Tag Archives: happiness

Mindfulness Art Gallery!

Hey there, friend!

Hope your December is going well!

It’s crazy this year is almost over… When this post comes out, I’m gonna be teaching my last block printing workshop of the year! Then heading out to Wisconsin in a couple of days to see my in-laws! It’s definitely feeling like the holidays now.

You may remember I created 12 new artwork for the fall/winter stationery collection, and I thought it would be fun to showcase them today 🙂

I’m calling it the Mindfulness Art series because I created it to remind myself to have peace and calm in my life.

I started creating this art series after going to my second 10-day silent meditation retreat earlier this year (you can learn more about my experience here.) I came home super chill and centered and wanted to nurture those blissful feelings by creating these artwork.


You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
May all beings be happy, peaceful, and liberated.
Appreciate what you have every day.
Be gentle with yourself.
I’d rather be here and now.
Every day is a new beginning.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.
It’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
There is enough for everyone.
You can always start again.
Live like you have everything you need.
You are enough.

I hope my art and the messages will help you find a little peace and positivity in your life, too! That’s what it’s all about anyway 🙂

And if you’re a Seattle local, I’m showing them at Tin Umbrella Coffee in south Seattle throughout the month of December, so go check them out 🙂

Meet lovely people and enjoy locally roasted coffee!
Meet lovely people and enjoy locally roasted coffee at Tin Umbrella!

p.s. These art prints will also be available on my Etsy shop as well, so check back and/or sign up for my newsletter to be notified when they become available 🙂 Bonus if you tell me which ones you’d like to see as a print!

Ok, friend, I hope you have a wonderful day and a peaceful holiday season!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot


Happiness Project Reflection 9: Was It Worth It?


Hey guys!

How was your week?  I hope you’ve been enjoying summer wherever you are.

Here in Seattle, it’s been sunny and beautiful.  My husband’s away for work most of the month, so I’ve been taking over taking care of our veggie gardens.  Some things in our gardens are growing like crazy (thumbs up to beans, eggplants, and cucumbers) and some not so much (thumbs down to tomatoes and zucchinis… Sadface.)


So I had a full week since I quit my day job last week.  I can tell that it will take a long time to mentally transition to my new life 100%.  I can still feel the anxiety of “What am I doing at home?? Shouldn’t I be in the office?” from time to time.  I just take a deep breath and try to let it roll.


One thing I did to start off my new artist life on the right foot was I went on a mini solo retreat over on Whidbey Island for a couple of days.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, guys.

This is where I stayed. So peaceful and beautiful <3
This is where I stayed. So peaceful and beautiful ❤

There is a saying in Japan that loosely translates to “When in hurry, take the long way.”  I was overwhelmed with all of my “to-dos” in my head and didn’t know where to start.  Although it didn’t feel “productive” to sit and think for two days, it was exactly what I needed.  I’ll write more about my solo retreat on my blog next week 🙂  There is so much to share!

Today’s post is the last of my Happiness Project Reflection series I’ve been writing about various learning moments that happened while creating art about happiness every day for 365 days.  But I don’t feel like I’ve properly acknowledged how awesome it is that I accomplished the big goal I set for myself.


So today, I want to celebrate it by sharing the highlights of my growth and some opportunities that came out of my 365 Day Happiness Project!

You ready?  Here goes.

These are the highlights of what I’ve gained internally.  They’re powerful because these are things I will keep forever and will tap into in my creative journey ahead.

  1. I gained more confidence as an artist. 
    This one is big for me.  I’ve talked about it here often, but I’ve always felt insecure about my art.  It’s wonky and child-like.  But through the project, I’ve heard from so many people who appreciated the unique voice I added to the world by providing art that was mine.  I also heard from people that it gave them the confidence because they made art that was also kinda wonky.
  2. I’ve developed a discipline to keep a consistent creative practice every day.
    I rediscovered my love for art as an adult after not engaging in any sort of art activities for many years.  I would draw or paint when I felt like it but realized I needed a more consistent practice if I wanted to make a living by doing art.   By making a public commitment that I will be making and posting art every day for 365 days, I created an accountability measure for myself.  It really helped.  It helped create a habit to create every day.  Even though my daily project has been over for several months, I still make time to make art for myself every day no matter how busy it is.  It’s like workout – you just miss it if you stopped going even though working out is not always fun!
  3. I’ve deepened my artistic style.
    I talked about this in this post, but consistent daily practice is the most effective way to establish and deepen your artistic style.  You probably already have a style (or styles) you’re drawn towards – daily practice will give you many opportunities to find inspiration and hone in on your signature style.
  4. I’ve used art as a tool for healing.
    I knew art has many many intangible effects, but I experienced its healing power when I lost my kitty.  You can read more about the experience here.
  5. I took a risk every day by putting myself out there.
    I think this is reason enough for a celebration.  I don’t enjoy being vulnerable in public.  But I knew I had to get used to it if I wanted to become a successful artist.  It does get easier – after a while, being afraid of faceless/nameless haters gets old.  You learn to focus your energy on what’s helping you accomplish your goals, rather than what’s holding you back.
  6. I learned art is my passion and is worth pursuing with all of my heart.
    This is an interesting one.  I knew I liked drawing and wanted to pursue it.  But through the project, I really knew I was passionate about it.  I experienced how art feeds my heart and soul, and I experienced it on a regular basis.  It made me realize how much I wanted to experience that even more every day and that I needed to do whatever I could to pursue it.
  7. I learned hard work pays off.
    This is another big one.  I’ve heard many times “You work hard and put yourself out there, and the results will follow.”  But I didn’t know if or how it was going to happen for me.  This project has opened many doors for me as an artist in a way I didn’t expect to.  I’m a believer now 🙂

And, I’ve had other more tangible results as well!   Here are some:

  1. I have 365 new illustration pieces I didn’t have before.
    I mean, sort of duh, but I still think it’s splendid that I created 365 pieces of joy that didn’t exit before.  I may have mentioned before that I want to turn some of them into prints – I haven’t gotten to it yet, but it’s moving forward, so stay tuned for an announcement!
  2. I/my project was featured in a presentation my hero Lisa Congdon gave in Portland, OR.
    Lisa is one of my art heroes.  Her work  and the ways she approaches her work and life really resonate with me.  I talked about how Lisa’s daily projects inspired me to start my own in this post.  She was looking for people to submit their sketchbook project to include in one of her presentations, and I sent her my Happiness Project.  I was so honored when she said she’d include my project in her talk!!  I admit it: I’m a total fan girl – I was walking on clouds when she introduced my work as “her favorite” during her talk ❤  It was never my goal (and it still isn’t) to get a recognition from my heroes, but I was lucky enough to get it from someone I admired so much.  It was even sweeter because she was the reason why I started the project.  We remain friends, and she keeps inspiring me ❤
  3. I have 4 art shows this year, compared to 0 last year.
    Having an art show was a secret dream of mine this year.  I can’t remember why it was a secret 🙂 but it wasn’t something I was pursuing very hard either.  But after the Happiness Project finished, I had so many art pieces and felt they needed to be seen by more people.   So every chance I get, I was asking people if I could have a show.  Although it may feel awkward, you really need to ask for it if you want something.  You never know if someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer!  By asking for a show, I got 4 shows at local cafes and a restaurant!  They’re pretty low-key, low-pressure venues which is perfect to get my feet wet.  I just ended a show at a super cute cafe, Columbia City Bakery, in my neighborhood in July and received very positive reviews.  The coordinator has asked me to contact her again when I have new pieces to show 🙂

    Me and my mom at the show <3
    Me and my mom at the show ❤
  4. I received a generous care package from Sakura of America.
    You may know Sakura of America as a company who makes Micron pens, which I’ve used many of to draw.  They have been following me on Instagram since the Happiness project and asked if I wanted a care package from them!  I immediately said YES.  A few days later, I received a box full of beautiful pens, markers, and paints to play with.  What a wonderful surprise!  I’ve been having lots of fun creating with the new drawing supplies I received from them.  (My title illustration for today was created using their Koi Brush Pens.)  Sounds like I may be one of their guest Instagram posters in the future (in 2016) and may also be creating some tutorial videos for them.  Stay tuned!

    I even decorated pen holders using the new markers & pens <3
    I even decorated pen holders using the new markers & pens ❤
  5. It gave me at least 10 blog posts!
    It helped me tremendously to kick off my goal of publishing weekly blog posts.  I think of more things to write about the more I write, so I’m sure there will be more posts related to my experience from this project! 🙂
  6. As of today, I’ve brought in twice more $$ in sales and commission work this year than the entire year of 2014. 
    Granted it is not a lot of money at all (I would share the real number if it was more!) but still something to celebrate about!!  Woo hoo!  Growth is good even if it’s small.
  7. I’ve created communities that support and value my work.
    I wrote about how relationships are what fuel me to create and grow in this post.  And it’s really true.  My communities are continuing to grow, and I get so much encouragement and inspiration from them.  It is definitely the best thing I’ve gotten out of this project!!

When I started the project, I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t know if I would finish it or if anyone would care.  Yet I gained so much from it.  Much more than I’d ever expected.

They might be small wins but it means so much to me.  It tells me there will be more exciting opportunities for me as I continue to work hard and keep sharing what I have to offer.  I mean, imagine what I can accomplish now that I don’t have a day job to go to?  I want to squeal and do a lap around the apartment when I think of all the things I want to work on!!

Sure I’ve lost some sleep and fun social time, and that’s not to be taken lightly.  But was it worth it?  Absolutely.

Have you been working on any daily/weekly/monthly project?  Tell me about it in the comment!

p.s. This month, I’m working on a Daily Sketch Project with my fellow illustrator Janine Crum.  Check out my and other peeps’ daily sketch on Instagram hashtag #MakeWithMe.

p.s. 2 – Have you signed up for my e-newsletter yet?  I just sent out my first one and have been hearing very positive feedback about it 🙂  Join me here

Thank you guys!  It’s been a pleasure having  you in my community 🙂

xoxo Yuko



Happiness Project Reflection 7: It’s All About the Relationships

relationoships_loresGood morning!

My 365 Day Happiness Project Reflection blog series have already reached #7!  Wow!  I’ve got two more to share after this, so hang tight 🙂

I love building relationships.  I thrive on relationships.  I like thinking about them and talking about them.  I’m not only talking about romantic relationships but all kinds of relationships.  Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors etc.  There is something very magical about how humans connect with one another.  You meet someone, get to know each other, and create a space for this person in your life.  I just find it so fascinating!


One of the BEST THINGS that came out of my 365 Day Happiness Project was I got to connect with so many new people who like what I do.   Some of them are locals, and many live all over the world.  I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some of my heroes through the project, too, which would have been almost impossible if it wasn’t for the internet!  There are many things I wish could be different about social media, but one definite positive is now someone like me could reach a much wider audience with a click of a button.

For the last year or so, I’ve been focusing on relationship building a lot, especially with my art/illustration business.  Why?  Because having a positive and meaningful relationship with people who support your work has many benefits even though some of them may not be visible.

I used to accept compliments from my family and friends very reluctantly when they told me they liked my work. Because, well, they are my family and friends.  They wouldn’t tell me even if they think my work is crap, would they?  I’d tell myself they’re saying that to be “nice.”  They don’t want to hurt my feelings.  In my head, I decided they don’t really think my work is that great.  They buy my stuff because they want to support me as a person, not because they really want my stuff.  Sound familiar?

As I put myself out there more and more lately, though, I’ve been feeling a little bit different about it.  The truth is, your friends who support your work are the best kind of audience you can ask for.  You want to surround yourself with people who like and care about you as a person.  They care about you personally and want you to succeed!  They do think your work is great because you made them.  They encourage you and appreciate you.  How could you not want them as your audience??


One obvious benefit of having a good relationship with your audience is you build trust.  And why is trust important? It is because customers buy from people they trust.  As someone who’s trying to make a living from selling services and products, it is super important to me that I earn the trust of my audience.

I often see on my neighborhood Facebook page people asking others “Do you know a trustworthy car mechanic?” or “I’m looking for a realtor.  Who do you recommend?” You can compare and read hundreds of reviews on services and products online before buying anything.  I totally follow this pattern myself and buy services and products from people I know and trust or recommended by people I trust.  I know their work is good, and I don’t have to worry about them taking advantage of me!

Just like your family and friends, your audience who like and trust you as a person can be your powerful personal brand ambassadors.  And that is so cool!!


So, how do you build trust?

In order for the relationship to develop organically, you can’t just show up when you need something from them or treat them like a dollar sign.  When you put out quality work consistently as a down-to-earth, real person  and treat them with respect, people will start trusting you.

I’d like to view my relationship-building work like gardening.  You tend the soil, sow seeds, and nurture them.  Some seeds will sprout and give you nourishment.  Some will never sprout because the condition wasn’t right, or the seeds weren’t viable.  Sometimes it takes years for it to bear fruits.  Some plants will self-seed and keep coming back year after another.  Failed crop doesn’t necessarily mean you will never succeed.  It’s an opportunity to learn and try something new next time.


Relationship-building takes time, energy, and skills.  It can be discouraging when you don’t seem to get anything in return from your effort immediately in the form of increased sales, for example.  But don’t underestimate the value of intangible benefits.  People telling me how much they love my work and how my work inspires them are worth more than gold to me.

Words of appreciation and encouragement are my number one Love Language, and I will keep making and sharing art even if I never made a dime as long as someone tells me my art has made their world a little bit better.

Fear not, though, because if you’re putting out quality work consistently and treating your audience with respect and kindness, you will see results.  My daily art practice has helped me to grow my audience, and many doors have opened for me since then.  I can only imagine more opportunities coming in as I quit my day job and focus more time and energy on my art business this summer!!!  Woo hoo!

Here are a few things I’ve been doing to build a positive relationship with my audience:

1) Engage with my audience on different social media platforms  i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my blog.  I like to respond to all the comments and questions I receive as quickly as possible because I appreciate them taking the time to say something nice or ask questions!  It always feels so nice when people I admire and follow respond to me.

2) Share my life and what I know with my audience.  This is something new I’m trying with my weekly blog posts.  I want to share different parts of my life with my audience through my writing.  I’m intentional about what to share – I don’t want to talk about myself just for the sake of talking (plus that is not something I enjoy anyway…).  I want my sharing to have a purpose.  I want to inspire and motivate people to pursue their dreams by sharing my successes and challenges.

3) Send special mini blogs to my monthly art subscribers.  I’m not sure if you know I sell some of my art products through my Etsy shop.  This year I started a Gift of Happiness art subscription service where people can receive a new product from me every month.  Because I appreciate their support so much, I send them a special blog telling stories and processes about each product every month.  I also send them hand-written notes and postcards occasionally to say hi 🙂  I offer a 6-month subscription as well in case you’re interested in joining the club for the second half of the 2015!

4) Send a personalized hand-written note to my customers.  This is similar to my point above, but when I send out my orders to customers physically, I put a personalized hand-written note thanking them.  It’s a small thing, but I want to add a little personal touch.

My following is still pretty small, so I’m seizing this golden opportunity to pay close attention to every and each person who wants to engage with me.  As my audience grow over time, it will be more challenging, but I will do my best to show my appreciation and engage with them as much as I can.

First and foremost, I make art because it feeds my heart and soul.  But my journey is much more enjoyable and rewarding because of the relationships I have with people like you.  THANK YOU for following along on my adventure!!


Besides reading my blog and saying nice things (which I appreciate SO MUCH), you can also support me by signing up for my e-newsletter!  As my blog becomes more process and self-help orientated, I decided to start an e-newsletter as a primary way to let you know about events, products, and services.  If you don’t want to miss out on exciting new opportunities, be sure to sign up!


I’ll be talking about how to overcome a common disease know as “Comparing Yourself with Strangers on the Internet Syndrome” on my Happiness Project Reflection blog post next Sunday.  See you then!

xoxo Yuko







Happiness Project Reflection 5: Showing Up as Yourself is Hard



Today’s post is a little bit related to my last post about being successful with your goals.  I talked about the importance of measuring your success by your actions rather than counting how many followers or “likes” you get on social media.

So how can you be “yourself” on social media and other platforms when you feel insecure?   What’s so special about me?

My life is pretty uneventful.  I have a day job at a non-profit organization.  I do art when I’m not at my day job.  I live with my nerdy husband, one cat, and two budgie parakeets.  I’m an introvert and a home body.  I love good sci-fi shows on Netflix.  I crochet.  I don’t drink or go dancing.   I drive a 2000 Honda Civic.  Quality alone time is pure gold.  My life does not exactly scream glamour.

I’m also a practical person.  Naturally, I see flaws and tend to be critical.  It sometimes gets in a way of me being a kind/compassionate/thoughtful person I’d like to be.  Shall I say I tend to be “glass-half-empty” kind of a person?  It is more so when I’m feeling stressed.

As for my art, I like to make simple, child-like drawings.   I didn’t go to art school.  I feel insecure about it when I see other people’s works that are more dignified or meticulous.

If you ask me what I think of myself on a really bad day, my answer would be something like this: My life is boring.  I’m a boring person.  I’m anti-social and critical.  And I draw like a kid, so I’m not a real artist.

Imagine if I had a 365 Day Unhappiness Project and drew about things that sucked every day for 365 days.  What would that look like?  I would probably find an audience for it, but what impact would it have on me or people who followed my work?  Not a very happy one I imagine.

Aren’t you glad I chose happiness instead?

Working on the 365 Day Happiness Project was a good mental training.  To find my material, I was scanning for things that made me happy no matter how small it was.  Yes I still complained and whined about things that didn’t go well, but I had to acknowledge that at least one thing made me happy every day and project it onto the world.  My glass was a little fuller.

Because I wasn’t winning a lottery or saving puppies from wild fire every day (or ever), I drew about small happiness for 365 days.


When I think about the heroes I follow, they all have something in common.  They work hard to produce very high quality work and also admit having flaws and struggles.  And they work through their struggles and share their growth process with others.  Their courage and willingness to be vulnerable inspire me to no end.

I connect with their work because I feel connected to who they are.  Although my art career is nowhere near theirs, I can relate to their struggles.  To me, they are real people just like you and me.  I want people to feel like they have the connection to real me, too.

So how do you project your authentic self to the world in a way that’s inspiring to others?

First, you want to stop the tape that plays negative messages in your head.  I’m not talking about the constructive criticisms you receive from people you trust because it’s important to listen to them (especially if the same theme comes up repeatedly) and improve upon them.  I’m talking about the negative things you tell yourself that are only true in your head.

And try to find ways to re-frame it in a more compassionate way.  For example, I could change my unhelpful internal messages to more positive ones:

  • My life is boring. –> My life is stable and peaceful.  I work hard to maintain the stability and take calculated risks.  I’m surrounded by caring and responsible people.
  • I’m anti-social. –> I love being an introvert.  I love people and seek deep connection and engagement.  I’m creative and imaginative.  I’m emotionally independent.
  • I’m critical. –>  I pay attention to details.  I’m analytical and notice ways to improve things.
  • My drawings look like kids’ art. –> Kids are the most creative people on earth.  I’m glad I haven’t lost touch with the innate creativity and sense of wonder.
  • I’m not a real artist. –> I express myself through drawings and paintings.  That makes me an artist.  People appreciate what I create and pay me to create art that is uniquely me.  I’m providing value through my art.  I love being an artist!

Isn’t it a lot nicer?

There is absolutely no benefits to being mean to yourself.  Who you are and who you want to be are usually not that far apart.  They might just be wearing a different outfit, or your lenses may be a bit out of focus.

To be able to show up as yourself and inspire others, you first need to be OK with who you are.  Push the pause button when you catch yourself putting yourself down.  Replace those unhelpful messages with something more loving.  It’s a skill, and you will get better at it as you practice.  Fake it till you believe it.  Go at your own pace.

I know this is going to be a life-long work for me.  Be vulnerable. Be real.  Be graceful with my flaws.

Thank you for reading!  Have a good week, friends 🙂

xoxo Yuko





Happiness Project Reflection 3: Your Imperfections are OK

banner_loresWelcome to my third installment of Happiness Project Reflection series blog post!

I want to make a quick announcement that I’m having an art show at Columbia City Bakery in Seattle during the month of July and showing/selling some of my original drawings from my 365 Day Happiness Project!  I’m having a mini reception on Thursday 7/9 from 5-7pm.  If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello 🙂

Ok back to our regular programming!

It’s refreshing for me to look back and reflect on my 365 Day Happiness Project.  When I was in a middle of it, I was focused on producing the work and not so much about the impact it was having on me or the people who followed my work.  Now that I had some time to reflect back on it, I can truly appreciate the lessons I learned.

What I wanted to accomplish the most through my daily sketch project was to go outside of my comfort zone every day.  I was never comfortable calling myself an artist when I first started sharing my drawings as an adult a few years ago.  I didn’t go to an art school.  My artistic style is very simple and child-like.  I felt like I was taking up precious space in the world filled with “real” artists whom I perceived to have a lot more talents and legitimacy.

It’s a cliche, but you’re your own worst critic.  You notice every single flaw in your work. You’re afraid people might think you’re dumb or so arrogant to think your work is worth being seen by others.

The truth is no one else cares about your work as much as you do.

Take for example your Instagram feed.  How many people do you follow?  What do you remember about your favorite artists’ posts yesterday?   Or even 5 minutes ago?  Do you keep a log of all of their flaws and mistakes?  I hope not.  Unless that’s your job.  Like the artist paid you to keep track of that sort of thing.  But I doubt it.

To you, the artist, it’s an obsession.  You don’t think it’s as good as it can be.  It’s not at your 100% level.  It would be so rude to subject your followers to such an atrocity!!!  NOOOO!!


To your followers, it is just another thing you posted.  And you’re probably among hundreds , if not thousands, of people they follow.  I’m not saying this in a negative way or saying that they don’t care.  It’s a perspective.

People value your work for different reasons.  Maybe your sense of humor matches theirs.  Maybe they love your corky style.  Maybe what you’re doing inspires them.  Whatever the reason, I guarantee you that no body is obsessed with how “perfect” your work is as much as you are.  In fact, I have a few artists I admire so very much, and in my eyes, anything and everything they do is great.  They can’t do wrong even if they tried!  Imagine someone may be feeling this way about you!


While I was working on the daily sketch project, I received consistent feedback from my followers that they can relate to my work so much and how it helped them appreciate little things in their life.  They weren’t art critics analyzing the techniques I was using or what art trainings I had.  People felt connected to my work beyond how “good” of an artist I was.  My work, including what I considered to be flaws, resonated with them.  It’s kind of like falling in love with someone: you can’t logically explain why, but you just are.

I’m a believer of lifetime learning and growth.  It’s important to be able to look at your work critically and figure out how you can improve.  You can do it on your own or ask for a constructive criticism from your fellow artists or your mentors. Yes, a total stranger may criticize your work or give you an unsolicited advice.  It probably means that  your work is triggering some reactions in them (which you do want), but they may not be the right audience for you.  You can take parts of their criticism that are valid or helpful and leave the rest.  It is perfectly fine that your work does not resonate with everyone.  Art is a very subjective and personal thing.

The world is one BIG place.  There are people out there who would be totally into the unique voice you can bring to the table.  Don’t wait until you’re absolutely completely sure your work is 100% perfect because it may never happen.  If you’re a chronic perfectionist, this video of Seanwes talking about the cure for perfectionism may help.  Ship it at 90%.  I try to remember his advice when I find myself obsessing about every single details and “flaws” in my work.

Don’t let your imaginary haters stop you from putting yourself out there!!

xoxo Yuko


Happiness Project Reflection 2: Creating When You’re Not Inspired

Inspiration_banner_loresHello friends!

I hope you had a lovely week.  Welcome to my Happiness Project Reflection series blog post No. 2!

Have you ever felt like your creative juice had stopped flowing and don’t know if or when it’s coming back?  Felt like you aren’t a “real” artist because you aren’t inspired to draw, paint, write, cook, or make something all the time?  Do you think all the successful creative people wake up every morning full of inspiration and motivation to create?

I used to believe it too.  But you know what?  That is not how it actually works.

No matter how passionate you are, the inspiration and motivation to create don’t always come naturally or freely.  Creation takes work.  It’s about having your own unique voice and experiences and using your skills to turn them into something others can see, touch, taste, hear, smell, feel, and appreciate.

The creative process can be painful at times: you may feel frustration, self-doubt, or disappointment.  You have a vision but what you create doesn’t quite cut it.  You feel even less inspired because what you’ve just created is far from inspiring.

You may have seen/heard this quote from Ira Glass before.  Every time I look at it, I feel humble and reassured.  Everyone feels this way, and it is totally OK.

Poster by Nikki Hampson
Poster by Nikki Hampson

If you love making things just for fun, it is totally cool to wait until the  inspiration hits you.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I know many talented artists who choose not to pursue a career as an artist and are completely happy making art for fun.

But If you really want to turn your passion into a thriving career, then you need to create even when you’re not inspired.

When I made a public commitment to start my 365 day Happiness is project, I knew it was the kick in the pants I needed to keep a daily creative practice going.  On some nights, after I came home exhausted from my day job, I would eat dinner, do the dishes, and sit down at my desk staring at the blank page in my sketchbook without an inspiration.  I would browse the internet hoping an inspiration would hit and end up wasting over an hour reading my friends’ updates on facebook.  On other days, I would have a vision but couldn’t  execute it right.  I would draw, and it would look like crap.  I would whine and moan and feel like a fraud drawing about happiness.  Sometimes I felt like I was squeezing a lemon that had been squeezed 100 times to get just one more drop.

At the end of each day, I still managed to find something to feel happy about and made and shared a drawing every day for 365 days.  And that was so rewarding and worth all the pain and lost sleep!


Are you struggling to create every day?   Do you need a little push to get you going?  Here are some suggestions!

  1. Make your commitment public. Tell your friends and family.  Announce it to your followers on social media. This has been the most effective method for me so far.
  2. Take advantage of the “free” time you already have.  Doodle something while waiting for your drink at a coffee shop.  Create your post-it art collection while listening to a webinar.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece.  You just want the creative activity to be part of your everyday life.
  3. Make your goal realistic.  Maybe making an elaborate painting every day isn’t feasible but doing a 15 minute doodle is.  Consistency is more important than having a fancy goal you’re going to quit after 3 days.
  4. Set perimeters and limits for your creative project.  When you have total freedom, you may feel overwhelmed and don’t  know what to do.  Give yourself perimeters like “only draw with black ink” or “draw a cat wearing a suit in 30 different ways”.  After all, creativity is most required when you’re put in a box!  Ask someone to give you a prompt if that’s helpful.  My non-artistic husband is full of interesting prompts when I need them.
  5. Participate in creative challenges ! – there are many challenges out there – I found this article about Instagram Challenges, and Spoonflower has a weekly design contest. Speaking of which, I’m currently participating in a 30 Day Sketch Challenge on Instagram (#MakeWithMe with @janinecrum)  It’s nice to have a group of folks who are working on the same goal, and it’s always inspiring to see different styles of art people create!
  6. Clarify the connection between your daily practice and your long term goal.  I’m realizing this more and more.  When you know how your daily practice (e.g. daily happiness doodle) is helping you achieve your big goal (e.g. be a full-time working artist), it becomes more meaningful and engaging for you.

Remember, your goal should be about creating something on a regular basis, if not daily, even if it doesn’t look perfect or nobody “likes” it.  When you make a bunch of work, chances are, you will find more inspirations from your own work.  It could be the 10th drawing of an apple that turns out just right that makes you want to create a series of drawings of tree fruits.  Or it could be that someone telling you your daily sketch challenge inspired them to do the same.  You just never know until you do it!

Tell me what helps you create when you’re not in a mood.  We all have those days.

I look forward to continuing with my Happiness Project Reflection series blog post next Sunday!

Thanks for reading and take care!

xoxo  Yuko












Happiness Project Reflection 1: Finding Happiness on the Saddest Days of Your Life

pink-poppies_baner_loresWelcome (back) to my weekly blog about creativity, motivation, and growth!!  I’m so happy you found my blog and/or returned to read more!  Thank you 🙂

OK, I have to be honest with you.  This was a tough post to write.  But I wanted to be open and vulnerable with you.  Here is a peek into a not-so-happy side of my daily happiness project.

When I set out to start my 365 day Happiness is project, I didn’t think too much about how it was going to go.  I just wanted to start and see what happened, which is totally outside of my comfort zone.  Generally, I’m a planner and a  prefer-not-to-take-a-risk-er.

I didn’t know what I would do if I had days when I was overcome by sadness and grief.  Could I find something to feel happy about then?

That day came unexpectedly in January when our dear kitty Lulu had complications from her diabetes and got really sick.  She was suffering and we decided to put her to sleep a couple of days later.  She was really loving and brave till the last moment, and it still makes me cry when I think about that day.

I had her for about 12 years since she was a tiny itty bitty kitten.  I loved and adored cats ever since I was little, but my parents wouldn’t let me  have cats.  I daydreamed of having cats pretty much 24/7.  So I was ecstatic when I got my own kitties as an adult.  Lulu and her brother Shepherd, a.k.a. Sheppie, had been like my babies.

Lulu (left) and Sheppie (right)
Lulu (left) and Sheppie (right)

The connections you build with your animal friends are so special.  It’s based on love and trust you develop through actions.  There is no explaining your bad mood or tears.  They don’t take it personally.  They just want to love you and be loved.  They had been there for me through many life changes, just purring away, beaming love rays at me.


It was the saddest day of my life.  It hurt so bad.  Worse than bad break-ups or losing some of my human family members (I’m just being real here). It felt like I had a giant kitty-shaped hole in my heart, and I didn’t know if it was going to heal.  I could no longer feel the warmth of her fur or hear her soft purr as she slept.

lapwarmer_scan_loresWhat do you do with your daily creative commitment when you have such a loss in your life?  When all I could think of was how empty it felt to not have her in this world any more?

Of course, I could’ve taken a break.  That would’ve been totally OK.  I thought about it and yet found myself drawing in my sketchbook that night, and the next day, and the day after that.  I had never used art as a tool for healing before, at least knowingly.  But I can tell you that my pain would’ve been much worse if I hadn’t followed my creative practice during my time of grief.  It took my focus off of the sadness even for a little bit while I was drawing about happiness.  It created a tiny buffer between me and my grief.

While I was overcome by sadness, I searched for anything I felt grateful for.  In my search for happiness, I found tremendous amount of love and support that surrounded us.  There was no judgement of “oh, it was just a cat.”  Friends brought flowers, cards, and treats.  There were many hugs and tears.

My husband, Dave, stayed very strong for me even though he was also very sad. He really saved both me and Lulu.
My husband, Dave, stayed very strong for me throughout it all even though he was also very sad. He totally saved me.


Treats from friends.
Treats from friends.

hugs_webEvery day that passed by, my heart got a little lighter.  I began to remember fun memories of Lulu and not just her last days.

Our sweet girl.
Our sweet girl.


birdwatch_scan_loresMy daily happiness practice helped me appreciate what I have in the face of loss and grief.  It also helped me celebrate what I had that was no longer here.  Life is never 100% wonderful or terrible.  Some days bring more happiness than others.  Choosing happiness every day doesn’t make your problems go away but can create a small buffer in your mind so you can face them a bit more calmly.

In case you’re wondering, her brother Sheppie is doing just fine as an only cat of the house.  He’ll most likely remain as the only kitty of the house for the remainder of his time.

Happiness is black cats. My little boy brings me happiness, not bad luck :)

On a side note, my therapist recommended a book called Cat Heaven to me when I was talking to her about my loss, and boy, this is a wonderful book.  It’s meant to be a kids’ book but is good for adults too.  They have one for dogs, too, called Dog Heaven. I haven’t read it yet but am sure it’s also good.  The illustrations are so sweet and comforting.  I guarantee this book will make you cry like a baby, so choose a good time and place to read it!  I recommend it to anyone who is mourning a loss of a dog or cat friend.

cat heaven
© Cynthia Rylant

Ok friends, I will see you next Sunday! I’m going to continue with my Happiness Project Reflection series.  Next post is about finding your motivation when you’re not inspired to create.

Take care! xoxo  Yuko