I'd like to interrupt your productive work week with a bit of silly nonsense. Michelle kindly alerted me of the new Marcel the Shell video this week. I couldn't stop laughing, especially when Marcel says his favorite phrase is, "Life's a party, rock your body." I haven't had much time to design any wallpapers in a long while (too long), but the instant I heard this phrase I just knew it needed to be a wallpaper. This week, I've been working hard to finish up a lot of client projects, and I've been a little too wrapped up in the work. It's always nice to take a break and laugh.
I've been in a few conversations lately where I've been asked to describe what I do. Being asked that question made me reflect a bit on where I'm at after one year of being a freelance designer. In all honesty, the first year has just been about making it for me. I've been very focused on bring in enough work to justify to myself that I can go it on my own. I've felt quite lucky to receive the work that I have. It's made for a smooth transition from employee to self-employed. But lately, I've had an itch to push myself more creatively. I haven't exactly kept up with my goal of not waiting to do those things. So, I'm going to renew my goal for this next year of freelance to change things up a bit. I'd like to focus on producing more work—either for clients or for myself—that's creatively challenging. I'm sharing this goal here in hopes this will help keep me accountable. Seriously, can someone be my accountability partner? I could use all the help I can get. I'm starting things off with a wallpaper design that's a bit out of the ordinary for me. I'm dusting off the paint brushes and also am trying to incorporate more colors in my work. I've been a little too heavy with the black, grey and white lately. The sentiment in the wallpaper is from Anil Sinha, "The secret of change is to focus your energy not on past which has gone, but give new direction to your dreams." Anyone else feeling like they need to change things up and re-focus on what they're passionate about?
I used to have a skeptical dislike of Valentine's Day. Materialism, forced day of love when you should be loving one another all year, blah, blah, blah. But, now that I've been around a few years, I guess I've become more of sentimental sap. I kind of love it now. You won't see me with a bouquet of red roses or anything, but I do like the idea of taking a moment to appreciate what you can easily forget to take notice of throughout the year. This quote by Leo Buscaglia has been resonating with me,
"Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life."
It's a good reminder to me of what's important in life. I'm truly missing out on the richness of life if I'm not paying attention to the love right in front of my face. I don't just mean romantic love either; I also mean love for my God, son, family and friends. Recently, I've had my head down and have been spending almost every free moment I have working. It's made me feel pretty selfish with my time and my attention. This post is sort of a stake in the ground to help get me looking outward as to what I can do for others rather than focusing so much inward as I have been.
Also, happy love day to you (if you choose to celebrate, that is). In effort to give back—in a rather small way, admittedly—I've designed a desktop wallpaper for your computer that's available as a free download in case you enjoy the wise words above. Download the Love is Life wallpaper here. It's rather large, so it should easily size to fit any screen.
And, because I really need another inspirational quote in my life (please note the sarcasm), I recently purchased this Oh My Dear print for my office that I'm working on re-doing. I got it to be a reminder that creativity isn't just sitting in front of a screen or drawing in a sketch pad. It can be in how you love as well. Speaking of, I should probably remove myself from this computer and go wrap up another Valentine's gift. I've got a whole series of puns to write for today. What a lucky guy.
Back in December, this Wise Words post was practically written in my head. My mantra was going to be something along the lines of the saying about working smarter not harder. I planned to dedicate 2014 to putting systems in place, fine tuning my processes and investing in technology that would make my design business run more efficiently. I'd be working the same amount of time, but faster and more focused. And then, God smiled and threw a wrench in the plans that I had made for 2014.
All in a matter of a few weeks I found out I'd be the regular senior writer/contributor for the blog of an online paper company, I'd be contributing some DIY/party posts for another blog and I'd be producing commercial shoots again for a substantial client that could potentially be twice as much work as it was in 2013. Whew. I am incredibly excited about all these possibilities. However, I quickly have realized, there's no way around it: I will most definitely be working harder (and hopefully smarter) in 2014.
All this forced me to rethink my goals for 2014. I put off this post until I was scrolling through my Bloglovin feed the other day and saw a few Swiss Miss posts that caught my eye. Navigating Stuckness and Don't Wait are peppered with some words of wisdom that got me thinking. So, my revised goal for 2014 is summed up by this quote from Jonathan Harris:
"In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately."
With the work I have lined up already, I want to make sure that I'm not losing my own creative pursuits. My goal for 2014 is to continue creating for myself through this blog and doing client work that I'm proud to put in my portfolio. I'm focusing on creating my own design destiny of sorts. I hope that by producing my own work here, people will then seek me out for the very work I enjoy doing most. I want to do more work for independent makers, small businesses and clients that appreciate and get what good design can do.
What exactly does that mean? It means fewer, but more well-thought out and well-crafted posts. It means making every post I do a design, illustration or photography exercise that is challenging to me and scrapping planned posts that aren't. It means refreshing my branding and narrowing my portfolio to best express the type of work I hope to do. This also means more content creation here through DIYs, photoshoots and also introducing a business-related column.
It's a goal that's both incredibly intimidating and intriguing to me. Does anyone else have a goal for 2014 that both scares and delights them?
I'm pretty much madly in love with this time of the year. There is snow outside my window, warm coffee next to me and holiday music playing in the background. Twinkling lights, cookies, peppermint everything, sentimental feelings, family. Shall I go on?
As much as I love it, I get caught up in the madness. I've been thinking a bit too much about the Christmas cards that still aren't done (or designed-yikes), the presents I still haven't purchased, the decorations that still aren't up. I just can't ever do it all. And, that dulls my holiday glimmer.
If I can only remember these wise words by Thích Nhat Hanh:
"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it."
I hope to pause and recognize the joyful moment in front of me instead of thinking about what's next on my never-ending to-do list. This is a pretty common theme in my life, but a lesson I need to continuously be reminded of. There's so much joy in this season, if only I can stop long enough to see it.
I am up working on a post about sleep because I can't sleep. Cue the irony! I've always slept like a rock, much to the dismay of my husband and mother. My mind even incorporates my alarm into a dream so I don't realize it's the actual alarm going of. That is, until recently. I'm not sure why, but I'm having trouble going and staying asleep.
Part of working freelance is that business and personal blend almost too well. I find my mind brainstorming about an invitation or logo design when I lay my head down on the pillow at night. In addition, if I wake up in the middle of the night, my mind is automatically racing with ideas or my to-do list for the next day, and I end up being wide awake. That's why this quote, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is resonating with me right now:
"Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two."
So, this month, I'm going to make some efforts to hopefully get some better rest. Some actions I'm considering are: putting the phone away mid evening, drinking less caffeine, spending some time reading before bed, going to sleep early and rising early. Does anyone have any tricks for getting to sleep or going back to sleep?
Recently, I've had to make some excuses that I've had regrets about. I sent an email response in which I linked to my current online portfolio, linked to a blog post and attached pdf portfolio of work not yet uploaded. Hello, confusion. My portfolio and site still aren't finished, after a full year people! Each time I start to make progress, I inevitably have client work or life gets in the way. I'm not complaining about that, let's be clear. I love having work to do for clients, and I also love my personal and family time. However, there have been more than a few nights I've chosen to be an amoeba on the couch instead of putting in the hard work and additional hours to get my own identity work finished up.
My goal for September is to squash that regret. With fall starting back up, I've gotten in a back-to-school mode where it feels like it's time to put my head down and get some major work done. Is anyone else in this mode right now as well? Hopefully, with some major dedication, I'll be mostly regret-free come October. And, I hope you hold me accountable. Please, ask me later how my portfolio is coming along. I could use some tough love! Now excuse me while I get off the internets and into some branding work.
I hiked my first fourteener mountain in Colorado a few years ago. When we started at the base I made the mistake of looking up at the massive mountain towering above me. I immediately got overwhelmed and started doubting that I could never make it to the top, or even close to the top. Likewise, intimidation has recently been doing circles around my heart. It's easy for me to look at a beautiful blog, stellar design portfolio or successful small business and get discouraged that my work isn't yet to that level. I have design work in progress, finished work not yet photographed, posts still in draft mode and creative ideas unrealized. Even after I put up a post or project on my site, I sometimes worry it's not good enough. The photograph is too grainy or I've said something silly. When you're new at something, it's so easy to look to the people that are already established in your area and think you'll never add up.
However, I've been reminded lately that we all start somewhere. Even those on top of the mountain once were at the base. That's been sticking with me. The best bloggers or designers or small business owners probably didn't start out making the most beautiful posts, photos, sites or projects. I even cringe a little when I think back to my very first post, and that was a little over a year ago. I can't imagine what I'll think of this post a year from now. When I see a successful site or business it's easy to forget that that person started from the beginning as well and it most likely took years of hard work to get to where they are today.
If I think back, where I am today looks completely different from the style and type of design I was doing when I started. My first internship was unpaid and required me to drive 45 minutes away to a tiny town where I designed and placed ads for a small, regional magazine. It was not glamorous work. My first actual design job was working the night shift until 2am at the local newspaper designing tiny black and white ads. I hope I never have to touch another car lot sales ad again! Also, obviously not glamorous. I have not necessarily arrived in my career, but I'm (mostly) happy and comfortable with who I have become as a freelance designer.
We made it up that mountain. It took us almost 12 hours up and down. We made wrong turns, climbed over endless boulders, reached the summit later than we should have and ran out of water. But, we made it. It was a slow path that we took step by step. When I remember to take things day by day and not compare myself to others, I fare far better. There will be missteps and mistakes, but that's how we all move forward.
*I wish this quote was more gender inclusive for the ladies, but I like the sentiment too much not to share.
Previous Words: July
I have a confession: I'm that girl on Pinterest. You know, the one who pins just about every inspirational quote she can get her mouse over? Yep, guilty. In an effort of self-betterment and also as a design exercise, I've decided to take one particular quote I find that resonates and make it my motto for the month. So, this is the first in a new monthly series called Wise Words. For the first installment, I've been thinking a lot recently about simply having fun. Maybe it's the warm weather, or the fact that I'm finally coming out from under the total life domination of having a young baby, but I've been itching to get out and enjoy the beautiful life that I've been blessed by God with. Sometimes I get so caught up in adult responsibilities like working and mothering and organizing and cleaning and cooking that I leave so little time to celebrate. I say no to anything that wasn't on my to-do list to check off. I've been spending a lot of time lately with one of my closest and lifelong friends, Michelle (who has a lovely mom/life blog you should check out), remedying that. For this month, I am saying yes. Yes to soaking up the summer with sun, pool time, walks, baby dates, a few parties and friend get-togethers. Bring it on, summertime.