This past week has been about celebrating the joy of sending and receiving a handwritten note.
Which of course is something I can get behind 100%!
Someone commented on my Insta post about Thinking of You Week the other day, saying they try but it’s hard to keep up.
I hear you! I really do… because…I had a hard time keeping up, too!
To that, I said
Don’t let your perfectionism keep you from reaching out to your loved ones!
This “challenge” is just an opportunity to get you thinking about your connections to your community.
If you write every day, that’s great. But you could just send a few or even one card this week – or next month – or year, you know, this is not a competition, and nobody is judging you!!
Well, nobody except you, maybe 😉
I’m being casual about it this year, too – my brain has been a bit preoccupied these couple of weeks, so I’m taking my time thinking about a person and writing a card every couple of days… It’s still fun for me and not as stressful.
I meant to design a monthly calendar last year, but I had too high of an expectation for myself, ran out of time, so it didn’t happen 😑 sad.
However, I’m happy to tell you that it’s coming back for 2020!
My 2020 calendar will be all about self-care, self-acceptance, and confidence.
It’s a strange timing though that I’m working on this calendar now because things have been a bit chaotic in my life lately.
Don’t worry, no divorce or illness, thank goodness 😬 But, I’ve got a new studio space that I’m setting up (unexpected but exciting. more on that later), and a couple of other non-biz-related things have kept me feeling a bit ungrounded and scattered.
(As I write this email, I realized the core issue is my routine has been disturbed by these unexpected events. As much as I’d like to go with the flow and be spontaneous, I need routine for my well-being. Check.)
Needless to say, it’s taken longer to finish the calendar…😀 but I still aim to get them out to you sometime in October ✨
Here is the sneak preview!
So pretty, no?? 😻
I don’t know if you knew this, but I craft these encouraging messages for myself, first and foremost.
And they resonate with me so much more when I’m in a more uncertain space.
As I put together these designs, I remind myself to breathe, acknowledge that I’m in that space, and be present as much as possible.
Nothing lasts forever, and I’ve come out ok through 100% of the past difficult situations (and don’t remember most of them 🤷🏻♀️), so this, I shall survive also.
I’m trying to be gentle with myself and give myself permission to be “meh” in a meantime.
If you’re also feeling “meh,” it’s OK. Take care of yourself, my friend ❤️
A few days after I quit, I went on a solo retreat to set intentions for my artist/business journey.
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?”
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!
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!
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.
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 🥰
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.
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.
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 🥳
[👉 trigger warning – I talk about loss of a partner in this post]
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.
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.
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! 🥳