Nurturing connections, belonging, and making time for what’s imporant

When I visited Japan in October, I got to see my friends from high school.

{dinner with my high school buddies 🙂}

Even though we are 40 now, and some of us hadn’t seen each other for almost 20 years, we clicked instantly.

We have different lives now – many of them are married with kids (a couple of them have kids in high school even!!), handle lots of responsibilities at work and home, and some have lost their spouse or a parent.

But we laughed and talked for hours and bonded over funny/awful stories from our teenage years.

The whole time we were hanging out, I was overcome with gratitude.

First of all, I was so grateful that they wanted to see me! It makes me sound like I have a low self-esteem, but I just honestly didn’t know they wanted to see me because I hadn’t kept in touch with them in any meaningful way.

Sure, some of us are on Facebook and occaionally “like” each other’s posts, but it doesn’t make me feel super connected. It’s like reading the news I won’t remember two weeks later (or even 2 hours later!)

But seeing them in-person and eating and laughing together created an instant connection.

Even though it’d been a long time and we’re all in different places in life, I still felt like I belonged.

It’s hard to have a split life between the two worlds. It’s my choice to live so far away from home, and I appreciate it 95% of the time. I have a fulfilling life and a loving community in Seattle, and I have a great time when I’m in Japan, too. Of course, neither places are “perfect” and we all know what kinds of problems exist in both countries.

But I still wish there was a magical portal that connects the two places so I could go back and forth whenever I want. I wish I could just drop by my parents’ house for dinner or see my friends’ kids grow up close by.

It was sad to say goodbye, but my heart was full. 

​Yes, it sucks to be away from your loved ones. But it makes me realize just how special our relationship is. I’m grateful I have family and friends who are truly happy to see me and make me feel accepted for who I am today. 

It’s kind of like when Dave and I were in a long distance relationship for 5 years – I was a wreck whenever we had to say goodbye to each other, but it made our time together so much more precious. We were much more intentional about our communication and didn’t take each other for granted. The distance between us made our hearts grow stronger.

And it really doesn’t matter how close or far away you’re from your loved ones.

Full disclosure: I’ve only seen one of my closest friends in Seattle, who lives one train station away, 5 times this year. That’s like seeing each other every 8 weeks. I was actually shocked to learn that just now! I gotta take a deep breath to calm down…

Yea, we traveled a lot this year, and I was frequently out of town. It seems my friend’s been working on demanding projects at work all the time. We’re both introverts, so we really need alone time to unwind on weekends etc. We text each other sometimes to check in, but still…

There is an artwork on my wall that says, “You always have time for the things that are important to you.”

There it is. It can’t get any truer than that. If I value connection with my friends and family, then I will make time to nurture that connection. I can always choose to be the person I want to be!

So I decided this year I’m gonna take the time to send out Christmas cards to my friends and family. 

I may not be able to send them to everyone I care about. I may not be able to do it every year. But this year, I’m going to do it because I can and I want to.

I know I’m lucky to have them in my life, and the holiday season gives me an opportunity to do something extra. (Plus, I already asked for a bunch of my friends’ addresses, so they’re expecting to receive something from me 😀 Accountability!)

How about you? What helps you feel connected to people you love? How do you make time for things that are important to you? 

xo

 

p.s. If you’re inspired to join me in sending cards to our loved ones this holiday season, you can browse all of my holiday notecards in my shop here.

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New holiday cards in shop + exciting sneak preview!

Happy November, friend!

First of all, how the heck is it November already?

And second, I finally feel less weird talking about the winter holidays now 😀 and am excited to tell you my new holiday cards are in my Etsy shop!

Keep scrolling to see your options 🙂 (You’ll find direct links to purchase them after each photo.)

These folded notecards are all blank inside and are printed on 100% recycled paper.

Christmas Cookies Holiday Greeting Card / Singles / Pack of 8

Christmas Forest Holiday Greeting Card / Singles / Pack of 8

Gift Box Holiday Greeting Card / Singles / Pack of 8

Menorah Tree Hanukkah Holiday Greeting Card / Singles / Pack of 8

Year of the Dog 2018 Holiday Greeting Card / Singles / Pack of 8

If you love adorable illustrations and bright colors, these cards are for you! Imagine what the recipients would feel when they open an envelope and find one of these cards?

And you know the truth is – what they’re gonna find the most touching is not the card itself – it’s your thoughtfulness. The fact you thought of them and took the time our of your busy schedule to send them a card alone means so much.

I’m grateful if I could help brighten up your loved ones’ day with my art ❤

AND, let me give you a preview of my new notepads!

They’re not in the shop yet but coming in the next couple of weeks. I love paper products and use notepads all the time, so I’m extra excited to be able offer these for the holiday season. An excellent stocking stuffer!

Be sure to sign up for my VIP list so you get notified when they become available later this month.

Have a wonderful week 🙂

xo

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Japan trip photo album

I’m back from my vacation in Japan! And, it was awesome ❤

It’s hard to choose our favorite moments from this trip, but here are some of the highlights!

Tokyo

I almost always book hotels that include breakfast buffet because Japanese breakfast buffets are THE BEST. There are usually a few different kinds of rice, several veggie dishes, meat and fish, pickles, soups, condiments, pastries, fruits, coffee, tea, etc. etc. We ate SO well while we were there.

We stayed in Ryogoku, Tokyo for the first couple of days. Ryogoku is the Sumo capitol of Japan. They have these portraits and hand prints of sumo champions at the station.

Seriously big hands!

Nagano & Obuse

After Tokyo, we took a bullet train to Nagano.

We accidentally joined the underground tour at Zenkouji temple, where you walk in a pitch black darkness for like 20 minutes (it felt like an eternity) guided only by feeling the wall next to you.

The idea is you find a “key to heaven” mounted on the wall but it’s so sacred, you’re not supposed to see it. Your eyes never get used to the darkness and there is no going back, so you just keep going forward even if you’re freaking out… It was surreal!

(And, yes, we found the key to heaven!)

Lotus in the pond.

It was the height of the chestnut season in Japan. We tried to eat it in all forms possible. Here we’re enjoying mont blanc soft serve (by the way, the Japanese LOVE their soft serves. If you see a sign for “ice cream,” 99% of the time, it means “soft serve.”) and regular mont blanc.

We spent a day in Obuse, which is a little town 30 minutes outside of Nagano city. In Obuse, we stopped at their folk history museum.

Museums and other recreational facilities are super cheap to get in there. This one was only 100 yen per person to go in (that’s about 88 cents). The most we paid to get in to a museum was 1,200 yen (about $10.50) for Hokusai Museum in Tokyo, where you can see the Hokusai originals – but still a really good deal when I think of going to an exhibit at Seattle Art Museum!

Kanazawa & Noto Peninsula

Then we traveled to Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture, and met up with my parents! They’d driven for 6 hours that morning from home to meet us there… (Also, I’m impressed with Dave’s selfie skill. No selfie stick needed!)

Of all the things we saw at Kenroku En Japanese Garden, I was most attracted to moss and lichens 😀 I just love their textures so much.

After our walk in the park and a visit to a ninja temple, we stopped for tea and treats. My dad and Dave got a sweet bean soup and they got to roast their own mochi!

Another superb breakfast buffet at the hotel in Kanazawa… It makes me drool even now!

We made our way out to Noto Peninsula the next morning. We got to drive on the beach at Chiriga Hama Beach Drive. The ocean was so calming…

After going to Wajima morning market and having our lunch, we stopped to see the terraced rice paddies. It was overcast but still quite a view!

This region is known for its salt. We stopped at a salt farming demonstration site where they harvest the salt from the ocean using a traditional method.

We took a hike up to see Rokko Saki light house in the afternoon. Simply stunning.

Selfie time!

We stayed at a quiet inn overlooking the sound. Gorgeous view from our room at sunset.

Shirakawa Go

On our way back to Himeji, my hometown, we visited Shirakawa Go historic village.

They’d moved these super old houses from a nearby village to preserve the culture and educate the public about traditional ways of living. I have no idea how exactly they’d moved these houses here, but some of the houses have been converted into a living museum so you can go in and check out the inside of the house and see the old tools etc.

Pretty much every region of Japan has a “thing” they’re known for. I tried theirs for lunch: soba noodle and beef steak rice bowl! Delicious!

Himeji

We got back to Himeji, where I grew up, and visited my brother’s cafe, Kamada Kura No Coffee! Weee!

My brother opened the cafe about 2 years ago. It had been his dream for a long time, and I was beyond impressed with what he’s done!

Kura is an old Japanese storage house, and he’s converted the building into a modern cafe. Much of the original structure is still there, including walls and beams that are 150 years old!

It’s a really chill space, and Dave and I were there every day while we were in Himeji 🙂

Dave says my brother’s coffee was the best he had in Japan!

Oh and I designed their logo. It was nice to see how everything fit together.

I even hosted a block printing workshop there 🙂 Now I can check off my goal to teach overseas on my goals list.

While in Himeji, we visited the Himeji Castle – it’s a pride of every Himeji person (Himejian? Himejilite?) Ask anyone in Himeji about the castle and they’ll tell you it’s the BEST in Japan 😀

Last couple of times we were in Himeji, it was undergoing renovation, so we weren’t able to see the inside.

This time around, most of the construction was done so we go to see view from the top of the castle.

We had a great time there and wish it was closer – like an hour drive – so I could visit my family and friends more often.

Thanks for letting me share my photos with you! Maybe you’ll make it out there some day 🙂

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

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New winter holiday greeting cards coming soon!

I’m back from Japan!

Even though I hate saying good bye to my family and friends 😦 it’s nice to get back to my life and normal routines here in Seattle.

(I’ll share some of our favorite moments from our trip next week, so stay tuned for that ;))

The winter holiday season is fast approaching, and I’ve created several new holiday greeting cards for you!

Coming to my shop on November 1st.

Are you known for delicious holiday cookies? Decorating cookies on paper was much easier than decorating them in reality 😀

Holiday season can be busy and overwhelming. I wanna take a walk in this quiet, winter forest. How about you?

And let’s not forget all the fun presents! I kinda wish I had all these wrapping papers 🙂

I’m excited to present to you a new Hanukkah card this year! At one of the shows, someone told me this was the most beautiful Hanukkah card she’d ever seen. Aw ❤

And, last but not least, 2018 is the Year of the Dog! Look at these adorable dogs in sweaters. I want to hug them all ❤

These adorable cards will be available in my Etsy shop on November 1st.

Hope you love them 🙂

xo

New drawing tutorial video on YouTube

My new oil pastel dog portrait video is up on Sakura of America’s YouTube channel now!

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create adorable portraits of sweet dogs by layering fun colors of Sakura Cray-Pas oil pastel sticks.

Watch the video here and let me know what you think! Tag me (@honeyberrystudios) on Instagram so I can see what you come up with 🙂

Enjoy!

xo

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2018 Happy Beautiful Day Calendar is here!

I designed a new wall calendar for 2018, and it’s available in my Etsy shop now!

I love creating calendars because it makes it so easy to bring in beautiful art in your everyday life.

It’s got 12 full-color watercolor illustrations of whimsical floral bouquets accompanied by brush-lettered positive messages.

I wanted to make a calendar with lots of bright colors. I’m confident I achieved that goal 😀

Some of the paintings were from my daily painting practice earlier this year. (You can see my creative process in this post.)

It’s 5″x8″, which is a perfect size for your office or studio and handy for shipping to your loved ones, too.

I chose to incorporate a phrase into each month that’s encouraging and uplifting. I was thinking “what do I want to hear? what cheers me up?”

I worked with a local printshop, and the calendars turned out so beautiful ❤

I sold out of last year’s calendars in early December, so I ordered a bunch more for this year. Lots of them have already been going out to various shops and customers, so don’t wait too long to get yours if you’ve been wanting one!

I’m going to have these at several craft shows this fall/winter, and if you don’t live in the Seattle area, you can purchase them in my Etsy shop here. I ship internationally, too!

Have a happy beautiful day!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

p.s. I’m going to be traveling to Japan in October. I won’t be able to ship your order between 10/3 and 20. Please place your orders by 10/1 for a timely shipping!

 

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3 Free Resources to Empower and Motivate You!

Do you subscribe to any e-newsletters? I bet you do!

I’m on several lists myself – a lot of them for business. Tips on writing, some related to social media, and a bunch of emails from artists I like and admire.

And there are a few I get for motivation and encouragement. I love getting emails from these lovely humans because they help me feel grounded and gives me the courage to live life that I want.

Here are my 3 favorite e-newsletters (They’re all free!):

1. Monday Morning Motivation by Personal Pep Talk

Photo by Andrew Ochoa ©Personal Pep Talk

Stacy and I met in the Master Gardener’s volunteer training several years ago. She’s got such a positive energy, and her smile always puts me in a better mood. Her compassion for  other people and the whole world runs deep, and it shows through everything she does – a true hero in my book!

She’s a teacher by trade  and has started her business, Personal Pep Talk, with her husband Eric this August. I absolutely LOVE their Personal Pepe Talk card decks – I use mine every day to practice gratitude and give myself a little TLC ❤ And her art is so charming and sweet 🙂

In her weekly newsletter, Monday Morning Motivation, Stacy shares tips on how to live mindfully and her intention for the week. What a wonderful way to start your week, right?

You can get a weekly dose of positivity and mindfulness from Stacy here.

2. 100 Uplifting Days by Jessica Swift

© Jessica Swift

I admire Jessica Swift‘s work as a surface designer so much! Her work is so colorful and cheerful, I can’t help but smile when I see her creations 🙂

So when I discovered her email series, 100 Uplifting Days, I wasted no time. I immediately signed up and enjoyed every single email that came for the next 100 days!

Every day, I’d get an email from Jessica with her colorful art and encouraging messages in my inbox (see photos above). Oftentimes, her message was SO spot on for what I was feeling that day, it really lifted up my spirits.

I was sad when the 100 days were over (FYI, you could unsubscribe and re-subscribe to start a cycle  again :D), but Jessica’s been sending out extras occasionally, so I still get her beautiful reminders here and there.

The visual of her email is so yummy. It’s a treat for your eyes and your soul! You can sign up for her email here.

3. Marie Forleo‘s MF Insider E-newsletter

© Marie Forleo

For those of you who don’t know, Marie Forleo is a life coach and entrepreneur, and I’ve been a fan of Marie TV for a couple of years.

Her motivational messages and practical tips for following your passion have been instrumental in my own journey, and I appreciate her sense of humor (and entertaining visuals on the show) when I need a little laugh 🙂

Since I don’t have time or energy to keep track of all the shows and podcasts I love (which there are many!), I signed up for her email so whenever a new content is posted, I’ll be notified.

Even if I don’t have time to watch or read her content right away, I always skim the email to get the gist of it. To me, Marie is a super successful celebrity, but she’s not afraid to share her human side generously with her viewers. When she’s answering questions from her viewers, I often feel like she’s directly talking to me because she makes it so relatable.

If you want practical and entertaining tips for your life and business, you can subscribe to Marie Forleo’s newsletter here.

These women give and share what they know so freely. Their wisdom adds so much to my life, and I hope you’ll find them helpful, too!

(I’ve been inspired to create something similar for my email subscribers, too… Stay tuned for any updates!)

Now, tell me what your favorite e-newsletters are. Please share in the comment and tell me why 🙂

xo

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My Recent Pottery Haul

I’ve been enjoying taking a pottery class this year, and here are some of the pieces that came out of the kiln this summer.

Small & medium bowls made with slip casting technique
Homegrown blueberries & gooseberries!
I LOVE stone fruits ❤
Dahlia dessert plates. I use these pretty often!
My recent favorite – I made this plate to ripen avocados on, but of course it works for other things, too.
I’ve tried wheel throwing – it’s hard… I definitely prefer hand buildling, but I’ll continue to practice next quarter.

Our cupboards are getting pretty crowded with things I’ve brought home from the class 😀 Even though they’re not perfect, it makes me happy when I use my handmade wares.

I’ve also been experimenting with clay pendants – if they turn out OK, I’ll be offering them at holiday fairs!

I can’t wait to share what I make with you this fall!

xo

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My Mini Sabbatical: Yayoi Kusama Exhibit at SAM

I was on my mini sabbatical a few weeks ago. I had just finished my very first trade show that Monday (woo hoo!) so I was READY to relax and unwind big time!

I’d been meaning to see Yayoi Kusama‘s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum for sometime, and I finally did!

It was a VERY popular exhibit, so I had to wait in line for 2.5 hours to get my ticket (all the advance tickets had been sold out), and then come back a few hours later to actually get in to my time slot 😀 It was definitely an all-day affair!

But the exhibit was purely magical, and here are some of the highlights:

When you enter the exhibit, you were greeted by Kusama’s large bright paintings! Such intense colors and shapes – it makes me want to paint big paintings, too.

And her soft sculpture pieces. It reminds me of some kind of viruses under a microscope!

 

Phalli’s Field

Then you wait in line (again!) to enter each of the infinity rooms. Only a few people are allowed to get in at a time for 20-30 seconds each.

Love Forever

I felt like I snuck in to a world of Alice in Wonderland or Charlie And the Chocolate Factory! So playful and full of wonder.

Entrance to the Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots
Inside of Dots Obsession
Mini dots obsession you peep into.
The Obliteration Room a.k.a. sticker room. Each visitor is given a sheet of stickers to add to the room! So cool.
Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity. This room is filled with golden flickering lanterns. Truly magical.

I watched a brief video of Kusama’s interview as well. It was inspiring and touching to see her talk about her hopes and intention for her work, which is to create love and peace in the world. (here is a snippet you can watch.) She’s been making art every day for 70 years. Yes, seventy! If that’s not inspiring, I don’ t know what is!

It was an awesome exhibit. Made me realize again how powerful art is. I was transported into another world and experienced pure joy and wonder. So glad I got to do that! 🙂 If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend it!

Keep playing, and have a magical day, friend 🙂

xo

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