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story.lead_photo.caption View from a favorite rock-hunting spot at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

The last few years have held their own excitement, from gallery shows to winning ribbons to Porchfests and chalk art competitions. I've jumped wholeheartedly into my art career without a single thought of turning back.

That is, until the very end of 2019, when I went through my "Dream Plan Do" yearly review and learned through a series of questions that even though I'd given plenty of attention to my business, I'd done absolutely nothing to improve upon my personal life.

It may not sound like a huge issue. I mean, on the surface, I was the same Lina I'd always been. I loved being a mother and wife, loved to cuddle all of my furchildren and drink chai lattes. But my reality was that I had become almost too comfortable with what I had, with no focus or desire to evolve. I felt like Gretchen Rubin before she embarked on The Happiness Project. Stagnant. Un-moving.

Something had to change.

I began to think about all of the things I love to do besides art, things I'd pretty much stopped myself from doing so I could focus more on the business: photography, writing, hiking with my family, yoga, gardening. These are all things that are important to me, and yet they had been set aside. I decided just before the new year that 2020 — and beyond — was going to be all about merging my passions into one super-passion.

And The Hiking Creative was born.

The Hiking Creative is a blog I intend to fill with hiking stories, complete with nature photography, sketches, videos and intuitive paintings. My 2020 hiking bucket list is already quite long, I've already begun to save up for our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, and my husband and daughter are very excited to embark on this adventure with me. Our first hike on Jan. 1 was the best way to kick off this journey.

But the blog isn't only about this hiking creative. It's also a helpful tool for those who need ideas for their own creative hikes. The description on the website says it best: "Painting plein air can be messy, and camera gear can be heavy. I'll be sharing my tips & tricks learned on the way to help you keep your creativity flowing, even in the wilderness with zero bars."

My hope is to build a global community of hiking creatives who can share their stories and tips with one another. So, if you're a fellow hiking creative, come join in on the fun!

I leave you now with a few tips for anyone who would like to get started — or improve upon — his/her own creative hiking journey. If you're looking to bring paints, I would suggest watercolors, as they can be transported easily. Look for smaller palettes by companies like Winsor & Newton, Koi or Prima Watercolor Confections. Water brushes are also a great tool as they contain the water you'll need.

Other must-haves include: paper towels — or a cloth — a zipper pouch for pencils, crayons, markers, whatever you like and a small sketchbook (thick paper, if you're wanting to paint). Put it all in a backpack and you're ready to go!

For more information about The Hiking Creative, follow me on Instagram at @thehikingcreative or visit thehikingcreative.com.

Until then, may your hiking boots be dry and your creative tools be extra plentiful.

Lina Forrester has shown in several professional exhibitions, including the Missouri State Fair, and loves being a part of local events. She currently lives in Jefferson City with her husband, daughter, two cats, a canary and an ornery husky named Howl.

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