I will be your guinea pig

Every day quote - Russell Simmons

It should come as no surprise to ANYONE that I’m nerdy as hell. I love science-y things. I may struggle with the theoretical and mathematical stuff, but give me an explanation of how something works? I’m entranced.

I had some difficulty reconciling my “spiritual journey” with my skeptical, science-y side for a long time. Sure, there are many things on this earth that we are incapable of explaining. And it’s totally fine with me to assign them mystical meanings or call them miracles or whatever. Read more

Midwest Craft Con – fun! swag! intrigue!

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Holy smokes! I can’t even. Midwest Craft Con has been SUCH a blast so far! And it’s barely even started.

This weekend is also MQG Quiltcon… But honestly a local, small-format, crafty lovefest is where the good stuff happens. (No offense, MQG…. Quiltcon East 2017… I’m there!)

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There have been some amazing discussions about the future of making/crafting and this morning begins all the fabulous creative business workshops (of which yours truly is a presenter).

Although my introverted ways give me serious grief when it comes to face time with lots of people, I love|love|love to get together with like-minded folks and totally jam out about what we do.

I’d love to hear from other peeps: what kind of conferences or meet-ups have you been to and love?

The quiet is no longer the enemy

William Penn on silence at the Creative + Mindful blog www.creativeandmindful.comThis week I find myself in rural North Carolina, lending a hand to a sick family member. I’m staying at the house my grandparents bought and rehabbed in the early ‘80s.

I spent a good deal of time here when I was a kid. Multiple weeks at a time during summer break. Of course I’ve been here throughout the years as an adult, but I have to admit it’s been awhile. And I honestly can’t remember when I was here without the husband and/or kid. Read more

Death to the Stock Photo Writing Prompt #4 – Making & Breaking Monsters

Sidenote: I love to write but sometimes get completely stuck on what to write. Prompts are a really cool way to kick through a writing block and keep me warmed up and in the practice of writing regularly. Sometimes the stuff that comes out is complete garbage. Sometimes there are some diamonds in the rough.

The fine folks at Death to the Stock Photo have partnered with creatives (like Paul Jarvis) on occasion in the past to issue writing prompts and whatnot. Recently, they created their own series. If you’d like to participate, they post the prompts on their page at Medium.

Care to read more of my responses?

Prompt #1

Prompt #2

Prompt #3

Death to the Stock Photo writing prompt #4

The prompt.

Turn your biggest weakness into an imaginary monster. Now create a spell/antidote/weapon to destroy it.

My response.

Procrastination is an insidious devil. He lurks just around the corner, wearing a snide, handsome grin and a slim-fit, bespoke suit. Read more

Death to the Stock Photo Writing Prompt #3 – The Windshield

Sidenote: I love to write but sometimes get completely stuck on what to write. Prompts are a really cool way to kick through a writing block and keep me warmed up and in the practice of writing regularly. Sometimes the stuff that comes out is complete garbage. Sometimes there are some diamonds in the rough.

The fine folks at Death to the Stock Photo have partnered with creatives (like Paul Jarvis) on occasion in the past to issue writing prompts and whatnot. Recently, they created their own series. If you’d like to participate, they post the prompts on their page at Medium.

Care to read more of my responses?

Prompt #1

Prompt #2

Death to the Stock Photo - writing prompt #3

The prompt.

What does this image spark in your mind?

My response.

Laughing, lazy, lingering. On a damp Fall day, we’ve skipped school and driven to the park downtown. Read more

Midwest Craft Con

Hello, hello! 2016 has been full steam ahead, hasn’t it?

The Mister and I spent the first few days of the year celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary (yes, I know, I was a child bride) in the wild and wonderful city of New Orleans. We had gone there on our honeymoon and I surprised him with a trip back.

I’ll share more about NoLa when I get a chance. I think it will be fun to do a “city-guide-for-people-who-aren’t-interested-in-Bourbon-Street-drunkery” kind of post. Read more

Death to the Stock Photo Writing Prompt #2 – Do you believe in magic?

Sidenote: I love to write but sometimes get completely stuck on what to write. Prompts are a really cool way to kick through a writing block and keep me warmed up and in the practice of writing regularly. Sometimes the stuff that comes out is complete garbage. Sometimes there are some diamonds in the rough.

The fine folks at Death to the Stock Photo have partnered with creatives (like Paul Jarvis) on occasion in the past to issue writing prompts and whatnot. Recently, they created their own series. If you’d like to participate, they post the prompts on their page at Medium.

Care to read more of my responses?

Prompt #1

Death to the Stock Photo Writing Prompt #2

The prompt.

What feels like magic to you?

My response.

Given the right circumstances, I believe we can feel magic all around us. And there are numerous things that can invoke a feeling of magic. Read more

6 tips for surviving the season

HolidayCollageIt is December. And I’m not in a frantic tizzy about the holidays.

Holy cow!! Why not?!?!

It wasn’t always like this.

At one time I not only worked in retail management (if you don’t understand why this is a horrible holiday season job, I’m not sure I can explain it to you), but I over-committed, overspent, and generally spent the holiday season panicking, cultivating resentment and feeling defeated.

Several years ago, I said “eff it. this is nonsense!” And I began changing the way I spend the holidays and deal with the chaos that comes with it. While I can’t promise to change your life overnight – it took me a few years to work my way up to this level of end-of-year calm – I put together a few suggestions that I think are pretty solid.

They work for me! I hope they work for you too.

1. Remember the reason for the season

If you are a Christian, your faith is probably a pretty good reminder of what to focus on this time of year. For the rest of us, the secular focus on the season should be about wrapping the year up, spending time with loved ones, and doing some good deeds. At least in my humble opinion.

If there are a few fun gifts, a couple of great meals, and some twinkle lights thrown in – great! But if your season is sidetracked with stress-filled trips to crowded retail establishments, guilt over lack of perfection, or any kind of thought process that sounds like: “this has to go right or Christmakwanzakah will be ruined!!,” then please revisit your priorities.

I know I sound a little soap-boxy here but I think it’s highly worth considering. It certainly puts things into perspective. Cultivating this mindset within your family is also a big win. You’d be surprised at how easily kids can get on board with the real meaning of the holidays.

Presents-Polariod2. Recognize that you CANNOT do it all

The reason that Martha Stewart can do it all? She has staff. If you’re like me, you do not have staff. So don’t try superhuman Martha Stewart-style holiday feats.

Pick the things that are most important to you and let the rest go. Is orchestrating a cookie exchange really important to you? Then commit to it. Is hosting your family for a holiday meal your big thing? Then forget the rest and just do that.

If the house is a mess, if the holiday cards don’t go out, if your kids’ teachers don’t receive thoughtful little presents from you, if your Halloween door wreath is still up on December 24th… guess what? The earth will keep revolving and life will go on.

Shoot for less that you think you can accomplish. Stuff has a way of coming up. Worst care, you can always find something to add to your To-Do list if you get bored, right?

Side note: If you do have staff or a dedicated army of followers, you are most likely very rich or a cult leader and don’t need this advice. But can you send your minions to my house? (smile!!!)

3. Consider ditching gift-giving

A number of years ago, my husband’s family decided to dispense with present exchanging. We still get gifts for the little ones and sometimes do some small “stocking stuffer” things for each other. But it’s more about enjoying each other than anything.

Each family also picked up some charitable projects for the holidays and shared the stories of our efforts.

Rob, Connor, and I assembled toiletry care packages for our troops in the Middle East for several years. My sister-in-law and her kids picked several different projects – one led to my nieces volunteering at an animal shelter long after the holidays. My brother-in-law – sometimes a little short on time and resources – goes the food bank/soup kitchen route.

Serving others during the holidays, or anytime, feels a lot better then receiving a gift. Really. I know it sounds cliched but it is much better to give than to receive. It’s a wonderful thing to teach our children. Plus we’re probably going to buy ourselves the stuff we didn’t get as gifts anyway, right?

 SparklyTree4. Make it a year-round activity

Although we don’t do any major gift exchanging, there are a few people who I do make or buy gifts for. And of course there are always those unexpected work or hostess-type gifts that come up. For these situations, I keep my eyes open year round.

When I see something I know a person on my list would like, I buy it. (Especially if it’s on sale!) Then I tuck it away until the holidays. Same goes for sewing and crafty projects – when I have time to make something, I make it and stash it.

This strategy helps spread the financial impact and time-crunch out across the year and I’m not slammed in December.

As a bonus, post-holiday sales are a great time to stock up on holiday accoutrements. I just have to remember what I have stashed away and not forget when the new stuff gets stocked after Halloween!

5. Take a social media holiday

This is a tough one, particularly for creative peeps. But I’ve learned that seeing all the cool things that other people are doing, and sharing and pinning tends to sidetrack me. They lure me into starting unplanned projects which inevitably leads to a time-crunch and stresses me out.

I also get feelings of guilt and inadequacy when I see other people’s projects. (I still can’t figure out how people with 4 dogs and 7 children have such beautiful, perfect houses!) But if I’m not looking, then I’m none the wiser!

In the event that I do run across something cool, I save it (yay for Pinterest, Pocket, and Evernote!) to check out after the holidays and to work on throughout the year.

HeartsPlacemat6. Make a written plan

It doesn’t sound very glamorous, but writing things down is a really powerful way to focus and get shiz done.

Before the end of November, I start writing down the things that I want or need to do. Then I loosely schedule major tasks over the month of December. Remember that I can’t do it all, and that stuff is sure to come up, I make every effort not to over-schedule.

I also prioritize so that if something major does crop up and I have to eliminate any plans, it’s an easy call to figure out what gets postponed or dropped.

I keep the plan on my desk and make mini-lists (ie. shopping lists, daily task lists, etc.) off of it. And I revise as necessary. Over the years, I’ve found that I can make a pretty reliable and accomplish-able list. It feels SO good to cross tasks off that list!

For another take on this very topic, check out this NY Times piece!

No matter what you do during the holidays, from my heart to yours, I hope that it is merry and bright!

Hugs!