Happy New Year! I'm still allowed to say that nine days in, right? It's no secret that I've neglected this space for several months. Looking back, my last consistent post was sometime in April. Yes, April. I'm not here to make any big plans or to make a comeback, and I'm ok with that.
Here's the thing-- when 2016 came to start, I made my list of goals like I usually do each year, some of them incredibly lofty. One of those things was to blog every week day. I was pretty good with keeping up, and then life happened. Considering how many people have reacted to 2017 finally making its appearance, I know that I'm not alone in thinking that 2016 was one of the worst years in recent history.
While I don't want to get into details here, 2016 was a year full of too much adulting for me and Andrew. Our luck wasn't so great and just when we would think things were getting better, another roadblock would appear-- mostly of the house related variety-- leaving us wondering when the boomerang of karma would come back and turn things around.
Somehow, despite the incredibly tough hand we were dealt in 2016, we still came out victorious. We're still alive and well, our house is still standing, and we have a few more life lessons under our belt. We tried our best to laugh at it all and say to each other, "It could be worse!" (Which sometimes it did get worse, but I digress.) And when we had had enough mentally, we were able to escape it all through travel-- Santa Fe, Boston, and Puerto Rico were all checked off our travel list in 2016. And those things were the light throughout it, making 2016 not such a bad year after all.
Last week, as I sat reflecting on the year that had passed, I thought about what would have made things easier when things did go wrong. A lot of that came back to self-care. Often, we can let stress get in the way of living our lives. We dealt with that stress by taking a literal time out, leaving Baltimore, and traveling somewhere new. However, on the day to day, there were no time outs.
In 2017, instead of making specific and measurable goals, I'm focusing on the smaller day to day things-- finding the quiet, the calm, the beauty among the stress and chaos. I want to enjoy life every day, even when things get tough. I want to have fewer expectations for myself and consciously make time to decompress. I want to continue to travel as an escape (and we're already planning trips to France and New Orleans this spring!), but also find a way to escape in my own city. I want to turn stress into productive energy instead of dwelling on things I can't change. I want to feel quietude.
I don't need a specific formula or list of things to do to be happier and healthier in 2017. Instead, if I can find ways to take care of myself, those things will fall into place.
Did you set goals this year, or you taking a more relaxed approach like I am in 2017?
I can't believe that it's already April! It seems absolutely crazy how quickly we've made our way through the first quarter of the year! Just as I have done at the start of each month, I'm checking in on my goals for this year. So far, it feels sort of crazy to see how far I've come in just a few short months, but there is still work to be done.
1 // Continue learning new things. Not a huge learner this past March. We've been continuing with our New Recipe Saturday, so I guess I'm still learning in that regard. Maybe learning this past month was more introspective and personal-- learning how to be more patient, how to trust my gut, and to let go.
2 // Become stronger and healthier. We're still going to the gym three times a week. This past week, I was able to row 100 pounds, which is a huge feat for me. Arm strength is not my forte in any way, shape, or form. Major victory here. I still need to get back into a regular yoga routine. We've also been spending a lot more time walking and running outside since the weather has been warmer.
3 // Streamline my wholesale program. Still a work in progress. I'm getting so close! Most of my line is more cohesive now. I got rid of a lot of old designs that didn't make sense, but I still have some that I want to convert. I'll be sending another batch of cards to the printer, and working on my wholesale catalog like crazy this month.
4 // Identify when I'm sabotaging myself and take active steps to change that. Getting better! I usually have one day a week where I let things slide a little more than I should. However, my days the past two weeks have been incredibly productive. I've taken advantage of the down time in March to put out a huge new line of cards, catch up with other creative women (I've had networking meetings every week this month), and start to reorganize and streamline my studio space. I feel really good about my use of time this past month and hope to continue on that trend.
5 // Start blogging regularly again. I haven't been blogging every week day in March. I wrote about that last week, and I'm ok with letting it slide. Sometimes it's just not in me and recognizing that it's ok to take a break and step back for a few days is huge. I don't want this space to feel like a chore. That being said, taking time away has brought new excitement and motivation for upcoming content, so I'm looking forward to things to come for the blog in April.
6 // Take more photos. I'm getting better at this! We've had more opportunity to get out and about now that the weather is nicer, and I've been taking my camera with me. I had fun photographing the Light City Baltimore installations this past week. Light gives you the perfect opportunity to experiment with long exposure times, which was fun.
7 // Make time for myself and the people in my life. This has continued to be a success. We're doing our Wednesday night happy hour dates, I've been doing some reading in the evenings for my own down time, and I've made it a priority to spend time with others each week this month. Hoping to continue the trend through April.
8 // Spend more time traveling. My passport application is still sitting on the kitchen counter. We don't have plans for international travel this year (yet), but it is something I just really need to get taken care of. I'd like to have it available in the event we decide to jump on a last minute deal or something. We've booked flights, a car, and an Airbnb for a trip to Santa Fe in May, and we're continuing to research and decide what to do for a trip to California later in the year. It feels good to be back in adventure mode.
9 // Continue to minimize and organize our house. I realize that this will probably always be a work in progress. My studio was the huge minimization project this past month. I got rid of a lot of stuff that I wasn't using anymore and it's made my life easier. I still need to get rid of more in order to get to my end goal of reorganizing and streamlining my work process. As for the rest of our house, we really don't have much stuff. We purchased pantry containers and in-drawer trays from IKEA a few weeks ago in order to get more organized. In general, when there is stuff anywhere in our living spaces, I freak out and start throwing things away. I just can't handle the clutter, especially in such a tiny house.
And there you have it my friends. Progress on this year's goals has been moving right along! I'm looking forward to a new month. It's going to be a busy one, so I'm sure I'll write more about those details in the coming days!
I am opinionated. If you know me, you already know this quite well. It's a personality trait that I have carried since as long as I can remember. I let those opinions fly and stubbornly stuck to them as a child. In high school, I wrote about them in editorials in our school newspaper, causing uproar among some who would approach me in class about how my opinion was wrong. And as an adult, I still find myself blurting out my thoughts and feelings on occasion.
I tend to stick to my arguments, but also like to hear different points of view as it can help me grasp a better frame of mind. But sometimes, I have a hard time understanding the other point of view. And sometimes, I realize that the reason for the uproar is because my opinion sheds light on a truth in some way. Am I always right? No. Opinions are not always based upon factual knowledge, and so by virtue I can't be right. They are rather a belief that has been formed based on your personal views.
However, thinking back on some of the situations that got me in the hottest of water were editorials or statements that were based on truths-- things that were true, but others didn't want to admit to because they knew it was wrong and that they were contributing to it. In high school, it was an editorial about how having to pay to be in a school spirit club created divisiveness between students at school athletic events. Only those who paid could sit in a certain section, and I and many others couldn't afford to pay, so we felt pushed aside. Or, it was the editorial I let one of my writers run about how segregated our cafeteria was-- complete with a diagram labeling the jock, stoner, Latino, nerd, and prep tables. These were truths. And the outrage and backlash came about because people knew they were true and they didn't want to admit to the ugliness of it all.
In my adult life, I still see these sorts of inequalities, and I certainly haven't learned to keep my mouth shut. I wrote about the divisive nature of the arts here in Baltimore. I sometimes find myself spouting off about how unequal and inaccessible some programs are in our neighborhood. I point out how parents create a divisive line through taking on an air of superiority or one-upping any and every story presented when speaking to non-parents, even if unknowingly doing so. I run my mouth about all sorts of things that go beyond what I've just mentioned. These are just a few of the topics that I can think of offhand that I've discussed in the past month.
Recently, as I reflected on a conversation that involved one of my strong opinions, I tried to evaluate why I sometimes can't back down on my beliefs. I realized that almost all of my opinions come back to the same thing-- treating people fairly and equally. One artist should not be treated differently than another simply because they aren't part of a popular group of people. Events and programs in our neighborhood should be priced in a way that makes them accessible for all, not just for an elite group. Parents and non-parents should be treated equally as human beings, not given preference or special accolades simply because one decided to have children and the other did not. Things should be fair and equal.
And I know that in life, nothing is fair and nothing is equal. And it probably never will be. On a grander scale, divisiveness will continue to exist. But I'm just not sure I can let that go. Because if I let go of being ok with inequalities on a smaller scale then doesn't that prime us to be ok with them on a larger scale as well?
As an adult, I've heard it time and again that we must not share our opinions because some people will take it the wrong way or become offended. But what are we to do when our opinions need to be heard? Sometimes hard truths and real talk creates dialogue that would have never existed if we kept quiet. I speak what is on my mind not to alienate, but rather to create dialogue. If no one ever talks about the stuff that hurts or upsets them, then we'll never make progress toward understanding each other as different people.
Yes, of course, this is my opinion, just like so many other opinions I've developed throughout my lifetime, but as always I put it out there as a way to seek understanding. Are you opinionated like me? How do you approach the tough subjects that hurt or upset you? Do you keep quiet or do you try to create dialogue through sharing your opinion?
This morning I woke up feeling groggy and disoriented. My body is still struggling to get on schedule with Sunday's time change. Even though the clock said 7, my body was telling me that it was 6. I managed to get through a shower despite feeling dizzy and lightheaded-- something I've always felt when I get up too early --and made my way downstairs for breakfast.
En route to the kitchen, I was greeting by Lilah, the happiest chocolate lab you'll ever meet. I had no other choice than to sit down in a chair and spend the next five minutes giving her a few good ear rubs and back scratches. Then it was onward to coffee.
In the moment that I poured my coffee, I set my intentions for the day. On this dreary and rainy Monday morning, I could either choose to be disgruntled about a new work week beginning, or I could look at it as a new opportunity for something exciting. My calendar for the entire day is already full of things that I either love to do or am looking forward to taking on, so I chose the later. And I choose to take on that Monday outlook most weeks.
So many times when Monday rolls around, I hear the inevitable grumbling. Everyone seems to be sad that the weekend is over. Instead of looking forward to the new opportunities that may present themselves in a new week, many look longingly at the days that just passed, unwilling to take on a positive attitude. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps a large majority of people do work that they don't enjoy? Or maybe they struggle with finding the exciting and positive aspects of a typical work week?
This morning, when I opened my email inbox, I was greeted by an email from a client quickly thanking me for a service. She closed her email with "Happy Monday!" And yes, happy Monday, indeed! It's a time for a fresh start and new beginnings. An opportunity to forget about anything that didn't quite go right the week before. A day on which to enjoy the work that you do and feel lucky to be on this earth. To set your intentions for another seven days of living and being. It's a happy day, indeed.
I've been missing from this blog quite a bit this week, but I'm ok with that. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, and quite frankly, sitting inside on a computer was less than appealing. And if I'm being honest, I've quickly worked through my list of things to write that I had stored up in a notebook. It'll be back to the drawing board to brainstorm for a bit.
In lieu of it all, I thought I'd write another happy list, since there has been plenty to be happy about these days.
1 // I spent almost the entire day outside yesterday. I worked briefly in the morning, preparing orders, packed up my tote bag with a sketchbook, pens, my planner, hiking boots, a lunch, my water bottle, camera, and a book and headed off to the outdoors. I went hiking at Oregon Ridge and then drove back into the city to have a late picnic lunch and more time outdoors at the Cylburn Arboretum.
2 // Having the windows open all day. I love being able to air out the house and breath fresh air. It makes me feel less stuck in my tiny studio.
3 // My David Bowie mug. It makes me happy every morning. My second cousin is an amazing potter who uses decals in a lot of his work. He happened to make a few David Bowie mugs after Bowie died, and obviously I needed one. Morning coffee with Mr. Bowie is a great start to the day.
4 // My California travel book arrived yesterday! I love travel books. They make me get serious about planning travel. I'm excited about Joshua Tree, Sequoia, and Yosemite National Parks.
5 // Antonio Brown is going to be on Dancing With the Stars. As many of you know, I don't really watch tv, but I am counting down to March 21st. My Steelers fandom trumps all, and Antonio Brown is already an entertaining guy. Call me a total nerd or dork or whatever, but I'll be watching him (just liked I religiously watched when Hines Ward was on).
6 // My proofs for my new line of cards is supposed to arrive today. I decided to send all of these to the printer because they're heavy in color and mostly all full bleed. They'll do a better job printing them than me, and it's killing me to have to wait for the proofs. I'm way too excited!
7 // I've been working on a custom job, printing and trimming a wedding suite for someone I met through book club here in Baltimore. It's a lot of fun, and it makes me happy to know that I'm playing a small part in her big day.
8 // I've been doing a new weight training regimen, and I'm quickly gaining strength. This probably sounds ridiculous, but in high school I was in the best shape of my life. I blame two a day practices plus a weight training program for basketball. Basketball is serious stuff in Indiana, and we would practice and work out year round, every chance that was given. Regardless, because of that regimen, once I got to college, it felt like freedom to not have to constantly train and work out, so I lost a lot of strength and endurance. Yesterday, I was ten pounds away from what I used to squat back in the day, and I benched five pounds more. Whaaaaaat. Beast mode.
9 // Two words. Tax refunds. We decided that spend it on vacation and house projects. Andrew is checking in with the flooring rep at his office because we can get some super awesome trade discounts (bonus!). We're going to replace the floor in the basement and the tiles in our master bathroom.
10 // I got new tires put on my car on Monday. Normally, car stuff is not happy because it costs a lot. However, my car is 9 years old and it still had the original tires. We never replaced them because my car is also just shy of 25,000 miles (#citylife). They needed to be replaced not because the tread was bare, but because they were dry rotting from being on the car for so long. Regardless, the new tires made my car drive as if it were brand new. Who knew what a difference tires would make!