Category Archives: My Thoughts

Happy 4th Freedom Anniversary 🥳

I celebrated my 4th “freedom anniversary” a.k.a. the day I quit my job to work on Honeyberry Studios full-time on July 31st🎉

(If you’re interested in knowing more about my transitioning process, you can read this blog post and many other entries from 2015.)

A few days after I quit, I went on a solo retreat to set intentions for my artist/business journey.

and here is the manifesto I created on my retreat. most of it still rings true except for creating every day and the health-obsessed bit 😀

The past 4 years have been a marathon self-development therapy session, I tell you.

I’ve learned so much about myself and am so proud of the accomplishments I’ve made so far.

I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve learned and wanted to share them with you today ✨

First thing that’s come up is this:

You don’t have to be the best artist. But you need to be fiercely, unapologetically, you.

I used to feel insecure about my art. I even felt a little cringy calling myself an artist. I’m mostly self-taught, and my technical skills aren’t that advanced. I thought it was cute and child-like but not “real” art.

I thought art should be more, shall I say, deep? whatever that means…🤷🏻‍♀️

When I saw the work of other successful artists I admire, I’d think “oh, I wish my art looked more like that. It is so _______ (sophisticated, elegant, cool, hip etc. <- things that my art is not)”

Over the last several years, I’ve slowly learned that you don’t have to be the most technically advanced artist to be successful, but it needs to have your distinct voice.

I’ve gotten to internalize this as I started selling more at shows and markets last year and kept witnessing my customers’ happy reactions in person.

People’s face light up as they walk by my booth. I can see them mouthing to their friend “cuuute.” I hear “awwwwww” and “so adorable” every 5 minutes.

It’s reinforced to me that yes, cutenss is valuable, and it makes people extremely happy.

And it’s ok if that’s the only thing my art offers.

I may be oversimplifying it, but you get what I’m saying? I mean people pay a lot of money for therapy, drugs, and experiences to be happy, no? 😀

Sometimes I make something and say to myself “wait, is this too cute? Should I tone it down?”

like when I made this adorable baby card…😍

Fortunately, I can snap out of the silliness of the situation pretty quickly now. The answer is, OF COURSE NOT.

It turns out so many people love cute things. I know you do! Tone it down?? I’d be doing a disservice to you and humanity.

I want to give you what you came here for. Adorable, happy art that makes you smile.

The more joy I express through my work, the happier I get doing what I do.

And that brings more joy to you, and that gives me the fuel to keep going, and it’s a never-ending love fest ❤️

You may have been in my community since well before I quit my job 4 years ago. Or you may have just found me last week.

I still feel like a baby in my biz journey and without you, there is no Honeyberry Studios, so yeah, you’re awesome. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.

Ok, I had more reflections I wanted to share today, but this is getting a bit too long 😀 so I’ll parse it out later.

Have a cuteness filled day!

xo

ps. my mom is coming to visit me next week 🥰 and we’re going to Yellowstone 🌲🦌⛰🐐 our first time!! If you need anything from my shop, come to Fremont Sunday Market today 10-4, or place your order online before Monday and I’ll ship them out before we head out!

Life lessons my grandma taught me

I’m a glass-half-empty kinda gal. Does that surprise you? Or you knew that already?

I still haven’t figured out if it’s nature or nurture. It’s probably a little bit of both.

I suspect my grandparents on my dad’s side played a big role in instilling pesimistic tendencies in me at a young age.

My dad was the eldest son, so we lived with his parents, which I loved as a kid. My grandma was my main caretaker until I was about 4 since both my parents worked outside of home.

The thing about my grandparents was, especially my grandma, they didn’t have a lot of boudaries or filters 😬 They’d often criticize our neighbors or family members openly. They never ran out of things to complain about and lamented about life in general.

I don’t blame them. Life did deal them bad hands especially for my grandma.

She went through WWII as a terrified and hungry teenager, had an arranged marriage to my grandpa when she was 18, forcing her to move away from her family in the city to a rural area where she was expected to do physical farming work while raising 3 boys – she desparately wanted a girl and told me how dissapointed she was when my dad and uncles were born 😅 She also told me she never loved grandpa. Like, all the time.

Yikes.

But you can understand why she was so bitter about life, no?

One of my earliest memories of her is me feeling an intense sadness for her when she was telling me how she’d saved up little money she had as a teenager to buy this delicious looking bread that she’d been ogling from outside of the bakery – and when she finally saved up enough money to buy the bread, it turned out so nasty tasting and she was extremely disappointed.

So, so sad.

Most of my adult life, I’ve been working to reset my mind to a default that says life isn’t full of sadness and suffering.

Staying positive takes me a lot of practice and intentionality.

I started meditating in 2013, and it’s helped tremendously with staying centered when things get hard.

Another thing that helps me with my positive mindset is my daily journaling. I jot down three things I’m grateful for in my journal before I go to bed.

It only takes me a minute, but I love having the time to reflect on the day and focus on the good things that happened before going to sleep.

I’ve been journaling for almost two years now, and here are some of my most common entries:

– laughing with Dave

– walks in sunshine

– going to bed

– good show & meeting awesome people

I rarely have big, over-the-top things to be grateful for. It’s the small, seemingly unimportant things that make me realize how good my life is.

And I’m grateful for my grandma for teaching me that – the little things I take for granted could be taken away at any moment. I’m lucky to have choices that she’d never dreamed of having.

Do you have a grounding practice or ritual? Are you a glass-half-full or empty kinda person?

Reply to this email and tell me. I genuinely enjoy hearing from you 🥰

xo

ps. I’m discontinuing my notebooksin my shop, and they’re on good-bye discount now. Grab them while supplies last📚

Mercury retrograde got you down? 🌌

If you know me at all, you know I HATE conflicts.

I know hate is a strong word, but I’m not even going for a dramatic effect. I really do hate. it. so. much.

When I’m in a confrontational situation (especially the unexpected kind), I feel sweaty-palmed, my stomach gets tied up in knots, my body is shaky, and my brain gets all scrambled.

I can’t think of the right words to say in the moment so the whole experience is extremely frustrating and unsettling.

Usually after an incident, I’d have an intense inner monologue about how things went and what I should’ve said/done differently in the situation.

I’d run many different scenarios in my head and imagine how the outcome could’ve been different, Dr. Strange style.

Or trying to find reasons why it wasn’t my fault and it was about the other person.

Because most of the time, it isn’t about me even though it may feel sooooooo personal at the time.

This cycle might continue for a week or comes back months, sometimes years later 👻

So when I had a few unexpected interpersonal confrontations/conflicts/awkward moments in the last few weeks, it’s thrown me off balance.

For example, I was being courageous and said something in a meeting that stirred a very emotional reaction from another person and it became very messy very quickly 😱

In another setting, my behavior (I don’t even know what I was doing specifically) hurt someone’s feelings, and we had to have a follow-up convo about it.

And most recently, I accidentally shared certain information about a mutual friend to someone, which was not public yet, and had to do a minor damage control…🤦🏻‍♀️

(Wait, am I just becoming more insensitive?? 😂 Something to ponder…)

I was in my usual super analyzing mode after an incident and then learned it was Mercury retrograde this month.

I’m not an expert astrologist and don’t usually track when they happen. But I get the gist of it.

When Mercury retrogrades (i.e. it looks like it’s going backwards from where we are), you may feel things are out of wack and stressful for no good reason. I understand Mercury retrogrades impact the areas of travel, communication, and technology, in particular.

You may think it’s a bunch of woo woo nonsense 🔮 and it’s ok!

But as soon as I found out it was Mercury retrograde, instead of staying caught in my negative thought spiral, I said to myself “Well, it’s Mercury retrograde. No wonder it didn’t go well 🤷🏻‍♀️”

I was able to move on much more quickly and stopped blaming myself or the other person.

There are lots of memes about Mercury retrograde. And I totally think they’re funny, too.

I ❤️ Adam J. Kurtz

But it does help me be more forgiving and compassionate towards myself and others.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful it we could be so understanding when Mercury isn’t in retrograde? 😀 which is most of the time?

Who am I kidding – you probably already are, you beautiful magical unicorn. But me? No 😂 I try to be. I don’t always succeed.

I put this card up at my desk where I see it every day as a reminder.

Maybe I need to pretend it’s always Mercury retrograde. Or create an imaginary entity that influences us beyond our control at all times.

Oh, wait, I guess we don’t have control over anything anyway wether the stars are aligned or not 💡

So maybe just remembering that would help??

And, if you’re feeling the effects of Mercury retrograde like I am this month, good news is, it’ll be over in a few days 🥳

Be gentle with yourself, and take good care, ok?

xo

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.

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! 🥳

 

All things that remind me of spring 🌸

It’s finally warming up a bit in Seattle.

Truth be told, I’m not a biggest fan of summer 😬 Mostly because our apartment heats up so much that this homebody gets pretty miserable staying indoors. I’m sticky and tired by late afternoon.

But spring.

Especially late spring when you don’t need a down jacket any more but you’re not sweating profusely walking around in the sun.

65F°, lightly cloudy, gentle breeze… That’s heaven for me.

You know, if I were a vegetable, I would be a lettuce. Not a tomato or cucumber. Just plant me in a cool shaded area. I’ll get bitter and go to seed as soon as the temperature goes above 75F°.

I often browse my website just to enjoy the cheerful artwork and daydream for a few minutes (that’s not weird, is it? 😝).

These are some of my cards that reaffirm my love of spring!

May the spring be always in your heart 🌸

xo

 

Plastic or no plastic? 🤔

I don’t feel guilty very often.

I know, it’s so un-Japanese of me! But for some reason, I seem to lack the “guilt gene.”

I don’t feel guilty for saying no to dinner invitations if I’ve already had enough social engagement that week (limit up to 2 per week! 🙄)

I say “sorry” if I accidentally step on Dave’s foot – which happens more often than you think because he has big feet 🐾 But I don’t feel guilty because I wasn’t trying to hurt him on purpose.

I eat donuts 🍩 and french fries 🍟 without feeling guilty because they taste good and bring me joy.

I take responsibility for my actions and face consequences, but as long as my motivations are not malicious, I don’t feel guilty.

BUT.

There’s something I’ve been feeling guilty about for quite some time…

Can I tell you what’s been killing me inside slowly?

It’s having to package my greeting cards in plastic sleeves.

Yes, it’s there for a good reason. Mostly to protect my goods from the oils on our skin (and the worst offender, children with candy-covered fingers, I see you!! 👦🏻🧒🏻🍭)

But they’re BAD for the environment. Period.

I’m not one of those people who preach zero plastic use. I’m surrounded by it every day in our home, vehicle, clothes, etc. It’s so convenient and useful, I can’t imagine how we can or want to go back to not having it at all?

I do try to minimize the use of single-use plastic (e.g. food wrap) and try to reuse or recycle our plastic stuff as much as we can.

{I made these waxed fabrics to cover foods in the fridge a few years ago and love them!}

Greeting cards are by far my best selling products. I sell so many of them and use tens of thousands of plastic sleeves every year.

Even the plastic sleeves come in their own plastic bags. Ugh 🤦🏻‍♀️

I know my decision to use plastic sleeves or not won’t make a significant impact on the environment as a whole. I’m such a small fish in a big, big ocean.

But I want to be more mindful and feel good about every aspect of my business.

(At least all my cards and envelopes are made from 100% recycled content 🌱)

So I’ve been asking myself, do they need to be in a plastic sleeve?

The short answer is, of course, “no.”

There are lots of other companies who sell their cards naked.

(This may not be something you ever notice, either – I never paid attention to whether a card was sleeved or not before I started selling my own.)

I’m aware that there are biodegradable sleeves on the market as well. It’s definitely a more expensive option as you can imagine.

As I head into my busy show season, I’m planning to experiment with not having them in plastic sleeves.

Does it change my customer’s behaviors?

Impact on sales?

Is the disastrous result I imagine (like previously-mentioned sticky-handed-children touching everything in my booth and running away 😱) really going to happen?

I don’t know. I just have to experiment and see.

In a meantime, I’ll be making plastic sleeves “optional” in my web shop!

I currently offer 98 card designs in my shop 😬 and have to add the option individually (as well as editing my product descriptions), so it may be a work in progress for a while, FYI.

(You can always email me and tell me if you don’t need a plastic sleeve before the change is fully implemented!)

Thank you for letting me “think out loud” with you today 😘

xo

ps. Are you easily guilted or not so much? Is there something you’ve been feeling guilty about and want to change?? What’s the hardest part of making that change? Tell me in the comments! I love learning more about you 💗

Does it speak to you?

When I’m at shows, I often see my customers carefully go through my prints and cards and have an emotional reaction.


I hear:

“Oh…this is so true.”

“My sister needs this.”

“Your art is so HAPPY!”

And occasional (and my favorite)

“I’m dying of cuteness 😆”

I also hear:

“Your cards say exactly what I wanna say!”

YES!

What that tells me is my messages feel more authentic than the ones you find at big box stores.

It makes me happy because I do care a lot about what I say on my cards.

Art is important, of course. And the message is equally as important!

When I craft my messages, I pull a lot of inspirations from my past work in social service.

At the domestic violence organization I worked at, we were trained to be non-judgemental listeners and supporters of the DV survivors.

Not an advice-giver or tell-them-what-to-do-er.

That approach was perfect fit for my personality. Everyone’s situation is so different. I don’t even wanna pretend to know what’s best for other people!

Instead, I let them know I saw and heard them. I wanted them to know they were not alone, and that they didn’t have to prove anything to me.

No matter what you’re going through or how you feel about yourself, you deserve respect and dignity.

So when I create messages for my work, I ask myself, does this feel respectful? Would I actually say that to someone I care about?

Or would it be helpful for me to hear this?

Because when I dig deeper – and making good work always requires you to dig deeper – I’m the one who needs to hear those messages the most.

I’m no better than you. I don’t have it all together. I need to be reminded of my worth every day.

Art heals, and to be honest, I’m just as much of a recipient of its healing power as you are ✨

Art also connects people.

Even though I’m severely introverted 🙋🏻‍♀️ I still need connection to other people to thrive. And my art has helped me to share myself and connect with so many awesome people (like YOU ❤️).

I’m super grateful that you’re at the receiving end of my creations, and I hope my art is helping you to connect with your loved ones, too 🌈

Thank you for being amazing!!

xo

ps. do you wanna come enjoy my art and connect with me in person? I have shows and markets coming up! Click here to see my show schedule.

pps. a friendly reminder – price of my 8×10″ prints go up on June 1st. Purchase them now to take advantage of my current price.

I’m a pessimist.

When I’m at craft fairs, my customers ask me what inspires my art.

I tell them I’m not a naturally positive person so I need a reminder to be happy.

So I make art that’s uplifting and positive.

Often people respond with “me, too!” 🙋🏻‍♀️ or “yeah, it’s so important, especially now.”

I make happy art because it brightens my day and I want to share the joy with you.

Here are some of the messages I think of on a daily basis. If you’re needing a little boost today, soak it in 😘

I have this hanging on my living room wall.

I often take so much for granted – my husband, health, friends, etc.

When I’m in a funk, this message is a great reminder that I still have a lot of things to be grateful for.

I’ve got this in a sticker form and have it on my laptop where I see it every day 🌈

It’s easy for me to feel I’m not _____ (pretty, talented, thin, productive, focused, loving, good wife – you name it, I got it.) enough especially when I compare myself to others (more on that next.)

It’s nice to see this reminder and tell myself that I’m enough the way I am today.

And THIS. This also hangs in our living room.

I use social media, like Facebook and Instagram, every day for my business. I love how easy it is to connect with my friends and community there.

At the same time, it’s made it so much easier to compare myself to other people on the internet.

These are the thoughts I have often:

“Woo, look at her beautiful studio space! My work space is a mess, and I can never show it to anybody.”

“Her shop has so many sales! I wonder if I’d ever be so successful.”

“Wow, she has so many followers and likes on Instagram. Why don’t I have more?”

I still have these thoughts, but this message grounds me.

I remind myself that there are lots of people who have fewer followers or “likes” (or not on social media at all!) and have a very successful business.

(Or HAPPY.)

And everyone’s journey is different. I’m the only person who can know 100% of what’s going on in my life and business. What works for someone else may totally be a wrong choice for me.

It helps me to find peace wherever I am in life.

And if you’re having similar struggles, I hope it helps you, too 😊

xo