Note to Self : Remember to Be Grateful + Minted Holiday Cards

This is a shot of my inspiration wall.


On it, you will find

  • the hat I wore to Texas Bowl where Arkansas decisively beat Texas at the Texas Bowl in Houston, where I was the passenger in a car for 10 hours one way while 6 months pregnant. Woo pig.
  • art from my friends Emily Jeffords and MJ of Good in Store.
  • my 2016 vision board I made with my friend Terra. Two weeks after I pasted those scissors onto that canvas I cut all my hair off.
  • the business cards of the wonderful Memphis-based artist Maggie Russell and the oh-so-talented Funlola Coker.
  • an out-take of the photo-booth I had set up for The Late Bloomer show.
  • a piece of Late Bloomer art as well as several abstract pieces that have not seen the world until today.

And tucked away, in the middle of it all, my family's holiday card for 2015.

It says "happy holidays" in beautiful rose gold script but really it should say, "happy everything. I'm so grateful for this crazy life."

I stuck it in the middle of all the art and inspiration as a reminder that life without those two guys in the picture with me isn't imaginable.

As I've said before, I was creative before I met my husband but I didn't become "a creative" with a blog until I started dating my husband. I made art before my son was born but I didn't become an artist until he came along

It's a holiday card - yes.
It was something that I was proud to send to friends and family scattered all over the country. It was something they most likely stuck on their fridge or have saved in some box that their kids will rifle through on a rainy day.

But it's more than a holiday card too.
It's a snapshot of my small family and our first thanksgiving as three.
It's the image I will measure all holiday cards against for the rest of my lifetime, perhaps.
And it's a reminder to be thankful for what I have, day after day after day.

As a part of The Hello Sessions, Minted offered the attendees a special offer for their holiday cards if they would write about their experience. I was wonderfully impressed with their service and product and would say so even if they weren't offering me a great deal.

p.s. I sent these as "Happy New Year!" cards because I was late getting them into the mail. Feel free to use that trick too if it seems too hard to make it to the post office before Christmas.

Note to Self : Your Friends are Smart. Listen to Them

The thing about friends

is they believe in you so when you tell them something awesome they are like, "Of course you are."


This exact thing happened when I shared with my friends that I had gotten my first illustration assignment. They were excited for me but there were no exclamation points. No expletives of celebration. No "That's amazing!" or "No way! I don't believe it!"

Just calm happiness.  

Confidently assured.  

"Of course you are. Congratulations." 

They knew I was capable of this thing all along, even if I wasn't sure of anything myself. 

Which brings me to the question:

What else do these people know? What else do I need to approach with the same confidence of my friends? 

The answer, I'm learning is: Lots.  

So starting today, I'm going to do my best to start listening to the smart people with whom I choose to surround myself. 

A Thank You Note : Postpartum Depression + Creativity

When my son was four months old I started a podcast. 

"Can motherhood and creativity coexist?" was the catchy sub-title. I set out to talk to the most creative moms I had access to and ask them how they made it happen. I would be able to talk about the business of creativity, the secret of productivity and learn how these smart women found time to do their creative work while being an awesome mom.


It was a project that felt very glamourous. I remember the feeling of seeing the icon I had designed pop up in the iTunes window the first time and felt a surge of pride and excitement that was invigorating. I quickly racked up a list of women who's title and accomplishments were, without doubt, impressive. I landed on the iTunes "New and Noteworthy" list and cheers went up throughout social media.

Backstage of all this glamor? Almost constant feelings of fear (for my son, for myself,for my marriage, for my extended family) as well as feelings of inadequacy and angst that were fueling this drive to create this show. I was a woman who not only worried about the loss of her creativity (which I showcased via the podcast) but, underneath it all, was also struggling to come to terms with the brevity and beauty, the seriousness and the sillyness of life.

As I explained in a recent Instagram post, I didn't "feel sad". Yes, I would find excuses to get out of my house around 5:30 every day because I didn't want my husband or mom to see me cry. But I blamed this on the upcoming night - Would I sleep? Would Sam sleep? Would my husband see me as a good mom? 

More than anything, I just felt like a mess.

I couldn't tell the difference between my son's "hungry cry" and his "wet cry"; wasn't this a skill all good moms' possessed? Yes, I took an inordinate number of pictures of my sweet child but other than that I didn't really know what to "do" with him; his disinterest in books as a newborn was infinitely disheartening. I took on the weird reality of being simultaneously bored (no interaction from the baby) but busy (because, except when he napped, he kept me busy).

So I became a closet work-a-holic.
"Closet" in the figurative "no one knows" sense and in the literal "I have a podcast space in my guest bedroom closet" sense. 

I recently read an article that stated, "Workaholism is a form of emotional self-estrangement," and I cried out in recognition. Having exhausted myself of asking hundreds of unanswerable questions during the first few months of my child's life (Is my son going to be smart? Is my son going to be successful? Is my son going to be a good human being? Is my son going to be healthy? What if he has a learning disorder? What if he has a life-threatening illness? What if he gets put in jail? *You know, the most negative thoughts I could possibly find.*), I was only too happy to disconnect from the weight of the unknown. Instead, I plunged into the inevitable consternation that comes from learning a new process from the beginning. And in that consternation I found bits of accomplishment, moments filled with an energy and light that continued to evade me in the seeming non-stop drudgery of newborn-ness.

Reading over this sounds like the most pitiful tale, doesn't it?

A new mom who doesn't enjoy her (according to the outside world) enviable position as a stay-at-home-mom so she gets lost in the lonely abyss of audio editing. (Because podcasting is 8 parts technical prowess, 1.5 parts logistics worked out through an endless stream of email, and .5 parts actaully talking to cool people.)

However, I have come to realize that the podcast was my own personal life vest. It was the thing that kept my head above water so I could continue swimming through what was a mentally and emotionally challenging period of my life. 

And now, thankfully, that high water has begun to recede.

There are still bad days: Nights where no one in the house is able to sleep or meals where hardly anything is consumed and everyone is cranky as a result. But the majority of this "bad" is in the moment. A temporary cloud in an otherwise sunny forecast. The existential angst and innumerable unanswerable questions? They're still there. Mostly because that's how I'm stitched up and will forever be working toward silencing. However, the volume of that negativity no longer pushes me to keep my mind and hands as busy as they were a few short months ago.

So this is a thank you note.

To all of the podcast guests who graciously said, "Yes." : Thank you for allowing me to take up your time and inbox space with a process and procedure I am still working to perfect. I wanted to talk to you because you have a strength and tenacity that I admire and hope to replicate.

To all of the listeners who choose to plug in those earbuds and press the play button : Thank you for giving me an external reason for working through the rough times.

And to myself : Thanks for fighting even when it felt like flailing.

I'm publishing this on Tuesday, May 24 and I hope to have a new episode up with Marissa Huber of Carve Out Time for Art this coming Memorial Day, Monday, May 31st. (The business / marketing side of my brain is screaming in protest right now because "every knows" that launching something on a holiday is stupid. But oh well.) I work best on public deadlines so there it is.

This is a first blog post

When I started blogging in 2011, I was a confused 20-something who, in the midst of juggling grad school and a long distance relationship with the man who would eventually be my husband, decided to start a blog*. 

*Not this blog, another one called Approaching Joy.

That blog had horrible photography, recipes that would make Martha Stewart mad (undercooked homemade poptarts anyone?), and absolutely no real direction. That blog came from the whisper of a young woman who had not yet learned the power of her own voice and the amazing energy that comes from following one's internal compass. That blog never garnered massive critical acclaim but through it I met some amazing people who I now consider some of my most dear friends. That first blog post, through the crazy winding road that is creativity, lead to this first blog post, the first of what I hope to be many blog posts as an artist and mom and lover of love and community and kindness and creativity.

Moral of the story: Do that thing you want to do. It could be the thing you look back on in five years and say, "I'm so glad I did that."