Episode 02

ep02: Lauren Shannon on Creative Consistency and How to Have Some


September 14th, 2020

22 mins 6 secs

Your Host

About this Episode

hello human 02 - transcript


welcome to hello human.

I’m Terri also known as tokyoterri on social media.

what is this podcast going to be about?

I'm going to explore 3 questions about creativity:

how does creativity fit into every day life?

how to maintain creative consistency?

and who and what are great creative inspirations?

In some shows I’ll offer my own answer to these questions.
In some shows, I'll interview creators I admire so we can all learn from them.


Terri: We're rolling. I am excited! You are the first interview on my podcast, hello human. Hello, ma'am!

Lauren: Hello, how are you?

Terri: This is Lauren Shannon, my best friend. And we talked about her actually in the context of the fact that she runs The Tokyo Writer's Salon. So if you listened to last week, which I hope you did, she is the person who masterminded that and so many other projects. How do you keep a list, which is actually what we're going to talk about... Tell us a little bit about you.

Lauren: So I'm from the East coast in the U.S., not New York, like Terri, but just a little bit south of there. I'm from Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia, and I've been in Japan a really long time, really long time.

And I've had a bunch of different lives. I was a teacher, I was a restaurant owner. I was many things, but most recently for the last six years or so, I've been in the tourism business in Japan. But I also love to write, I love to create, I love to work on projects. and I have always been that way. I can remember really early on doing lots of creative projects with my mom who was also a teacher. So yeah, I love a little bit of everything.

Terri: This is fantastic because I suspect there may be a lot of folks who are listening to this who are creatives; I don't want to say wannabes, 'cause that sounds negative, but folks who have a lot of things that they want to do on the creative side and they may have trouble being consistent. So I'm going to go first through our first main three questions. And then let's talk a little bit about how you maintain consistency.

Lauren:_ If_ I maintain consistency, sure. Let's go ahead and get started.

Terri: So what are your creative inspirations? What inspires you?

Lauren: So I love to be in the moment and absorb a lot of the things around me. So I choose to put myself in positions where I can read lots of stuff, see lots of stuff hear lots of stuff. And just really immerse myself in everything. And I think one of the ways that my brain works that is maybe, I won't say unusual, cause I'm sure there's lots of other people like this too, but, I like to see how things are connected.

I think just instinctively, I'm always looking for connections between food and art and music and wine and tourism and different people, different jobs. And so what inspires me the most is like noticing the things around me and thinking about the way that things are connected. And then I turn that into: how can I share those connections with others, or how can I help other people and other projects connect with each other.

Terri: Interesting. So it's the glue that holds disparate things together that excites you. You want to find out what that glue is and illuminate what that glue is.

Lauren: Yeah. And maybe not even disparate things, but maybe, just what, I think that, those age-old sayings, like everything's connected.
I think I really believe that. And I think a lot of the connections are invisible unless you go looking for them.
So it's not even necessarily disparate things, but just surprising connections. I guess I'm more interested in that.

I love that we have our motorcycle background tonight; just so everyone knows Terri and I are sitting on a deck looking over the ocean in the Chiba region of Japan.

It's usually very quiet and we were all like, Oh, it's going to be so nice. We'll do the podcast. And there's going to be waves in the background, but now we've got the famous motorcycle gang Bōsōzoku guys revving their engines. And in this town every day at five, o'clock there's a chime, which I guess we should have anticipated.

And I'm just talking over it now. But hopefully when the chime ends, you guys will not be assaulted by all this other auditory influence with.

Terri: It's cinema verite. And I think I'll keep it in if we're understandable. Oh, it's getting louder. I never noticed that before.

Lauren: It's bouncing. Yeah. I think it's going to be fine everyone can hear it. I've been doing a podcast recently, and I just refuse to be worried about the background noises. And actually a lot of people have told me, don't worry about it.

Terri: We really are here and this really is Japan.

Lauren: And, this is a good, little segue into taking advantage of the moment. Like I said, you want to be in the moment, Terri and I have been talking about doing this recording for a while, but we just grabbed the opportunity. So we're here together in the same place, in the same kind of frame of mind. So regardless of not having some kind of quiet studio or whatever, we're just going to go for it.

Terri: I think that makes a lot of sense. In fact, part of why I've been inspired, one of my inspirations is your podcast. Tell us a little bit about that project in the context of: how come you did that?

Lauren: So I just, yeah, I just got super jealous. So I've been thinking about doing a podcast for a long time and I just never put it together. I'm always trying to work on too many things at once, which I'm sure a lot of your listeners can relate to. And I had wanted to do a podcast and thought about it, but...

I didn't have the courage to just jump in and get started. And then you started this one and another friend of mine, Laura, started one about tourism and I was like: Oh, this is ridiculous. If everyone else is doing one, I should just try it. And yeah, I'm only on episode three, but I'm super motivated because doing the research to start my podcast, I saw all these great podcasts listed out there about topics that I'm really interested in. But then when I would log in and look at the podcast, there'd be like two episodes and the person quit. Or three episodes, and then the person quit.

So right now my goal is to not be one of those people. No, you haven't quit here we are recording, but yeah, I'm not going to let either one of us quit. So see, and you're in trouble now.

Terri: So this is really quite an interesting thing. So what inspires you is partially the folks around you, which I think is awesome because it's not just looking out to all of these folks out in the ether who are famous and stuff like that. You look for inspiration wherever it comes and that includes your friends. Absolutely. I love that that there, your first approach was not all jealousy. It was more, Hey, I know them. They're my people. I can do it too.

**Lauren: **Yeah. I really felt inspired by the fact that you guys just dove in and I thought, I'm just going to try it and see how it goes. And actually the first one was super fun and I have to give a big up, I know you're not, you're on Fireside here. Fireside. Yeah. To give some big props to Anchor. So if any of your listeners are out there; his is not an advertisement by the way, because Terri's not on this platform.

Terri: But I'm pro the platform for folks who want to do it there.

Lauren: So what I would say is if you're like me, so Terri has experience in the music industry and the recording industry, I don't have any of those things. I just was looking for an easy way to get started. And I had read some good things about Anchor. And I've got to say, if anyone listening to this is thinking about doing a podcast, you should at least start out on Anchor because it's super easy. It's just super easy. It's really intuitive.

I do all of it on my phone and the like user interface is like dead simple. So my, I think more than inspiration, maybe this will come up later in questions. So anyway, yeah. I'm inspired by everything around me and I try to actively look for that kind of stuff. In fact, when I feel like I'm in a funk, I will go to an art museum or I will go to a park or I will go on a trip or go on a drive and just try to get out of my regular routine and get off the devices and see what I see. And that helps a lot.

Terri: The thing that's funny about the ç* people here is they drive these little lawnmowers and they hink they're scary,

**Lauren: **They're teeny little motorcycles, they think they're really tough. And we were just saying earlier this weekend that we hadn't seen them, This summer, really waiting for they're waiting for this podcast.

Terri: I'm going to keep it in as long as we're understandable, because I think this is seaside Chiba.

**Lauren: **Yeah. you're hearing where we are and then I think there should be, what are they going now? Maybe it might get a little loud when they first leave. So everybody just bear with us.

Terri: They seem asserting their. Just... I didn't want to say that, Yes. That does seem to be where, and, speaking of testosterone in a serious note, we love our guys. We love the men in our lives.

Lauren: Where is this headed?

Terri: It's a testosterone-filled world.

Lauren: Right.

Terri: And we know that, and there's a lot of imbalances in the world in every single country, every single situation. We're both American and fairly progressive. Wow. See. See, this is what testosterone does it not only interrupts the ladies during the podcast. It's like dueling lawnmowers. What the heck guys? Yeah, let's give it a second.

**Lauren: **And quiet returns.

Terri: Women continue making something fruitful. That was exciting.

Lauren: Anyway, I was saying like, when I get in a funk, I try to shake myself out of it by seeking out like creative influences. So they can come from anywhere, but it's normally just about changing direction.

Terri: And changing your mindset.

Lauren: Yeah, exactly.

**Terri: **That's interesting. That brings me where I was about to go on the. kind of pretty serious note. We have a world full of craziness. And it's not that we never had a world full of craziness, but it's just, we're alive now.
And this happens to be our set of craziness and inexplicable stupidity and evil and racism and all those things. And one of the reasons I wanted to start this podcast is start with is I think creativity is a blow against the empire. And I think it is, it can be, yeah. Leni Riefenstahl exists, but done right, it's a blow against the empire, and it's also a tool of self care. I really think there's something healing. but that may be my woowoo hippie personality.

Lauren: I don't think so. there's all kinds of studies about, of course we've proven now that there's no like real right brain left brain, that's a simplification of how the brain works, but there is kind of fugue state that you get into, when you are creating and we've all felt it, like when all the stars align, you can lose yourself in something, be it a drawing or a piece of writing or painting, or, whatever it might be, you lose yourself in it. And how you know that you're really in that state of mind is time doesn't matter. An hour will go by and it feels like five minutes. And I think that is a really important type of self care, to let your brain go down those paths and get away from it all, that's our own version of fairyland or mystical whatever. I think it's within ourselves.

But I think that's definitely self-care. And to your earlier point about it'd being an act of defiance, I think that's awesome always been true. I think whenever dictators and fascists and authoritarian governments have tried to control and tamp down the human spirit, the first places that you always see, the resistance are with creative folks, getting the word out, helping people feel like they're not alone, helping people feel like they're not being gaslighted, helping spread the word that there's another way.

And I think that always falls to the artists and the musicians and all of those folks. And that's been true, for as long as there's been at least written human history is that you've always seen this act of rebellion coming out and really creative ways.

Terri: And I think it's, I absolutely agree. And I think it's even more important now because we're as single human beings and as the collective of people, whose motivations for life are life giving and talking about women becoming mothers. I'm talking about. people who want to see other people do well, whether they look like us or they worship like us or they, whatever like us, when other people do well, that's our, that's our jam.

We have gaslighting, we have fake news. We have an internet that I adore. But it is, it can be a tool for rampant stupidity, and used against us.

Lauren: More than just that if you cut through all of that, and you're not just talking about the political side of things right now, I think living through the time of Corona virus is very unsettling, disturbing, depressing.

We're all on this big rollercoaster. And I think creativity can bring us together. It can give us an outlet for what we're afraid of and for what we're motivated by and for what we want to do in the future. It's a place to dream about what we can do after all of this and how we can take this opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our world and make a difference.

Like I'm not hoping things go back to normal. I'm hoping things get better. Yes. So politically, but also health-wise and mentality. And all of that, I think we have an opportunity cause coronavirus has slowed us all down.

it's like the great pause. We're all just waiting to see what comes next. And I think during that time you've seen amazing... people I know who never cooked before making sourdough bread and people that have never painted before taking up painting. And, I think that is a gift in a strange twisted sort of way.
And it may be how we survive and get better after all of this, by kind of embracing that...

Terri: Those of us who do survive, the reality is this is pointing up, as well, the amazing level of income inequality, and who are the essential people, all those things. And I'm looking now very much for art from those real essential people.
When the janitor makes a record, I'm all up in that. When an older mother, Latino mother who's struggling, single mother who's struggling gets the opportunity, which is what the internet can give us that we didn't have before. Can you imagine, Dr. King with the internet, can you imagine James Baldwin with the internet?

Lauren: Yeah. And I think I need to just emphasize that by saying creative people out there, listening to this podcast or who listen to this podcast in the future, when I get really overwhelmed thinking about all the people who have not survived this and who we will lose in the coming months.

I get overwhelmed by the way, loss of human potential in that. We don't know who those people would have been or what they would have contributed or what. What we were denied by their being taken from us too soon. And I think, and fortunately for the rest of the folks that do make it through, we almost have an obligation to be creative on their behalf.

So if you've got something to say, if you've got a gift to give to the world, you have to make up for all the people that will no longer be able to do that. And it's your responsibility. It's one of the ways that we can help people heal. Cause it's a really difficult time. And what's sad is the numbers have gotten so big around the world that they're too abstract now.

So we're not thinking about the numbers as people. We're thinking about the number as a number. And I think we need to get back to humanity on that, what it means and. Yeah, but anyway, before we get too grim, do you have another question for me?

Terri: I do have another, I have about a thousand questions in part, because you're one of the people that I know who I'm not going to say you never procrastinate.

Lauren: Oh, I procrastinate all the time.

Terri: I'm not going to say you never have like too many creative projects that you're juggling, but you manage in your restaurants, your, all these projects that I've seen you do over a long time now. You manage to pull off these amazing things that sprung from your mind and you managed to do that...like consistency can't be as easy as you make it look.

Lauren: It's not easy at all and it's not consistent. It's again, we have to be really careful. I know it's become trite in the internet to say that, like, when you're looking at people's Instagram or you're looking at their end product, you're comparing it to your backstage rehearsal and that's not reality.

So what I would say about me is that maybe the secret is that it's not that I don't fall down and not finish things. It's that I don't beat myself up for that. And I know, so I used to have this, I still have this tremendously endless to-do list and it used to be that I would, and this is not even that long ago.

I'd say even 15 years ago, I used to compare what I had done to that list. And so I would always come up lacking because the list was super long and maybe I got three things done. And then I don't know, somewhere along the line, I decided that my, I couldn't stop making lists, cause it's something I, when I get a new idea, I want to write it down.

I want to do it. I'm excited about it. But I decided that the to do list is aspirational. So it's not a required list of things that I have to do in this world, because at the end of the day, you do what you can do, right? So I've got this great list. I can dump everything on it. I can pull from it. I can cross things off.

I can do whatever, but I know that I'm not going to be. So this is the big truth. And this is true for all of you out there listening to this. You're never going to complete your, to do list. you're never going to do it. So the sooner that you embrace that and you don't think of the to do list as something to make yourself feel bad about the more free you will be.

So here's how my to-do list works. I've got the, to-do list and it's all things I really want to do. And when I write them down, I think they're all possible. I overestimate what I can get done every single day when I wake up. But the difference is when I get to the end of the day, I concentrate on the thing that I did get done, not on the things that I didn't get done.

Terri: Wow. That's hard.

Lauren: Yeah. But it's essential, right? if we all, you're laughing, but we all have an endless to do list and we're never going to be able to do all of the great things that we want to do. But instead of feeling bad about that, I'm like, wow, I have this great range of things that I can choose to do.

Terri: So it's like the, to do list is a piece of art, in a way.

Lauren: Yeah. and also just isn't it great, isn't it a gift that I can think of all these things and, I get to choose and that's the thing I think we need to take more of our own ownership. We need to be more empowered to say, this is what I did today.

And I made those choices. I decided that I wasn't going to do this and I was going to do this and I got done what I could and, and the more that you do that, and the more you focus on what you did get done, the better that feels, and we're always better at seeking out. gratification. So if you are making yourself feel good when you finish something, instead of making yourself feel bad, when you don't finish something, you're going to be wanting to feel good a lot.

So you're going to be like, yay I finished that! Isn't that great. And I think that helps a lot now, in the real world, we have deadlines for real people and that is harder. but I just try to be. Honest at the end of the day, this is what I got done. This is good. This is what I need to do tomorrow.

And I need to refocus myself and yeah, but I definitely am a big procrastinator. I'm always at the end of my deadline and I get something out of that adrenaline. And that's been like a lifelong struggle is thinking about kind of taming that adrenaline junkie.

**Terri: **This has been amazing. We have to wrap it up cause we have another creative artist in the kitchen who's making us dinner.
Thank you so much, but you didn't say the name of your podcast. I wanna make sure.

Lauren: Oh, I'm so sorry. My podcast is called Tokyo Tea Time. And it's wherever you listen to podcasts, I'm on Spotify and Apple and blahblahblah, but I produce in Anchor and, I would love it if you guys give it a listen and Terri, I'd love to come back and chat with you anytime.

**Terri: **Yeah. Please keep in touch.

**Lauren: **And I will be listening to your hello human podcast, which I think by the way is an amazing title.

**Terri: **There are a lot of them actually, but this one is mine.

**Lauren: **Yeah, no, there's a lot, but a lot of them like started and stopped. So you're not going to be that one. No, I'm not going to get over this name because you and I are going to keep going with this. and yeah. thank you for having me be your first interview. And I look forward to hearing lots more interviews. Enjoy your podcasts! Thanks.


Thank you for listening. You can catch up with me and my creative projects at:


that's linktr.ee.tokyoterri

Tokyo Teatime Podcast: https://apple.co/3h1VjS0

Tokyo Writer's Salon: https://www.meetup.com/writers-648/

Till next week, stay safe and make something!

*Bōsōzoku (暴走族, literally "running-out-of-control (as of a vehicle) tribe") is a Japanese youth subculture associated with customized motorcycles. The first appearance of these types of biker gangs was in the 1950s.