Filling my Cup

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A few years ago. I was running myself ragged, trying to excel at work, be there for the 30 people who reported to me, run a massive transformation project, but also pick my kids up from school, help them with homework, get dinner on the table, oh and also have some kind of life. Can you relate?

I had taken 2 weeks off from work for the Christmas break, and a few days before my scheduled return I started having panic attacks. The panic attacks continued every morning for weeks. I remember sitting on a chair in our closet having trouble catching my breath, and telling my husband I just couldn’t do it anymore. I then proceeded to finish getting ready and head out the door…for another. seven. months.

I was unhappy. I felt very much under appreciated and overworked. I felt like I was failing my family, and I had somehow lost myself in trying to be everything for everyone else. I called my husband one day and said “I’m done, I’m quitting.” Let’s be honest, I called him almost everyday saying this same thing. For whatever reason, this particular day it took. I gave my notice without another job to go to. I felt irresponsible, and guilty, but free. The weight I carried lifted the second I told my boss I was leaving.

It took me 2 months to muster up the courage to take another position. I was afraid I was going to feel that way again as soon as I went back to work, and I was terrified. Something broke in me, or perhaps I finally realized the life I was living was broken and had to be fixed.

You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Since then, I’ve taken to heart what I already knew to be true. You cannot pour from an empty cup. As women we tend to give until there is nothing left, and in addition to that, I have a tendency to say yes, when I should really say no. I learned a lot about the life I want to live, and how to intentionally make sure I am cultivating the life I want and not ending up with a different life because I said yes too often to everyone but myself.

Here are three things I put into practice that helped me learn when to say yes, and how to keep my cup full.

1. I Date Myself

I know, sounds strange but it has been THE most important thing for keeping my soul fed. It’s was easy (and really enjoyable) once I dropped the guilt and made the time.

The first thing to do is schedule time for yourself once per week. PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR! This is a critical meeting, think of it as a meeting with your boss. Your boss isn’t going to cancel or reschedule, and you can’t flake out. Also, this is NOT a double date, do not bring a friend, or your spouse, or your child. JUST YOU!

You only need 15 minutes, but you can take as much time as you like. Start small, and work your way up. The purpose of this date is to get to know yourself again, and to spend time doing things you enjoy. Here are a few ideas to start with if you aren’t sure where to begin.

  1. Take a bath. Kick the kids out of the house, turn on some music, light a candle…you get the idea.

  2. Go to your favorite coffee shop and read a book, write in a journal, or just sit.

  3. Check out the latest exhibit at the museum.

  4. Go for a walk, maybe bring your camera and snap some pics of the flowers.

  5. Turn up the music and dance around the house (again, kick the kids out).

  6. Take that class you’ve always wanted to take (dance, Italian lessons, painting).

  7. Get a massage, or a facial, or both!

2. I Write Everyday

Let me preface this by saying, I AM NOT A WRITER, but I do write in a journal almost everyday. It is an exercise in getting everything that is spinning in my head, out.

Try to write 3 pages every morning, first thing when you get up. It can be in a journal or on loose leaf pages, and there are really no rules at all except to do it daily, and try to hit 3 pages. This is a brain dump, it isn’t meant to make sense, it only serves as a release.

Don’t over think it. I literally have pages upon pages of profanity. I have some pages where I just looped my pen around on the paper and made scratches. Just fill three pages. If you write something eloquent, great. But more often than not it’s going to be garbage and that is just as great. Also, under no circumstances should you EVER go back and read what you wrote. Nope, don’t do it. Burn it (or at least throw it away).

I love this exercise because it clears my head. Once I’m done, I no longer have grocery lists, and to-do’s running through my head and stressing me out because I’m never going to get to it all, and most of it isn’t actually important.

3. I Found my Words

Through my dates, and my journal writings I rediscovered myself, and found what I call “My Words.” They are 2-3 words that describe how I want to feel most often. I use my words to decide when to say yes, and when to say no. I say yes to things that light me up, like 10-day trips to Italy with my family, and living a minimalistic life. I say no to things that feel unnecessarily complicated.

My words are: Simple and Beautiful.  Sometimes I add Bold, Adventurous, or Light. 

I use these words to make decisions in my life. If the decision helps me to have a simple, beautiful (or perhaps adventurous) life, then I do it.  If it doesn't, I don't.  Most recently, I've been using these words to build a capsule wardrobe, and I am loving how my style is coming together!  Lots of easy to wear, easy to clean, mix-and-match, and pack items (I have a bit of an addiction to travel).

Read more on finding your words.

P.S.

I’m happy to report, I feel more like myself today than I have in many many years! I hope, if you are struggling with all the demands of life, that you find peace and time for yourself. And if no one has told you lately. You are doing a great job!

New Art Available: The Sea Glass Collection

The waves hurry away from a grey pebbled shoreline, and stones of green, blue, white, and even pink hide in between the smooth rocks. Sea glass is a treasure, an adventure, a reminder that beauty grows over time.

The Sea Glass collection is officially available! I’ve been working on this one for quite some time, and am so excited to share it, and the story behind the collection with you. I hope these pieces bring you peace, and a reminder to enjoy the simple things in life.

THE STORY

While touring the cost of Capri, Italy, our new friend and skipper, Paulo, asked if we wanted to swim, and pointed off in the distance to a tiny patch of shoreline. Umm...yes! Of course I want to swim! 

The water was much colder than I expected and the swim was far, but the salty waves guided me forward. Before I knew it, I was sitting on that beach, searching for sea glass, legs and hands dotted with sand and soil, and completely forgetting I had a boat full of people waiting on me. 

The polished green glass was meant as a souvenir for my boys, and I clutched those pieces tight in my fist while swimming against the push of the waves back to the boat - it was NOT a graceful swim. Beaming with excitement over my new found treasures and grateful for the day's adventure, I climbed aboard Paulo's boat, and was greeted with smiles, limoncello and cherries.

Check out these new pieces and shop the Sea Glass Collection today! If you love this collection, and want a custom size, reach out and we’ll get started on an original for you.

Small Art Styling

I did a little impromptu styling session to punch up and give new life to my night stand, and I thought I’d share a few tips you can use in your own home.

1. Clear the Clutter

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The first and most important step is to clear off your surface. Take everything off, and give it a good dust and wipe down so you are starting with a clean slate. It’s much easier to envision something fresh and new when starting from a blank slate.

2. Bring in Height and add some Books

Start with a lamp for height and place it on one side of you desk or nightstand, then take a look around your home or office and choose 3 books which fit easily next to your lamp. When choosing books try to stick with books that have the same or similar color jacket, and keep it neutral. Good neutrals to look for are white, gray, black, or navy.

3. Next up, Flowers!

Grab a simple vase, add your favorite flowers, then place it on top or behind your books. Be sure when you place your flowers that they sit lower than your lamp. You want different height levels for visual interest.

4. Create a Vignette

When creating your vignette, keep the number of items to 3 it will create balance and add visual interest. You can have as many vignettes as you like, but keep in mind that less is more, particularly if you are working with a smaller surface.

I’m certain I’m biased, but I think a piece of art from a local artist is more powerful than any piece of decor you find at the big-box stores. Art from a local artist, whether it is a print or an original, helps tell a story which will always add a layer of richness and depth to your home that the big box store decor just can’t compete with. I used this 3x3 original piece from my Sea Glass collection and created a small vignette with the flowers and a candle.

Pro Tip

When creating your vignette, choose pieces that have meaning to you, or that you find particularly beautiful. Remember small pieces of art from local artists are not only affordable, but are a unique add to your space.

Happy Styling!


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A Simple Life is a Beautiful Life

After half a lifetime, I am just now realizing that my joie de vivre is simplicity - I find it to be beautiful. My purpose is to cultivate and share this through my work, my art, and my life. Simplicity is any thing that is plain, natural, or easy to understand.  

My innate desire to seek out and cultivate simplicity has guided me most of my life. It lead me to a successful career in organizational effectiveness (a.k.a Agile), it lead me back to my art, and in college, down the design path. The desire to have a simple life is why I love Europoean culture, why I declutter and purge our home on the regular, and why I seek an uncomplicated life.

I am an artist because the act of creation is natural to me, it makes sense. It's simple, and beautiful both in process and finished product.

A friend once told me that a good blog isn't about the writer, but how the content improves someone elses life. By those standards this is not a good blog post so far, so I'll leave you with this.

Find your words

1-3 words to be specific. Seek out a handful of words that describe who you are, and why you do you, how you do you :).  A good way to get started is to list 5-7 words that describe what is important to you, then for each word ask yourself "why?" until you can no longer think of an answer.  Your words will begin to emerge through out this exercise, but make no mistake, you will need to iterate on this and come back to it and adjust.

My words are: Simple and Beautiful.  Sometimes I add Bold or Adventurous. 

I use these words to make decisions in my life. If the decision helps me to have a simple, beautiful (or perhaps adventurous) life, then I do it.  If it doesn't, I don't.  Most recently, I've been using these words to build a capsule wardrobe, and I am loving how my style is coming together!  Lots of easy to wear, easy to clean, mix-and-match, and pack items (I have a bit of an addiction to travel).