Back from mini sabbatical ⭐️

I was on my mini sabbatical week off last week.

What the heck is a “mini sabbatical”?

I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. 6 weeks on, 1 week off, then repeat. (I still take the weekends off in the meantime, or the weekend equivalent 😬)

It’s on my Google calendar perpetually, so I don’t even have to think about it.

Brilliant, right? The idea is not mine. It’s seanwes.

(BTW, he’s writing a book about it. Totally check it out if you want to learn the hows/whats!)

I’ve been practicing it since October 2015, and I’m pretty certain I would’ve been burnt out in my biz a long time ago if I hadn’t been taking the regular time off.

During my mini sabbaticals, I still engage in my biz to keep it going, like replying to my customer emails and fullfilling orders.

But other than that, I try to keep my calendar open and do what I feel like doing.

Last week, I had a few obligations that took me out of sabbatical mode, but I still got to do things just for fun.

Here are some highlights 👇🏼

I’ve been baking more lately. I wanted to eat chocolate-y cookies, so I made these Chocolate Crescent Cookies. They were delicious 🌙
These porcelain cuties came out of the kiln. I turned them into little pins ❤️ They’re not for sale, but I’ve got a few more kitties and birdies and plan on putting them in my shop when I have the time. Sign up for my newsletter if you wanna hear about it first!
Dave’s working on Orcas Island for a couple of weeks, and we share one car, so I took him there last Wed. I miss his big smile 💗
On my way back from Orcas, my ferry was late for over an hour 🤦🏻‍♀️ so I doodled this. I’d had a difficult confrontation with someone the day before and had been processing it. Making art about my emotions and situations always helps.
And then I was back to work at Redmond Arts Festival last Friday – Sunday. It was a great show and I was so happy many of you came out!

Self-care is super important, my friend.

And NOT selfish.

Hope you’re doing something to recharge your energy as often as you need!

xo

You are brave 💛

I was much braver when I was younger.

I said goodbye to my friends and family and moved to Seattle from Japan when I was 18.

I wasn’t afraid. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. I knew we’d stay friends and family even if I was no longer there physically.

I was SO excited for my future in the U.S. None of the “what-ifs” could’ve held me back.

(And I wasn’t asking a lot of what-if questions back then 😆)

As I got older, it’s become scarier to take risks.

Changes are hard because letting go of what’s safe and known is scary. The older I get, the more I’m attached to what’s “mine.”

I have more to lose.

But I still say yes to things that are scary.

Some things are small, like should I be wearing overalls? Would they make me look like a weird 40-year-old teenager?

with my friend, Katie, at Magpie Mouse Studios

You be the judge. I think I look pretty cute in them. Ok I may have posted this because I do look so cute 😀 haha!

And really, who cares?? I’m sure you have much more important things to worry about than my outfit choices 😂 I know I do!!

(But what’s up with my left hand in this pic? 🖐 It wasn’t a bad Photoshop job, I swear!)

Other decisions have more serious and long-lasting consequences.

Like, quitting my job 4 years ago to work in Honeyberry Studios full-time.

Very scary.

(👆In this case, Dave was the true brave one.)

And, you know I got a major case of imposter syndrome when I took on a Board position at the NW Network recently.

When I hear a little voice in my head say, “Don’t do it! It’s dangerous. You’ll fail and everyone’s gonna know about it!!,” I have to pause.

I remind myself of what I’ve heard on a podcast once that the regret of not doing something is much worse than the regret of doing something.

So when I created a bunch of new work for my 2020 calendar (coming in October!), this message resonated with me the most.

Here is the thing – I tend to deflect when someone tells me I’m brave.

I think, “No, I’m not brave. It’s no big deal. It happened because of _______ (my parents, my partner, my situation, my age, my luck, fill in the blank!)”

Do you do that, too??

(Did you notice I did that earlier when I mentioned it was Dave who was the brave one when I quit my job? 💁🏻‍♀️ Correction: It took both of us to be equally brave to make that decision.)

I’ve been practicing owning my own bravery – no matter how small it is.

The more I notice myself being brave, the more confident I feel in business and life. And it helps me put myself out there more and share my gifts with others.

See? It’s a win-win.

You’re brave, my friend 💛

xo

ps. My new collection offers this and other encouraging new designs 😘 Go get inspired today.

Happy 4th!

If you’re in the U.S., Happy 4th!

I usually don’t do anything on the 4th 😅 but this year we’re going to a BBQ at my friend’s. They’re grilling up some steaks and salmon, they said. So fancy ✨ We’re bringing a salad from our garden. A proper celebration!

(However, I guarantee you I’ll be in bed by the time fireworks start 😂 I got earplugs.)

Just like my new birthday card implies, I’m not much of a partier. Cozy celebration that ends at a reasonable time is def my style.

No matter what you’re doing, be safe and enjoy your day 💙❤️

xo

🎉 New collection is here! 🎉

I did it 😭

My new collection is online NOW.

Enjoy 5 new cards, 2 prints, 4 stickers, and one magnet!

And remember, you always get free shipping with an order of $35 or more (U.S. only).

I LOVE every single thing in my new collection, and I hope they’ll bring you joy today.

Happy Sunday, and Happy Pride!

xo

ps. in case you missed the link, you can shop my new collection online here.

Loss & Gratitude

[👉 trigger warning – I talk about loss of a partner in this post]

Hey friend,

Loss of a spouse is popping up in my life a lot lately – not my own, thankfully, but it’s showing up in a podcast I listen to, a Netflix show I watch, artists I follow on social media, a book I’m reading, and recently, a friend of a friend.

I haven’t had death in my close relationships yet but know it’s inevitable.

Like the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, joked about in this podcast episode, death rate has kept it up at 100% since, well, always. Yet we’re still flabbergasted and appalled when someone we love dies.

I’ve been reading the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resiliance, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

This book had sat on my “for later” shelf in my library account for a few months, and honestly, I forgot what it was about.

I was jolted awake in the opening scene where Sheryl’s husband, Dave, dies suddenly and unexpectedly on their vacation in Mexico.

(Pretty much my worst nightmare.)

I have a tendency to fantasize about terrible situations on a good day, and loss of close loved ones has been on my mind a lot lately.

My Dave makes fun of me that I have such a morbid imagination and I “pre-mourn” stuff.

He’s Mr. Silver Lining – always looking for positives in life and doesn’t spend whole a lot of time and energy thinking about the negatives.

You may agree with Dave and think it’s unhealthy for me to dive deeply into the world of loss and grief when things are fine in my real life.

I can understand the argument. It does seem unproductive and harmful to intentionally picture your spouse dying suddently and experience the loss and grief on purpose.

(Granted, it’s an “imagined” loss, which cannot be compared to the real thing. I acknowldege the real loss would be 1000x more devastating and horrifying and life-changing.)

Yet, I can’t help but wonder, how would I survive such a loss? Would I ever be happy again? Could I feel true joy after you lose someone you love?

From what I’ve been learning (and from my experience working with domestic violence survivors for many years), it seems the answer is yes, even after you experience a tremendous loss and trauma, you can still be happy again.

One thing I want you to understand is when I’m in my dark fantasy world, I’m not feeling depressed.

Rather, I find overwhelming gratitude for what I do have in life.

Clearly, Dave is alive and well today. I don’t want him to go anytime soon but even if he did (sorry Dave!!), I’ve had wonderful 12 and a half years with him. It could’ve been 3 years instead of 12. Heck, maybe we would’ve never met if the stars hadn’t alighned in the first place!

And let me state the obvious that I’m choosing to imagine this situation. If this were real, I’d have no choice but to live it.

I do believe in silver lining. It’s just that I need to fully embrace the bad before I can appreciate the good. It’s not helpful for me to jump right into the positives before giving time and space to honor the negatives.

Only then, I can move on to celebrate the good things that surround me. And my art allows me to express joy in life.

Thank you for letting me share what I’ve been thinking a lot about 😘 I know it’s not very easy to hear or think about loss.

I hesitated to write about this today but did it anway in case you’re struggling with loss and grief, whether it’s from death, divorce, illness, or rejection from your family.

I wanted you to know I’m thinking of you. You’re not alone.

xo

ps. I highly recommend the book and podcast episode I highlighted above ☝️if you or someone you love is experiencing grief. Great resources.

pps. I’ll be back next week to tell you about my new collection! 🥳

 

A gentle reminder for your self-confidence

Do you ever get a funny look when you try to explain to a stranger what you do?

“What do you do for a living?”

“Oh I’m a Cheese Sprayer.”

“A cheese what!?”

Ok, maybe you don’t have an odd-souding job like Chesse Sprayer (look it up, it’s a thing.)

And really, neighter do I.

But there is one thing I tell my customers that gets a funny look, oh maybe 75% of the time.

It’s not the fact I’m obsessed with cats. Or that my bedtime is 8:30 😴

It’s when I tell people my stickers are dishwasher-safe.

I tried to ignore that funny look at first – I thought I was reading their faces wrong. You know, sometimes, people just look funny and it has nothing to do with you.

But then I noticed the sense of relief in them when I followed up with “so you can put the sticker on your water bottle, and it won’t peel off.”

photo by Lauren Krygier

ohhhhh, I see, they thought I was suggesting they wash the stickers in the dishwasher. By themselves.

Which they can. But, that wouldbe weird, wouldn’t it? I’d give them a funny look, too, if they told me that 😀

Honestly, I don’t know how they make the stickers dishwasher-safe. I know they’re vinyl. The rest, magic, I suppose 🦄

I still get the funny look when I tell people about its dishwasher-safe-ness, but I just smile and explain what that means.

You know what else makes me smile?

It’s that my stickers have quickly become one of my best-selling products.

Naturally, new designs are coming out when the next collection launches in a couple of weeks 🥳

If you’re needing a gentle reminder to feel more confident, these are for you❤️

They will be available in my online shop during the week of June 24.

Sign up for my V.I.P email list, and you’ll hear about it first, and I’ll send you a promo code, of course 😘

Can’t wait for you to have them very soon!

xo

ps. You can also pick them up at Fremont Street Fair and Urban Craft Uprising Summer Show on 6/22-23 if you’re in the area.

Imposter Syndrome & saying yes to something that scares you

Happy Pride!🌈

You may have seen my announcement on social media that I’ve recently joined the Board of Directors at the NW Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse.

I’d worked for another local DV org for 14 and a half years before making a transition to working in Honeyberry Studios full-time and have always been a big fan of the Network.

So I was honored and surprised when I got an email from my friend, Eli, who is the Board President at the organization a few weeks ago.

In his email, he said he thought I’d be a great candidate for the position and asked if I’d be interested in joining the team.

I was very excited for the prospect of joining the Board but hesitated to say yes at first because I didn’t feel qualified.

When I pictured “Board of Directors,” I imagined a group of people who are white, older (than me), upper-middle class, and have a corporate job or a “real” business.

(You know, not a “handmade” kind of business…)

I didn’t fit the profile at all 🤷🏻‍♀️

Big imposter syndrome kicked in, and I was swallowed in a whirlpool of “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios.

What if I suck at the job? What if I couldn’t deliver what they expected from me? What if I make a bad decision or give terrible advice? What if it’s more time-consuming and stressful than I think?

I was afraid they’d find me out.

They’d be disappointed and it’d be super awkward. And then they’d wish they’d never asked me to join the team, and now they have to have a meeting to make a plan to gently exit me from the Board and never speak about it ever again.

I know, my imagination runs WILDsometimes – it’s good for my creative work, but not so good for other situations 😛😭

Eli and I had a few back-and-forth about the logistics and my concerns – he patiently reassured me that I had a combination of qualities they were looking for.

While I still felt an imposter-syndrome hangover, I wrote this letter of intent.

That’s when I knew I really, really wanted to do this.

So I was very happy when I got a call from Eli several days later telling me that I was officially IN! 🥳

Interesting, though, that my imposter syndrome got even worse when I shared the news on social media.

A lot of people sent me kind, encouraging messages and congratulated me. It was wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.

Overwhelming because a lof of the comments were about me as a person, like “you’re great” or “you’re wonderful” and I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I was telling Dave how these comments were making me uneasy because I hadn’t actually done anything yet.

A little voice inside me was saying, “Yuko, anyone can join the Board. But what are you going to accomplish? You’ve been away from the work for so long. Do you remember half of the things you said on your resume?”

Yeah, right. People should really hold off on congratulating me until I do something awesome.

Maybe I shoud’ve kept it a secret.

And then Dave said, “You know you’re gonna do great work, right?”

Right.

Sometimes when my brain tells me I can’t do something, I listen to the people I trust, who say “yes you can.”

from my next collection 💙

If I trust their judgement, and they say they believe in me, then I should believe in myself, too, you know?

It’s so meta, but I think you get it.

And that’s how I’ve gotten over the most recent bout of self-doubt.

Being uncomfortable with something new and unknown is healthy.

I know I’ll continue to have moments of insecurities throughout my life – after all, I’m a human being with lots of feelings (LOTS) – but I’ll also continue to learn and practice skills and tools to manage them more effectively so I can get back to being my whole self more quickly.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, because I wanted you to know it’s OK if you feel this way too.

when I say I make art that tells me what I need to hear, I mean it 🌵

You’re not a robot🤖

Sometimes we stumble and get stuck. There is no shame in that, my friend.

I know you can, too.

xo

ps. my friend Sarah at Saltstone Ceramics is having Queer and Dear show throughout this month and July! Go enjoy the work of amazing queer artists in person or online 🥰

From bored to inspired 🐦🐤🎨

Hey friend,

Back in the first week of May, Dave and I took a couple of days off to get away to Whidbey Island, a short drive and ferry ride from Seattle.

Gorgeous view from Fort Casey State Park

We wanted to spend time together and relax away from our daily routine.

We’re independent people with different interests and schedule, so it’s easy for us to do our own thing and not connect with each other intentionally.

We stayed at our friends’ beautiful studio for a couple of nights, and on the second day, we went out to some of the state parks and did hiking and birdwatching.

Dave looking for birds to watch

Dave’s always been a bird nerd 🦅🤓, but me, not so much.

I like nature and animals, but birding seemed sort of too stationary?? I’d get frustrated and bored because I didn’t know what I was looking for/at.

Every time he would stop to see something, I’d be like (inside my head, sometimes out loud, maybe) “Ugh, again??? I only see brown dots fluttering around. Let’s keep walking.”

I know, not a very fun companion for your birding activity 🙊

Maybe it’s more of a mature person’s thing, because I’m learning to enjoy it more as I get older.

(Or maybe it’s because I finaly figured out how to adjust my binocular 👀 so I could actually see the things 😂 It helps.)

We hiked around Fort Casey State Park, Ebey’s Landing, and Coupeville and spotted a bunch of neat birds.

I love colors and textures of these rocks on the beach
Ebey’s Landing
Lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park

Later, I sketched some of the birds to document the fun time we had.

Birds we saw on Whidbey Island, May 2019

And they turned out so adorable 😻

It inspired me to learn more about the birds and draw more.

And then I thought, wouldn’t it be so cute to create a new design with birds of Washington 🤔??

The answer, of course, is YES, it would be SUPER cute.

I asked my Facebook friends for bird suggestions, and boy they had so many great ideas!!

(If you were one of the people who helped me, THANK YOU!)

Here are some of the birds I’ve sketched for the new artwork.

Bird sketches
I drew them on my iPad Pro with Procreate app if you’re wondering!

I’m having a lot of fun with these little birds, and the new print will be available in late June when my new collection debuts!!

Stay tuned, my friend.

xo

Back by popular demand (+ new work sneak preview! 👀)

I was on my mini sabbatical week this past week.

(What is it? I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. The best self-care strategy I learned from seanwes.)

But I wrote this a week before, and I’m planning to spend my sabbatical week 1) reading the book, Profit First, to learn and implement the new accounting system for my biz and 2) making more art for the new collection.

Ok, ok, I can hear you saying, “But Yuko, you’re on sabbatical! Why are you working? 🤷🏻‍♀️”

To me, my mini sabbaticals are for doing things I don’t normally have time to do.

Sometimes that means I get to work on more big picture things for my business, like reviewing and revising my accounting system.

(Sounds boring? 😀 I used to think accounting was boring, too, but when I get to experiment with it and see how it impacts my business, it’s kinda exciting! 🤓)

And making art is fun and rejuvenating.

Sabbatical or no sabbatical.

I’m debuting my Fall & Winter Collection at the Urban Craft Uprising Summer Wholesale Show on June 24th, so I need to crack on.

(Someone’s been watching the Great British Baking Show, hasn’t it? 🥐🥖🥧)

I’ve made some designs already, but I need more to complete the collection.

I made a list – I need 8 more designs to be exact. Um, ok, that’s more than I thought I had to do 🙀😂

Most of my new designs need to be finished by the first week of June so I can send them to print, design my new catalog, and order postcards etc.

So, yeah, I really need to crack on.

(Gosh I love saying “crack on” so much!)

Since I don’t schedule a lot of other things during my sabbaticals, it’s a great time to focuse on art making.

If you were sad that I didn’t make 2019 monthly calendar, dry your tears because you’ll have one for 2020!

Here are some artwork for the new calendar 🥰

It’s going to be full of reminders for self-care and self-acceptance.

Why do I make these? Because need to hear it the most. And it turns out, you do, too 😘

And the calendars are a great way to enjoy beautiful art and helpful reminders.

I love having a calendar poster this year – but it is fun to see new art every month, isn’t it?

It won’t come out till October, but I’ll share more previews between now and then!

Hope you’re as excited about this as I am ❤️

xo

🦙🦆🧁 Stock up on cards for dads & grads! 🦙🦆🧁

If you celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday, hope it was a good one!

I was at Fremont Sunday Market, and it was lovely to see so many customers hanging out with their moms/kids 💐

(or secretly picking out cards and gifts for their mom ❤️)

I had warm and fuzzy feelings all day long. It’s the BEST feeling.

Thanks for being a thoughtful human being 🤗

That reminded me I should let you know I have Father’s Day and Graduation cards for you.

Father’s Day is June 16th!

Don’t forget dog and cat dads 🐶🐱 I mean, how cute are these?? 😍

And this one is for those who lost their dad/child or are otherwise having a hard time around this holiday.

Life is not perfect, and I try to offer cards to express your empathy for your loved ones.

Reaching out to someone who is struggling can be awkward.

But your small act of kindness can help them feel less alone 💜

(that’s worth your awkwardness, right??)

Also, the graduation season is upon us!! 🎓

These adorable cards will cheer up any grads 😀

Love what you see?

You can grab them in my shop or pick them up at one of my shows and markets!

 

xo

ps. a quick reminder – prices of my 8×10″ art prints and wrapping paper rolls will increase on June 1st, 2019. If you’ve been eyeing them, now is the good time buy them.