. And the shadow on the mug, you know what the pair the pair casts the shadow on. And then there's this vessel with this like piece of wheat. And I, when I arranged that, like I didn't, I thought there wasn't a conscious thought about what I was arranging. So there wasn't a conscious thought about what I was doing. I was just, I was just, I just happened to have like, these things. And the light was really lovely. So I just arranged them I took a photo. And then I just immediately was like, I have to paint that photo, like I had the photo for a couple of weeks on my phone, and I just kept looking at it, I have to pay that photo. So painted, I painted it and and then I realized all the symbolism about like, you know, like, the pair being like the feminine and the vessel, like the Lord jug. And like, you know, encompassing like my soul and the wheat growing out of it. Like, it's like my children like growing and, and the shadow on the on the mug, you know, and tea drinking tea, it's so British, so part of me and my heritage and like in any crisis, it's like cup of tea. But really, it was about the shadow, the love and what's why put it no like no shadow, because so my whole life, like my whole childhood right up until 39, or whatever it was, I had the shadow of the ADHD, which I was not aware of, you know. And it wasn't until I realized that I had ADHD, it it kind of illuminated all the good and positive parts of my character, my personality, I suppose. And the shadow parts, you know, that you can't have one without the other, you know, the end without the end, everything has to exist in equal balance. And I think for me, my work is kind of trying to tell that story to other people that all of the darkness, you know, it's not there without the light. And it's just where you choose to focus. You know, they have to exist, they have to coexist. And that's beautiful. Oh,

Kate Shepherd 38:33
I have I have a lump in my throat and then I'm all teared up. And I that's so beautiful. And I feel like that's there's just so much to marvel at right there. Like there that all came up through you without you trying to do any of it at all just didn't you you were you allowed yourself to be in your in your creative process. You allowed yourself to be even I can just see you like, you know, arranging that composition and cutting. And there was something so wise my whole body has the chills right now. Yeah, there was something so wise operating through you that day to give not only you that gift for yourself, but also now, anybody who ever gets to see that because there are things about there are about those pieces that when you see them, there's just something about them. They just have a different quality to them. And they because there's it's some kind of transmission, isn't it? It's like a viewer it's got to be they just know like, there's like, you can paint we talked about like transactional art, like, okay, maybe everybody like the parents. So then you're like, Okay, I paid a bunch of parents. Right. Like you could do that. Yeah, yeah, there's something but there's something about those pieces that come from that place that you just described that. Yeah, that's just it's magic. It's

Phoebe Gander 39:51
it's magic. And that's an I just, it's it really, it really kind of just it made me now aware of why I've always been fascinated with shadows and taking photos of shed, I've always loved photography, that's just always been something that I've loved equally as much as I could have easily been a photographer, but I love painting too much. I just, every time I see, you know, like, leaves making a pattern on a wall, or you know, I just stop, and I notice it. And other people would just be walking past on the way home from school and I'm like, luck leaves on the wall. My kids are like, ma'am, do you really need another photo of the leaves. But I just cannot take it because like, I'm I just and that golden hour light. Like, that's something that in all my paintings of landscapes and things, they've, they've all I'm always interested in, in capturing that kind of golden hour light, that low light when you get there long shadows, and that that kind of nostalgia kind of swan song. There's something about that, like I just love and I think part of that is the nostalgia for my childhood. Because in a way, wouldn't it be lovely to relive it with knowledge. Rather than feeling all the shame and then anxiety that I that I shouldered? I'm so I think there's a kind of nostalgia that I carry for, for who I was, and that little girl and, and then that obsession with the shadows is really my reaffirming to myself, the importance of, of the shadow, the shadow self, and you know, how important the dark is, as well as the light, you know, you cannot have one without the other. And I just, that's what I want my work to be about. And that's the story I think is important for me to tell. And yeah, I couldn't have got to this point with without doing the last few years of prep to get here, you know?

Kate Shepherd 42:01
Yeah, it was it feels like it was something very wise was guiding you, you know, along that way. Have you ever been able to go back and hang out with that little girl? And like a lot of people talk about going back and working with their inner child or, you know,

Phoebe Gander 42:16
I should probably I should probably go to i i have i have that. Yeah, it's yeah, I talk with my sister a lot. She also has ADHD. And luckily, I have a sister who, you know, shared the same childhood. And we, you know, I'd want you know, I had a very privileged childhood, very lucky childhood, and the parents loved me and did everything they could to, you know, to support me and nurture me. But there just wasn't the knowledge then about this. You know, neurodiversity says there was no and girls. Were not diagnosed with ADHD back in the 80s. Really. And so it was like, extremely severe hyperactivity, but inattentive, daydreaming type. ADHD was just not. I just don't even know if it existed on as far as psychiatrists were telling the world. I mean, it did exist. Don't get me wrong, but like, diagonal. So yeah, having a sister that kind of had the same shared experience is really good. Because we do a lot of talking therapy with each other about things. And I think that has been really good for us both. It's still very cathartic to kind of talk about it and make sense of things. And yeah, and just sometimes it Yeah, I have just sat and kind of forgiven myself for for all of the negative kind of self talk that I had, and

Kate Shepherd 43:50
what were the hardest, like, what were the ways that you talk to yourself that were the what was an I'm just curious, because I don't, I'm not I don't have that,

Phoebe Gander 43:57
like, what I had this? What's wrong with you?

Kate Shepherd 44:02
That was just like, what's wrong with God repeats just kind of about everything,

Phoebe Gander 44:05
like, yeah, what's wrong with you? Why Why can't you? Why can't you just act normally? Why can't you just not forget this? Or why can't you just do this on time? Or why can't you just respond to that? Email? Or why can't you just get your homework in on time? Or why can't you just copy the whole paragraph from the board in five minutes? Like everyone else? Like, what's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? Yeah, that one repeat? And his answers like, I'm just, I don't know, I'm stupid, I guess. Well, and

Kate Shepherd 44:37
you were saying that when you did get a formal diagnosis it all you know, you describe it falling away. And I know from my own life, when I've let go of things, or when things have kind of clicked and I've had a different perspective, there's still for me anyway, there's this like, it's almost like I created a groove of that thought. And so it's like, it's still coming to me. Does it still come bow to you that

Phoebe Gander 44:58
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it Have any kind of think about neuro pathways that in your brain and why don't they that can be read made. But it's like a field of wheat where you've walked the same way across from one side to the other year after year after year, you make a path. And you just need to keep remind yourself to walk a different path. And eventually, there's a new path becomes more visible than the old path and the old path goes away. But I think it's, it's still there, like you, if you wanted to take that old path, you can. It's just diverting yourself away from it. And I think when you're fully, probably never going to be fully healed. And so I did a lot of therapy, which is too expensive. But when you're fully healed, like I couldn't talk about this without crying, you know, a few years ago, wouldn't have been able to have this conversation with you. And I think when you can talk openly about things and not break down and feel that same level of trauma is when you know, you're healing and you move you're moving on. So. And that's why I think, you know, for me, it's so important to be honest and open and share, because there are people out there who haven't taken another path across the week. And they might suddenly have a light bulb moment where they go. And I've had that, you know, I've had people message me when I've talked about it on Instagram, and they've messaged me and said, Oh, my goodness, I'm gonna go and get a diagnosis, I've just got diagnosed. That's so that just means, you know, I can sell 100 paintings. And that is there's nothing like the joy that I get from the message like, you've changed my life. Because I now have no need to hate myself anymore.

Kate Shepherd 46:47
Yeah, and I'm thinking about, you know, for the, for the people listening to this conversation right now going, hmm. I've kind of always thought those thoughts about myself, what's, you know, the what's wrong with like, why can I? What is it about who never even maybe would have thought about for whatever reason, considering exploring? finding out whether or not this is something for them? What would you what would you say to somebody is a good sort of first step to exploring whether this is what's going on for them?

Phoebe Gander 47:19
Well, that I mean, we're so lucky now with like, the internet, you know, you can Google things and there are so many good places, like there's a website, attitude, add a tude mat dot mag, I think it's called, where I went and did a lot of research from when I'm my kids were diagnosed, and they've got like, a kind of adult diagnostic kind of tests you can take. Um, but yeah, I mean, I would start by just trying to find some research online, and look for other people sharing stories. And, and just see, because I think going into any kind of going to the doctor and saying, I think this is maybe something, it's much better to go along and have done some research, you know, so get some books at the library. Dr. Richard Barkley is a really amazing author who's written books on ADHD. Yeah, just do some research, go to the library, go to go online, buy book, find a website. Because the thing you know, a lot of people think ADHD is a sort of behavior problem, but it's not it's a neurological brain difference, you know, and and then there's a lot of people that crossover and also fit the autism profile, you know, or the dyslexia profile, or, you know, there's, you know, it's there's a lot of overlapping that happens. And I think if you just can go and do some research, and then if you feel like it, even if you don't go and get formally diagnosed, just knowing that you don't have to have a go to anyone and get diagnosed. Visually, if you feel like you fit all that profile, and that's going to take away that shame, then that's enough, you know, but here, you have to go and see a psychiatrist to get diagnosed. Well, I'd

Kate Shepherd 49:10
even if it isn't a formal diagnosis, I feel like one of the things I'm taking from this chat is, you know, there are a million different ways that we're different from one another. Yeah. And 100 million, you know, they're the little girl in you, that internalized your way of being in the world and made it bad. Like, what's wrong with me? Why can't I be like everybody else? Yeah, in a way, I could see how even without an ADHD diagnosis or any diagnosis, we could all do that with whatever it is, that makes us different. Yeah. And I think totally, the gift can be saying, and I mean, I'm trying to do this all the time in my own life, you know, like, how am I different and, and how can that be something that I can lean into as opposed to try to shove down because I think oh, we try it? Yeah, when we try to shove it down it becomes mean it's painful. and all the things that go with it, you know, like you, when you shut that down part of part of what went down with it was your painting, which actually was the thing that was happening to demand that you needed the most and also how your greatest gift is trying to communicate to you. So yeah, I feel like it's, that's, that's kind of things I'm taking from

Phoebe Gander 50:17
it. Yeah, yeah, totally. I think it's it, I think anytime. Just that just negative self talk is just, it's just so dangerous. I

Kate Shepherd 50:27
catch my catch myself all the time. Like, and, or even as I'm walking around the house, like, sometimes I'll be, I'll be in a really bad mood. And I'll know, the other day, I broke a mason jar on my tile kitchen floor, and I never break stuff. I'm that person who never breaks things. And I broke this and it shattered. And I was like, I'm the opposite. Oh, are you I was I? I was like, I think I said, Really? Screw you. And then I was like, Who am I talking to? But it's like, I think you can get into this like, negative, like, there's this person that almost takes over the seat of your consciousness and like, is driving and can be really grumpy. And, you know, you can Yeah, you can be in charge with that with some practice. Yeah, I think it takes practice. But

Phoebe Gander 51:09
definitely, I mean, I've read the power of now I'd be read the Eckhart Tolle. That was really amazing. Just when I did that, when I learned about the pain body and how that overtakes our that was just like, a lightbulb moment to like, and realizing like how much of what was negative and controlling about me was just ego and not the genuine me. And so yeah, I mean, even just, we have now that's gonna

Kate Shepherd 51:36
be great. Yeah, I will put up a link to that in the show notes. Because that is that's a great, that's a great call. I know we've had a very serious conversation, but I want I we have, you're so funny. You're also a very one of the things I really appreciate about you is your love of you seem to just be like this funny, silly loving. And I want to ask you about that little bit that you did on Instagram with the accents which more than four nights in a row, I lay in bed and just watch that reel over and over again.

Phoebe Gander 52:11
I mean, I don't know how anyone that uses a pre stretched canvas can call themselves an artist. Have you seen the price on this one? Oh, my God, that I've never. I mean, a child of two could do that. Honestly, better that I thought my kit? I don't know why. But I don't. Janet. Can you do me one like that? Soc. substract? Like, was he supposed to be there? Is that about?

Kate Shepherd 52:47
Oh, my God was? So did that go viral? Like what was that? What happened?

Phoebe Gander 52:52
I don't know. I've done a few. I've done a few videos now with sort of silly voices and things. And yeah, they've they've all done probably much better than any of my art really tragic. And that's no, you know, it's I just, I don't like to take myself too seriously, or life too seriously. I

like I am a serious person. But also, I, I've always used humor as a defense mechanism. I think there's a trauma response. And also, just being the funny one to sort of deflect from, you know,

Kate Shepherd 53:33
it's also a really powerful way of drawing attention to things, even though it was really, really funny. You're drawing attention to these limiting beliefs that we're talking about creativity, you know, like some of the things that those voices are saying, are things that we say their voices in our own heads that we say about our own work, and about other people's work and about and so you're inefficient, it's a very wise and playful and funny way of kind of like shining some light on that stuff so that we can see how ridiculous it is. Yeah,

Phoebe Gander 54:04
I don't know. I just get these ideas. I, again, I go, I normally get them in the shower. So I'm just in the shower. I like coming along shower, which I'm in the shower, and then I just, I suddenly have little voice telling me something funny. And then I just think, Oh, that's funny. And then I'm like, Oh, that'd be funny. If I did it. Like as if it was a painting talking, or that would be funny if I did it. Like as if it was someone looking at you know, I don't know. And then I just, and then I just think, Ah, I don't know, it just it's it's funny being told you're funny, because, like, it's not something I try to do. It's just, it's just, yeah. Well, and it's out these ideas. They just come to me and then I think, Well, anyone else think this is funny? And then usually they do. So that's good.

Kate Shepherd 54:51
Yeah. And that brings me to where I want to tell you about the word that I pulled from the show today. It was humor.

Phoebe Gander 55:04
Not good. But then we had a really deep conversation. Yeah. But isn't that but yeah, light and shade. This is what I'm talking about. You cannot have the tragedy without the comedy. Yeah, they go hand in glove. And I

Kate Shepherd 55:20
absolutely do. And I love that. And I love that even more now in the fullness of this conversation and the light and the dark and the shadow and the light and all the things we've talked about in the humor, and I just think it's amazing that Yeah,

Phoebe Gander 55:32
that's so no, I knew you'd pick that card ahead of time. I honestly, because I think you've picked it before, haven't you think I have? There's a few that I remember listening to that episode. And I was like, Oh, I wanted to pick that

Kate Shepherd 55:47
one. That's right, Andrea. I think Andrea Garvey's was humor? Yeah, I think you're right. Yeah. Yeah. Well, they're always strikes me every time I just, I, yeah.

Phoebe Gander 55:57
No source was there. They were like you pick this before. But this is also the right card for this personally is.

Kate Shepherd 56:02
Okay. I have I've loved this conversation, I would love to have you back on the show. Because I've really, I've really enjoyed connecting. I feel like we only just scratched. I know what we did. That's why I'm saying that. I feel like let's I'll make some notes about things, the little rabbit holes, I want to go down with you. And we'll have you back. But there is one other question I want to ask you. And it's the billboard question. Yeah, so I'll say it again here so that everybody can come into this moment with us. If you had access to a billboard, and you knew that every person in the world who longed to be an artist, but for whatever reason, and for all the reasons we've talked about believe that they're not good enough. They don't have creativity in them, whatever the story was, you know, what would you and that the words that you put on this billboard, were going to reach them and get their attention and make them go? Oh, what would you? What would you put on?

Phoebe Gander 56:53
Well, I've been thinking about this. And, you know, like, there's so many options, there's so many ideas, it's so hard on a billboard, to come up with the perfect phrase, but I think the only thing I can think of and maybe, I don't know if this is like, good enough, but, um, you know, like, you get us a sign a big sign. And I wanted, I just wanted to write on it. If, if you're wanting to be an artist, this is the sign you've been looking for. And I'd have it like in neon,

Kate Shepherd 57:25
I love it. I love it. I totally agree.

Phoebe Gander 57:28
I just, you know, like it just because I'm always like looking for signs in the universe. And that's the science of us. So if you're listening to this podcast, I want you to close your eyes and just visualize a big billboard with this sign you've been looking for right now. This is the sign that you've been looking for. You're already an artist. So there's your permission.

Kate Shepherd 57:48
Thank you. Thank you for coming today.

Phoebe Gander 57:53
No, you're welcome. It's been so lovely. It's been. It's been like talking to an old dear friend, too, that I've known for my whole life. But I think you make everyone feel like that. That's just your baby.

Kate Shepherd 58:09
I love that Phoebe refers to herself as an emerging artist. It's a playful but important bit of wisdom around remembering that there is magic and allowing ourselves to discover ourselves and our surroundings and new each day. Phoebe story is a reminder to me of how important it is that we commit to seeing each others and our own differences as gifts, not things to be scared of. I imagine all the suffering and trauma that could have been avoided if the people close to her when she was growing up knew to see her faults as what made her special. And instead of making her try harder to be something she wasn't encouraged her to lean into what she was. So many of us know from a young age, what we love and what makes us happy. And in a misguided effort to be like everyone else. We so often talk ourselves out of following those dreams. When I think about little Phoebe, and all the little people everywhere who are trying so desperately to achieve all the same things in all the same ways as their peers. Despite the fact that is simply not how life works. My heart gets a lump in its throat. I wish we could just wave a magic wand and let every single person past, present and future. Know this. The thing that makes you different is the thing that makes you so special. I am roaring encouragement at you to not waste another moment. Lean into this thing. I don't know about you, but I was full on crying when she was telling us about what she thinks creativity is doing through her and how she could only get there once she had forgiven herself for being different. So I will leave you with this. What might be available to you. If you were to forgive Have yourself for being different. If you stop trying so hard to be normal. If you let the negative self talk, simply fall away. Where might this new path through your very own field of wheat, take you? Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter. I pick a random person from my email list once every month and send them an original piece of my artwork. It's one of my favorite things to do. It takes a lot to put together the show. Please consider supporting me to do it. You can visit patreon.com/creative Genius podcast to find out more. And please keep my jewelry or paintings and especially gratitude birds, which keeps selling out in mind. Next time you're looking for a treat for yourself or for a loved one. You can find everything I've mentioned on Kate Shepherd creative.com. Thank you for being here, for opening your heart and for listening. My wish and intention for the show is that it reach into your heart and stir the beautiful thing that lives in there. May you find and unleash your creative genius


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