The 7th session of Inside Out ended on Friday.  It was once again a beautiful learning experience for me and I continue to feel so blessed that I get the opportunity to connect with such amazing dreamers and explorers from all over the world who are dedicated to live more deeply and fully. (Registration for the next session opens today!)

And it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to one such dreamer.  I met Valarie Budayr a few years ago during the second session of Inside Out and we’ve been virtual friends ever since. She is a creative visionary who follows her heart and dreams, and I know you will find her interview to not only be incredibly inspiring, but full of useful tools that will encourage you to make more space and time for YOUR creative dreams.

Please enjoy this Free Spirit Spotlight with the lovely Valarie Budayr.  (And make sure to check out her fabulous new book, The Ultimate Guide to Charlie!)

Tell us a little about yourself and your creative life.

I’m originally from Portland, Oregon, born to Swedish parents. This is an important fact because this is where my creativity comes from. Both of my parents were incredibly creative and had art centered lives. Setting up spaces to be creative in our house was just very usual and normal in my family growing up. When I’m not being Jack and Pauline’s daughter I’m a mom to 3 uber creative children, a classical composer and pianist, love my garden, avid knitter, equally avid coffee drinker, fox whisperer, blogger, photographer, author, publisher, and cat owner.  Plus I’m married to one of the most patient men on the planet.

How did you get to a place in your life where you’ve been able to follow your dreams and embrace yourself as a creative spirit?

The first thing I do is show up daily. Is what that means is that everyday I do a little something to move the dream or goal forward. It’s important to do just one thing. After becoming a parent I was frustrated at times at how slowly my projects moved. I was always looking to accomplish big projects and big goals. Being a parent brought the size scape of my projects way down. It became a daily ritual to just do one thing, even if that one thing was deciding the next note I would put down in a composition, knitting one row in a hat, whatever it was I just showed up. Little by little things got accomplished.

You started the popular Jump in a Book series, along with your own publishing company, Audrey Press. How did both of these projects come about?  What have you learned about yourself along the way?

Jump into a Book was really born out of our family book-club. We would read the chosen book out loud to each other within our families and then once a month gather together as friends to bring the pages of our story alive. I started the book-club because I wanted to connect with my children via my love of reading. I wanted it to be more than just a book on a list that we had finished. I wanted us to have incredible memories of the journeys we took inside our books. For the last 5 1/2 years Jump into a Book has been a blog haven for us to capture our journeys and share them with all of you.

Starting Audrey Press, our multi-media publishing house, started from a whole different place. It started with a fox vixen who set up a den in my front yard and had 4 little baby fox kits. I became like Jane Goodall, sitting out with my cameras for hours at a time photographing and learning about the incredible world of foxes. Every Thursday I would blog about what was happening with our foxes. Soon my friendly readers were asking if I was going to make it into book. After much research I discovered that the road to getting published was grueling and unkind. It is a road fraught with negation, denial, and surrender. I knew this wasn’t the road I wanted to travel, so I decided to investigate starting my own Indie Publishing House and that’s how Audrey Press was born. It is named after my mother Audrey Pauline who always said I should be a publisher.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from setting up the publishing house is that I didn’t need anyone’s approval to be good enough or acceptance into the fold to say “I’ve made it.” It really was a different perspective on success. The Fox Diaries didn’t need to be on the NY Times best-seller list to be successful. Just holding that first copy of the book in my hands when it came via Federal Express was the ultimate success, anything else was and is pure gravy. It has been the most blissful journey of my life and that isn’t to say that I don’t work long hours or have off days, but the majority of this part of the journey has been very joyful. I just love bringing books to life.

It’s obvious you love to write.  Have you always been a writer?  How have you been able to face self-doubt when it comes to writing and expressing yourself?

I love this question because if you ask me what I do for a living I’ll tell you I’m a piano teacher and a mom. I have always written. I use to be the best letter writer and I’ve always kept a journal but aside from that I would never consider myself a “writer”. Though I face self-doubt in different areas in my life, writing isn’t one of them. I first started writing publicly on my personal blog A Place Like This. I was just saving memories of my family and children. Surprisingly people started reading my blog and I’ve met the most amazing people through blogging. The next step in my writing journey was when I submitted pieces for the online magazine Rhythm of the Home. After that I started writing two other blogs and several articles for other publications and a whole years worth of crafts for Little Acorn Learning. I keep self-doubt at bay with my writing because I don’t define myself as a writer. It’s the one wicked pleasure I allow myself, oh and chocolate.

What is a free spirit to you?

A free spirit for me is living in authenticity and being comfortable with who I am no matter what anyone thinks. There’s something really freeing in that.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I find I get really inspired when I travel. When I’m in a new place or country I’m given a new glimpse on life and what inspires people there. Some of my biggest creative ideas happen when I’m sitting in an airplane seat. I always carry a notebook with me because the ideas just start flowing. Music and movies are really important sources of inspiration. A part from these I spend a lot of time outdoors in nature. I walk miles everyday and love noticing the little changes which happen each day.

How do you manage to find time and make space for your creative projects and dreams?

For my creative projects I literally have something I call UIT which stands for uninterrupted time. Right now UIT is on Wednesdays and Fridays. I block off a few hours on those days, turn off all the phones, email, skype, and anything else which could interrupt me. I always make sure I have back-up for the kids if they need something. Now that my children are older I can block off 4 or 5 hours of time with no problem. When they were little I would do it for an hour at a time. Nothing interrupts me, NOTHING. I go into my studio, shut the door, put in ear plugs if necessary, and get in my flow. Throughout the years, I’m happy to say that my children have survived UIT and are well and wonderful, plus they learned that their momma allowed a little time for herself to be creative. I notice that they allow time in their lives to be creative too.

What would you say to those who want to live a creative life and make their dreams a reality, but don’t know where to begin?

It has to begin with you allowing it to happen. Start with small steps, even if that is creating with your children. Ask yourself the question, what would a day in my creative life look like? The answer to that question is your road map to where you’re going. Create without expectations, just enjoy being creative. The rest comes little by little until one day you’ve created a life filled with your aspirations and dreams.

Tell us more about your latest launch of “The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.  How did you go about choosing this book?

The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an interactive, adventure-filled delight through the Chocolate Factory, with stops along the way to create, laugh and learn. We wanted to make each chapter a gateway into a magical world.

With over 20 crafts and activities for the entire family, the book brings children and parents together to re-live the wonder and amazement that Charlie experienced during his trip through Willy Wonka’s world of magic and chocolate. While meandering through the factory on the Chocolate River, we stop to learn where chocolate comes from and how gum is made. We even included our best gum recipe.  The best part is that the adventures can be done at the reader’s own pace, providing family fun throughout the year.

I have a collaborative partner on this project in Roscoe Welply who has created the most enticing graphic illustrations.

The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an enhanced e-book on iTunes for iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone. To learn a bit more about the book you can go to our website.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can find me on Jump into a Book, a site loaded with fun activities to do inside the pages of our favorite books.

Audrey Press


Twitter: Bookjumper

A Place Like This


Thank you, Valarie, for sharing a piece of your journey with us!   YOU inspire us to keep making uninterrupted time in our daily lives because not only is it important, but it is vital to feeding our creative souls so our dreams can flourish.

Your Personal Reflection:

Are you taking one small step towards the direction of your creative dreams each and every day? When’s the last time you had as Valarie calls it UIT – uninterrupted time?  How about scheduling some uninterrupted time and make space for what matters most to YOU.


My blog challenge, Thirty Days of Giving Thanks begins November 1st.  Join us!  It’s super simple and it’s life changing.