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As season 6 properly kicks off, we’re super excited to introduce our very first guest, Sarah Sovereign, who joined us to talk all about creative boundaries.

If there’s one thing we know, boundaries are super tough, especially from a neurodiverse perspective of wanting to keep everyone happy! But Sarah speaks about boundaries as a kindness and comes at it from a kind and accepting viewpoint. We really think you’ll love what she has to say.

What this season looks like

A quick reminder that this season we’ve changed things up a bit – with themes for each month, we’re recording & releasing one new episode a month, and then sharing relevant things around that theme.

Looking at boundaries

We figured a great way to start the season would be by looking at boundaries, especially creatively. We know that lots of us find it hard to set and hold them, and yet having solid boundaries around your creative work, practice, space and time can make a massive difference to your happiness and output.

So, let’s welcome the lovely Sarah Sovereign who joins us to talk all things creative boundaries-related!

Meet Sarah

Sarah Sovereign by Amber Wilber

Sarah is a photographer in Fraser Valley, BC, Canada, and she works with people to tell their stories through narrative photography. She also does gatherings, workshops, creative mentorship, and has a background in counselling so is also a therapist. Phew!

How we started

“Before” Sarah – when she used to pack her calendar with so many things she had no breathing room. The busier she got, the more she added – and it wasn’t sustainable. Sound familiar? Us too…

Nowadays she still lives off her calendar, but it’s much more mindful – she makes sure there’s room for her to breathe and rest and do all the things which light her up. And we very much approve of that!

One of the reasons we chose to feature Sarah in this episode and this month is because she showed a real ability to make a change to her boundaries so that her life, work and creativity suited her much better. And that’s not an easy thing to do, as most of us know.

What we talk about

Neurodivergence and women with ADHD, and the rabbit holes that follow the discovery of that if it resonates with you. Burning out because you have no idea how to stop running around at high speed doing All The Things.

“There came a time when I had to really just slow down, start untangling myself from so many things and learn what it was to actually flow with my body, flow with my mind, flow with ADHD, and kind of figure out what that looks like. I mean, what are the conditions that I need to move in, not only to get stuff done, but also to just drive and survive and not completely crash and burn.”

How to create that spaciousness once you recognise you need it. The difference between coming to the realisation that it’s what you need and actually implementing that change. Reassessing your life through a new or different lens.

Sarah Sovereign by Audra Coton

How it feels to do a big thing you’ve been working towards, then have no idea what to do after you get there, and to crash and burn, and be too tired to even work out what those next steps should be, let alone take them. The familiarity of these feelings for late diagnosed ADHD women, in particular.

Understanding your own flow and dealing with perfectionism, and shame, and other awkward feels which get in the way of us resting. RSD (Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – head over here for a summary ) and how it can lead to people pleasing and perfectionism, and can make our boundaries around our creativity harder to hold.

Unfold and flow – Sarah learned to approach things with these words in mind. Letting go of worrying and the outcome of things, and just let things unfold and trust yourself that you’re going to figure it out.

(we know these things are easier said than done, but Sarah is living proof that the effects of getting to the other side are completely worth the effort)

The metaphor of the cocoon, a butterfly and a haggard moth, and also her experience of photographing people in the water, and having a much better connection when she got into the water with them rather than staying on shore.

How hard it can be to let go and relinquish control, when you’ve spent your life being controlled to manage your life. Restarting after burn out, and finding out where your body will and won’t co-operate, and finding the levels which are sustainable rather than the ones which lead to burn out over and over again.

Journalling, lists, catching ideas, sketching things out and thinking really big. Having a group of likeminded people to talk things through with who are trusted and can do gentle constructive criticism.

Figuring out what to say no to without feeling that awful fear of missing out. Saying no to some things so you can say yes to the things your heart and soul need. Holding space very carefully for the things you really do love and which are fundamental to your wellbeing and self-expression. (Sarah does all of this very well!)

Saying “no” being a process, and a surprisingly hard word to say considering it’s one syllable and two letters. The danger of saying yes to everything, even if it’s not serving you or filling you up. Listening to your body’s signals when an opportunity or suggestion comes up – if you immediately want to nap, that might be a significant sign that it’s not the right thing to say yes to right now.

Shoulds. Shoulds are not ours, shoulds are an external pressure, an expectation, and if a should crops up in language around something, it’s a good sign to pause and check where it’s coming from.

“Do I want to do this?
Can I do this?
Is this something that aligns for me?”

Creative practice and creative work, and learning the process of creative practice. Practicing saying yes to the things you want to say yes to, and accepting that means saying no to some things.

Sarah Sovereign by Audra Coton

Starting with very small steps – acknowledging you may have many years of stuff to untangle before you can truly emerge the other side, and that’s ok.

Reviewing things and letting them evolve and change if needed – if, like Sarah, a 24 hour project turns into a two day or a one week project, that is ok. It’s all a process of learning.

Creating and holding boundaries with clients, managing their expectations and making sure your business and creativity works for you. Being clear about what you do and what your process is. Coping with setting boundaries feeling mean, and getting used to doing it.

Understanding you can’t be all things to all people all the time. Remembering what you know about you and what your body needs and what your mind needs. Giving yourself permission to engage with that process. Learning the lessons when they present themselves, because sometimes they’re hard to anticipate before they happen.

Advice if you’re feeling like Before Sarah

Boundaries are a kindness that you can give to yourself and to others and reframing it that way makes all of the difference.

Boundaries are a bit like contracts – they can sound scary when they’re unfamiliar, but they’re there to protect you. Think about how you can communicate what you do and how you communicate and your boundaries that way – for example, answering emails on a certain day or messages at a certain time. (and yay, deadlines for ADHD too!)

It’s been a process to learn about boundaries, learn to love them and to treasure them for what they are. Explore it, but be gentle with yourself as you go.

Get more Sarah in your life

Sarah’s website is sarahsovereign.com

Find her on Instagram @sarahsovereign

Explore her Grief Houses project

And take a peek at the 24 hour projects which she talked about in this episode

You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook

And here we are on Zoom together during the recording!