Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life

Anna Stoecklein and The Story of Woman

June 11, 2023 Claire Waite Brown/Anna Stoecklein Episode 80
Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
Anna Stoecklein and The Story of Woman
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Creative Brain is a catalyst for change
For many years Anna Stoecklein believed that creativity was limited to traditional forms of art, such as painting or drawing. However, after watching the Netflix documentary The Creative Brain, she realized that creativity is everywhere, and that everyone is creative in their own way. This realization was a game-changer for Anna, as it allowed her to see her own creativity and potential.
Anna had a creative childhood, but that took a back seat during her teenage years and early adulthood.
Anna studied nursing, and after three years of working in a clinical setting, she realized it wasn't for her. She couldn't see herself climbing the management ladder or going back to school to become a nurse practitioner.
Other career roles followed, along with a move from the US to the UK. The lessons Anna had learnt from that documentary percolated, until a few years later she was able to put them to good use as she turned the idea for The Story of Woman podcast into a fully-fledged show.
In this episode Anna and I discuss how she was able to challenge and reframe her self-perception as a "non-creative" person, as well as the amazing experiences she's had with her podcast guests, including conversations with Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair.
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Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi Photo: Ella Pallet

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Speaker 1: I had in my head that creativity was again like pinned to paper, paintbrushed to easel. It was something that I personally did not have, or even didn't have a draw to This specific definition of creativity, and watching this documentary reframed that for me and really just expanded my definition of what creativity was. We just like so many things. There was lots of apprehension because I had never put anything in the world that I had created before in this way, so publicly, and it also, you know, you feel quite vulnerable. I guess I'll do a little name dropping as well, following suit from you. Yeah, so Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair were on my podcast. 

Speaker 2: Hi, i'm Claire, founder of Creativity Found, a community for creative learners and educators, connecting adults who want to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them do so with workshops, courses, online events and kits. For this podcast, i chat with people who have found or re-found their creativity as adults. We'll explore their childhood experiences of the arts, discuss how they came to the artistic practices they now love and consider the barriers they may have experienced between the two. We'll also explore what it is that people value and gain from their new found artistic pursuits and how their creative lives, in which they're practical, necessary, everyday lives. I've got a little bit of an introduction and also I'll breathe over here. 

Speaker 1: I'm a big fan of everything. 

Speaker 2: When I've got two tracks I can edit separately. I prefer to do it that way and I don't mind. I might keep some of the backstage stuff in and stuff in this one, depending on what it's like. But I'll do all that in the editing, Can I? 

Speaker 1: uh, yeah, definitely, yeah, definitely. Oops, oh, that looks a little bit clear. Maybe that's just the lighting. Amazing. 

Speaker 2: Okay, that was all the little selfie there. 

Speaker 1: Yeah, okay. 

Speaker 2: That's alright, right? okay, let's go. Let's get serious. Now. We're serious podcasters here. Anna. Yes, we are Right, we're good at this. Okay, hi listeners, it's that time of year again. I am here with my guest, anna. I'm sorry, sweetheart, what is your pronunciation, Stoecklein? Ah, i see, i wouldn't have said that. Okay, i'm here with my guest, Anna Stoecklein, at the Podcast Show in London, recording in person in the Shure studio at the show. Now, podcasters love to get meta, so I have invited Anna, as a fellow podcaster, to join me today to talk about her creative blossoming and how she's been able to channel that into producing a very successful podcast. So let's begin. Hi Anna, how are you? 

Speaker 1: Hi Claire, i am fantastic. Thank you so much for having me. What a pleasure it is to do it in this fantastic studio as well. 

Speaker 2: It is such fun, isn't it? We've got all these people outside as well. We can see you wandering around looking official. We're like an official. Okay, anyway, let's get into creativity found stuff. So you, like me, have been able to tap into your creative self through podcasting with your show the story of woman. But before we get to how you started podcasting, tell me about your childhood and teenage experiences of creativity. 

Speaker 1: Yeah, so I guess, starting with childhood, i was a very creative child and that I was very into putting on shows, performances. I was always the one carrying around a video camera and corralling all of the neighborhood kids to join and doing anything from commercials to movies to murder mysteries, just all kinds of things, and it was a great, great time, a great childhood filled with that. There was plenty of other things as well, like I remember from my, even before those years, i would like do drawings and coloring and I try to sell them. 

Speaker 1: So there's also kind of entrepreneurial side, i think, to my creativity when I was a kid. But then, and you know, i went to some like theater camps and was pretty into it and then it kind of just dropped off. I took up sports more and I think I was in a kind of environment that prioritized sports and other types of extracurriculars, if you will. And also my experience with creativity moved into the classroom. You know art classes and things of that nature and my hands on physical creativity so with painting or whatever we would be doing in these art classes, was never my strong suit. So I started to develop this story about myself that I wasn't a creative person actually. Yeah, it kind of dropped off and throughout my teenage years and really all of my 20s I would have said that I wasn't a creative person at all kind of the opposite of how I feel now yeah, as you get given a kind of idea what being creative means, and we're gonna come on to how that changed for you, luckily, later. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, you went to college after high school. Did you have subjects you were passionate about then or a plan for a career path after college? 

Speaker 1: Oh, i, wish I could say I did, but no, not quite. I went to school to be a nurse actually, and I kind of just chose that because I didn't know what else I wanted to do. And I was really into sports, as I mentioned, so I was really into anything to do with health and fitness and I really like I'm a very kind of caring and people person, so I like to be around people and feel like I'm doing something meaningful and giving back. So combination of those things just led me into nursing. But I didn't really have a plan because you know, as we may or may not get into within three years of working as a nurse in the clinical world, i kind of left that because I realized it wasn't for me. But so I guess I had a short term plan that didn't quite pan out. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, was it? therefore, you've mentioned that something happened. Was this was a reason that you then decided to say no, i'm not doing nursing? was that kind of like a slow burn or a thing, a catalyst? 

Speaker 1: A bit of both. I started to realize, you know, i couldn't see myself being a nurse in the long term and I saw my paths forward as either kind of climbing the management ladder or going back to school to be a nurse practitioner, and neither really appealed to me. And because I couldn't see myself doing it for the long term, i just like, okay, well, there's no point continuing to do it now and I need to start figuring out or I want to start figuring out what's next. That, in combination with just the last experience that I had, was, without going into all the details, not not conducive or safe because of the environment that I worked within the number of patients that we had. I was in the emergency room and I would have 15 plus patients because of the lack of staffing and the lack of support from senior management and it was just a very kind of toxic overall work environment and that was kind of the final straw. But there was definitely an underlying feeling leading up to that that that wasn't for me. 

Speaker 2: That was my path. Yeah, yeah, completely understandable. Now, the more keen listeners among you will have noticed that Anna has an accent, but she does live here in the UK. So tell me, anna, what did you do after leaving nursing, and how is it that you now live here in the UK? 

Speaker 1: Yes, yes, i am American and I was working as a nurse in New York City and I ended up because I knew I didn't want to do that but I didn't know. You know, what could I possibly do? now I have this nursing degree kind of boxed myself in, i felt like. So I ended up taking a job for like a medical device type company and doing that for a few years and then I moved over to the UK, while working in that industry, just with with an X. Moved over with an X for a combination of reasons and a big reason just being we really wanted to live outside of the US and he had a good job opportunity that allowed us, allowed us, to come. So, yeah, we came over from there and I worked in that industry for just another year but discovered very quickly that industry in the UK is very different than it is in the US. 

Speaker 1: And also, there still was always this feeling like this isn't, this isn't. For me, it was a nice transition from the clinical world into something else. Yeah, then I worked for a tech startup. I was employee number four, so really got to see the insides of a business as it grew and developed within all the different functions of it, but again, still wasn't exactly for me. So I've had a lot of different careers, a lot of different hats that I've worn, just as I've continued to pursue. I kind of have always just followed the feeling. You know, i can just feel that this isn't right, i'm gonna head in this direction and see where it goes, and that's kind of what I've done over the past decade until I've gotten to where I am today oh well, no good for you. 

Speaker 2: You don't always know and to actually be willing to keep trying things and to not stick with the thing that isn't quite right and to be brave enough to try something else is absolutely superb, because otherwise you just you can get stuck. And this is what we're all about on this show is helping people to realize that you can go in a different direction. So I want to talk now about your creative epiphany, obviously an important part of any creativity found episode. I know that before you started your podcast and you mentioned it earlier we mentioned it earlier with the drawing your understanding of what being a creative person means and therefore your attitude to yourself as a creative person. They have changed and evolved more recently. So was there a catalyst for that change? 

Speaker 1: there was yeah, i can look back at something really specific, interestingly enough which was a Netflix documentary of all things. I watched this Netflix documentary called the creative brain or the creative mind, i think it's called the creative brain and it just totally reframed for me what creativity was. You know, all this time, even though I I had this childhood where I was doing these performance art creations for whatever reason you know, at this stage of my life I had in my head that creativity was again like pin to paper, paintbrush to easel. It was something that I personally did not have or even didn't have a draw to. So it was a, this specific definition of creativity, and watching this documentary reframed that for me and really just expanded my definition of what creativity was. 

Speaker 1: Would just like so many things you know. It's the way that you prepare a meal, it's the way you tell a story, it's just, it's absolutely everything and everywhere and every person is creative. And like listeners of your podcast we'll already know that but for me this was like mind-blowing. I was like, oh my god, that means I'm creative too, and it just kind of like planted the seed and I actually ended up watching that documentary a few times because it felt like a really important learning to try to integrate into my life. And yeah, that was kind of the single point of focus. But the podcast didn't come for, maybe a couple years later. But I can definitely look to that moment and see that that kind of reshaped the way I started thinking about myself and creativity in general. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, so it opened your mind when the idea for the podcast came about that you could do it. So let's move into that. What was that idea and what are its origins? 

Speaker 1: Yeah, so that idea and it's funny you know we're talking about podcasting and it was very much the idea itself. Not I want to get into podcasting, i want to, you know, get into this creative industry. It was. I was reading as a non-mother during the pandemic, i found myself with a lot more time on my hands, so I filled that time reading non-fiction books that centered around women and gender. In some way, i'm just reading all of these books and willing this information to be out in the world more, because there's this juxtaposition of what I'm reading and then you know what I'm reading in the news and what I'm seeing in real life, and also I'm living in London, but I'm from a more conservative place in America, i'm from Missouri, and so there's also the juxtaposition of how I was raised and the way of thinking that exists there, and I just really wanted to find a way of making the ideas in this book more accessible, because I knew that everyone and especially women, but really everyone would be able to relate and begin to see and understand the systems and structures that are in place, whether we're talking about like healthcare, or the economy, or the way we design our city streets, if we look at all of these things through a gendered lens, it tells a very different story. 

Speaker 1: So I wanted to find a way of bringing the ideas in these books, making them more accessible, because a lot of people don't like reading, a lot more people don't like reading nonfiction and then even more probably aren't going to read nonfiction books about women. It's kind of the trifecta. So how can I make this more accessible? Podcasting seemed like a really great medium to tap into for that And also my idea was okay, then I'll just speak. You know, i'm not the expert, i'm learning. I'm on this journey of learning and I want to bring other people along on this journey as well, so I can just interview the authors of these books and let them tell the stories. And yeah, that's kind of how the idea for it was born. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, well, interestingly, i'm just going to name drop now. So I've just been, i've just been in having a chat with Russell Tovey of Talk Art podcast, but that is the same kind of thing. You can look at art and think I don't understand it. That's high art. It's not for me. It's going to take me a long time to learn about this stuff. I just haven't got the space for it, whereas you can put on the podcast, go for a walk with the dog or whatever, and get a more down to earth viewpoint And then you can explore it further from there. 

Speaker 2: So I completely understand what a good idea is. Now we can be podcast nerdy now because we're podcast is work, podcast show, we're allowed to be podcast nerdy. So what about the actual logistics of making the show? Have any experience of it? Have any experience of getting guests? Did you enjoy the whole process of recording, editing, all of that lovely stuff? 

Speaker 1: Yeah, i had zero experience in anything. I had never interviewed anyone in my life. I didn't know anything about the technology. I was a big podcast listener, so that was the experience that I had, but that's very different than creating it. You think it takes a lot less time when you're a listener. 

Speaker 1: So, no, i didn't have. I didn't have any experience. I didn't really know anyone that worked in the industry either. But you know, luckily I'm living in the 21st century where all this information is available by just typing some things into Google. So I just started researching and I kind of approached it twofold. 

Speaker 1: There was the learning about the storytelling aspect. So how am I going to pull out the information within these books and tell a story that's engaging and informational, that keeps listeners wanting to come back? And then there was also the figuring out the logistics, the technical side of everything. Yeah, how do I actually record something? How do I edit it? Where does a podcast even live? You know, i didn't know any of these things. So just kind of approached it twofold, looking at those main areas, and just slowly figured it out myself and started to meet people and talk to people and learn and all the information for whatever you want to do in your life, whatever kind of change you want to make. It's all out there. It's just a matter of taking the time. At least, that was for my journey. It was just taking the time and really committing myself that I'm going to go all the way through with this idea, because ideas are easy, the easy part. 

Speaker 2: Well, it's the same thing as thinking that to be a creative person, you have to be an artist, and to be an artist, you just produce something wonderful straight away. And that isn't the case. We all have to practice and learn and keep growing. So the whole creative experience is, yes, the idea and then the learning to get it out there, because what we see out there isn't the first draft of a book or a painting or a piece of pottery or a podcast. It's gone through lots of editing and things in the background. Yeah, that's a good point. What was the other thing I was going to say? Oh, i know, yeah, we're on to the next bit now. Yeah, oh, actually, no, i'm just doing it. Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do. And how did you? um, no, ha, ha, ha, ha ha. How did you go about booking your guests? 

Speaker 1: Yeah, I presented myself as a much bigger company. You know, i just say company. I mean, i was one person. I tried to present myself like a company. I just needed to tap into the mission that these authors had. We all were on the same mission, right? We're all wanting to spread awareness of these issues. That's why they're writing these books, that's why they want to talk about these books. 

Speaker 1: So I my thought process was just coming up with a detailed proposal that makes me look like a proper company, and the proposal detailing how this is my mission as well and just kind of selling them on that and also demonstrating to them that this is something I'm very serious about, that you know, if they spend an hour with me recording that I'm gonna be actually creating and producing and putting something out into the world. 

Speaker 1: that would be great to have their names, their books, their things behind. So that was kind of the thinking about it. And, yeah, so I just created a detailed proposal with all these things and sent it out to loads and loads and loads and loads of people, knowing that not everybody would say yes. But you know, if you send it out to hundreds of people and you only need 10, those are pretty good odds. So that's what I did and it worked because, you know, i, from the very beginning, without having any listenership to show, i got much higher caliber people than I ever would have anticipated. But I think it was really kind of tapping into their mission, demonstrating that that's the same mission as me and I just want to create a platform to further elevate their work. And, yeah, i'm taking all of this seriously. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, perfect. Creativityfoundcouk is the place to go to find workshops, courses, supplies, kits and books to help you get creative. So if you're looking for your own creativity found experience, go have a browse to see what's on offer so far And if you can help adults to find their new creative passion, please get in touch on social media or through the contact details on the website. Did you have any apprehensions when you were ready to start releasing episodes? Absolutely. 

Speaker 1: Without a doubt. I actually had this woman who was so kind and kind of, just listened to a few episodes and helped me a little bit with I did all my own editing, but she stepped in and listened to a few and kind of guided me a little bit in the beginning And I may have just kept iterating and, iterating and iterating and never put it out into the world. But at one point she was like Anna, you just gotta put it out into the world, you just gotta do it. And I'm like, okay, fine. 

Speaker 1: So there was lots of apprehension because I had never put anything in the world that I had created before in this way, so publicly. And it also, you know you feel quite vulnerable because the issues and everything that you're talking about are vulnerable and they go deep. And you know I relate to my own personal stories in a lot of the episodes And it's a scary thing to be vulnerable in that way and to not know how you've put all your blood sweat into your sin, how that's gonna be received. But a big learning I've had through the journey is and I'm sure your listeners can relate as well you know you can't control that. You do what you can and you make your own creation and then that's it. You put it out into the world and you kind of see what happens. So I had a lot of apprehension at first because I hadn't done that initial release out into the world. But it's gotten a lot better over time, that apprehension yeah, it was absolutely there. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, I think this is a really good time for Anna and I to reach out to our listeners and let them know that we'd love to hear from you guys. 

Speaker 1: We'd love to know that you're listening and what you think. 

Speaker 2: I talk about this fair bit about being a podcast. That's quite isolating because even though you see the numbers, you see that people are downloading, you don't know who those people are. You're not at an art exhibition seeing them walk by, or in a theater seeing an audience. So do anybody out there that loves our show. Don't comment if you don't love our shows. 

Speaker 1: Maybe, if it's constructive, we'll get some constructive feedback. 

Speaker 2: Maybe, maybe I don't know, i'm not even sure, but all of our social media we've got email addresses. there are places to what's it called. Say nice things, follow us. Yeah follow us, say nice things. 

Speaker 1: Rate review. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, rate and review review There are places to do that on your podcast outs, please do. We would love to talk to you, we would love to hear from you. Anyway, sorry, back to the story of Woman. With season two you've opened up your focus to include all kinds of female change makers, so in a way, i'm kind of seeing that as your creativity continuing to bloom. Tell me a little about that development and, as well, what we can expect perhaps for the future of the story of Woman. 

Speaker 1: Yeah, so It developed basically because I had the opportunity to interview two incredible women that weren't completely aligned with the first season, so I guess I'll do a little name dropping as well Following suit from you. 

Speaker 1: Yeah, so Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair were on my podcast recently and it pivoted slightly because I had the opportunity to interview them and they've both written nonfiction books and they're both women and they both focus on these issues. So it's not like it was completely out of left field. But the way season one was structured and the way the podcast is structured is looking at different areas of our world through a gendered lens, as I kind of mentioned before the economy, healthcare, whatever, but through these books. Season two is similar but it was talking to women at the top of various industries. So it was kicked off with Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair, who talked a lot about the politics side of things, but also as business leader, cherie Blair has a foundation where she supports women entrepreneurs all over the world. 

Speaker 1: So we really looked at kind of entrepreneurship and business. And then the other themes of the season were athletics and sports climate, athletics and sports climate. Then we did one that was the intersection of change. It was looking at talking to women at the top of their industries, looking at these different industries through a gendered lens and talking about change, specifically how women make change happen. So within these different industries, kind of where are we now, how did we get here and what needs to happen to be able to continue changing, moving forward. So yeah, i see it as quite similar to season one, but instead of being focused around books, it was around different industries and the way that women were driving change within them. 

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely No, you did, you covered it very well. Ha, ha, ha ha. 

Speaker 1: How I didn't talk about season three before. Okay, go on, I'm gonna say it now. 

Speaker 2: No, I did say it first. You did I might say it again, are you able to tell me about plans for the future? 

Speaker 1: Yes and no, oh oh oh, we might be a little cliffhanger-y, but So season three will come out and will be quite similar to what listeners currently experience, and it's gonna be a combination of authors, of business leaders. It's gonna be a kind of combination of the season one and season two, of the different types of women and non-binary people that I speak with and a couple men I've had a few men on as well And then after season three I've got something pretty big in the works, but it's all up in the air at the moment so I can't say much. 

Speaker 1: I'll just say the story of woman is going to go global. We're gonna be expanding, we're I'm gonna be expanding and possibly taking this on the road a bit. Oh no, wow. So stay tuned, subscribe, follow all the things so that when I can say more, you'll be the first to know. Okay, well, tell us how to do that. I wish I could say more now. 

Speaker 2: Tell us how everybody can connect with you. 

Speaker 1: Yes, thestoryofwomanpodcastcom is the website. From there you can find all the social media links. All the social media links are something like the story of woman, but there's an occasional dot or underscore, but they're all. Yeah, just search the story of woman, the story of woman podcast, and you will find me. You can also find my email address there. Get in contact because, as Claire said, love to hear from you. I always think people hear my voice, your voice, all the time. We want to hear your voices. Yeah, definitely. So, yeah, get in touch. 

Speaker 2: Brilliant and we won't bite. Do please get in touch. Thank you so much, anna. This has been such fun. It's been so good to hear more about the story of woman and your tentative little cliffhangers for the future. Well, i'll keep my listeners posted when you release your wonderful news. Thank you so much. Yes, please do. 

Speaker 1: Thank you, Claire. Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun. 

Speaker 2: You're welcome. So, before I go, i'd just like to say thank you once more to Sure, whose equipment I use at home and I can highly recommend, and, if you would like to connect with me for any reason whatsoever, especially to say hey, i listened to the show, it's great. For example, all of my contact details are in the show notes, so you can scroll down now on whatever app you're listening on to find out all of that info, and I will see you soon. Bye-bye. Thanks so much for listening to Creativity Found. If your podcast app has the facility, please leave a rating and review to help other people find us. On Instagram and Facebook, follow Act Creativity Found podcast, and on Pinterest, look for Act Creativity Found. And, finally, don't forget to check out creativityfoundcouk, the website connecting adults who want to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them tap into their creativity. 

Childhood creativity
Career paths and creative epiphanies
Moving to the UK
The Creative Brain and its influence
The idea for The Story of Woman podcast
Expanding The Story of Woman

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