A New Perspective: What I am Grateful for This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I wanted to try something new, other than Tofurkey, because – ew.  Instead of paying homage to my family, friends, health, and inconvenient HMO plan, I have decided to reflect on what has been a central theme for my life this year: perspective.

As is typical in any given year, month, week, day, moment, we are in a constant state of change.  On a very superficial level, my life in January was remarkably different from my life now.  In the most obvious regards my living situation, job, and relationships have changed to a point I would not have surmised at the start of the calendar year.  However what has remained constant is my perspective on these changes which has afforded me ease and comfort.

When I was younger I wanted to grow up – I know, how terribly unremarkable.  I am not sure if it is because I turned 25 and there are no longer age based restrictions, (suck on that, car rentals), or if I simply just no longer want to grow up, but I have become very accustomed to the idea of appreciating the moment.  All of the adjustments that I have made this year have further reinforced these feelings.

When I left my apartment in May I could have lamented on all of the things that would never be the same.  Instead, I took a moment to appreciate that I had two years to enjoy the area in which I had lived and recognize that there will be things about my new location that I will one day miss when things inevitably change, again.

This practice continued yesterday as I went on a pre-turkey trot with my dad.  I remembered all of the times that he and I had trained together when I was living at home.  I loved those shared moments and going on a run was a good reminder of that time.  While I did succumb to a moment of nostalgia, I focused on how grateful I was that he and I had the opportunity to build memories in the past and could return to them by simply picking up on a tradition.

In an even larger scope, when I was making a decision to quit my past job I was paralyzed by the thought of “things never being the same.”  I had faced these feelings before when I quit previous jobs so it was slightly easier to overcome.  All the same on my last day I was revisited by familiar feelings and doubts as I said goodbyes to my colleagues with whom I had shared my life for the previous year and a half.  However leaving my jobs has helped me realize in a very obvious way that holding on to moments is not always the best way to appreciate them.

My job history, social history, and personal history are carried with me every day.  I could revert to a cliche and say that I am grateful for these moments because they have taken me to exactly where I am now, but I think this “I am grateful for” segment runs a bit deeper.  From my experiences, I am grateful yesterday and every day and I have been granted the perspective to appreciate moments.  This appreciation has helped me move forward to open myself up to new and amazing experiences.  Had I held tight to the fear of change, I could have missed out on enjoying my afternoon today, writing about these esoteric feelings in the crisp air with a warm cup of tea.  Am I exactly where I want to be?  I would say yes.  Because there are so many delicious moments about today that I may never get to experience again, so I want to enjoy them for exactly what they are.

And of course I must tie this in to a card!  It’s a day late and I am sure that the self-resentment from that third piece of pumpkin pie is starting to take hold, but I wanted to share this creation nonetheless.  Instead of a traditional feel, I wanted to portray how I view my Thanksgiving: a self-proclaimed foodie experience surrounded in the golden wishes of a happy and healthy day.  A touch of glittered whipped cream and golden, crisped crust, who couldn’t resist?

Advertisements

Custom Card Giveaway: Episode 1

You know those combinations that seemed so strange at first, but once combined become an outrageously amazing pairing?  Take Korean and Mexican Food.  There is not a single overlapping ingredient but then you fuse them together and bam! Korean Taco Trucks are scattered from Santa Monica to Downtown and we can’t get enough. So when my friend approached me about an idea for a custom card I was hesitant at first but inspired by the challenge.  Did you ever think that a motorcycle would be the focus for a “welcome baby” card?  Apparently Hallmark didn’t, and neither did I.  For some reason a death-defying vehicle and precious innocence aren’t immediate associations.  But I am so glad that she came to me with the request because I am really revved up on the results, (pun-ny).

I must admit, I struggled majorly with incorporating the two.  Not only could I not figure out an initial color scheme, (I bounced around between blues, greys, and purples), my limited knowledge of all things motorcycle proved to be a bit of a disadvantage.  Additionally, motorcycle motifs are not common in the crafting world, so I had to get creative.

Originally, when I was discussing the card with my friend she had four requirements/thoughts:

  • she is having a baby girl
  • her husband loves motorcycles
  • the card would be sent to the child’s future Godparents
  • she liked the idea of “girls can ride motorcycles, too”

From this I understood that she and her husband were about to have a kick ass baby and that a card with a bit of grit and a bit of softness would best suit the occasion.  1 part mechanical, 1 part whimsical, 1 part rustic, and 1 part “toddler’s in toyland,” this is my fusion of motorcycles and infancy:

 

IMG_5892
Your New Favorite Passenger (Front View)
IMG_5891
Your New Favorite Passenger (Side View)

 

From this project I got inspired for what I hope is to be my first running segment on the blog: Custom Card Giveaway.

Is there a special person in your life to whom you would love to send an even more special card?  Or are you really uninterested in picking up a greeting card for your boss’ nephew’s Bar Mitzvah?  Comment on this post and you could win a free, custom card!

Reply below: “Customize Me.”  A winner will be selected at random on Saturday morning and I will contact you privately to get the details for your one-of-a-kind card.  In two weeks your card will be sent to you, featured on the blog, and the drawing will begin anew.

I’m excited to transform your unique ideas into a card as rad as you!

 

An Exploration in Photo Light Boxes and a Reflection on Anxiety

Oof.  I’ve taken a big bite for my second post.

Today is my second day of no work all play.  Which, if you are wrought with bouts of anxiety like I am, means that the entirety of the morning was an arduous journey from the bed to the couch where every decision ever made was questioned to the point of insanity and accompanied by a loyal bowl of cereal.  Fortunately I have lived with anxiety my entire life and have become rather skilled in telling myself to shut the eff up.  It worked splendidly and I set off on the first of many projects I had set aside for “a time when I had time.”  The project in question today was a photo light box that I could use to take pictures of my greeting cards in a light, neutral space.

As reference, I reviewed a few different Pinterest pages for inspiration and successfully combined different techniques to suit the material I had available.  There was however a side-effect to the inspiration and the age old anxiety began to seep its way into my inner dialogue.  As I was building my light box I was running over the different ways I could present it on my blog, which evolved into a larger conversation about what my blog would be, which eventually stretched into a spitfire argument about what I am doing with my spare time and if I am making the correct decisions to be successful with any of my projects.  How sneaky for a simple project to illicit such deeply harbored feelings!

Returning to the present: aside from learning to how to stop the myriad of thoughts that tumble topsy-turvey through the grey matter in my mind I have also learned that crafting is a brilliant form of meditation for me.  While my hands navigated the box cutter and packaging tape I mentally referenced blog post number one: I am practicing living without judgement or structure.

Well played, self.  I have to give myself a large pat on the back for creating a fail-safe in this blog.  Isn’t that everyone’s favorite rule: there are no rules?  Frankly, it’s so not even close to my personal favorite, (because yes I have ranked the order in which I prefer rules), but it’s what I need to play by right now and I respect it.

Returning back to the photo box.

I decided that I did not feel inclined to present this project like a DIY, but that I would instead deliver a personal anecdote alongside the result, which is, I am sure, more than you bargained for when you began reading.

Photo light boxes are great for many reasons.  Not only are they apparently cathartic, but they turn even the dingiest of chachkies into a Etsy worthy treasure.  Take for example this before and after shot of two of my cards:

Photo taken on Kitchen Table
Photo taken on Kitchen Table

VERSUS

Photo taken in Light Box
Photo taken in Light BoxIMG_5868

Not only are the colors more authentic, the background has less noise and you are able to truly relish the brilliance that is this card.  For my light box I used a small cardboard box, vellum/translucent paper, and masking tape.  I also saw beautiful examples of people who used white foam and created collapsible and portable structures, but because the box I used came from Bloomingdales I no longer have the funds to buy excessive materials.

Here is what the box actually looks like:

IMG_5865

I had to do a bit of post-editing on the computer because the light source had too many cool tones and I wanted the warmth of the paper to come through.  While I need to do a bit of experimenting with different light and cameras, (this was shot with my iPhone 6), I think I am off to a good start!

For those of you that know my history of card making, I am notorious in my own right for making cards and never sending them.  Now that I have a way of documenting my work I will actually work on sending them after I make them… But it’s not too early to start abandoning 2016 resolutions, right?

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I am not quite sure how to identify this day: the beginning of a Millennial’s quest, the actualization of a quarter-life crisis, or perhaps, simply, Tuesday.  Whatever answer I land on, each is as invigorating and terrifying as the next.  For the past 25 years I have actively worked to achieve.  This overreaching notion guided my academic, professional, and personal choices and, as it has challenged and inspired me, I certainly do not regret always setting steps for tangible progress.  However I have made a decision that, starting today, instead of working towards achieving a goal I will work on myself.

Before I dive into this blog I thought it grounding to first reflect on what my path has been until this point.  For as long as I can remember I wanted to go to college.  Each morning from kindergarten onward I strove for academic excellence so that my future options would in no way be negatively affected.  The Honor Roll in Elementary School turned into Middle School panic attacks about getting grades that would allow me to secure a coveted parking space at UCLA as a lowly freshman, (true story), which turned into college-level high school classes.  The fruit of my labor materialized as an acceptance letter to my top choice school: UCSD.  The eighteen year quest had been achieved.  However much like lonely crusader I felt a strange confusion once I had reached my promised land – I had spent so long looking to get to college that once I was there I literally had no idea what I was doing.

As is common, I spent my first year of college changing from a fine arts major to a literature major before finally landing on a dance major.   While I am passionate about dance I was constantly saddened by a choice that I had made as a young adult not to pursue dance professionally.  I saw college as a second chance to try it again.  At a young age I had learned that being a dancer meant a complete devotion of your time; the resulting sacrifice would have been weakened relationships with my family and friends.  At that time, and still to this day, I was unwilling to make that commitment.  Even after deciding to pursue dance in college I realized for a second time that it was not the right choice for me, no matter how passionately I loved it.  Instead of changing majors I worked on graduating with my Bachelors while incurring as little debt as possible.  I finished college two terms early and finally had a new fixation: a career.  Because careers – it’s what you do after college.

Sometime during my Sophomore Year I had taken an interest in Hospitality and Event Planning.  With that notion in mind I took an entry level job at a hotel during a summer in San Diego and continued with a Front Desk Agent position in Malibu once I graduated.  My trajectory escalated quickly and with luck I was hired as an Event Manager at a restaurant for a year before taking my previous post as an Event Manager at a world-renowned hotel in Beverly Hills.  Typically people work as interns and assistants before reaching a management position but while no one was looking I bypassed those steps, plopped down, and pretended I had a decade’s worth of experience.  In a moment of true incredulity, I realized that the ploy paid off.  Not only was I in a management position, my sales and customer relations, (key components of my job), were stellar.  At one point I actually admitted to myself that I was good at my job and that it wasn’t all luck that had placed me in an esteemed position at a young age.

But as I have learned is quite typical in my personality, I soon realized that I was indeed NOT a career person.  Surprise!  Even once I came to terms with the fact that I was working as a method of survival and vanity instead of fulfillment, I reached down deeper and acknowledged that not only was I not looking to grow in a career but that I didn’t want to do what I was doing every day for the rest of my life.  Sure, I was making a good living, my resume was golden, I had benefits and health insurance, but I was committing 10+ hours each day to an office with no windows, incessant, bone-chilling air conditioning, and was not doing work that was really fulfilling. I was not inspired or challenged creatively, but I was content and secure. On top of the contentment, I relished in having a position with definition.  When people inevitably asked what I did I felt proud in revealing my position, as if my job was a testimony to my years spent in “achievement.”  My response, though, in no way invoked who I actually perceive myself to be: a creative spirit, a political activist, a thinker, an entrepreneur, a dancer.

When I could finally abandon my own vanity, (though it is certainly something that I accept and even enjoy about myself), I started to set aside savings and ultimately quit my job.  That glorious cacophony was yesterday.  Today I started with a part-time sales associate position at a craft and stationary store, dodged an entire melt down, and began this blog.  Quite a day.

In making this post public I also think it is important to acknowledge that I am acutely aware of the socioeconomic factors that allowed me to reach this point.  I consider myself fortunate and have an unending appreciation that I am in a position where I can comfortably take time off from earning a full-time living without deteriorating into crippling debt.  While this may not last forever, I wanted to take this risk to open myself to new opportunity and live more creatively. A change in my life will never happen unless I make it happen myself.

My intentions for this blog: As a hobby I have always made hand-made cards.  I want to begin to share my creations and inspirations, along with a personal anecdote here and there.  I am elated to share my journey and projects, whatever they may be, and wherever they may take me.  And if I end up back in an office with no windows and death-inducing air con?  Well, at least I will know I have taken time to offer the world a more authentic version of myself.  If that does not translate into a financial opportunity I will remain happy that I took this opportunity to explore the things that bring me joy.  In bringing myself joy, I hope that I can spread it in any little way that I can.

And on an optimistic, beautiful note, I leave you with this relevant thought penned by John Shedd and mastered by the hands of Joanna Reynolds:

Ship in the Harbor

http://sugarpaper.com/blogs/news/48956801-from-the-desk-of-joanna-reynolds: