Category Archives: self-care

My Creative Sabbatical

I took my mini sabbatical during the July 4th week, and it was so refreshing and relaxing.

(In case you are not familiar, I’ve been taking every 7th week off to relax and recharge since 2015. This brilliant concept was inspired by Seanwes.)

Mini sabbaticals are like staycations with intentions, and I try to do things that refuel my creative and spiritual reservoir.

I used to schedule a bunch of lunches and coffee dates with friends during my sabbaticals because I never saw them otherwise. But then I realized it was not very relaxing 😀 (introverts, you feel me.)

Lately, I try to keep my sabbatical weeks open and unscheduled as much as possible and decide what to do when I’m actually on my sabbatical.

It’s also a time for me to pursue things I normally don’t get to do – like spending hours exploring and organizing recipes online (which I’ve done during this sabbatical) and read books on my couch in the middle of the day.

Here are some of the highlights from my most recent mini sabbatical!

1. Marimekko, With Love exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum.

I’d been meaning to check out the exhibit for some time, and I’m so glad I went before it ended!

The show was absolutely STUNNING. I loved all the beautiful designs, colors, and art… Sigh.

And, what I appreciated the most about the exhibit was that you know they’re not trying to be like someone else or please everyone – they have a very recognizable style and that’s what makes them so iconic.

I sometimes feel self-couscious about my style, feeling it’s too simplistic. But, after visiting the exhibit, I felt inspired to keep doing “my thing” and be myself creatively!

2. Sewing with my new fabrics

I’m a fabric lover and love spending time at fabric stores ❤ I love examining beautiful fabrics and dreaming of all the things they can turn into.

However, I’m not very good at sewing (yet!) so I have stacks of fabrics I’ve collected over the years in a bin on my craft shelf 😀

I’ve recently created my own fabric designs on Spoonflower and ordered them to see what they look like in person.

I’m very happy with how they turned out, and it’s a special feeling to see your art come to life on fabric 🙂

I’d originally attempted to make zippered pouches with the new fabrics but realized it was a bit beyond my current skill level.

So rather than stressing about it, I sewed a few things that were easy for beginners.

This bag was really easy to sew! I could carry snacks or use it to organize things in my big bags.

Simple coasters with the grey and pink succulent fabrics! ❤

And even made these hoops – no sewing involved 😀

Pssst… If you want to know when my Spoonflower shop opens, be sure to sign up for my newsletter!

3. Block printing

After the Marimekko exhibit, I was inspired to create block print repeat patterns.

I came up with this original design when I was making my daily painting a few weeks ago.

An image of simple blue birds in flight came in to my head and I thought it would make a cute pattern!

I’d love to print this on a simple linen to make a scarf sometime. Or a T-shirt?

And I created this mushroom design – just because.

Wouldn’t it be a cute tea towel or tote bag design for fall?

Most of my sabbaticals go by really fast, but this one felt like it went by slowly. 

It was a good combination of staying home to work on my creative projects and going out to see friends and family.

Since I’ve got a pretty busy summer coming up preparing for my very first trade show in August (!!), I really enjoyed this break.

Hope you get to have some creative fun this summer, too!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

p.s. Wanna see what else I do during my sabbaticals? You can check out the archive here.

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The Best Strategy to Avoid Burnout

I was on my mini sabbatical during the week of 2/6. 

It was super relaxing, and I felt like it was one of the best sabbaticals I’d ever been on! What made it so successful was I didn’t schedule whole a lot of social engagements during my week off. 

In the past, I’d  cram in as many lunches and coffee dates as possible during my sabbatical (I mean, like 3 or 4 during the week :D) because I didn’t see my friends any other time. But this year I’m switching gears and trying to spread out my social engagements more evenly and make time to see my friends in small doses outside of my sabbaticals.

I’m an introvert, and being around people, while it can be a lot of fun, drains my energy. So, in order for me to really recharge my energy reserve during my sabbaticals, I decided not to schedule any get togethers with friends in advance, and it was super helpful! I still saw people, but it was more spontaneous (imagine that!!) and based on how I felt then.

Anyway, while on sabbaticals, I try to do things I normally don’t have the time to do. And here are some highlights!

1. I did my goal setting and planning for 2017. 

I got this downloadable  “2017 Goal and Intention Kit” from Jessica Swift and LOVE it! I did some intention setting earlier this year but finally dug into the actual goal setting during my sabbatical. It felt so good to have more clear directions for the year!

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My business goal is to grow my wholesale side of business, partnering with more retail shops to carry my greeting cards! (BTW, If you know cute gift/stationery shops that may be a good fit for my work – do tell me in the comment! Both in and outside of US.)

But more generally, my goal is to be more focused – working on just one thing at a time, be more present with work and relationships, and getting more quality work done in a shorter time. I’m excited about this goal and will share more in another blog post!

2. I created abstract acrylic paintings.

One of my intentions for this year is to try and explore different creative outlets. I feel it’s important for artists to stay curious and try something new! You might end up not liking something but will never know unless you try it, right?

I’ve been a little intimidated by painting with acrylics (I took a class once and found the medium hard to work with!) but I love the look of acrylic paintings, so I watched a couple of classes on Creativebug (I especially enjoyed this one and this one) and went for it!

 

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I decided to paint some abstract pieces – just something different and intuitive .

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I worked on 4 canvases at a time since they’re pretty small (8″x10″), and I didn’t want to wait around while the paint was drying.

I shared this process video on Instagram and thought you might like it, too! It’s good to document the process to see what steps I took to create an artwork and reflect on what I might do differently next time.

 

The hardest part of creating these paintings for me was to know when to stop. I felt like I over did the first paintings – I kept wanting to layer more and more hoping to make them look like something else… I’m letting them hang out for a while to see how I feel about them later.

And the second set, I went really simple just to see how I felt about them. I still did multiple layers but used just two colors and simple shapes. As my wise friend said, it takes guts to create something so simple! You keep thinking “this can’t possible be done…?” even though in your gut you know you should stop.

And the wonderful thing about acrylic paintings is you can totally paint over it if you don’t like something 😀

3. I made waxed fabrics to replace plastic wraps.

A small part of me dies whenever I use single-use plastic wraps, and I’ve been meaning to do a DIY project to replace them.

I found this tutorial on how to create waxed linen and made my own!

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It was pretty easy, and they’re definitely prettier than any plastic wraps 😀 I can’t wait to use them and see how they do!


Taking a regular time off every 7 weeks has been so valuable to me. I’ve been taking mini sabbaticals since October 2015 and can’t imagine not doing it!

It gives me the chance to step back and reflect on how things are going. I often ask myself; How am I doing with my goals? How am I feeling about my business? Do I need to course correct or keep doing what I’m doing? And since I don’t have a deadline or pressing work issues to attend to during my sabbaticals, I can really focus on the big picture.

Focusing on the big picture often reenergizes me and gives me inspirations for the future. And, since I’m forcing myself to get done 7-week worth of work in 6 weeks, I feel more productive when I’m “on,” too!

I used to have major FOMO about taking a time off from work but have learned over time nothing went terribly wrong while I was taking a break.

The truth is, one week is not that long.

As long as you plan ahead (which is easy to do since the sabbaticals come every 7 weeks), you can totally have a regular time off without losing money or feeling guilty.

If you’re curious, I want you to try it and see how you feel!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

Holiday Sabbatical Art Projects!

Hi! Happy New Year!

2017 is the Year of the Rooster!
2017 is the Year of the Rooster!

Hope you had great holidays!

I had a very relaxing sabbatical week off the week before Christmas. I took it real easy, just hanging out, making art, and spent some time with friends and family.

In case you didn’t know, I take every 7th week off to recharge and rest.

I learned this concept of Small Scale Sabbaticals from Seanwes (A great place to get inspiration for your creative small business by the way!), and I’ve been taking my mini sabbatical week off since October of 2015.

It’s still one of the best business strategies I’ve ever implemented. When you’re growing your business, it’s easy to just keep working many hours because there is always something that needs to be done. Yes, I enjoy the hustle most of the time, but if I don’t intentionally take a time-off, I will eventually burn out. And if you’re burned out, you will no longer have the energy or passion to pursue what you love. That would be so sad!!

I ended up working through the last couple of sabbaticals, unfortunately, and I’d been feeling the effects for a while…

So for this sabbatical week, I was determined to not work!

I’d scheduled a few social events, but the rest of the week was wide open to do whatever I wanted!

One of the things I’d like to focus on when I’m on my sabbatical is making art for fun.

Which, I confess, is not easy nowadays.

Making art is my job now, and even if I’m just doodling, part of me is always thinking of ways to turn it into a product, like, hmmm, this floral design would make a good birthday card, or oh, I could turn this into a print for the holidays! and so on. It’s not a terrible thing since I’m still being creative and having fun, but just something to be aware of.

Anyway, here are some of the paintings I made for my 30-minute daily painting project during my sabbatical. (You can read this post to learn more about the project!)

Lots of oranges!

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A couple more food paintings related to the holidays.

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I made banana walnut pancakes on Christmas morning. So yummy!

On Friday, my friend and I went to Emerald City Fired Arts in south Seattle and painted this dinner plate ❤

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Here is the finished piece!

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I’ve also been getting into embroidery lately since I had so much fun with a cute embroidery kit by Beth Colletti Art & Design earlier in December. I practiced some stitches on the blockrprinting practice fabric while we watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies on Christmas day! It was THE. BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVERRRR!!

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Embroidery is quite fun and meditative! I’m not sure if I’d do anything with it, but I’d like to continue practicing this fun craft! I have hundreds of block prints to embellish, you know?

I realized since drawing or painting is always going to feel somewhat like work, I want to explore other types of arts and crafts to have fun with in the coming year.

Last but not least, I made this painting of me and Dave during my sabbatical. Through my daily painting practice, I’m painting more with gouache (an opaque watercolor) and LOVE it!

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I think this is going to be our Christmas card next year 🙂

Hope you got to spend some time relaxing and being creative during the holiday season!

Here is to another year filled with making, exploring, and learning ❤

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

How to Get Inspired by What You Eat

I love to eat. And I love to draw what I eat! Surprise!

One of the creative business podcasts I listen to is Seanwes podcast, and he said in one of the episodes that to grow an audience, you need to curate what you share.

He says if you’re an illustrator, don’t be posting a bunch of pictures of your lunch. Instead, you should be drawing it!

That advice stuck with me, and I only shared the drawings of what I ate on Honeyberry Studios’ social media accounts for a long time. (I do share a ton of food photos on my personal account, though!)

I noticed as I made more drawings of food, I became more connected with what I ate.

When you draw what you eat, you take the time to notice the details of what’s on your plate. The ingredients, steps you took to prepare them, the texture, the aroma, the portion of your meal, and of course, the happiness you feel on your tastebuds.

On top of that, food journaling automatically gives you something to draw!

No more staring at the blank page when you’re feeling un-creative 😀 You do eat something every day, don’t you?

Here are some of my more recent food drawings:

vegetable sticks and peanut butter illustration

Veggie sticks and peanut butter. A simple and satisfying snack idea!

zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce with salmon with vegan walnut pesto illustration
Zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce and salmon with vegan walnut pesto. What a refreshing and tasty lunch!

BTW, you can check out the illustrated recipe for the zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce here 🙂

Japanese breakfast kale natto miso rice illustration
I have these phases where all I want to eat is Japanese food. All. the. time. Here is one simple meal I enjoyed the other day.
Oh, this Avocado Chocolate Pudding is so decadent and amazing...!!
Oh, this Avocado Chocolate Pudding is so decadent and amazing…!! My dairy-loving husband approves, too.

Oh man, these drawings are making me hungry… 😀 I better go feed myself now!

Do you want to learn how to create your own food journal? I created a tutorial for Sakura of America and you can watch it on their YouTube channel here.

Eat well and happy creating, my friend! xo

Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Taking a time off when you’re swamped

{Hi friend – I just wanted to acknowledge that this has been a rough week for many of us… I happen to write this post about self-care (or sort of a failed attempt at one) and hope it helps you in some ways. Know I’ve been thinking about you <3}

I just took my mini sabbatical week off during the first week of November, and it was not easy.

(If you’re not familiar with the mini sabbatical, I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. I adapted the concept from Seanwes. It’s pretty much the best, and you should totally do it, too!)

I’ve been taking my sabbatical week off since last October, and since it’s a regular thing, I put it on my calendar in advance. And it helps me to not schedule any deadlines or client work during that time.

My mini sabbaticals force me to be more productive during my “on” weeks. Since you are taking a week off every 7 weeks (so 6 weeks on, 1 week off) you’re forced to get 7-weeks worth of work done in 6 weeks. I remember being super productive right before I left for a vacation at my old day job, and it’s a very similar feeling.

For this sabbatical, even though I knew it was coming, I didn’t plan well enough in advance so everything was behind.

First of all, I had to prepare for my winter holiday stationery collection release that was scheduled for November 1st.

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Yay, it’s here!
I was already behind getting everything ready for it due to planned and unplanned events this summer/fall – I swore last year I was going to start getting the holiday collection ready earlier in the summer – well, now I’m telling myself I need to start planning for next year’s collection, like, NOW. Sigh.

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I seem to need a reminder for the lesson #1 above, “Everything takes way longer than you think.” over and over….and over. Note to self: Always expect things will take longer. Things will go wrong. Schedule buffer!!! 

(BTW, who said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”? I do feel a little crazy going through this yet again!!!)

On top of that, my really good friend from Japan was visiting last week. So I had to juggle my collection launch timeline and hanging out with her for several days. Eeeek!

Although I had to bow out of some of the social engagements so I could finish work, we did manage to do some fun things together, like visiting the Seattle Art Museum to check out their Yves Saint Laurent exhibit (it was exquisite!), visiting my American parents on Camano Island, seeing our mutual friends, and taking a day trip to Portland.

And, I taught my block printing class on the last day of my sabbatical.

Honestly I was feeling so run down and tired that I didn’t feel like I was on my A game, but the students seemed to have a great time and did a wonderful job! Seeing how much fun my students had during the class always lifts up my spirit ❤

Look at their gorgeous work!!
Look at their gorgeous work!!
My sabbatical was not the most relaxing or rejuvenating, and I’m definitely feeling a little burned-out.

For example, it takes more to get and stay motivated. I’m tired and can’t stay focused on my tasks. I’m feeling low energy in general. The grey weather and daylight saving time change are not helping either! Not to mention the election… OK, I can’t go there, yet 😦

Holiday time is not the most relaxing fun time for a small creative business owner (or anyone? :D), and I really need to be more vigilant about self-care.

I need to listen to my body and be compassionate with myself. Giving myself permission to slow down or change my plans, especially during my hustle time, is still one of the hardest things!!

To recover from my not-so-relaxing sabbatical week :D, I’ve been taking things a little easy this week. I’m getting back in my regular routine of early bedtime (I try to go to bed by 9:30pm), cooking and eating more at home, and limiting my social engagements so I can just stay home and enjoy my alone time. I don’t know if it’s the age thing, but I seem to need a lot more down time than I used to to recover from stuff! 😀

Unfortunately, you can’t just batch your self-care all at once during your time off every 7 weeks.

Taking care of yourself in small doses every day really makes a difference! And, incorporating your small self-care habits into your daily routine is the key to success 🙂 Once you build a habit, it just becomes something you do, like brushing your teeth or washing your face!

I hope you take good care of yourself and stay well, my friend ❤

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

 

 

Lessons learned from my not-so-restful sabbatical week

I took my sabbatical week off during the week of 8/1. (You can learn more about my small scale sabbaticals here.)

I was supposed to take it off the week before, but I had so much to do, so I decided to push it back one week.

The week before I’d originally planned to take my week off, I was planning on making 4 tutorial videos for Sakura of America, and it took a lot longer than I anticipated (duh!)

And at the last minute I was invited to be at a craft show, and I agreed, so I spent hours preparing for the show at the same time.

It became obvious to me that I wasn’t going to finish the video project and tie all the loose ends before the end of the week. 

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Rather than doing a “half-on, half-off” sabbatical week, I decided to push it back one week so I could finish everything and fully enjoy my time off the following week.

Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tie all the loose ends by the end of that additional week, so some work did spill over to my sabbatical week. Sad face 😦

I’d put in long hours the week before and worked the craft show all day Saturday 7/30, so I was really wired going into my week off.

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My booth at the show 🙂
Ballard p-patch
And it was a gorgeous day to be outside!

Plus my husband Dave had been away for 2 and a half weeks for work and came back on late Saturday 7/30 night. Originally, he was going to come home on Sunday 8/1, so it threw me off the loop.

And whenever he comes home late, I go to bed at my normal bed time but just can’t fall asleep until he gets home…

As an introvert, even though I love and miss my husband very much while he’s gone, I also enjoy my quiet alone time. And it usually takes me a few days to adjust to having him around again.

Oh, and we had a couple of guests stay over at our place with kind of a short notice… and I’d already scheduled my social time with some friends that week (Max 3 social engagements per week!). So I ended up having a bit more people time than I’d wanted.

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We hosted a hand-roll salad bar one night, and it was fun and delicious…

Even though I generally have a good time when I’m with friends, I prefer to have them scheduled in advance and need to have a good amount of down time in between to recharge.

And as for work, I got an inquiry from a customer who wanted to place a big rush order of my block printed tote bags on the first day of my sabbatical week.

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My hand block printed artichoke tote. Cute, yes?

Initially, I said no because there was no way I could have the goods ready within the timeline, but the customer was really interested in working with me.

So I tried to make it work by having them screen printed rather than me hand printing them. And that meant a lot of back and forth with the print shops and the customer throughout the week…

After all, the customer decided not to place the order because the timeline didn’t work for them. Which was fine, but I couldn’t relax completely until all the loops were closed… 

I also have a new class to promote, followed up with people who’d just signed up for my email list, and Instagram just rolled out their Snapchat thingy (a.k.a. Instagram Story) and I got embroiled in that too!!

The Seafair, which is a big summer festival in Seattle, was going on during my sabbatical week, and we live very close to where the Blue Angels perform. Their performance is cool and all, but the noise is totally unbearable. It is SO LOUD.

Oh, Blue Angels... Only if you were quieter...
Oh, Blue Angels… Only if you were quieter… Photo credit: Monica Zaborac

So on Saturday, I tagged along Dave’s teaching gig at a university to get away from home. They had a pretty loose, hands-on day for his class, and I got to hang out with Dave part of the day and read, too.

Olympic Sculpture Park
And I went for a walk in the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle waterfront with a good friend 🙂

On Sunday, I ended up doing chores and went to see a movie (BTW, loved the new Ghostbusters movie!!) to get away from the Blue Angels noise again… 😀

I LOLd so much!
I LOLd so much!! 😀

Before you know it, my sabbatical week was over. O.V.E.R. Sigh.

It wasn’t the most relaxing week off, and I was pretty bummed about it.

Self-care is a top priority of mine, and not having a regular down time is pretty hard on me. When I can’t get enough rest, I try to breathe and be more compassionate with myself. I do what I can to take care of myself and just accept the things for what they are.

With that being said, I did spend some time reading. I’ve been reading “The Highly Sensitive Person in Love” by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., and it’s fascinating! (In case you missed it, I talked about my Highly Sensitive nature in this post.) I love exploring my inner world… ❤

The Highly Sensitive Person in Love book cover
This!

I also made some art for fun during my sabbatical week.

Dahlias marker drawing
Dahlias with Sakura Koi pens, micron pen, and a gellyroll pen.

These dahlias were inspired by the beautiful community garden I was at for the craft show ❤

I also got to spend more time with Dave than usual and slept more (including naps!) so I’m more refreshed to start my work week.

I’ve got a couple of trips coming up this summer, too, so even though I didn’t get a full time off last week, I’m glad some important work got done! It’s a balance, I guess…

Hope you’re getting some relaxing on this summer!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot