Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Paper, Stationery, Calligraphy - Oh My

In a former life, I designed things like these . . .
business cards (my favorite consult time with people), 
custom monograms (probably my favorite thing to design), wedding programs, invitations, basically anything to do with paper.

(Sources: business card is SMOCK, correspondence card is Vera Wang for William Arthur, and wedding program is Crane & Co.)

Now, I get excited when planning my own soirees.
Not because I like to cook.  I don't.
Because I like to send invitations.
And cards.  Letters.  Folded notes.

(Source: Anna Griffin designed by Lucia Lupia)

Here are my business cards.
Yes, I ordered two different stock colors from Crane & Co.
Both are engraved with copper ink, 
but depending on who the recipient is,
depends on which color I give them.

I've been posting old samples of my stationery collection
on Instagram using the hashtag, #athankyounoteaday.
 And actually getting followers.  Go figure.
I started doing it for my own personal cataloging and
I guess it has sort of grown into a way for me to share
my greatest passion: P-A-P-E-R.

(Source: Crane & Co. engraved on handmade rag paper)

I've saved old cards like this one from my grandmother,
but I wish I had saved more.  I have a stack from my
Great Aunt Ginny, tied with ribbon, that I will save in a fire.

And I have boxes of letters from my dear friend, Mary Lou,
who I did a paper exchange with for many years.

We even invited Katie, from Katie & Co., to join us years ago.
In fact, one of my very first blog posts was 
about Katie's stationery store (pardon the dinky pics - it was 2008). 
The only place I recommend, as the girl knows design.

Mary Lou sent me New Year's cards, Valentine's Cards,
not-to-mention all the other Holidays.  Plus notes showing off her 
new stationery or saying something like "looking forward
to our lunch on Friday."  She was the example of note writing.

I'm not as good a letter writer as she was,
but I long to be.

(Source: Vera Wang Fine Stationery)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Unposed Moments From Yesterday

So impressed with this brave step forward from Starbucks.
Their "Race Together" campaign had me thinking this week.

I had some interesting writing assignments to work on - 
a business consultant's new website, and writing a Kickstarter
for a local R&B Singer.

Walking with Scooter - the gold standard among dogs.
If you have never had a dog, believe me when I tell you,
Everyone would have a dog, if they could have one like Scooter.

Hanging out this past week with this kid.
Some visits to Goode Co. Tacqueria when the weather
gets this beautiful are mandatory.
I love capturing the shake dripping, him grabbing his ear,
his DS (which will be obsolete 10 minutes from now).

My mother-in-law, Susie, was visiting from Oregon.
She's what I have dreamed of for a mother-in-law for let's say, my whole life.  She tells me things like I have pizazz, that my house looks ORGANIZED (I asked her to say that louder so my husband could hear), that I'm a good mom.  She was an early childhood development expert making her infinitely patient with the littles.
I'm sad to see her leave tomorrow.

Something I saw on my walk yesterday.
I love the cone shapes of the kale and the boxwood, don't you?

A sign I definitely want to hang on my chair at Starbucks.
I'm an introvert.  I like my space.

The window display at The Jung Center.
Notice the label names on the library card drawers.

My training for the Avon 39 mile race is going well.
This Saturday, I will do 17 miles and Sunday 8 miles.
My friend Monica, told me, "If you follow the training plan, you will do fine.  You will wonder when you do 12 miles for the first time and 6 the next day, how you will do 14 and 8 the next weekend, when you feel you barely made this one, but you will."  Thanks Monica.  I no longer worry.

Sort of looks like what I think London would . . .
love seeing things like this on my walks that make
me feel I am in an unknown, foreign land.

I saw this Guerilla Art pole with the MFAH (The Museum of 
Fine Arts, Houston) stickers for admission
that people had slammed on here.
I sort of want one.

And then there's these two.
Biggy and Marc.
I don't know who loves who more.

But this is the picture I loved more.
I don't know why.
Sometimes the unposed ones,
tug at my heart.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bathroom Diaries - The Condemned

Common Bond Bakery

Occasionally, I am completely baffled when...
I walk into a bathroom of a swanky hotel,
or talked-about restaurant, etc., and find
a complete hole-in-the-wall powder room that is
ACTUALLY a part of the establishment but seems like
it was designed by the drunk uncle of the owner who 
ran out of money when it came to designing this restroom.

I feel especially qualified to make these comments as
I work for an interior designer part-time, and am in tile 
showrooms weekly, see costs and know how little it 
takes to create a well-designed space.

For a restaurant that has spent this much money on branding,
packaging, and merchandising to even do a wall as if an Anthropologie visual merchandiser laid it out . . . 
Imagine the surprise of walking into the ladies restroom to find 
nothing on the walls; no art, not even wallpaper.

Instead of a sign about hand washing framed with
beautiful typography, there's this -

Pretty flowers?  Well . . . there was this.
Which happened to be
the only decoration.

When I used to post pictures on my Facebook feed
about the lousy state of bathrooms I run across, 
I started doing this for 3 reasons:

1.   To open a discussion on something overlooked
2.   To photograph small spaces - I like a challenge
3.     To get the privilege to re-do one of these

Somebody, give me your budget and let me improve
your facilities.  I promise I can do better. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today And Tomorrow

Today . . . when you get a picture like this . . . you can be excited.
When you realize you're actually married to someone like this, you can be excited about tomorrow.

Today . . . when you go to a bar like this, you can promise 
yourself, that it's too cool to not be back tomorrow.

Today . . . when you see a family this fun,
you know you don't want to miss anything tomorrow.

Today . . . you can pull out paper and re-purpose an old memory,
to remind you again and again of all your tomorrows.

Today . . . you can open a letter from a love one who
has no more tomorrows.
Just to feel their warmth again.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hey Mom - Where Did Your Creativity Go?

Interviewing people that are creative is my passion, although sometimes a selfish pursuit.  I long to hear about their practices, rituals, and roadblocks, if not to sometimes prepare and make myself a better creator.  Imagine my luck to meet a woman who spotlights mothers and their artistic pursuits.

When I met Larissa Pickens, it was through an email asking if I would like to be interviewed as a featured mom on her website, Mommikin.  A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to interview her and ask more about her 'real' job, why she had the impulse to interview moms about their artistic endeavors, and how she balances kids and creativity 

The first thing I wanted to do when I started researching was read the Mommikin mission statement created by Larissa and her co-founder, Lina Fenequito:

Our mission is to celebrate creative moms. 

Together, we're creating a community of moms who seek creativity and want to support and inspire each other! 

When I asked Larissa to describe the ultimate purpose of the site, her words were " to be a creative space to gather stories, build community and help moms get a toe hold back into being more creative."  The features and articles are there for moms to see other moms sharing how they get the job done. Not just by being moms, but by being artists, as well.

When we become moms, so much of our former lives has to fall away.  It's hard enough to get our legs shaved, much less think about our long lost creativity.  What Mommikin can do for you is help you find your tribe along with helping you find the impetus to create again.  We worry so much about our kids creativity, what about ours?  

On the Mommikin blog, some of the things you can find are:

  1. Articles that are Creativity Boosters and How To's
  2. Career resources
  3. Featured MOM stories
  4. Workshops - like the current one called Write Anyway
  5. Retail with carefully curated items consisting of kits, accessories and books

Larissa is first a freelance web designer (with a client rooster that has names like Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder and Conde Nast) and thinks of herself as a writer second.  With graphic design, she explains that everything is precise and with writing, she is learning again how to do things free form. 

This free form style reminds her of a creative process she enjoyed in her late 20's - throwing clay on a wheel.  Anything she did in this process was experimental and in a relaxed atmosphere.  She would throw a new glaze on, completely unsure of the end result, and compares this to the thrill of opening a present unaware of what's inside. Interviewing others and pursuing writing has reminded her of how the beginning and the end can start one way and end up with that same surprise at the end.  Writing has also "enriched me as a reader - and made me more aware of how I tell the story."

And how has motherhood changed her?  Does she feel more productive after kids?  "Well, I get a lot more crammed in.  I miss staying up all night and jamming to get a job done or finish the idea that came spontaneously."  Being a mother to a two year old boy and a 4 year old girl, some of the perks of working from home might be to be able to throw a load of clothes in the washer, but it also means working again from 9:00 pm to Midnight, while the kids sleep, in order to meet deadlines.

Since Larissa lives in a 1300 sq foot apartment, I thought she might share my small house syndrome (I live in 1600 sq feet).  By big city apartment standards, my house is rather large, although by Texas standards simply - strange.  I mention this because most of the people I interview have no designated spaces to create, but they never let this deter them.  They taught me years ago, you can't wait for the perfect space to have the pipe dream of 'when you get the space, then you'll create.' Larissa has no designated work area, and does not see this as a challenge what-so-ever, since she's never had one.  She works from her laptop, has one notebook she writes everything in, including To Do Lists, sketches, story ideas, etc.  

When I ask, "Is it the same type of notebook?" 
Some writers are superstitious about these things. 
She says, "Nope. I use whatever.  Right now, I have a kitty cat one that looks like I am about 12."
"Have you ever lost it?"
"Well, sometimes I find it hijacked by my daughter, Helena, buried in her room."

Larissa has not waited for the right time to start a website, she's doing it with a full-time job and 2 young children. She's not waiting for right space to do it from either. I don't know about you, but damn, I find this exhilarating.

Go to her website, get some much needed motivation by the tribe of featured moms, and subscribe to get creative updates in your mailbox weekly.   If you missed the interview she did with me as the Online Dating Cheerleader, you can find it here.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writing, Recording and Processing

A collection of some of my journals - all filled to the last page with writing

I was inspired to write a post today based upon reading one of my favorite bloggers, Mary Ann Moss, yesterday.  She referenced going back through some of her journals to reread them, catalogue them and even...good God...throwing some out (which I am actually all for, btw).

In my youth, I collected blank books.  I did not know what I was going to do with them, but I always felt the need to buy blank books and fancy stationery.  The stationery I used, but the blank books remained dusty, but always in a special place.

Some journals I made and are falling apart - I love that

The only times I started journaling in college were during break-ups or during some other depressing situation in my life. Rereading those feeble attempts at journal writing were painful.  Quite frankly, who wants to reread/relive all that?  This is when I developed the habit of tearing pages out and retrying the whole thing.  And for years, I think that some of these journals started like this, only to be resurrected again and again with the same attempt the next time some difficult situation presented itself.

Those poor blank books.  They wanted to be full of poignant moments and beautiful words.  I desired desperately to be a keeper of journals in order to record my life.  

Why was it that every time I tried, 
I not only could not keep the practice up 
but I never wanted to reread a sentence of the stuff I wrote?

I think it is because there are two types of writing for me.  The type that is a record of my days here on earth: the joys, sorrows, disappointments, frustrations, successes, or sometimes just simple stream of consciousness.  This is what my journals look like now. And the type of writing to help myself process a situation, not necessarily to record it.

When I went through a divorce years ago, I wrote all the time.  And I threw all that stuff out.  I no longer needed to carry it around with me because it was over, done with, and I never wanted to be reminded of it again.  The only way I benefited from writing all that was getting my feelings out.  I would receive very little, if any, benefit from rereading everything I wrote.

I think this is the reason many people fail at journal writing.  They start at a bad time and their book becomes a bunch of negative feelings or complaints. And then the whole experience becomes negative.

Give yourself permission to write for the sake of writing and to purge whatever you don't want to relive again.  

It frees you up to write more authentically if 
you know you are writing just to get
 your thoughts on paper and not for prosperity.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Purge Is The Word

At the beginning of this year, I picked a word to work on as a theme/project/intention for 2015.  Inspired by Ali Edward's One Little Word,  I chose the word PURGE.

Last year, this was the word I wanted to choose, but I chose COMPASSION instead. One of Ali's techniques for deciding on your word is to look it up in the dictionary and/or a thesaurus.  And last year when I read the words attached to PURGE, I shuddered.

Words like . . .

murder, eradication, ejection, catharsis, clarification, cleaning, cleanup, reign of terror, suppression and SCREECH . . .witch hunt

were used to describe this word.  And 3 months into this, I can see why.  Getting rid of your stuff is like a witch hunt and murder.  

I invested time and money into reading and re-reading two books to get me into the mode of doing this and doing it once and for all:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

I started sharing things that I purged on Facebook and Instagram. My motivation for doing this was strictly to hold myself accountable.  And out of all the things I have posted in my lifetime, these were the posts that people really started to connect to - I received messages of thanks for the push and for more information; people giving stuff away saying I inspired them; messages asking for the book title that I was using to help me, etc. In my own small way, I was helping others to purge too.  And the more positive messages I received from them, the more it keep me going.  People even gave me stuff, just to say thanks.

Some things people sent to me

I have been purging things like crazy since the beginning of the year - clothes ( you can read more about this process here), books, shoes, art supplies, beauty products and now jewelry.  I gave a bunch of clothes and costume jewelry to Vita-Living that I hoped they could use for Arts and Crafts time.  I gave nicer beads to my friend Amy, who makes some of the coolest stuff in the world, and to other beaders, like my sister, Beth.  I have given old glasses to The Lions Club, and tons of books to the Houston Public Library.  What has become enjoyable for me now is pulling out something

  •  I don't use
  •  I don't need
  • or I don't want

and then thinking of who could.  As a start up writer, I'm not making a lot of money, so giving money right now to worthy causes just isn't possible.  But I can give my time and my things and feel splendid.

Speaking of free things, if you would like a chance to win these Moonstone and Freshwater Pearl earrings (retail value $80), go to my Facebook page and add a comment.  Whether you live near of far, I'll mail them to you.  And I'll be giving away more.  My little ears have decided to reject any metal I put near them, so what better way to get rid of some things?  I can pass them on to you at no charge and we just keep the cycle of giving away what we don't need going.

 These earrings are yours - just for reading