I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past two weekends in the country, both of which involved good conversation, goofy dogs, lots of space, and many small, quiet pretty things to look at. Last weekend there was a bonus wombat, fat and blinking as I turned on the outside light one night. And on both weekends an excellent book came my way that inspired much creative thinking.

She Sheds was this weekend’s book. Oooh, I’d love a shed, somewhere to spread out all my creative projects and leave them spread out—no tidying up because you need to use the dining room table or because someone’s coming over and you don’t want them to see your work in progress. This book has sheds galore: potting shed, art studio, writer’s retreat, summer house. It has modern, old, up-cycled, reclaimed, frilly and plain sheds. You name it, they’re in there. There are vignettes on each shed’s owner. It’s lovely to see how people’s personalities have influenced their shed design and decor. There are even tips on how to build your own, including lessons learned from other people’s uh-oh moments.

I’ve been coveting other people’s sheds for a while. My parents have a patched-up old one with leadlight windows and corrugated iron walls that’s full of gardening equipment and spiders. I saw a beautiful one in a magazine, made of recycled timber, with one enormous wall of old windows. It was gasp worthy. There’s something similar in She Sheds. Kate and family at Foxs Lane recently built a greenhouse/shed that looks good enough to live in. And Swedish designer Gudrun Sjoden has a perfect little summer house full of colours and textures. What about you? Do you have a shed or a studio where you create, make or grow things? Do you wish you had one?

Here’s the second book that fell into my lap:


I was given it by a friend who understands my frustration with the way the 9-5ish life of full-time work gets in the way of innovation and creative thinking. It’s SO inspiring to read the words of women of all ages and creative talents. I love the pictures in this book but I love the words even more. Here are some quotes from some of these fabulous women:

“Know fear, and honour it. When you feel fear, that’s when you are growing.” (Dominique Browning, author and activist.)

“I think the world needs more people with hobbies … the effects of incorporating activities and experiences in our lives that bring us joy can be incredibly beneficial to our sense of pride and happiness.” (Jasika Nicol, actor and maker.)

“Nobody knows better what you’re capable of than you. Trust yourself. Trust your ideas.” (Tina Roth Eisenberg, graphic designer and entrepreneur.)

The women in this book talk about what they’re most proud of, what inspires them, what lessons they’ve learned, what they do when they’re in a rut. There are a few themes that seem to come up again and again throughout the book:

  • Go with your gut. Trust your instinct.
  • Connect with other creative people. Put yourself out there. Share your work.
  • If you’re stuck, go outside. Go for a walk. Walk aimlessly. Look around.
  • Be willing to be bad at something and keep going with it.

My favourite quote of all comes from Debbie Millman, writer, artist, educator and radio host. When asked what success means to her, she said this:

“I think success is a practice, sort of like love or happiness.”

I love that one because it sums up a basic human failing: we keep forgetting that we have to put in the effort. We have to work at being happy, creative, loving, successful. I find that really inspiring. I hope you do too.