I have to tell you, this month’s batch of Artifice interviews with three resilient, vibrant women was something I didn’t realize I needed…but gosh, did I need it.

My personal art issues are wrapped up in my childhood traumas, but are informed by my gender (and the social norms attached to it) in powerful ways, as well.

As I prepare to release this new record, I have been working so hard to hold myself to a new standard. I want to be sure not to filter myself in the ways I usually do. I want to present this art I love without apology, and without padding.

And can I say…it’s really been tricky. Haha. I keep finding myself leaning toward old habits, and have to consistently check myself and make a commitment to realign my actions with my values.

But, hearing these three incredible women echo similar experiences filled me with such warmth and resolve.

It’s so easy for me to see immense value and potential for expansiveness in them. It’s natural for me to believe they are capable of things they haven’t previously done, and of inhabiting physical and philosophical spaces I might not predict. It’s a great reminder that I (we all) could and should be seen with similar grace and flexibility…

Lindsey (author) shared her experience of feeling that only certain kinds of creativity were valued from her. In her childhood, this feeling led her to develop humor as a sort of unfettered (ungendered) outlet for creativity. And as an adult, it motivated her to stake a claim in her own creative identity and begin writing professionally. We talked about the phenomenon of having your creative work casually undervalued by others, and strategies for remaining detached from this kind of reckless misunderstanding.

Holly (painter, illustrator) poured her heart out with such elegance during our conversation. She’s currently wrapping up her Master’s thesis show titled “Reclaiming Motherhood: I Will Not Vanish” (if you’re in Utah, you will NOT want to miss this). The themes of stolen motherhood are, naturally, fully enmeshed with more broadly perceived limitations of women and femininity. And of course, Holly has experienced these social barriers, as well. But that brilliant, persistent flicker kept Holly asking herself “what other art can come out of me?”

I am so moved by this question. And I’d like to point out that it is a VERY difficult question to ask of oneself when valued others aren’t also asking it. Honoring the sneaking suspicion that you’re capable of more (or even just…something else) when surrounded by those who barely acknowledge the capability you currently embody…is. so. brave.

Bailee (singer, actor, photographer) came to these tenacious thoughts in a slightly different context. As a child and teen, she hung her identity on being an exceptional vocal talent. But upon entering a college program brimming with exceptional vocal talents, Bailee had to redefine the way she valued herself. And in yet another show of such courage and creativity, she asked herself “what else do I like about me?” And set about growing herself into brand new directions, skillsets, roles, and ways of being. I find this penchant for expansion so incredibly inspiring.

All of these women (and so many of my guests over the past two years) have demonstrated the same buoyancy. What else can I make? What else can I try? What more can I be?

It reminds me to keep leaning toward the parallel pull in myself. And to trust that the people who matter want me to keep leaning.

So, I’ll lean. And I hope you will, too.