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The Ugly Podcast


Lauren talks with creatives and industry professionals about the creative process and how to live more openly and fully through the willingness to make “ugly” things—including this podcast! Lauren aims to let creatives know they’re not alone and they deserve to explore all facets and forms of creativity, not just what is accepted or tolerated as “good art.”


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Lauren talks with creatives and industry professionals about the creative process and how to live more openly and fully through the willingness to make “ugly” things—including this podcast! Lauren aims to let creatives know they’re not alone and they deserve to explore all facets and forms of creativity, not just what is accepted or tolerated as “good art.”




Perfectionism as a Superpower w/ Erika Steeves

In this episode, I'm rejoined by my fellow editor and twin perfectionist, Erika Steeves! We're back to talk about perfectionism but through the lens of Katherine Morgan Schafler's book, The Perfectionist's Guide to Losing Control, the book that asks the question: What if your perfectionism is actually a superpower? We were both deeply impacted by this book as it aligns so well with the path we'd already begun with our perfectionism and then adding another layer of shame-shedding by transforming what had been perceived as a weakness into a superpower. How cool is that? Be sure to check out our first episode on perfectionism, Tolerating Imperfection. And follow Erika on Instagram @erika.steeves.edits. This episode launches me into a hiatus with the podcast so I can rest and focus on my own healing for the time being. The Ugly Podcast will return in either the fall or the winter depending on how said healing goes. 🤷🏻 In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram @scribeandsunshine. Keep making ugly things and lean into that perfectionism in new ways. I can't wait to see what we all do next! References:The Perfectionist's Guide to Losing Control: A Path to Peace and Power by Katherine Morgan SchaflerGet Your Perfectionist Profile


Make It Mighty Ugly w/ Kim Werker

Get ready for ugly-ception!!! In this episode, I'm joined by publisher, editor, author, and maker, Kim Werker, to discuss our parallel discoveries: that ugly art makes everything better! Kim made her discovery seventeen years ago at a fateful crafting party where, in a bout of intense imposter syndrome, she was inspired to make a hideous doll...on purpose. Ever since then, she's fallen in love with making ugly things and wants everyone else to join in on the euphoria. Sound familiar?? We talk about our shared love of ugly art, our original creative wounds, the immense consequences of having the courage to saying yes to new and scary things, and the ripple effect it has on the people in your life. To keep in touch with Kim, you can follow her on Instagram @kpwerker, or head to her websites or You can also buy her book, Make It Mighty Ugly, to learn more about her story and how you can integrate more ugly into your life! References:Austin Kleon


Journaling & Legacy w/ Merle Saferstein

On today's episode, I'm joined by Merle Saferstein, writer, journaler, and legacy work educator. Together we talk about the joys of journaling, how it's useful to get to know ourselves, process our messy feelings, and consider new perspectives as we navigate our relationships and worries. We also talk about Merle's work as a legacy educator and how she helps people live more intentionally by asking them to live out the legacy they want to leave behind. Merle has been journaling since 1974, and for fourteen years, she culled through her 359 journals taking excerpts according to approximately seventy topics. In June 2022, Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1, a book containing eleven of these topics, was released. The second volume will be published this month on June 20. As the director of educational outreach at the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center for twenty-six years, Merle worked closely with hundreds of Holocaust survivors helping them to pass along their Legacy of Remembrance to hundreds of thousands of students and teachers. When she retired from the Holocaust Center, she developed a course entitled Living and Leaving Your Legacy® and teaches and speaks to audiences locally, nationally, and internationally. You can get in touch with Merle at and you can find her books on Amazon! References:Gateless Writing


Recovering from Burnout w/ Gauri Yardi

After a brief hiatus for my vacation, I'm so glad to bring this episode to you with my guest Gauri Yardi, a writer and multidisciplinary creative, naturopath, and creative wellbeing coach. She creates resources for tired and burnt out creatives to help regain the energy to make their incredible art through holistic nervous system care. Gauri noticed that when professionals would discuss burnout, they would talk about mindset and sleep, but rarely about the way stress impacts our body. She's determined to change that. We discuss why it's so hard to rest, how it can be downright painful sometimes when we're used to being flooded with stimuli, and the ways we can start to care for our nervous systems using what Gauri calls the Four Pillars. Gauri's accessible approach to nervous system care sets us on the path to healing and finding a fulfilling creative practice that avoids burnout. You can find out more about Gauri's work through the links below!Instagram: @gauri.yardiWebsite: gauriyardi.comCreative burnout quizEbook/Audiobook: A Creative's Guide to BurnoutRe.Creation Masterclass References:Pokey the PenguinAtomic Habits by James ClearButterflies (feat. Aurora) by Tom Odell


Opening the Valves w/ Sophie Cannata-Bowman

Sophie Cannata-Bowman is an anti-perfectionist book editor and writing coach, a playwright, theatre performer, rock climber, and amateur herbalist. In today's episode, she joined me to look at improvisation and the ways it can help us get unstuck and find a more joyful writing practice. We talk about Sophie's experience growing up around creativity and storytelling, her study of plays and acting and the ways a writer's words can be translated by actors. In the writing world, there are a lot of rules that people want us to follow and a heavy focus on critique. But what if we focused more on opening the valves of our creativity and emotions? How far could we stretch ourselves if we allowed improvisation to lead the way rather than form and function? Maybe we'd have a little more freedom to find joy in our practice. You can get in touch with Sophie to learn more about her coaching and editing services at or on Instagram @the.antiperfectionist.editor.


Tolerating Imperfection w/ Erika Steeves

Today I was joined by my kindred perfectionism buddy and editor of speculative fiction, Erika Steeves. We talk about our instant connection over perfectionism when we met last year, and you might hear some familiar descriptions of your own perfectionism and self-doubt that echo in your head each day just as it does ours. We discuss how ugly art has helped us build up a tolerance for imperfection--because what is perfectionism but having zero tolerance for imperfection?--and slowly, over time, we've been able to do scary things even when our bodies scream at us to cancel recording a certain podcast episode (ahem). Erika has found comfort in focusing on the process of art rather than the product, and we discuss the irony in waiting until you CAN do something before you'll actually do it. How exactly are we supposed to get to that point if we won't start somewhere?? Perfectionists, this one is for you. I mean, this whole podcast is for you, but this episode especially. You can get in touch with Erika through Instagram @erika.steeves.edits or through her website References:Creating Through Perfectionism Workshop:


One-Year Extravaganza w/ Emerson Lee

Can you believe it? One whole year of The Ugly Podcast! I'm so proud of my little bundle of joy, and to celebrate, my original co-host and lifetime creative partner, Emerson Lee, joins me for a vulnerable conversation about coming to terms with the messy middle. We're both painfully honest about where we're at with our businesses, and I had to come down from a monster vulnerability hangover afterward, which I'm sure will rear its head again as I officially release this episode. But I think it's important to share with you all how things are going and how I'm truly filled with so much self-doubt these days. But the important thing is that I'm not letting it stop me from looking ahead and celebrating what I've accomplished in one year of podcasting. We talk about the limitations we place on ourselves, coming to terms with our art when it doesn't yield fame and fortune, and the futures of our businesses and exciting things to come. If you haven't already, go follow Emerson on Instagram at @letsmakemoments for education around disability justice, dementia, and living fully. You can also purchase their MoMoMaps and Treasure Hunt sessions at References:Medora Frei's memoir, These Are My Flowers: My Story of Composting Trauma Into Colorful Art


Four Pillars of Successful Completion w/ Cami Ostman

This week I'm joined by Cami Ostman, the founder of The Narrative Project. She's written for Adventures Northwest and the Psychology Today blogger series as well as her own blog: Cami has been profiled in O Magazine, Fitness Magazine, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post. Cami believes words are powerful and that we CREATE our identities with words—as we write, we become! We chat about Cami's original creative wound, how she came to write her memoir, Second Wind: One Woman's Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, and her four pillars of successful completion—the ingredients necessary to finish writing your book (or tackling any big challenge in life!). Cami runs The Narrative Project, which offers programs and resources for writers to get their books done. Cami's nine-month program provides the four pillars we talk about in this episode so that you can finish your story. At The Narrative Project, they believe that writers are the change agents and movement makers in the world, and that everyone deserves to share their story. If you'd like to get involved with them, go to and sign up for their free monthly Mastermind Your Book meeting, complete their Inner Critic quiz, or apply to the nine-month program! References:Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Creativity and Trauma w/ Mae Wagner

Today I'm joined by Mae Wagner, an author, speaker, advocate, trauma mentor, and community builder. We discuss what it means to use creativity to process trauma by helping identify harmful coping mechanisms, find agency, and listen to our intuition. Mae says that creativity allows us to shed light on parts of ourselves that thrive in darkness, paving the way for healing and self-discovery. We also talk about Mae's own relationship to creativity and the freedom that came with taking her own advice she'd been giving to clients for years: Yes, she too was creative and was allowed to delve into her messy creativity without the pressure of perfection. 🤯 To learn more about Mae's work or to purchase her memoir, head to or find her on Instagram @rainydayinmay. ReferencesWe Can Do Hard Things Podcast w/ Glennon DoylePresence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy


Finding Your Style w/ Heather Buchanan

In today's episode, I chatted with artist, writer, and accidental astrologer, Heather Buchanan. You know her from her distinctive, goofy, watercolors and oil paintings with noseless faces as well as her weekly, totally real, horoscopes, Horror Scoops. We discussed her days of painting portraits and when she realized that she wanted to find her own style rather than relying on what other people wanted to see and what would make her money. Along with that process came putting in hours of work that no one would ever see, dealing with the fear of showing work that's completely different than people were used to seeing, and learning to trust her inner weirdo. Talking to Heather gave me so much hope in the creative process. Particularly in the hours of work that no one will see--those scribbles and doodles, those tiny poetry blurbs and short stories and first drafts--it's all flexing the creative muscles and getting to know who you are and what you want to bring into the world. And when we bring our authentic weirdness into our art and share it with others, we give everyone permission to show up in their weirdness too. What a gift! You can follow Heather on Instagram @heatherbuchanan and @horror.scoops, and you can purchase some of her incredible art at References:Heather's interview with CBCHanni's Kim Kardashian sculpture


Imposter Syndrome w/ Leisa Greene

Leisa Greene, the founder of Indie It Press, spent the first forty-one years of her life completely unaware that she had anything creative to offer the world. Coming into her creativity later in life, Leisa immediately felt the imposter syndrome. "Who do I think I am?" "I haven't been dreaming of this since I was a kid, so I must not be a real writer." In learning to navigate the creative process, she began learning more about imposter syndrome and how all artists of every medium and every level experience imposter syndrome. And in fact, the antidote--if there is any--is to simply realize that we're not alone. We talk about the origins of Indie It Press, a platform for indie artists who struggle with imposter syndrome, which aims to rip down the gates that prevent so many new writers from pursuing their dreams by giving them a place to share their work, get published, and improve their craft. When Leisa joined me for this episode, I thought we'd be talking about the imposter experience--and we did, don't get me wrong--but what we ended up connecting over the most was our deep gratitude for this creative life we get to explore. Our conversation turned into a joyful celebration of why we keep going even though we feel like we're frauds. And that's what you deserve too! Because even though we might always feel like imposters, expressing our creativity is also where we find the most belonging. You can connect with Leisa on Instagram @indieitpress or or follow her personal Instagram page @leisa_greene. This year with Indie It Press is the Year of Creativity, and they're offering new membership packages and courses for writers to advance their skills and join a community of creatives. Head to their website to learn more!


Gateless Writing w/ Meg McIntyre

My guest today is changing how I see myself as a writer. Meg is a developmental editor, writer, journalist, and certified Gateless Writing teacher, and her new Gateless Writing salons aim to take down the inner critic and get writers more deeply in touch with themselves and their creativity. Gateless Writing is a framework developed by acclaimed author and Fulbright Scholar Suzanne Kingsbury and is based in neuroscience and Zen principles. In a communal space, it removes the fear of rejection from the creative process, allowing you to quiet your inner critic and encourage your creativity to thrive. The emphasis on critique and harsh feedback that permeates writing culture can make us feel like we just can't "hack it" or that we have nothing to say that's worth hearing. But the beauty of Gateless Writing is in moving away from what is "good" or "bad" and instead finding what resonates and what is powerful, and then letting it go by speaking it aloud to each other. I joined her first Gateless Writing salon a week before recording this and was electrified by the experience. It was humbling and bolstering all at once. We talk about how using this method helped Meg realize that she has more to say and has inspired her to get back to writing for the sake of writing, and she is now working on her first novel. You can try out this method with Meg by signing up for her upcoming Gateless Writing salons in January, February, and March. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter as well to stay in the know about future salons and offers, and follow her on Instagram @bymegmcintyre for more delightful writing content.


Overthinking w/ Lauren Henderson

In today's episode, I'm joined by another Lauren who is basically my twin. Lauren Henderson is a self-proclaimed creative dabbler. She's been an engineer for consulting firms for twelve years and is specialized in technical editing and quality control. Throughout most of those years, she's had creative side hustles, including book review blogging, selling used books, making pottery, and freelance editing. After deciding to pursue freelance editing about two and a half years ago, she ran into roadblocks around mindset and childhood trauma and since then has been leaning into her creativity as a way back to herself and her purpose. Her current creative hobbies include watercolor, writing, energy work practices, and most recently, performing in a musical. We talk about how easy it is to get stuck in our heads about creative pursuits, either holding ourselves back entirely or fixating on things to save us from how we're feeling. It's so easy to let our minds run the show and get stuck on a hamster wheel of perfectionism and inaction. What Lauren has come to learn is that getting back into our bodies and learning to recognize our own creative spirits can help us break the cycle. And you just might find that it's not as scary as you thought it would be! To stay in touch with Lauren, you can follow her on Instagram @laurehender. References:Puttylike


Creating with Kiddos w/ Rey Ward

My guest today is Rey Ward, a youth development professional who uses art and creativity as part of a trauma-informed practice when serving young clients. Working with kids has taught them infinite lessons on seeing beauty in imperfection and finding healing in the process rather than the result.


Writing Bad Books w/ Alex the Undercover Novelist

In this episode, I'm joined by Alex the Undercover Novelist. She is the host of the Novel Marathon podcast and a lifelong writer and learner. She started the Novel Marathon podcast after years of writing classes and a failed NaNoWriMo attempt as a way to hold herself accountable and help other writers through their book writing journey. We talk about exchanging a fixed mindset for a growth mindset and realizing that it's never too late to start allowing yourself to grow and change. Alex has made it a point to insist that this first novel she's writing is BAD. Doing so allows her to continue moving forward and remember that the next draft can and will be better because we're always learning. If you're interested in joining Alex on her current marathon or want to join her on next year's marathon, be sure to subscribe to Novel Marathon at You can also follow her on Twitter, Substack, and Instagram. References:Mindset by Carol S Dweck Bird by Bird by Anne LamottOn Writing by Stephen KingThe Artist's Way Morning Pages Journal by Julia Cameron The Art of Memoir by Mary KarrThe Gap by Ira GlassThe One-Year Novelist by L. M. LillyStory Genius by Lisa CronThis Year You Write Your Novel by Walter MosleyTwitter #smorewords


Finding Your Creative Process w/ Anni Kamola

In this episode, I talk with Anni, an author, developmental editor, and writing coach, about the creative process in all its forms and rhythms. There are those times when you're in the groove and you feel aligned with everything that's on the page, and—maybe more often than not—there are those other times when you aren't sure you could use a keyboard if your life depended on it. We discuss honoring your feelings in the moment AND taking the next step forward. For the past 15 years, Anni has developed her relationship with the creative process through a dance-based meditation practice, finding commonalities between words and movement. She is a lifelong creative who uses somatics to connect her mind and body toward her creative goals and shares about the roles perfectionism, procrastination, and cold showers have in helping her to keep moving forward when things get stuck. Recommendations:Blokus (puzzle game)Miss Rumphius by Barbara CooneyThe Gap by Ira Glass Get in touch with Anni:Sign up for her mailing list and get "20 Tips for Writing Through Those BIG FEELS!" at www.anneliesekamola.comInstagram: @anneliese_kamola_author


Creating for Yourself w/ Kharysa Watt

My guest today is Kharysa Watt, a horticulturalist turned freelance editor and a pencil artist. We chat about the journey to making art for yourself and all the stumbling blocks therein--from fearing what your parents and peers think to learning that it's ok to leave things unfinished and to take breaks when we get frustrated.


Creating Community w/ Gabrielle Goodloe

On today's episode, I talked with my friend and fellow editor, Gabrielle (Gabby) Goodloe, about the importance of creating community in the writing world. At the end of the episode, we introduce our new writing community, The Writer's Helm. Yo ho!


Healing Through Creativity w/ Medora Frei

Content warning: mental health, self-harm, and other health-related traumas. My guest in this episode is an intuitive abstract artist based in the Midwest. Art has always been Medora's way of composting pain so that something new can thrive from it. Experiences, in all their diversity of intensity and meaning, are what she most portrays with paint. She started creating abstract work in 2018 after a traumatic event, and her passion is to help others heal using art. She creates art in her spare time and loves being able to give back to her community through donated works and classes. We talk about using art to help us through disease, chronic pain, and mental health. We can't control what happens to us or our loved ones, but we can let our frustrations and our emotions out on a canvas or a page and start to find beauty amid the chaos. You can connect with Medora and see her work on Instagram ( or through her website ( References from this episode:The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der KolkWhat Happened to You? by Bruce D Perry and Oprah Winfrey


Growth Part II

A change is coming to the podcast, and we thought it was time to finally record part II of our Growth episode. The Ugly Podcast is both growing and shrinking! Growing in that guests will be joining in the following episodes to explore various topics on creativity and mindset in an explosion of creative genius (if I do say so myself). And shrinking in that our beloved Emerson is stepping away from the podcast. We chat about the reasonings behind this change and celebrate our wins and how far we've come together as creatives and entrepreneurs. Growth doesn't happen in a vacuum, we grow when we're supported and feel empowered to play and change. Be sure to thank the people in your life who've helped you grow, just like Emerson has helped me. Do you have a message or story to share about creativity? If you're interested in being a guest on The Ugly Podcast, message me on Instagram! Be sure to stay connected with Emerson's work. You can find them at @letsmakemoments on Instagram or at