Beth Glover has always been creative—but she’s straightforward about the stereotype. She isn’t flaky. She’s a go-getter. She isn’t flighty. She’s organized.
Whether you’re running a board meeting or a lab, sculpting or teaching, Beth believes you’re creative too. (“Everyone has the ability to bring into being something that wasn’t.”) Which is important.
The story of Beth leaving her previous career of ten-plus years isn’t just a story for typical ‘creatives.’ It’s for anyone on a professional path—especially anyone who has been on that path long enough to experience the ups and downs: the momentum of promotions, the pressure of raised expectations, the cumulative toll of burnout.
Beth takes us back to a place before all that—a space where you aren’t what you produce, where it’s okay to dream, where you’re encouraged to ask “Is this what I want?” Where your endgame isn’t some narrowly defined notion of ‘success’ but something so much more: your flourishing.
Imagine a slow Saturday morning, after a long work week, with a friend. That’s a picture of Beth the morning we talked. We hope this post acts in kind, as permission to take a step back, see yourself, and leave lightened.
Art, Not Fluff.
Beth has had an interesting year.
She’s back home, away from the cameras and accolades , rebuilding her life with a blank canvas—which, quite literally, rests beside a set of brushes and watercolor paints.
It sounds romantic, leaving your steady job to rediscover a forgotten facet of your creative identity. And yes, this life is the product of Beth’s dreaming. But don’t mistake this stuff of dreams for fluff.
Before the shift, Beth had never called herself an artist.
Before the shift, Beth had a promotion on the table.
Before the shift, Beth was already succeeding in a creative capacity, as a TV producer.
So what happened?
Beth saw the future. She knew the trajectory of her job (promotion, more work, promotion). She realized she didn’t want to be on that path anymore. Her sense of identity had become absorbed in her career. She wanted to be other things, too.
Beth started to feel an inner conflict. She had some options: She could lull herself back into ‘reality’ and try to renew her energy on the preexisting path. Or she could face the conflict and explore it further.
Beth made the decision to explore. Her endgame, whether or not she could vocalize it at the time, was healing—a way back to peace and joy from anxiety and overwork.
To get there, she’d need a lot more than fluff.
Episode One: Beth On Set
Beth explains the making of a reality TV episode:
You know what some basic themes and patterns are. In Jon & Kate Plus 8 (the show Beth cut her teeth on as an associate producer), you’d know Kate, the mom, is a bit of a neat freak. So when you spot the kids making a mess in the kitchen, you’re going to get that shot. That’s where Kate will show up, where the story will naturally go.
Turn the camera on Beth, and you’d shoot her in one of two elements:
Beth, asking questions disarmingly.
And Beth, mid-moment of stress, practicing poise.
Much of the creative and professional success Beth experienced as a producer can be traced back to these two character-defining practices.
Like most everyone in the TV industry, Beth started at the bottom, fulfilling administrative tasks as an intern at Trailblazer Studios in Raleigh. She expressed her interest in working there full-time and was hired. The more experience she got, the more she thought she might like to produce. In what would become a signature moment of curiosity, Beth invited a producer client to lunch to learn more about production. That lunch date eventually landed her the associate producer job (and a mentor) that would springboard her career.
As a brand-new associate producer who wasn’t entirely sure how an episode was made, Beth made her second signature move: she had the courage to show up wholeheartedly. She learned not to get hung up by overwhelming circumstances. She learned to let things roll off her back. She learned to collaborate, sought feedback (What is this person telling me, and is it grounded in truth?), and became adaptable. The result of all that curiosity and courage was creative success: She helped craft, share, and honor some amazing stories. She formed many lasting relationships.
For those ten-plus years, Beth was successful. For seven of those years, Beth says retrospectively, she flourished. The inner conflict started when she realized: She’d started working for success at the expense of her own flourishing.
Camera still on Beth, the day she leaves her job behind: You’d be glad you captured Beth asking big questions and calmly facing fires. Looking back, those instances of curiosity and courage were the very narrative threads she followed right off set.
Episode Two: Beth Resets
The next portion of Beth’s story stays hearteningly on theme.
Faced with her inner conflict, Beth steps back, in curiosity, to ask a difficult question, “Is this what I want?” She talks about it with the people who know her best—her parents, her best friend Leah. Beth mentions to Leah that sometimes she looks at artist jobs in California, then moves on. Leah says, “Wait wait, hold on. Let’s go back to that.” Beth says to her mom, “I feel trapped” Her mom says, “But you’re not.” With this newfound self-awareness Beth considers other options. She has always done visual art on the side. She summons her courage and allows herself to dream.
Again, with poise, Beth forms a plan. She finds a date on the calendar between projects, an optimal time to leave. As she processes leaving, she resists the temptation to blame the industry, or anyone else, for the burnout she feels. She takes responsibility for where she is, then exercises her agency.
Beth resigns. She commits to pursuing an artistic calling. She shows up for High Point Market with handmade business cards she painted the night before. She starts making connections in this new industry. She starts a business. For the first time in her life, she commits to calling herself an artist. A part of herself that had been snuffed starts coming back to life.
How to Start a JOYFIRE
Vulnerability is hard and it’s scary and it feels dangerous. But it’s not as hard, or scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves: What if I would’ve shown up? —Brené Brown
Beth named her business—a line of home goods designed from her watercolors—Joyfire™.
It’s a fitting name for what Beth has recovered in the process of stripping down and rebuilding her life. Removing herself from a performance-driven environment, gaining back time to spend with friends and family, and surrounding herself with beauty (in the making, in the sharing what she makes with others) has restored peace to the part of herself that was weary.
Joyfire™ also happens to be a fitting moniker for creativity, the way Beth has come to understand it:
“Art should be accessible. Art and beauty have the power to transform your mental attitude — art, music, poetry, all cut to you on a soul level. And they bypass the head. And so, just having good art on a pillow or a shower curtain—I’m not saying every day you’re looking at it like a gallery—but it has a positive impact because it’s this beauty in your world that transforms how you’re going about your day. How you’re going out into your world.”
Beth also wants to be transparent: There have been dark moments. Her method is Just do the next thing. Also, loosen up the self-imposed timeline. Things don’t always work according to plan.
Beth’s newest endeavor is to kindle creativity as a teacher, through an afterschool and home school program called CULTIVATE™ (Instagram and Facebook: @cultivate.kids).
“It’s bigger than just art lessons. It’s really more of a cultural belief,” Beth says, which is reflected by the tagline she and her co-founder Emily Drew Mash (also an artist) wrote for the program:
“Nourishing the creative + curious child.”
Beth paints a picture for children and adults alike—of what it might look like to listen to the part of ourselves that’s asking to flourish.
Externally process: In Beth words, “Bring the reality of what you’re feeling into a tangible place.” Journal. Talk to the people who knew you before you were the professional you are now. Find a mentor.
Reflect on what you’ve done: Pause to ask, “Is this what I want?” Take responsibility for where you are and see your agency in moving forward.
Just do the next thing. There’s always one thing, whether big or small.
“When I feel darkest, I feel stagnant,” Beth says. It’s the feeling of “Where am I going and what am I doing?” In those moments, she thumbs back through her story. One journal page recently lifted her spirits: This year I learned Illustrator and Photoshop. Small steps fuel her curiosity, keep her motivated, and build courage within her to do the next thing.
When she looks back, she sees all that wasn’t before. Beth grins, imitating her inner voice.
“Look at all you’ve done!”
Counterstories is a blog collaboration between conflict resolution specialist Steve Beck and writer/editor Rachael Schmid. If you have a powerful story of forgiveness or peacemaking (or just want to share your thoughts on this post), we’d love to hear from you. Reach out at email@example.com.