Category Archives: My Thoughts

My self-care strategies for a busy show week 💗

Hey,

I wrote this post for my newsletter a week ago – the event has already passed (or if you read this when it comes out, you can still catch the last day of the event ) but thought my self-care strategies would work for any time I have a demanding schedule… so here  you go! Hope it inspires your own self-care goals 😉

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I’m exhibiting at NW Flower & Garden Festival for the first time this year. I’m super excited for the big show this week – and feeling nervous.

Feeling nervous not only because it’s a big investment for Honeyberry Studios, but I’m worried I’ll be completely exhausted after 5 long days (11+ hours) of being in public.

Being the biggest introvert I’ve ever met, I know spending that much time around people is going to drain me of all the energy. Probably by day 2. Terrible.

So I have a few self-care strategies to help me get through the week:

Stock up on foods: I don’t like spending a ton of money on foods at show venues (plus I don’t really have time to get away from my booth to wait in line.) We went grocery shopping yesterday and bought a bunch of snacks, lunch foods, and beverages to take with me. Plus I have some frozen leftovers in our freezer I can just thaw out. I know I won’t have time to cook for 5 days, so now I’m well stocked with foods I could possibly want!

Ask for help: Dave will also be out of town most of the week and I had a shipping conundrum. I ended up asking my kind neighbor for help, and she’s gonna take some packages to the post office for me while I work at the show. I feel so much better reaching out for help! If this is hard for you, remember, people who care about you want to help you if you let them.

Sleep: This is gonna be hard. I’ve been trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night after watching this interview on Joe Rogan show. But, the NWFGS goes until 8pm most of the days, and by the time I get home, it’ll be 9, and then I need to unwind for a couple of hours before I go to sleep (some people, like my husband Dave, are lucky enough to be able to sleep whenever, wherever – that is not me, unfortunately.) and I have to be up at 5-5:30 the next morning. So, no, I won’t be getting 8 hours of sleep. I’ll shoot for 7 if I can!

Let it go: I believe mental well-being is as important, if not more important, as physical. So my biggest intention for self-care this week is – let go of all the expectations. I’ll try not to obsess about everything going as planned (because you know it won’t!) and be ok with that. I’ll do what makes me feel good, and that includes cutting myself some slack when I don’t meet my goals. After all, 5 days out of your entire life is a really short time. It feels overwhelming now, but I know once it’s done, I won’t even think about it. So why stress about it today? I’ve done everything in my control to make it a successful week, and I trust that I’ll figure it out if something doesn’t work.

And I know I’ll have fun, too. Meeting customers and making friends with other vendors is always delightful 💗

So I’m taking a deep breath and moving forward with peaceful mind.

Hope you’ll have a self-care-filled week, my friend!

xo

 

Am I putting too many eggs in one basket? 🐣

Hi friend,

​I was on my mini sabbatical week last week.

I’ve been taking off every 7th week to rest and recharge since October 2015. 

(This brilliant idea is inspired by seanwes and is THE best self-care strategy I’ve incorporated into my life so far ✨)

I typically stick to my routines during sabbaticals. Getting up at the same time, going to the gym etc. I find that if I don’t follow my routine, I feel more sluggish and low-energy.

For work, I do minimum maintenance, like shipping orders and responding to emails, but no big deadlines. And sometimes I do big picture planning stuff during my sabbaticals.

To me, mini sabbaticals are not exactly a vacation, but it’s time to focus on things I don’t usually prioritize.

(And I’m writing this email the week before, so don’t worry! 😉)

Sometimes, it allows me space to just ponder. 

For example, I created my 2018 revenue chart inspired by one of my heroes, Jen Hewett.

Ta da! This is where my income came from last year.

My overall chart didn’t surprise me. It looks very similar to what I had in 2017. Teaching and video-making took a bigger portion of the pie in 2017, but I’ve been cutting back on them to focus more energy on my product sales, so it makes sense.

Breakdown of my retail sales, though, was a little bit concerning.

Almost 90% of my direct customer sales came from doing shows and markets. No surprise because I upped the game on in-person events significantly last year.

But I wonder how sustainable it is.

Just these couple of weeks, Seattle was hit by heavy snowfall. And if you know anything about Seattle, you know that even an inch of snow on the ground can shut everything down.

Earlier last week, snow hurt the traffic for Seattle Gift Show. The last two days of the show was so painfully SLOW 🐌 Then another show got moved to a different weekend because of snow. And as I write this, I’m wondering if the show for this weekend is gonna get cancelled or if I’m able to get to the venue, and even if the show happens, chances are the traffic is gonna suffer because of more snow in the forecast.

So much of the show’s success is out of my control.

It depends on so many things, like whether or not I get into a show that attracts the right people for my work, what else is happening in the world (like Super Bowl), who your booth neighbors are, where your booth is located, and of course, weather.

I’m not saying I won’t do shows any more, because I genuinely love doing them, it’s totally my jam 😎 and apparently, my #1 money maker.

It makes me realize, I want to make my online shop and wholesale business just as successful so I’m not relying so heavily on revenues from in-person shows.

I’m not looking for a business advice or suggestions today – I have a process of figuring out ideas and strategies that work for my unique needs. I’ll ask for help when/if I need it 😉

When things slow down, whether it was intentional or forced, it creates a space to ask questions.

How are things going? What’s working and not working? Where do I want to go? What could change to make things better? These are some of the questions that are floating in my head right now.

Speaking of growing my online shop, you know my new collection has just launched last week.

(Now THAT is a segue if you ever saw one 😆)

It’s a delightful collection with colorful and happy art – and my shop is always open even during the Snowmageddon ☃️

Grab a hot cocoa, and enjoy exploring the world of cuteness 🐰 from your cozy couch.

Stay warm,

xo

 

Good news 👍 bad news 👎

Let me start with the good news.

I found what I was looking for on my birthday last week.

SNOW!

It was peaceful and quiet up in the mountains. (We went to Hyak – only 45 minutes from Seattle – a wonderful place to play, snowshoe, or country-ski.)

Thanks for your kind birthday wishes 💗 I felt loved.

So the bad news is – I was aiming to launch my new collection last Friday, but no, it didn’t happen😿

Prep for Seattle Gift Show (which is a trade show for shop buyers) has taken more time and energy than I anticipated (duh)  and I haven’t had a chance to update my web shop yet.

I still need to photograph my new goodies, edit them, and write descriptions, which takes time…🤪 especially because I have more products than I thought I’d have. More on that later.

I hate not meeting my goals. 

I’m also trying to take better care of myself physically and mentally this year, so I’m letting go of my expectations and telling myself it’s OK to push back the launch date.

​I can totally see you go “It’s not a big deal, Yuko. Don’t worry about it.” because I know, things like internal deadlines aren’t really that big of a deal to anyone else but me. At least I hope you’re cool with this 😀

My new collection will be up in the shop as soon as it’s ready next week – keep your eyes peeled for the announcement 👀

In the meantime, enjoy the last preview of my new collection!

At shows and markets, I often get asked “do you have a wedding card?”

And I say “well, I don’t have a card that says ‘wedding’ but I have lots of love cards!” and some people make a funny noise and walk away.

I understand. Sometimes, you just want a card that says exactly what the occasion is.

So I created this “happy wedding” card featuring soft watercolor-style succulent bouquet.

Who doesn’t love a succulent bouquet?? They’re gorgeous!

This design made me want to go back to my love for simple line drawing and watercolor. So I created a few more in a similar style.

Ah, llama graduate.

I actually created this design for a drawing tutorial video for Sakura of America last year. I loved it so much that I brought it back as a product 🍎

CUTE.

And this.

Loon Father’s Day card.

I’ve been taking long walks around Seward Park lately and noticed lots of these loons on the lake. Though I’ve never seen this adorable situation with a baby on the back of a daddy loon in person, internet tells me it’s a thing.

It’d be perfect for a nature-loving dad, don’t you think? 🦆

Confession time: that was gonna be it for my new collection – but inspiration hit earlier this week and I had to make a couple more designs.

(and that’s partly why I’m not ready to launch the collection just yet…)

Loving the simplicity of this new Mother’s Day card! I’m obsessed with this color palette this season 🎨

And a little word play for the gardeners 😆

I’m gonna be at NW Flower & Garden Festival this year and thought this would be a big hit 🥕🐰

OK, so I’ve created whopping 11 new designs for the collection – WOW and every one of them gives me the warm and fuzzy feelings.

Thanks for your patience as I figure out how I can manage my time and energy better this year.

I promise it’ll be worth the wait!!

xo

 

How I became a full-time artist

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would become a full-time artist, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I would’ve thought you were out of your mind and averted your gaze while laughing uncomfortably.

I don’t have an art degree. I make cute drawings. That’s not “art.” Being a successful working artist is an option available only to a selected few.

Or so I thought.

My story of making a transition from working at a non-profit org (that’s totally non-art-related) to becoming a full-time artist fascinates many people.

If you’d ever wondered how it all unfolded and what I’ve learned in the beginning, you’re in luck!

I recently got interviewed by a fellow artist, Eileen McKenna, for her blog, and shared my origin story.

(Including my celebrity encounter, my #1 advice for creatives wanting to go full-time, and lessons I’ve learned.)

Here is how the interview starts:

What inspired you to do your “Happiness is” project?
At the time (spring of 2014), I was toying with the idea of becoming a working artist. And then I thought, if I wanted to be a working artist, I should be making art every day and enjoy the process. So that’s why I decided to start my 365 day daily art project. I’d also learned about Lisa Congdon (one of my heroes) and her daily art projects and was deeply inspired by it. I wanted to get over my fear of putting myself out there, too. It was sort of a shock therapy where I’d post my drawing (and not always perfect) every day, and eventually I cringed less about sharing my work on the internet.

As far as the topic goes, I wanted it to be something that’s relatively easy. I first thought about making art about food I eat every day, like a food journal, but knew I’d eat the same thing over and over 😀 So then I thought of happiness and what makes me happy every day. I’m not naturally a glass-half-full kind of a person…

Continue reading on Eileen’s blog.

Hope you enjoy!

xo

I opened my first Etsy shop in 2010…

{I took my mini sabbatical off during the week of 9/17 but instead of my normal sabbatical week report, I have a more urgent news for you…}

Hey friend,

I opened up my first Etsy shop in December 2010.

I’d posted a picture of my crocheted fingerless gloves on Facebook (can’t believe FB has been out there for so long…) and a couple of friends said “you can sell that!”

I didn’t know what Etsy was and it was hard to imagine if anyone would want to pay for what I made.

But I said “why not?”

So I opened up a shop called “TeAmi Works” – te ami means “hand-knit” or “hand-crocheted” in Japanese – and posted a few pairs of fingerless gloves I made.

(OMG the quality of photos were so BAD 😂 a humble beginning…)

The very first day, a super sweet customer in Nashville, Tennessee, purchased a pair and turned around and placed another order right away because her daughter loved them too and wanted a pair.

It was so rewarding to be appreciated for what I made with my own two hands.

I caught the bug and kept making more gloves and other crocheted accessories to sell.

Over the last 8 years, I’d moved on from making/selling crocheted wares because I got sick of making the same things over and over, and how could you price them for the time it takes really? (anybody wants $150 pair of fingerless gloves?? 😀 maybe with the right kind of positioning and marketing, but I didn’t know that stuff back then.)

I was getting more into drawing then and was getting the same kind of appreciation for it.

And people started asking me if they could pay me to draw or design something for them.

The light bulb went on again 💡

Drawing and selling cards and prints were much more in line with how I wanted to do business, so I slowly transitioned from selling crocheted stuff and adding more art in the shop.

I changed the name of the shop to “Honeyberry Studios” in 2013.

And, mind you, I was never a hot seller on Etsy – between 2010 and until I quit my day job in July 2015, maybe I sold a thing or two per month.

It only started to pick up after I quit my job and started to devote more time making and promoting my work.

But still, Etsy has never brought me enough sales consistently.

I feel it’s hit and miss, and there is the sense of “pay to play” (in fact, they raised their seller fee a couple of months ago) and you need to be on top of your SEO game etc., which I just don’t have the time and energy for.

I was originally going to build a separate shop just for my wholesale business – because Etsy decided to close their wholesale shops at the end of July this year.

I have a bunch of friends who do really well on Etsy, and I’m happy for them!!

But I don’t like the feeling of not being in control of my shop, and it’s just not working for me.

It was time for me to move on and have my own shop that’s under Honeyberry Studios’ name.

I started working on building my new shop back in May when they first announced the closure of Etsy Wholesale.

I then decided to combine both retail and wholesale shops in one place per Shopify’s advice (that’s who’s hosting my new shop now.)

I thought – oh, I’ll take a couple of weeks to finish bulk of the website. It’ll be done by the beginning of summer.

I’m not building it from scratch (thank you Shopify!) so how hard could it be? It’s basically just copy and paste, no?

WRONG.

I always tell myself everything takes 3x longer than you think. In this case, it took me almost 5 times longer 😅

There have been learning curves and bumps on the road, BUT the important thing is…

IT’S DONE!!!! 🎉🎊🎈

Without further ado, meet new Honeyberry Studios shop!!

Isn’t it pretty?? 😍

Not only is it prettier than my old website, it’s got more functions that make your shopping easier (and save you $).

Allow me to point out some of my favorite functions here.

(I know you know how to shop online – I’m just too excited to not talk about it!!! 😆)

First of all, you don’t need to enter a coupon code to get a free US shipping any more.

When your total purchase reaches the minimum of $35 (before tax), bam, your shipping’s free.

(I’ve been manually refunding shoppers on Etsy who forgot to use the coupon code. So it saves me time, too 😀)

I love how easy it is to create/select categories, too. Etsy only allowed a limited number of categories (I think), so it’s a big bonus.

You can either start shopping by selecting a category from the “Shop” button up top, or…

Scroll to see the categories visually laid out for you!

I’m particularly happy about how you can filter all of my greeting cards by occasions, too!

On Etsy, you’d have to scroll through 80+ cards to find what you’re looking for 👎

One thing I’m a little annoyed about, thou, is that every time you put something in a cart, you’re directed to your cart and can’t just keep shopping.

If you want to keep browsing, I suggest you click on the top “Shop” button and get back in a collection you want to explore, rather than hitting the “CONTINUE SHOPPING” button at the bottom because this will throw you in “all products” page where you have to wade through 150 products all mixed together!

And may I suggest you create an account during your first visit??

Not only would you save time on your future shopping, I’m rewarding your loyalty by giving 5% off on every single order you place through your customer account!

(**NOTE:: I was hoping there was an easy way to automate this, but since I haven’t found one, I’ll be manually giving you a refund on your first order after you activate an account. Please allow 48 hours for you to see the refund. After that, it should automatically come off.)

And if you have any questions, I’ve got links to important stuff at the bottom of the website. Of course, you can always shoot me an email, too!

Last but not least, with the grand opening of my new shop, you finally get to shop my fall & winter collection!!! Weeee!

You can explore the llama stationery gifts pictured above, new holiday cards, 2019 calendar, and wrapping papers in my shop now.

FYI – if you’ve already bought some of my new products at markets and are sad you didn’t get the discount – wipe your tears, friend, because I don’t charge you sales tax at markets and fairs. Plus you don’t pay for shipping, so you’re still getting a pretty good deal 😉

My old website used to make me cringe – you know, I built it from scratch using very few coding skills I had, which I’m super proud of.

It worked for what I needed in the beginning, but it felt outdated and didn’t really represent who I was and where I wanted my business to go.

My creative business is labor of love. It’s so much work but gives me so much joy in return.

I’m so happy you’re here with me, witnessing and being part of my dream!!

Take a few minutes to explore my new site today! It’s still somewhat a work in progress, so if you notice something not working, email me and I’ll take care of you!

I’m so looking forward to continue helping you find the adorable and thoughtful gifts for yourself and your loved ones ❤️

Thank you, friend!!!

xo

p.s. If you’re wondering what happens to my Etsy shop now – I’m undecided. It will be there for now, but I will be investing all of my time and energy learning and improving my new site from now on.

On handling rejections

I had kind of a bad day on Wednesday.

I received, not one, but TWO rejection emails from the holiday craft shows I applied for.

They’re kind of big, well-known shows (read: most lucrative) in the area that I really, really wanted to get into (and thought I had a good chance.)

Needless to say, I was disappointed and sad.

My emotional process looked like this 👇

1) DISBELIEF: First of all, I thought the notice wasn’t gonna be sent out till Friday?? Was this a mistake? Is this really happening?

2) FANTASY: Some of my friends didn’t make the cut either. And they’re all talented, amazing makers. Did the organizers make a mistake and send the wrong email to the wrong group of people?? I’m still waiting to get that “sorry-we-sent-the-wrong-email-and-you’re-actually-in” email.

3) CONFUSION: But people love my work! and I’ve been great to work with, haven’t I?? I’m so organized and responsive. WHY DID YOU NOT WANT ME?? 😭

4) NEGATIVE SPIRAL: Is this it for me? What if I don’t get in to ANY of the shows I applied for? Was it just a luck that my business seemed more successful this year? Is it all going to be down hill from here??

5) LOGIC: People DO love my work (and they tell me so!), and I’ve had great relationships with the organizers. It’s not personal. I have other opportunities and will most likely get into other shows.

6) ACCEPTANCE: Oh well. It is just what it is 🤷🏻‍♀️ The show must go on. What’s on my to-do list today?

I know intellectually it’s not me or that my work is bad, but it just hurts to be rejected.

I have my “You Are Enough” sticker on my laptop, and it helped 💙

As a self-care strategy, I re-watched the puppy and horse Budweiser commercial from 2014 Super Bowl and had a good cry. It’s truly soul-cleansing ✨

(I question your humanity if this bit doesn’t make you even a little emotional…🐶)

I treated myself for a delicious brownie and pretty dahlias at the farmer’s market.

I also received a copy of Retailing Insight Magazine in the afternoon, where one of my designs was featured (along with my friend, John Met Betty‘s beautiful vegan handbags!) That helped boost my confidence for sure 😊

I don’t have a profound lesson or insight for you today.

But I just wanted to share that things aren’t always great and positive.

I’ve been noticing a trend on social media where people share hard and messy stuff in life. And even without the “things-went-to-hell-but-I’m-all-better-now” hero ending sometimes, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

It makes me sad to see people I admire and care about struggle, but I also appreciate their realness.

It helps me feel OK with having those ups and downs in my life, too.

Even though most of the posts on social media are curated and positive, it never tells a whole story.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time or feeling rejected, you’re not alone.

Nobody has it all together.

We’re enough ❤️

xo

p.s. I’m feeling a lot better after processing the feelings with friends and doing all those self-care stuff. So don’t worry!

p.p.s. I’ve got a few holiday events locked down and am waiting to hear back from a bunch more, so it’s going to be OK. I’ll let you know when I have a more solid calendar!

p.p.p.s. I’m gonna be on my 7th week mini sabbatical next week – I’ve been chipping away at my new website so I can launch it very soon. Send me good tech vibes and stay tuned 😉

My top 5 blog posts!

I can’t believe this post is my 526th!

I started blogging back in January 2014. I’ve posted pretty regularly ever since – at least weekly (except for sabbatical weeks), but from April 2014 to April 2015 daily for my 365 day happiness is project.

I like sharing my thoughts in writing.

I’m not a super verbal person, and writing allows me to examine and express myself more intentionally.

Writing has become a part of my everyday routine. In fact it’s the first thing I do in the morning after my short meditation practice.

When I don’t do it, I feel a little disoriented 😀

Anyway, I’ve never paid close attention to my blog stats before – but I got curious, so I checked which posts were most popular.

Here are the all time 5 posts that got the most views this year:

1. My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens

2. Quitting my day job cold turkey wasn’t my plan A

3. Draw Yourself Back to Nature Fall Leaf Doodle Tutorial

4. My Favorite Tool: Moo Carve

5. My Vipassana 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat Reflections

I see that you enjoy my tutorials and tool reviews a lot! That makes me happy because I enjoy teaching and sharing what I know 🙂

I used to do a lot of “self reflection-y” posts, too, and I’m glad you found some of those helpful.

I forgot how much work I used to put into my blog posts! There were lots of long-form articles and custom images.

It used to take me hours (like at least 4 hours) to complete a blog post. I’ve since been re-focusing my priorities and goals for my business, so you may have noticed my articles have  become more short and sweet in the recent year.

I sometimes wonder if anybody’s reading my blog 😀 so it was nice to see that people in fact read them! He he.

Thanks for following along my journey! I’m always grateful for your support and encouragement.

Have a great week!

xo

 

 

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New Year’s wishes for you!

2018 is the Year of the Dog. I had a great fun drawing these cute doggies in sweaters 🐶

New Year’s is the biggest holiday in Japan, and everything shuts down between January 1st and the 3rd. Though I’ve lived in the states for almost 22 years now, I still observe it and take a break in the beginning of the year.

On New Year’s Day, Dave and I usually take a long walk if the weather is nice, eat mochi (rice cake) soup to warm up, and be lazy and enjoy relaxing together.

On last New Year’s Day, we went for a walk in the University of Washington Arboretum.

Everything feels sacred to me in the beginning of the year. It gives me a pause to think about what I want this year to be. I take the time to appreciate everything I have in my life.

One of the many things I appreciate in my life is, of course, YOU! I could not do this without your support, so thank you for being interested in what I do and supporting my work❤️

Do you have a ritual or tradition for New Year’s holiday? Tell me in comments 😊

Here is to a whole new year filled with love, joy, and creativity!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

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Self-Care Strategies for the Holiday Busy-ness

My mini sabbatical was last week. Or I should I say, it was supposed to be.

This is by far the busiest time of the year for me with the holiday fairs and events. I wasn’t sure if I should be taking my sabbatical this time especially because I had a big double header craft shows on the weekend.

I tried to tie all the loose ends the week before so I could still enjoy my time off, but it just wasn’t feasible. I also had two events the weekend before, so essentially preparing for 4 shows in one week was not realistic.

So instead, I let go of the idea of having a complete time off and prepared as best as I could the week before so the week leading up to my biggest craft shows wasn’t as stressful.

Here are some things that helped me:

1. I created and scheduled contents ahead of time.

I used to be a lot better about scheduling my contents (blog, newsletter, social media posts etc.) ahead of time, but it’s been slipping a little bit.

So, the couple of weeks leading up to my sabbatical week, I focused more time and energy on having enough contents scheduled so I didn’t have to worry about it during and after the sabbatical. I knew I’d need a little buffer after I finished the big shows to recover.

2. I didn’t schedule anything other than prepping for the shows.

No deadlines, no producing new work, and no outreach to potential retail shops.

Knowing I could only focus on one thing – to prep and pack up for the shows – gave me the mental space to be more present.

3. I asked for help.

If you’ve done any arts & craft shows before, you know it’s A LOT OF WORK. Naturally, I was freaking out about the volume of work that needed to be prepped for two big shows at once.

I am very fortunate to have a super supportive husband. When Dave sees that I’m stressed out, he’s always there to help out.

He did a chunk of preparation work, like folding notecards, stuffing them in sleeves, packing them in boxes, putting labels on them etc. etc.

I honestly don’t know what I’d done without his help!!

Honeyberry Studios HQ

On the side note, I should’ve kept track of how many hours he spent helping me so I have a better idea if/when I decide to hire someone to help me out in the future.

4. I slept more.

I usually wake up at around 5:15 to meditate and do some writing in the morning.

But during my sabbatical, I set my Sleep Cycle app around 6 or not set the alarm at all so I could catch extra sleep. I’d already scheduled all of my contents beforehand, so I could take a break from my early morning daily writing.

It doesn’t seem like much of “sleeping in” to you, but extra 15-30 minutes of sleep does wonders for you! I definitely felt more rested and relaxed during the week.

Me at the Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show in Seattle.

I’m happy to say my two big shows went really well.

And If you were wondering how I managed to be at two shows on the same weekend – I didn’t 😀

Dave rocking the booth at Phinney Winter Festival

I sent my sweet husband, Dave, to do the other one. He’d never done any shows before, yet he did SO well!!

So well in fact I wish he could do all my shows in the future (He declined. Sad.)

I have a couple more busy weekends ahead of me, so I’m continuing to not schedule anything big during the weekdays. 

After all, I do want to enjoy the magic of the holiday season, too, you know?

A perfectionist part of me was thinking “if I couldn’t take my sabbatical week off the way it was supposed to be (i.e. not working ), I should just work as usual and take a time off when the holiday rush is over.”

But I’m glad I ended up taking a little bit of a breather.

After all, running a business is like a marathon, not a sprint (although it may feel like one sometimes 😬), and the last thing you want is a burnout.

I’m trying to take a deep breath, trying to focus on one thing at a time, listening to what my body needs, and doing my best to stay well mentally and physically for the rest of my busy season.

If you feel overwhelmed with all the holiday crazy-ness and feel you don’t have time for self-care, that’s when you need it the most. 

Pause, breathe, and do something that helps you stay present and grounded today.

You got this!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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