Creative Bug :: Creative Branding Series

09/30/13

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I am so happy to announce and excited to be part of Creative Bug’s new Creative Branding Series! The online series includes advice, inspiration and straight talk about building your brand from Heather Ross, Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop, Liesl and Todd Gibson, Melanie Falick of STC Craft and, of course, me! This course covers the fundamental aspects of building and elevating your creative brand, from finding the essence of your brand and business basics, to licensing and book publishing. The class includes weekly video classes, downloads, and live chats. Want to know more? There is a load of information on the class and how it works here.

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Save now: Creativebug subscribers get a special price of $99 so if you have been waiting for the perfect time to sign up for Creativebug — this is it! Subscribe during September for just $9.99/month and get the subscriber pricing on the Creative Brand Series.

For those of you wanting to strengthen your brand and launch your creative business, this series is for you!

Happy Monday.

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On Starting Over (Again)

09/27/13

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I’ve written here before about the exciting but also boring story of my life: I love my work, but I have taken on too many commitments in the last few years. My days are ruled by lists and attempting to check as many things off the lists as possible to meet deadlines. I am often stressed and feel rushed. My days aren’t long enough. I’m tired.

It is the curse of entrepreneurship: many of us don’t know when our days begin or end, how much work is enough (maybe we can just take on one more project), when to say no, or how to apply boundaries to what we do. And in trying to figure that out (and by “that” I mean the perfect balance of work and living), we don’t always get it right.  I find myself (as much as I love my work) not really living. I am breathing, yes, and even experiencing joy. But in the back of my mind are those overwhelming and long lists of things I have to accomplish.

You may remember this post I wrote back in April about starting over in my attempt to have some balance in my life. I’ve been struggling with work/life balance since 2011 when my illustration career began to take off. After years as a fledgling artist, I am so grateful that I have so much opportunity now. But, for me, opportunity came with long hours and, ultimately, burnout. The past three years have taught me that I can’t do it all, not even close. And so for the past nine months, I have been working diligently on creating more balance.  Sometimes that means saying no to projects with really awesome clients that I really want to say yes to. Some days that means something as simple as just going to yoga class at the end of a long day. Some weeks I’ve been quite good at balance. Other weeks I’ve failed miserably.

I always love a new year, and a new year is approaching. It’s an opportunity to make new habits. I am excited about 2014, because I really do want to do things differently this time. I want to work, of course, but maybe not as much. I also want to live. The new year holds so much promise for me. It is a clean slate. I get to start over.

Those of you who know me know I love a personal challenge.  I am scheming up a personal challenge for 2014 that is about living. I’m not sure exactly what it will look like yet, but stay tuned for more.

Happy Friday.

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My New Fabric Collection :: Now Available!

09/25/13

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I am so excited to announce that my fabric collection, entitled The Land That Never Was, produced in collaboration with Cloud9 Fabrics, IS NOW AVAILABLE!

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“The Land that Never Was”

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“Folkloric”

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Minstrels

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“Bunting”

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“Magic Garden”

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“Traveler’s Blanket”

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“Fairy Tales Black”

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“Fairy Tales White”

Curious where you can purchase the fabric in your area? Check out Cloud9′s stockists here or call your local fabric store. You can also check out online stockists here.

Have a great Wednesday!

 

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New Print :: Schoolhouse Electric

09/20/13

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I was so excited when Schoolhouse Electric contacted me about selling this print of mine! You can purchase it here.

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Happy Friday!

CATEGORIES: For Sale | Hand Lettering
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About My Mother

09/19/13

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People are often struck by the fact that I did not pick up a paintbrush until I was 32 years old. It’s true, I didn’t, and when I did, I had no idea (much less aspiration) that I would ever make a living as an artist. But what’s crazier still is my mom’s story.

Let me begin by saying that’s my mom’s quilt on the cover of the most recent issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, above. For those of you who don’t know much about the world of quilting, Quilting Arts is the magazine for art quilters. Art quilting is a broad term referring to contemporary textile art which may have some of the basic structural characteristics of a traditional quilt, but incorporates contemporary techniques and materials.

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{Soaring, 2012}

My mom began art quilting in the 1990′s, though she had always been a prolific sewer and a maker. Her life has almost always been defined by sewing or textile art in some form. She has a Masters Degree in Clothing and Textiles from Penn State, which she earned in the early 1960′s. When I was a kid, she sewed a lot of my clothes and nearly everything for our house. She also had a large German loom which sat in our family room. The sound of the sewing machine and the swooshing and clanking of my mom’s hand motions interacting with the mechanics of the loom were the background noise of my childhood. Gorgeous woven wall hangings donned the walls of our suburban home. All my life, I have been surrounded by my mom’s hands making things.

What’s different about my mom’s quilting story from the rest of her career is that until she became a quilter she never considered herself an artist. She never sold her work or entered competitions. I suppose it was partly the times; she was busy raising three children, all of us close in age, and often working while we were at school to help support our family. She didn’t have time to become a full fledged textile artist.

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{Fragments of Life, 2008}

Fast forward to the 1990′s. My mom is in her early 50′s. She decides to take up quilting. She says she tried it once in the 70′s and didn’t like it. So she also decides pretty early on that art quilting–as opposed to traditional quilting–is more her aesthetic and speed. “I could continue my addiction to fabric, not worry about points and matching seams, and the end result was a beautiful work of art.” Also, two things are happening. For one, her children are grown and gone, so she has more time to create, and more energy to focus on creating. For another, the Internet is beginning to emerge as a way to meet other people with similar interests, share work, and get inspiration. Both of these factors have contributed to my mother’s prolific success.

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{Indigo Moons, 2008}

While it may seem impressive that my mom didn’t start quilting until she was in her 50′s, what’s even more impressive is what happened afterward. She joined guilds and made friends with other men and women who also made art quilts. When she was in her 60′s she started a blog about her life and work. She built a website to showcase her work. She dyes her own fabrics, screen prints, paints, stamps and discharges dyes. In the early 2000′s, after refining her craft and participating in critiques, she began entering competitions, showing her work in galleries and quilt shows and selling pieces, many commissioned by private collections and organizations. Her work is featured in quilt books and numerous magazines. And, at the age of 74 (she turns 75 next week!) her work landed on the cover of Quilting Arts Magazine. When she found out, she called me to announce “I’m a cover girl!” It made my eyes well up with tears.

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{The full quilt, as it appears in the October/November issue of Quilting Arts Magazine}

So really, 32 years old is pretty young to start your art career. My mom was in her 50′s. And at 75, she’s still going strong. She works in her studio every day. She does meticulously and painstakingly detailed work. She constantly learns new techniques. She takes classes. She goes to conferences. She works part time for the prestigious Surface Design Association. She engages with her community. She is curious and passionate –  and she never questions whether to stop. “I’ll do this till the day I die,” she’s said to me many times.

Tomorrow the manuscript for my book is due. My editor asked me to write a dedication. That was not hard. “To my mother, Gerrie,” I wrote. “for showing me it’s never too late to find your bliss.”

Happy Thursday.

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Heavy Hangs the Head: Interview with Taryn Hipp

09/18/13

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About six months ago, my friend Taryn emailed and asked if I could illustrate the cover of her book. Yes, she was writing a book, and it was coming out soon, and she wanted me to design the cover. Taryn and I met online back in 2008. She had sent me a friend request on Facebook. We had mutual friends. I didn’t know who she was, but randomly, I accepted her friendship. I turned out to be one of the best random decisions I’ve ever made.

For the past five years Taryn has inspired me endlessly. Early in our friendship, she seemed to be going through something huge, but I didn’t know exactly what it was at the time. When you only know someone on Facebook, and you know very little about them, you begin to piece together information that will give you a fuller picture of who they are. I knew Taryn worked at a record store. I knew we had similar taste in music. I knew she had a biting sense of humor, and a very soft side too. Taryn intrigued me. Her posts on social media were brave and revelatory. She was, I came to find out a couple years into our friendship, leaving her old life — a life of fear and addiction — and declaring a new life for herself, a life filled with love and promise, sobriety, school, hopes, dreams, and, eventually, this book. Over the years we’ve gotten to know each other better. Since 2008, Taryn has become a fixture in my life. I am continually inspired by her humanity and honesty.

So, back to Taryn’s book. It’s called Heavy Hangs the Head, and you can see the cover I designed above. I am quite proud of it, though it was all Taryn’s vision. The book is a memoir. It’s about Taryn’s journey from anxiety-ridden child to delinquent teenager to divorced alcoholic to who she is today. In her own words, “Heavy Hangs the Head is my journey towards learning to overcome the things that hold me back & accepting that sometimes, it’s ok to not move at all.”

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{Taryn celebrates the launch of her book.}

I eagerly read Heavy Hangs the Head when it came out and realized immediately I had to interview Taryn about the book. It is a brave, gritty and honest memoir. As with most books I read, I had to know more. (Incidentally, this is the first in a series of interviews I’m going to be launching on this blog with artists and writers I admire. Stay tuned for more interviews over the next few months.)

Lisa: I love the title of the book so much — Heavy Hangs the Head — where does it come from?

Taryn: It’s actually a line from the movie Cry-Baby. The main character is crying over being heartbroken & her grandmother says, “Heavy hangs the head that last night wore the crown.” During my drinking days I went to sleep the queen of the prom only to wake up feeling exactly the opposite.

Lisa: Heavy Hangs the Head (to me) was much more about your search for stable ground. loving relationships and meaning in your life as much as it was a story about getting sober. For example, you don’t talk too much about the process of getting sober and what that was like, but you do talk a lot about your relationships and how they shaped your life. Tell us about how you decided what aspects of your journey to write about?

Taryn: When I started working on the book my goal was to give a little “back story” of my life and then write about getting sober but as I began to write I realized that the “little” back story was a huge part of why I was even writing the book. Everything that has happened in my life led me to this place, the good and the bad. It took me a long time to see that. I try to live without regrets and I think that my search for stable ground, as you say, has been and continues to be the driving force in my life. But it’s not just stable ground really, it’s more the ability to remain stable when the ground shakes. Ya know? Before I got sober I couldn’t do that. I would begin to lose my footing and immediately turn to alcohol to self-medicate. When I was going through my divorce I had this hole inside of me that ached constantly and it was accompanied by this terrible voice in my head that just wouldn’t stop making me miserable. The alcohol was able to “fix” both of those things. Obviously, it was more of a paper towel duct taped on a wound than a bandage but the process of writing the book was my bandage and the healing process has been extraordinary.

Lisa: You’ve written a lot of zines but never before a book! And you wrote it relatively quickly. You worked with a small press called Sweet Candy Press. How did the relationship with Sweet Candy begin? What was the writing process like for you as a first-timer? How did you get yourself to sit down and write?

Taryn: I’ve known Sage from Sweet Candy for a long time because of zines. When I mentioned I wanted to possibly write a book she was like “Yes, do it and I’ll put it out”–just like that. It happened so fast. We’re both really into self-publishing and the Do-It-Yourself way of life so it was a new experience for both of us. I had no idea how to write a book so I actually went to the library and checked out a dozen or so books about the subject (none of which I actually ended up reading because it just became too overwhelming). I “took the summer off” from school, and writing the book became my job. I had a routine that involved my porch and a lot of coffee and a dedicated amount of hours per day to writing. But the subject matter was so intense and sometimes really triggering that it became difficult to stick to my routine. I would go days without working on the book, finding other things that were suddenly way more important. Eventually Sage would step in and give me these epic pep talks that really helped get me back on track. I have no idea what big publishers are like but I doubt they answer text messages in the middle of the night with words of encouragement like “You can do this. I believe in you.”

Lisa: The book is really raw and really comes through in your voice, as if we are reading your journal. Was there an editing process? If so, what was it like? Or did you want to stay as true as possible to your voice?

Taryn: I am a zine maker. I am the first person to tell you that. I don’t know how to write a book. I only know how I wrote my book. The editing process was basically me writing for hours at a time for days and then putting it in a Google Doc and asking my best friend or my boyfriend to read it and tell me if it made any sense. A few times I felt like maybe the story was getting off track and I asked friends to give me their opinion or tell me what they wanted to know after reading what I had written so far. I didn’t really give anyone a choice though, it was more like “Read this. Is it totally stupid?” So, I had help throughout the entire process. Once the book was “finished” there were a few people who went through it and we made changes together. I didn’t want it to be in anyone’s voice but my own. No one could tell my story the way I needed it to be told and that’s why it reads like a zine because that’s how I write.

Lisa: What did you learn from writing this book? About yourself or the writing process? Any motivation to write another? What are you working on now?

Taryn: I joked last year that I was learning to be “more brave” by stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things I wouldn’t normally do. I think this book was the final step in that journey. Not everyone will enjoy the book or even care about the book but it exists to show the world that I could do it. My life got all mixed up a few years back, and I truly didn’t think I could get through it. Like, I sometimes will stop myself from being in a bummer mood and just remember where I was four years ago. Writing this book has given me a lot of perspective and it has shown me that it’s okay to be an emotional person, to seek out help, to be vulnerable.

I’m always writing. I actually put out a new issue of my zine, Lady Teeth while working on the book. There is another issue of that in the works also and I’ve been writing a lot of short fiction that may turn into a collection. I had an idea to write stories based on the women in my life and it sort of grew from that. I’m also back in school now that the summer is over so that keeps me pretty busy. I didn’t start college until I was 31. It was never something I really even considered but I’m so glad I did because I really enjoy it. I also think the fact that I am a Psych major had a lot to do with me writing a book like Heavy Hangs the Head. I’ve been approached about speaking to high school kids about my experiences with drugs and alcohol which is not something I had ever considered but I am excited about.

Lisa: If you could summarize the 2-3 people and/or circumstances that turned your life around, what would you say?

Taryn: I spent a long time being very angry at the world and feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t understand why certain things happened to me, and I felt like the whole world was out to get me. Eventually I had to realize that I was self-sabotaging and making excuses. My life sucked because I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to make it not suck. So when I got arrested in 2010 for public drunkenness, that was a huge turning point for me. I began to heal and grow and gain perspective. My life has always been really special, I just never bothered to focus on anything but the negative which wasn’t just unfair to me but to the people who loved me. My book is dedicated to my sisters, Jennifer and Veronica and that’s because they have stood by and supported me through everything. They are the reason I am the woman I am today because they have loved me unconditionally, believed in me even when I didn’t, and never turned their back on me. That is something everyone deserves and once I realized that and embraced it, my life turned around and I started loving it.

You can purchase Heavy Hangs the Head here, where you can also check out & purchase Taryn’s awesome zine collection.

Happy Wednesday!

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Makeshift Society :: Brooklyn!

09/17/13

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A year ago this coming weekend, Makeshift Society San Francisco opened its doors. Makeshift Society is a community for creative freelancers and independent workers, started by my former business partner and dear friend, Rena Tom. Part co-working space and part clubhouse, people use Makeshift Society to work, take classes, attend events and collaborate on projects.. Makeshift–ever cozy and inviting–is one of my favorite places in San Francisco to work, socialize, learn, teach, meet up and make new friends.

The most exciting news is that Makeshift is opening its doors in Brooklyn, New York. New York friends: This is EXCITING NEWS FOR YOU!! To fund aspects of the endeavor, they’ve launched an ambitious Kickstarter Campaign. Despite being one of the largest, most jam-packed cities in America, New York City can still be a lonely place, and a logistically difficult one to navigate. Makeshift Brooklyn will provide freelancers a beautiful place to work, teach, learn and meet others. That’s exactly what Rena built in San Francisco, and what she and her team are building in Brooklyn.

By supporting the Kickstarter campaign can get you many amazing treats, including a tote bag designed by me (only 100 available!) or a Google Hang Out Session with me and my friend Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge (only 8 of those available!). Here’s a photo of my tote bag with Makeshift’s motto, “do what you love, make who you are”:

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Other prizes include a pennant by Lab Partners or a poster by Kate Bingaman Burt. CHECK THEM OUT. You don’t have to live in Brooklyn to participate. Anyone can donate money to the campaign and receive rewards. Want to learn more about what’s happening before you donate? Watch this cool video:

The funds they raise now will enable Rena and her team to create a space that’s not just functional and beautiful, but one that is a vibrant center for creative business in Brooklyn. Part of the funds raised in the campaign will help build a creative tool lending library for rental and onsite usage. A reference library of books and material samples, audio and video equipment for production and post-production, and art and design tools and supplies will help outfit the Clubhouse with shared, creative resources.

Support Makeshift Society Brooklyn.

Happy Tuesday!

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Sale :: Snowy Owl

09/13/13

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Snowy Owl, an original 11×14 inch shadowbox, made from vintage ephemera, pencil and gouache in 2011, is on sale for a limited time! Regularly $325, this piece is now $275 until Monday. Get it here.

Happy Friday!

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Creative Mornings

09/12/13

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Creative Mornings has an awesome new website! And on that website you will find a collection of many of the Creative Mornings videos from around the world! You may recall that I participated in the Creative Mornings Kickstarter campaign by donating artwork to fund this awesome website, and I’m so excited that it’s now available. Take a look at all the awesome videos here. Find the Creative Mornings closest to you right here.

In 2011 I gave a Creative Mornings talk, which you can watch here on the Creative Mornings site!

Enjoy & happy Thursday!

 

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On Beginner Mind

09/11/13

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You may recall (I’ve talked about it a few times here) that I am writing a book. That’s right, writing. When it’s finished, the book will have something like 30,000 words and seven chapters. The first time I announced that I was writing a book last April, I talked about how occasionally overwhelming and intimidating the writing process was for me. Six months later, the writing process is still occasionally overwhelming and intimidating. The final manuscript for my book is due in 10 days. I cannot believe I am nearly finished with the bulk of the writing (and tons of editing already), though much more editing will happen over the next couple of months. Even so, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The design process for the book has also started, which is so exciting. I am beginning to envision what the book will look like when it’s finished.  We are hiring brilliant illustrator whose work I admire so much. It’s going to be beautiful.

I have learned so much in writing this book, and the main thing I’ve learned is that there is a lot I don’t know, mostly about writing, and even about the topic of the book. It’s been humbling to work with editors for the past six months: they entrust you to write on a topic, and then when you turn it in, they tell you everything that you should change about what you’ve just written. The thing that has saved me from the depths of despair while writing this book (and the seemingly endless cycles of editing) is having a beginner mind. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, and a beginner mind means having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject,  just as a beginner in that subject would. From the beginning, I have worked hard to get my ego out of this process (easier said than done at times for sure) and to learn from my editors, who I have grown to respect tremendously (they are both so smart and so experienced). Instead of fighting over edits, suggestions and changes, I’m learning from my editors how to be a better writer and how to make a better book. Sure, there are times I fight to keep certain ideas in the book or have to make my case for this or that, but mostly I am getting out of the way and learning. Sometimes I feel like a sponge. Beginner mind has not only saved my sanity over the past six months, it’s also made me a better writer.

By the way, if you haven’t listened to Ira Glass’ talk on being a beginner, I highly recommend it. It’s so good.

And don’t worry, I’ll announce the topic of the book soon enough! I don’t meant to be a tease. Stay tuned.

Happy Wednesday.

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The Best Day Ever

09/10/13

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As many of you know, I got married to my partner of five years, Clay Lauren Walsh, on June 1, 2013. I’ve written about my engagement and marriage a lot already, so today I am simply going to share some of my favorite photos of the day. These beautiful pictures were taken by the amazing Bonnie Tsang. Clay’s suit was made by Duchess Clothier & my dress by Jigsaw London. I made my braided necklace (my own design) out of neon pink string I purchased at the hardware store. My sister Stephanie did our flowers, including my bouquet and Clay’s boutineer. I designed–and my friends helped me make–all of our decorations. Our wedding took place at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club. My cousin Robin officiated (in her rainbow stole, per my request). There were exactly 100 people in attendance, and almost everyone danced (and danced) the night away, including my 75 year old mother. It was the best day of my life.

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May everyone everywhere get to experience the joy of celebrating love in this way. There is nothing like it.

Happy Tuesday.

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Like Knows Like :: Dutch Vogue

09/06/13

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I was really excited when Dutch filmmakers Bas and Marije of Like Knows Like wrote to let me know that their documentary series was featured in Dutch Vogue this month. The feature includes photos of Jessica Hische and me (I’m the one holding the framed set of tiny photographs). We are two of the artists who they’ve profiled in their series of short documentaries. You can see the documentary about me below (which I previously wrote about here when it was released in January) and see links to all of their films here.


Happy, happy weekend!

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On Prioritizing Travel, Part 2

09/05/13

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{I have a thing for passport stamps}

A year ago today, I got up at the crack of dawn, went to SFO, boarded a plane and flew via Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland. For three weeks, I traveled by myself in Iceland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. It was a trip I had been dreaming about for many years. I’d long been obsessed with all things Nordic (the landscape, the design, the architecture, the folk pattern), and so going was almost surreal. For the first few days I felt like I was living in some alternate reality, pinching myself to see if I would suddenly wake up. The dream-like quality of my experience is a testament to the almost unreal beauty of the places I visited.

At the end of the adventure, I reflected about how moved I had been by the experience, both of traveling by myself and of traveling, period. I had caught the proverbial travel bug, and there would be no stopping me. Since then, I’ve been to Paris (this past July for my honeymoon), and I am already planning my next adventure–a year from now I’m heading to Portugal by myself for two weeks and then Clay will join me in Spain for another two. I’ve never been to either Portugal or Spain and I’m already giddy about the trip, which is a whole year away. I’d leave tomorrow if it were not for the need to sock away cash to make it happen. Saving money for travel has trumped even spending money on clothes or books (two of my greatest loves). I first wrote about prioritizing travel here.

I’m not sure at this point in my career I’ll be off to Europe or elsewhere abroad more than once a year unless I am lucky, but I do know that ever since I took that trip a year ago I’ve been filled with a new sense of adventure and wonder that follows me wherever I go–even to Oakland, where I just moved early this year or to Cleveland, where I traveled last month. There are beautiful sites, buildings, restaurants and shops everywhere, you just have to find them–and then, if you are like me, you take pictures of them.

Have a happy Thursday. The weekend is near.

 

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The Magic of Impermanence

09/04/13

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{Latest sketchbook entry}

It was Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who once said, “Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”  Many years ago, I had this quote taped above my desk at my job, and I’d sort of forgotten about it until recently. Last week it felt like everything was going wrong. Of course, I’m exaggerating here. Really, only one big thing was going wrong and maybe several small things. Maybe you are like this too, but even when my problems are relatively small, it is so easy to fall into the pit of everything is horrible and also if only things would go this other way instead and spending time planning how can I change my life so that nothing horrible ever happens to me again? 

Lately I have come back to the idea of impermanence as a source of comfort: that nothing, nothing ever stays the same. While there may have been a time in my life with the idea of change made me uncomfortable, it’s become the thing, of late, that helps me to breathe. When I’m stuck in a cycle of feeling upset about something, I remind myself, “This is not forever.” No feeling or situation, no matter how awful, lasts forever. Things shift and change, and most of the time, they work out just fine (remember this?).

When I reflect on impermanence, it also helps me to remember to stay engaged. It’s so easy for me to get caught up the in struggle, which leads to distraction, which sometimes leads to missing out on the good and beautiful stuff in my life. It’s not always easy, but this idea of remembering that every moment is special because it will never happen again helps me to enjoy the here and now more — even when (or especially when) I’m buried in work or angry because someone is being a jerk.

For the record, the stuff that I was fretting about last week? Yep, it all worked out. This week I’m on to new worries. Time to remember that they will pass, too.

Have a great Wednesday, friends.

 

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