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The Sails Are Up, But We're Not Moving

Heidi Shenk

Hello, hello! I've been a bit silent around these parts lately, which goes against all of my hopes and dreams for this blog this year. Ok, that might have been a little overly dramatic, but I've definitely not stuck to my goal-- blogging every week day. Things got crazy at the beginning of this month with the new line of cards, and so it just fell to the wayside.

If I'm being honest, I also haven't felt motivated to blog. I consistently posted every day for two months, and I sincerely felt as if most days I was yelling into an abyss. While I absolutely love writing and there is some reward in that on it's own, it also feels extremely unrewarding to spend an hour or two on a piece knowing that only a handful of people might actually read it. I wrote a few weeks ago about how it seems like the community aspect in the blogging world no longer exists in the same way that it did five years ago. And I still find that to be true. It feels as if you either have it or you don't. And there's not really any explanation as to why or why not you have "it." The sails are up, but I'm not moving anywhere-- I'm stuck in the same place I was five years ago, three years ago, and even two months ago.

With all of that being said, I felt like these past two weeks have been a good reset. It's given me the chance to step back from something that was beginning to feel frustrating and empty and focus on something that was inspiring-- the new line of cards. And in that time away, I feel as though there's a lot behind the scenes that has been just as inspiring-- meeting up with other creative women who are also trying to find their way, the start of the new spring season and the beautiful weather it brings, new routines, and new activities taking place.

So for now, I'm going to enjoy this Friday, and I'll see you on the blog sometime next week. Hope you all have a great weekend!

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New Arrivals

Heidi Shenk "cards" "shop"

It's been a long process, but they're finally here-- a brand new set of cards has arrived! I'm especially excited about this group because most of them have gone into new territory, which is both terrifying and satisfying at the same time. You may have noticed that I've been going for bigger and bolder designs, filling the card with an image or design as much as possible. Many of these new cards take that to the next level with designs that push white backgrounds to the side and have a full on color explosion.

I like these cards, and I feel comfortable in the designs as if I've finally found my groove. I feel as though I'm getting somewhere with my work, so you'll likely see similar cards to come in the future. They're a departure from what I've designed in the past, and that's the terrifying part. It's scary to change things up so drastically because you never know how people will react. However, so far, through the little glimpses I've shared of this new release, the feedback has been positive.

Part of the shift comes with other aspects of change within my business. This year, I finally found a local printer that was a good fit for my business (after a two year search!), so I started outsourcing many of my print jobs. This has freed up so much time for me to get back to the creative aspects of my business. In addition, it has provided more flexibility in design leaving me with new possibilities and opportunities that I didn't have before. These cards are a direct result.

To celebrate the launch, I'll soon be having an exclusive sale. You can sign up for my newsletter to get in on the details which will be going out on Wednesday. What do you think about the new line? Which are your favorites?


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On Being Opinionated

Heidi Shenk daily life

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?


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Happy Monday!

Heidi Shenk daily life

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.


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Happy List // 2

Heidi Shenk daily life

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!

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