november-2015

For the last year and a half I’ve been doing detailed “Life Right Now” posts outlining the happenings of each month. While I like that I have a record of those times and a place to put random things I’d like to share, lately, that super structured format has become too much. It has become a burden to make the time to sit down and do it and they end up getting done later and later into the next month each time. The last thing I need is another (insignificant) thing on my to-do list. In an effort to only keep things in my life that bring me joy while still sharing (with less pressure), I thought I’d skip the format and just chat with you about the happenings of November. (read more about past months in the links at the bottom).

The weather in New Orleans has been so crazy this Fall (and I think in many other places too). It has just been so warm! Usually October is an absolutely gorgeous month here with perfect 60/70 degree weather, but this year it was still hot and Summer-y (with temps consistently in the 80s). November cooled down slightly, but it has still been pretty balmy (which I’m not complaining about, November and into December has had awesome weather!). As it gets closer to Christmas (yes, I’m writing this in mid-December), it seems a little odd. But who can complain about amazing weather!? I’m still loving my new leather booties, even though I haven’t gotten to wear them a lot.

November was a super busy month at work preparing publications for the Advent season. Because of this, I was pretty exhausted by the end of the work day (although, let’s be honest, when am I not exhausted at the end of a work day?). I didn’t blog at all (except for my October recap) and stepped back slightly on social media. I also got a cold and was not feeling well for a week or two. Drew and I both got sick, but we did enjoy drinking tea together out of my handmade mugs! (photo above). I’ve been taking ceramics again (it’s more of an open studio time, there is no class instruction) once a week in Oct, Nov, and Dec, so I’ve enjoyed making more wheel-thrown mugs and bowls and such. It is so awesome to use something you’ve made for a practical purpose. I love painting, but the practical use of ceramics (and quilting) has me hooked. I also finished up the last bit of patchwork on my value quilt top (see it here). I wanted to quilt and bind it as well and have it ready by Thanksgiving (to travel in the car with it), but the fabric I wanted for the backing was out of print and wasn’t stocked online anywhere. I ended up tracking down a retailer in a shop outside Nashville that found it at a warehouse for me. That process took a while and I didn’t get it in until the day we were leaving to travel to visit family for Thanksgiving! So that is on the to-do for December (spoiler! I quilted it the second weekend in December and I’m waiting on my binding fabric to arrive any day now!). I also started planning ideas for another quilt, but I think I’ll wait a little while before I start another quilting project. I bought/ordered/made almost all of my Christmas gifts in November, as well as taking our Christmas card pics, designing and ordering our cards, and putting up most of our Christmas decorations, including some hand painted abstract ornaments I made this month. It was so nice going into December with most of that done!

The past few months (well, always really) I’ve been thinking a lot about my future as a surface pattern/textile designer and exploring ways to make that happen and to expand in that area, and exactly what it is that I want to do next in life. I’ve been working on some things and I can’t wait to see where I end up in 2016! (more on my goals for 2016 coming soon!)

November had many reasons to celebrate, including my friend Emma’s engagement party, a Friends-giving potluck with our 20/30s church group, and of course, Thanksgiving back in Illinois with our families. We brought a GF version of Cheesy Potato Casserole (or Texas Potatoes that my mom made growing up) to our Friends-giving, and it was the first time I’d had anything like it in years! I’m working on perfecting the recipe and when I do I’ll share it here. This month we’ve also made more everything cookies, a GF sawdust pie (my fave!!), homemade hummus, and we are loving making rice in our new rice maker (an upgrade that was LONG overdue!). While traveling for Thanksgiving, we were able to test run our new backpacks (mine, Drew’s) for our Europe trip next year (with packing cubes, a new smaller toiletry bag, and GoTubbs). We also booked our flights on Thanksgiving evening while everyone was Black Friday shopping! (YAY!!) I took advantage of Black Friday deals online to buy this Madewell bag (in the English saddle color with a gold monogram) I’ve been eyeing for a long time (Merry Christmas to me!)!

I’ve had my BKR bottle for over a year now, and use it daily (I seriously take it everywhere with me). While I love it and love drinking out of glass, I’ve had some issues with the cap and lately it has started to leak slightly. It isn’t a huge deal if I’m carrying it around the house or it is sitting at my desk at work, but I don’t want it leaking out in my bag while I’m on the go. I’ve been considering getting this S’well bottle. It seems more lightweight for traveling and is supposed to keep things cold for 24 hours and hot for 12! Anyone use one and love it?

Random, I know, but that’s what I’ve been up to this month. What about you?

Past Life Right Now posts:

October 2015 September 2015 | August 2015
 July 2015June 2015May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

october-2015

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING (finishing up) my second quilt, a value quilt full of fabrics from my stash (see photo below).
COOKING lots of tortilla soup and baking cookies – these everything cookies I hadn’t made in forever and classic no-bakes.
DRINKING a handmade (by me! see photo above) ceramic mug half full of boiling water with a heaping spoonful of honey and a couple drops of lemon essential oil. I drink this every morning!
READING Young House Love’s second book, Lovable Livable Home and stories from my grandpa’s first book
WANTING to enjoy some nice, cooler weather. October is usually a lovely month in New Orleans with near perfect weather, but this October has been a long extension of summer weather and full of rainy weekends.
PLAYING Adele’s Hello. Who isn’t playing this song right now?
SEWING the final bit of my value quilt top. Loving the way it is turning out! I’ve finally mastered getting those squares to line up correctly!
CROCHETING not much this month. I started working on my grey throw blanket again last month after forgetting about it for nearly a year, but I didn’t do much more on it this month. I’m sure as the holidays approach I will get back into a crocheting mood again. Happens every year! 
WISHING for a wonderful holiday season ahead. I’ve already started working on Christmas presents.

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ENJOYING wheel throwing ceramics again! I started back up at the studio I went to this past spring. I’ve been perfecting my mug making! (see photo above)
WAITING for over a year before finally getting a haircut! (eek, I hate getting haircuts, it seems like I’ve had a lifetime of bad experiences with hairdressers.)
LIKING actually seeing people wear my designs! Check out the fabric I designed for my niece’s homecoming dress, here.
WONDERING why all the headaches I was getting the past few months suddenly went away. I’m definitely not complaining, but it is so odd! I wish I knew more about what was causing them.
LOVING all the time we’ve spent lately with our group of church friends — lunch after church, bowling, our bi-weekly PINTS group, and the annual pumpkin carving party. Also enjoyed spending time with the women of the church again at Simple Elegance this year.
HOPING that my attempts to do the quilting and binding on my next quilt turn out well!
MARVELING at how beautiful my first quilt turned out and how Violet loves to snuggle up under it!
NEEDING to get back into a routine of reading every night before bed.
LEARNING a lot about surface pattern design over the last year. October marks one year since I took my first online course on designing patterns!
SMELLING clean laundry! I have really sensitive skin and it has been bothering me a lot lately. In an attempt to help it, I bought Seventh Generation phosphate-free laundry detergent for sensitive skin and re-washed nearly my entire closet. It seems to have helped a little bit. 

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WEARING my new leather booties that I’ve been admiring for a while. I’m still getting used to the whole “roll your pants up with them” thing, but they are comfy and will keep my feet warm as the weather gets cooler.
FOLLOWING my creative journey over the last few years as I talk about what quatrefoils mean to me, here.
NOTICING how nice it is to have my husband back home after all the trips he’s taken recently. He was in Austin for a work conference for a week in September and went back to San Diego to visit his brother for a week over his Fall break in October.
KNOWING that we have some exciting travel plans in the works for next year! So excited for new adventures!
THINKING about the changes I want to make in our living room on my Living Room Design Plan. We’ll have to wait a little longer on getting a new rug and sectional, but I did order a black and white buffalo check pillow!
BOOKMARKING this. It is how I feel about my closet, my life, and letting things go. “It will forever be therapeutic for me to give things away. I’m not sentimental in the way that I feel the loss as a great expanse, a missing piece. It feels instead like making space for something else, for something new, for something that closely resembles acceptance.”
CELEBRATING Drew and I’s 8 year dativersary this month! Also celebrating Violet being a part of our family for 1 year!
OPENING this new backpack for traveling, this new natural deodorant (that I love!), trying this out (not so well so far!), and finally caved and bought a new food processor (our old was was tiny and we were burning it up trying to make hummus) and a new rice maker (our old one was flaking the non-stick coating off into the rice, yuck!). 
LAUGHING at this cat, always, and Drew in his hand-painted avocado costume I made him for Halloween. 
FEELING grateful for how much I’ve progressed in my life, creativity, thoughts, ideas, mind-set, etc. over the last few years.

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Past Life Right Now posts:

September 2015 | August 2015
 July 2015June 2015May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

quatrefoil necklaces with cwr logo1

Many of you who know me well, might have found yourselves asking, “what’s up with the quatrefoil?” in reference to both my floral quatrefoil logo and the little quatrefoil necklace(s) I wear all the time. (I have quatrefoil bedding as well, in case you were curious).

Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is a long one and is deeply tied into my creative story.

The quatrefoil symbol has been around quite a long time, most traditionally used in ancient church architecture. It is thought to have originated in ancient textile design. Some people think it means luck, like a 4-leaf clover, some say it is a version of the Greek cross and represents the four gospels in the Bible. It really could represent anything in fours – the four seasons, the four cardinal directions on a compass, the four elements, etc. I love the history in all of that, but for me the meaning is a little more complicated.

If I had to give you the shortest answer, I would say that, to me, it means that no matter the season, or the direction I would like to go, God has a plan for my life. I also really love the historical context, that it is tied to my art background, and that it is a version of a flower (I grew up in the country). I also just think it is a really pretty symbol.

Here is the longer story: (warning: lots of text and no pictures)

It’s no secret, if you’ve been around here for a while, that my college years were a rough time for me in many ways. I had health issues and was often sick (undiagnosed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, and gluten intolerance), had extremely low energy (undiagnosed thyroid issues and general lack of sleep), missed my once close-knit family (that was beginning to fall apart), missed the country, and in general having a home and a place that felt settled and safe. Along with that, I struggled with figuring out what to do with my life, what to study, and what path to take to the career I wanted (along with the general stress of tough college courses and a heavy workload).

I’ve always been a creative person and I’ve loved art since I was really little. I would paint with watercolors at my Grandmother’s kitchen table for hours as a pre-schooler. In elementary school, my mom taught me to sew and embroider, knit and crochet. In middle school, I became interested in photography and digital design in Photoshop (it wasn’t until college that I learned Adobe InDesign or Illustrator). In high school, I was on the Publications team creating layout and ads for the yearbook, involved in designing and sewing costumes for school plays and musicals, and organized my school’s Fashion Show every year. But my small town background made me naive to the creative careers possible for me. I thought that the only way to work in the world of art was to be a painter or a photographer– selling your work on the street, at festivals, or online.

So when it came time to go to college, I began majoring in English, with the intention of becoming a teacher, just like my grandparents both were, and just like the majority of people I’d known in my life up to that point. While I enjoyed the way that my English classes made me think, analyze, and find deeper meaning, I didn’t feel like English nor teaching English were my true passions.

It wasn’t until part of the way through my freshman year of college that I heard the term “graphic designer.” I was on a field trip with my TIDES class (a required Tulane course in your choice of subject area to orient you to the unique culture of New Orleans). The TIDES course that I had chosen was called “Design It Yourself NOLA” and we spent our time learning about New Orleans architecture, graffiti culture, Katrina and the geography and history of the city, touring green-build houses, visiting a warehouse of Mardi Gras parade floats and learning how they were made, beading Mardi Gras Indian costumes, and going to Creole Creamery to learn how their ice cream was made. But the most influential stop, to me, was the day we toured a local art gallery and print/publications house. We met with a graphic designer who showed us the digital page layouts for a book she was designing about how to navigate a major city disaster like Katrina. I was amazed. Something that combined my love of art and English into one marketable and needed skill? Sign me up!

I went home and immediately started researching graphic designers. Why hadn’t I ever heard this word before or thought about something like this as a career? I did small graphic design projects for myself already (in Photoshop and Publisher, oy!). The more research I did, the more sure I felt that designing is what I needed to do with my life. The bad part came when I realized that Tulane, the University that I was already attending, didn’t have a graphic design program. I met with my (terrible) guidance counselor (who basically told me I shouldn’t have come to Tulane and should have gone to a trade school). She pointed me towards the art department and they directed me to the printmaking department. But I didn’t want to make books by hand, I wanted to design them digitally.

Through a long string of events, and many stressful nights and long cries, I did sign up for the first class in the string of art courses required for a major — beginning drawing. I was so confused as to what to do with my life, but seeing as I was already in college, I didn’t have a lot of time to figure it out. God was looking down on me though, and blessed me with the most amazing art professor and I was amazed at my progress from beginning to end in Drawing 105. So much so, that I started to wonder if I wasn’t in the right place after all and signed up for the next drawing class, along with a painting class, and an art history class. (and then printmaking, and ceramics, and more painting, and more drawing, etc…)

This story is taking a long time to get to quatrefoils, huh? I told you it was a long story.

I didn’t give up on my graphic design dream. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I did an internship with a small graphic design and printing company in my hometown. There I learned the very basics of Adobe InDesign and I started to begin familiarizing myself with Adobe Illustrator (but didn’t really get proficient at that until after college). I also became familiar with various printing processes — preparing files for print, screen printing, vinyl cutting, etc. I initially thought that I would like to work in the book/magazine publishing industry designing book or magazine layouts, and I was thrilled that this internship was getting me one step closer to that! However, that same summer, while living back at home, reading my mom’s Country Living magazines, I stumbled across an article on Anna Maria Horner and her career in fabric design. It was another lightbulb moment! I had grown up sewing and collecting fabric, I loved painting and art, but I also loved digital design. Did I really want to design book layouts or did I want to design FABRIC! Fabric, of course! This opened a whole new world of possibilities to me (read more about AMH and that article here).

The next semester at school, I took my first art history class (a beginning survey course) and fell in love with the history of art, particularly the design motifs in ancient church architecture. (SPOILER ALERT: THE QUATREFOIL!) On my class notes I would draw quatrefoils and trefoils, gothic arches, and rose windows. I dreamed of using my art skills and budding design skills to become a fabric designer and design patterns inspired by art history.

Fast forward through more school, more English classes, more art classes, more stress, and low energy. The final project for the first painting course I took at Tulane was two combine two objects — one that represented your past and one that represented your future. I could go into further detail about why I chose what I chose, but in the air of brevity, I’ll just tell you that I picked an antique watering can full of impatiens to represent my past and in the background I painted a turquoise and mint quatrefoil pattern to look like fabric to represent my future (you can see and read more about that painting here).

Fast forward even further — past the rest of my English and art classes, past starting my blog and following the blogs of my favorite designers, past my wedding, past opening a web and graphic design business with my husband, past diagnosis of my thyroid and gluten intolerance — to the summer after college graduation. What am I going to do with my life?! What is my next step? Where do I go from here??? With a degree in English and Studio Art (concentration in Painting) and a plethora of self-taught design skills, there were a lot of ways I could take my career. I (obviously) wanted to be a fabric designer (more largely a surface pattern designer), but I didn’t yet know how to make repeatable patterns or where to even start to get into that industry. I looked into going back to school for textile design, even started touring schools, but that was too expensive with my husband already having so many student loans (and I really wasn’t mentally ready to dive into more school just yet). I started to focus on finding a job within my skill-set to help pay the bills while I spent my free time figuring out how to design patterns and studying the industry. I didn’t know what that job would be, but I prayed and asked God to lead me to wherever I was supposed to go next. The end of that summer, I got a call from the Director of Administration at a church in New Orleans that was looking for a Web and Publications Coordinator. He had seen my resume online and said that with my English, art, and graphic design background, I seemed like the perfect candidate. A week or so later, I started working there, without having even applied for the job. Guess what the church logo is? A quatrefoil. I guess the painting about my future was right, even if it wasn’t in fabric.

After I’d worked at the church for a few months, I came across a little quatrefoil necklace on Etsy (pictured above). The quatrefoil charm was the exact same color of turquoise as the quatrefoil fabric I’d painted in that art class painting. Again, well before I knew it, God knew what would be in my future, even if it wasn’t exactly the way I’d envisioned it. I bought that necklace (actually Drew bought it for me for Christmas that year) and I wore it nearly every day until it started to look a little ragged and I replaced it with a little gold version (I also have a pearl one).

Now I know how to design repeatable patterns and I understand a lot more about how the fabric manufacturing industry works. I’m still working towards that fabric design dream. But to me — the little quatrefoil (and my floral quatrefoil logo) serve as a reminder of my story – that all those parts (that I didn’t understand at the time) had a purpose and were leading me where I needed to go. God will provide. I can make plans (four directions) and want them to happen when I want (four seasons), but God is directing my steps and will lead me where he sees my future. He’ll also lead me through tough times and deliver me from distress (Psalm 23).

On a side note, I designed a more floral quatrefoil for my personal logo, as a way to combine the quatrefoil with a flower, a symbol of my country upbringing and love of nature.

I hope this has fully answered all of your questions about my obsession with quatrefoils. 🙂

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

september-2015

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING my second quilt, a value quilt, filled with bits of fabrics I’ve been collecting for years. Can’t wait to see this one finished!
COOKING the first pot roast of the season!
DRINKING a mug half full of boiling water with a heaping spoonful of honey and a couple drops of lemon essential oil. I drink this every morning!
READING (finishing up) Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community by Rachel May (love this book). I finished Heather Ross’s How to Catch a Frog (I read most of it aloud to Drew on our drive back from Austin over Labor Day weekend). I also read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton last week. Great read! I just bought Young House Love’s second book, Lovable Livable Home, that came out this month. Can’t wait to read it and see the updates in their house!

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WANTING to relax and enjoy the Fall season. My favorite time of year! (if only work wasn’t so stressful around now!)
PLAYING records on the record player every morning as I do my stretches and drink my honey/lemon water.  
SEWING half square triangles for my second patchwork quilt!
CROCHETING the throw I started nearly a year ago! Finally after months of forgetting about it, I got it back out and worked quite a bit on it this month. I took it along on our drive to Austin and crocheted until I ran out of yarn (forgot to bring more with me!). I don’t think I’ll finish it anytime soon, but it has been nice to get it out and work on it again. 
WISHING for lovely fall days ahead! We’ve started to get a taste of some cool breezes. Can’t wait for lovely October weather!

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ENJOYING our trip to Austin, TX over Labor Day weekend. I’d wanted to go for a while and since I had Labor Day off work, it was my last chance this year for a weekend trip! We enjoyed the shops full of arts and crafts from local artisans, Barton Springs pool and the views from Mt. Bonnell (both pictured above), eating lots of tacos and GF food, and enjoyed IKEA in Houston on the way back and a lovely crepe restaurant. Drew then went back a couple of weeks later for a work conference.
WAITING to see what the finished product looks like with this lovely satin fabric I designed! More on that soon!
LIKING this pattern I made! Here it is in a few more colorways (pictured below as well). It even got framed in four colorways for my church’s annual September Arts Spectacle.
WONDERING why I’ve been feeling so off lately! I’ve been getting so many headaches the last few months. I’ve also had some sinus pressure and drainage, so maybe I’m developing seasonal allergies? I hope not!
LOVING that our bedroom is finally making some progress! Found new nightstands this month for just $30 (for both!) on Craigslist.

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HOPING to finish up a few more projects this year that align with my yearly goals.
MARVELING at how beautiful my first quilt turned out! I got it back from the quilter last week and it looks awesome! It is so lovely to snuggle up on the couch with something you made!
NEEDING a nap! No matter how much sleep I get I’m always tired! A side effect of having thyroid problems. 🙁
LEARNING about setting Values Based Intentions from Jess Lively.
SMELLING clean laundry!

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WEARING lots of black. My wardrobe has definitely grown up (color-wise especially) in the last few years.
FOLLOWING the pattern these raindrops made in that puddle.
NOTICING how much nicer the front of our apartment looks now that I cleaned off our stoop (threw all the unruly plants away). I need to trim up the rosebushes I planted a few years ago. They are taller than me!
KNOWING how special this pattern of mine is with my Mamaw’s “I love you” handwriting (pictured above).
THINKING about how nice it is to get into a rhythm of sketching/creating daily. Made this pattern and this pattern this month (among others), both from sketches out of my sketchbook.

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BOOKMARKING all my favorite TV shows. So happy to have Castle back!
CELEBRATING 5 years of blogging and 2 years working at my current job!
OPENING a new swimsuit (ASOS’s fuller bust collection and high waisted bottoms for the win!) and an electric heating pad for my neck and shoulders.
LAUGHING at this silly boy. 🙂 
FEELING grateful for this sweet little kitty that naps under the covers. 🙂

Past Life Right Now posts:
August 2015July 2015June 2015May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

august-2015

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING quilts! I finished piecing the top of my paper airplanes quilt that I started at the Cotton and Steel Craft South Workshop (see photos of the process here, here, here, and here.) I sent it off to a long-arm quilter to quilt and finish it off. I’ve already started on my next quilt, a value quilt! I’m so excited to use some of the fabrics I’ve been collecting for years! (see the fabrics here, here, and here.) I plan on attempting to quilt this one myself!
COOKING lots of homemade GF margherita pizza. Seriously, we’ve made 8 homemade pizzas this month. Working on perfecting a crust recipe!
DRINKING lemon green tea with honey every morning out of my favorite mug that I made in my ceramics class last spring.
READING several quilting books. For Christmas last year, my dad got me several quilting books I’d been eyeing. I’ve read all but part of the last one this month! Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community by Rachel May has been a really great read! It highlights many big quilters in the modern quilt world, talks about their processes, gives history of the modern quilting tradition (with nods to the art quilting and traditional quilting worlds), and has been really inspiring. I love that it talks about quilting like the art form that it is. My painting work in college had a big nod to the quilting industry and I was really inspired by that while reading. I wish I’d read this book earlier!

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WANTING to continue experimenting with different surface pattern designs, working to define my style. Also excited about future quilts! I’m really enjoying the composition and design process of quilting. Also really wanting to paint and take wheel throwing ceramics again.
PLAYING Paul Simon and James Taylor on the record player. 
SEWING patchwork for quilts! 
CROCHETING nothing lately. Crocheting has taken a back seat to other creative endeavors. I’ve really been thinking the last few days about getting out that throw blanket I started last year to work on again. 
WISHING for lovely fall days ahead! This summer has been a warm one!

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ENJOYING playing with pretty fabrics. Just looking through fabrics for my next quilt has been so inspiring!
WAITING on the California King size sheets I ordered for our bedroom to come in to get to work on finishing up that room! No, we don’t have a Cal King, we have a Queen size bed, but the Cal King was all they had left in the sheet design I had envisioned for the room! There will be some sewing/tweaking happening in my future!
LIKING using my office/studio area for a multitude of purposes lately. I’ve been sewing/quilting/cutting fabric in there, sketching in India ink for pattern designs, setting up my desktop computer at my desk, and hoping to start painting again in there soon!
WONDERING why I’ve been getting so many headaches lately! Almost every afternoon I’ve been getting bad tension headaches. My back and neck have been pretty tight lately too, regardless of trips to the chiropractor, Pilates, and the steam room at the gym! I guess the stress of fall publications at work have really just been getting to me.
LOVING our new foyer shelves, dresser, and church pew!! That room has really been shaping up lately into the vision I’ve had for it! Loving how much more useful, practical, pretty, and functional it is now! We’ve used that room more in the last month than we have in years!

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HOPING that my value quilt comes together well! I’m still so new to quilting that I get a little intimidated, although I have high hopes for this quilt! I think it is going to be beautiful! It will be the first quilt I’ve attempted to quilt and bind myself, so that should be interesting…
MARVELING at the beauty and talent of people. Surrounded by pretty fabrics has me admiring many of my favorite designers all over again.
NEEDING some quiet and relaxing time after how busy I’ve been at work this month. No wonder I’ve been getting so many headaches.
LEARNING about quilting! (as if I haven’t already mentioned that a million times already…) Really though, I’m enjoying learning more about this art and the many artists that specialize in it.
SMELLING homemade pizza…mmm…. 

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WEARING these new leather shoes I got on our trip to Nashville. Leather t-strap heels! I thought I’d sworn off all heels, but these are so low that they are comfortable and I’m really liking them! Also embracing wearing minimal make-up.
FOLLOWING me around and having to be in the middle of everything (Violet again), up on my cutting table this time.
NOTICING the transformation of this city, just in the six years we’ve lived here. Last Saturday was the 10th anniversary of Katrina. Drew and I spent the day working with RHINO on a Habitat build for the New Orleans Day of Service (photos here and here).
KNOWING that the secret to success in the art/design industry is learning to sketch and create daily. Working on that. I’ve really gotten into sketching a lot this month. Here is one of my sketches, turned pattern.
THINKING about how much I would like to spend my days napping and relaxing like my cat does.

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BOOKMARKING lots of quilting ideas!
CELEBRATING Violet’s 1st birthday! August 18!
OPENING a couple cute new circle skirts I bought from ModCloth. I’ve been admiring that vintage style for a long time!
LAUGHING at Violet’s photo, above! 
FEELING grateful for creativity.

Past Life Right Now posts:
July 2015June 2015May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

july-2015

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING lots of art this month! India ink sketches, sketchbook drawings, experimenting with block printing (pictured below). LOVE getting to spend more time making art lately (all for surface pattern design work).
COOKING meals from Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. How nice to have all the ingredients for meals delivered right to your door! Use code: CEFVYJ for $40 off your first Hello Fresh box! Also cooking with lots of fresh veggies from my sister and dad’s gardens. Loving all the summer fruit out too — love me some peaches and cherries! And of course, lots of Plum Street Snoballs (pictured above).
DRINKING Lemon Shake Ups with Drew and Gigi at the Nashville Flea Market.
READING Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katharine Sise. I’m really taking my time reading through this and thinking about/writing through all the prompts. If you are thinking about a creative career, so far this is really a great read! I feel like so much of it is speaking directly to me!

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WANTING to continue experimenting with different art and styles of surface pattern design. Really working on figuring out my style and the voice I bring to that industry.
PLAYING Kacey Musgraves’ new album, Pageant Material (like seriously on repeat the first couple weeks it came out). Listening to lots of music on Spotify this month as we took two different road trips. Also lots of records playing in our house, especially after Drew went record shopping all over Nashville.
SEWING all the things! Actually just a quilt, but a really awesome one at the Cotton and Steel Patchwork Weekend Workshop at Craft South in Nashville
CROCHETING nothing lately. I have multiple projects in the works, just haven’t worked on them recently. Crocheting has taken a back seat to other creative endeavors. 
WISHING for a great month of August as we work on home projects and I continue quilting and working on pattern design work.

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ENJOYING family time! When visiting Nashville for the Craft South Workshop, we stayed with my older sister and her husband and kids that live there and my parents and younger sisters came down from Illinois too. Drew, Gigi, and I went to the Nashville Flea Market, we had a tie-dye birthday party for my niece, Evie, and then my sister, Kelsey, and niece, Evie, rode back to New Orleans with us and spent a few days here. Then my dad came to New Orleans to bring me my furniture (and pick Kelsey and Evie up). So much family time this month!
WAITING to work on/finish up some fun house projects in our foyer/dining room!
LIKING having my work office back in order after crazy renovations all summer!
WONDERING why Drew and I didn’t join the New Orleans JCC (Jewish Community Center) sooner! We aren’t Jewish, but we love using their amazing gym facilities. I’m loving the Pilates and yoga classes, the pool, the steam room/sauna/whirlpool and Drew loves the exercise equipment. We put off gym memberships for so long, but for the price, and the exercise/stress relief it provides — so worth it! It is way too hot outside to just go on walks around our neighborhood! (unless we are walking to the sno ball shop…)
LOVING Asheville! We took a trip there over the 4th of July weekend and it was amazing! Great weather, amazing views, delicious GF food. It was just a wonderful and relaxing trip.

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HOPING to continue working on my Cotton and Steel / Anna Maria Horner quilt I started at Craft South. I’ve wanted to get into quilting for a long time, I can’t wait to finish this one!
MARVELING at all the wonderful adventures we’ve been on this summer. 
NEEDING a creek like this in my life all the time.
LEARNING more about my design style the more patterns I make! And this month I made several! See some here, here, here, and the one I made from a hand-carved and printed block print, here. Also a couple more for an exciting project, here and here.
SMELLING peaches? snoballs? heat? Oh the smells of summer. 

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WEARING new jeans I got from Madewell (my first pair from them and loving them so far). Lace kimonos, breezy summer tees, jean shorts (while on vacations).
FOLLOWING me around and having to be in the middle of everything (Violet that is) — she hopped right up onto the fabric I had printed as soon as I set it on the table for a photo. Love seeing my designs on fabric!!
NOTICING this amazing mirrored tile wall at the French Quarter Sucre.
KNOWING that although I didn’t study design like I wanted to in college, that I’m so thankful for my art degree and what it taught me (and the skills I have because of it!).
THINKING about the talented designers that designed old book covers and pages. Such beautiful patterns!

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BOOKMARKING lots of patterned sheets for our bedroom bedding. Target is sold out of the black and white plus sheets I wanted! Boo! 🙁
CELEBRATING Evie’s birthday, vacations and road trips, time at home. Lots of lovely this month. 
OPENING the door for Drew and his friend as they unloaded the furniture into the house that my dad finally brought me from Illinois. Our church pew finally arrived as did our mid-century modern cabinet/dresser. LOVE them!!
LAUGHING at Violet and her silly ways. Always. 
FEELING grateful for how full and amazing this summer has been in so many ways.

cait quilt

Past Life Right Now posts:
June 2015May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

A couple weeks ago, over the 4th of July weekend, Drew and I took a little mini-vacation to Asheville, North Carolina. We’d heard so many good things about the place and it seemed like our perfect city (arts, nature, GF food, craft beer). We couldn’t wait to check it out, and it definitely lived up to the hype! The weather was amazing, the views were gorgeous, and it was one of the most relaxing trips we’ve ever taken.

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We got a late start due to Drew’s flight delays getting back to NOLA from a business trip in Philadelphia. He was supposed to get in the night before we planned to leave, then we planned to get up at 6 a.m. to make the 12-13 hour drive (plus an hour time change) to Asheville. He ended up spending the night in the Atlanta airport, then making it to Dallas the morning we were supposed to leave. Finally he got to New Orleans, but not until 10:30 a.m.! So much for leaving at 6 a.m.! I guess we shouldn’t plan back-to-back trips like this, but it all worked out in the end, we were just really tired by the time we got to Asheville!

We stayed in this adorable Airbnb, which I highly recommend. It was the cutest little apartment with our own kitchen, living room, bedroom, office area, and bathroom. It felt secluded out in the country (we had an adorable little patio area), but was only a few minutes from both the River Arts District and Downtown.

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We checked out the adorable little downtown area with shops and restaurants, the River Arts District full of artist studios, drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway for amazing views of the mountains, headed to Montreat Conference Center for a cute little 4th of July parade and fun playing in the creek (I work at a Presbyterian Church and Montreat is well talked about here! It was nice to finally see it in person!), watched the fireworks from a Veteran’s Memorial, found the most amazing antique stores, toured the Biltmore house and gardens (and winery and museum), and visited many craft breweries.

It was a fun, busy, and relaxing weekend! I wanted to hike to some waterfalls and kayak down the French Broad River, but we didn’t get a chance on this trip. Next time!

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One of the best things about Asheville was the amazing food! They are very gluten-free friendly, so it was so easy to eat well and GF! Our favorite restaurants were: King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles (GF chicken and waffles, yes please!), Homegrown, Tupelo Honey Cafe, and Biscuit Head (GF biscuits and a jam bar!). We also checked out French Broad Chocolates, which was great, but a little too rich for me! Everyone raved about 12 Bones BBQ, but we tried it and the meat was tough and dry. Some of the worst BBQ I’ve ever had, actually. Maybe it was just a bad day? Other places we wanted to check out, but didn’t make it to: White Duck Tacos (they were closed when we tried to go) and Sunny Point Cafe (we tried to go the last day, but the wait was an hour and forty-five minutes!).

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While Drew was enjoying craft beers, I was sketching flowers I’d seen around town. I even did this digital illustration when we got home of my sketch of some Hosta flowers from the backyard of our Airbnb.

We fell in love with Asheville and can’t wait to make another trip! We’d highly recommend it! Especially a great place to visit in the summer to escape the blazing hot New Orleans heat!

june-2015

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING patterns for my surface pattern design portfolio. I put a mini portfolio together before heading to the NYC Fabric Design Workshop I attended. Here and here are peeks of a couple of my patterns.
COOKING more Beef and Rice Salad Bowls, protein pancakes, cornbread muffins, purple hull peas from the Farmer’s market, peach and strawberry galette (used this recipe), blueberry peach muffins (this recipe).
DRINKING my Mamaw’s sweet tea.
READING Heather Ross’s book How to Catch a Frog and Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katharine Sise. I also finally finished Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by Laurie Wisbrun.
WANTING to work on some block printed designs.
PLAYING this song
SEWING nothing this month, but I did finally order yardage of one of my fabric designs on Spoonflower! There will be some sewing happening next month!
CROCHETING nothing lately. I have multiple projects in the works, just haven’t worked on them recently. Crocheting has taken a back seat to other creative endeavors. 
WISHING for a great 4th of July weekend coming up!

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ENJOYING my new office chair!! So excited about it! My old one was a little rickety and too short for my desk. I love the size and style of this one and that it is height-adjustable. I’ve been admiring it for a long time, so it is exciting to finally have it in my home! It did take about a month and a half for me to get it after I ordered it. I also had an interesting time fitting it in my car to bring home and assembling it by myself while Drew was out of town. Violet was so much help, lol. From PB Teen, here.
WAITING for some more exciting summer adventures! LOVED going blueberry picking with some friends from church.
LIKING this quote: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way…things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keeffe.
WONDERING why cats like to get in bags and boxes so much.
LOVING visiting the Farmer’s market in the summer. Drew loves heirloom tomatoes and I loved the gluten-free doughnut and freshly squeezed orange juice from the Covington, Louisiana Farmer’s Market.
HOPING this post helped others who deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. 
MARVELING at the wonderful time we had in New York City!
NEEDING get a hammock in my life ASAP.
LEARNING how to Design, Print, and Build Your Portfolio from Bonnie Christine.
SMELLING (subtle) paint fumes as we finally painted our hallway and kitchen! And as we live through a full on office renovation at my work office (those paint fumes aren’t quite as subtle)!

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WEARING shorts and sandals around here (on the weekends at least, not to work). So hot in New Orleans!
FOLLOWING my list item of exercising more by signing up for a month of yoga classes at a local studio.
NOTICING the beauty of our surroundings on a walk to get snoballs.
KNOWING how grateful I am to finally have this little side table makeover project done. I’d been thinking of doing this for years!
THINKING about how sweet it is when this little kitty curls up and sleeps next to me while I work.
BOOKMARKING this 5-year old magazine article about Anna Maria Horner. Read all about her influence to my creative story, here.
CELEBRATING our three year wedding anniversary and Father’s day
OPENING lots of new blog posts! I’ve blogged more this month than I have in a long time!
LAUGHING at Violet and her silly ways. Always. 
FEELING grateful for how full and sweet this month was.

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Past Life Right Now posts:
May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

A little over five years ago, during my freshman year of college (2009/2010), I first realized my desire to be a designer. I’d always had a love of art/painting and spent time in grade school and middle school playing around in Photoshop and in high school designing ads and spreads for the yearbook, but it never really clicked until I was in college. Before I went to Tulane, I toured SCAD’s campus and dreamed about how amazing it would be to study there, but I thought being an artist meant having to sell paintings on the sidewalk. So I went to Tulane and planned to major in English and become a teacher, just like my grandparents.

I won’t go into my entire creative story thus far, but after mentioning a bit about Anna Maria Horner and her role in my design career, I wanted to share a little more about it.

During my freshman year at Tulane, one of my classes took a field trip to visit to a small art gallery/publishing house where I met the first person I’d known who called themselves a “graphic designer.” Something clicked in me during that visit, and I started to realize that design was the career I’d been looking for all along — a way to be artistic and creative, but in a practical way. I moved back home for the summer (between my freshman and sophomore year) and interned at a graphic design/printing company in my hometown. There I learned the very basics of Adobe InDesign, a bit about vectorizing in Abobe Illustrator, how to create logos/business graphics, set up print jobs, and about vinyl cutting and screen printing techniques.

While living back at home, I spent a good chunk of my summer re-designing my childhood bedroom, gardening, painting, and reading my mom’s Country Living magazines. In one particular issue (the July/August 2010 issue to be exact), I came across this article, about Anna Maria Horner and her career as a fabric designer. I was intrigued by the article, but what caught my attention the most was the floral sketch on the bulletin board in the photo. I recognized that design! It was from my dorm room bedding! That sketch turned into Anna Maria’s Small Gathering print in her Good Folks fabric line. I had picked it out and designed my dorm room around it the summer before.
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My mom is a seamstress and I grew up sewing and crafting and have always had a love of fabric. But never before had I put much thought into who designed the fabrics I bought. The whole idea surrounding it was exciting. Maybe I could do that! Not just design boring logos and business graphics, but use my love of art and painting to create designs for fabric! I spent the rest of the summer just giddy about the possibilities.

Tulane didn’t have the option to major in textile design, or even graphic design, so I studied art (I ended up with a degree in English and Studio Art, Painting concentration) and made it my mission to teach myself as much about digital design as I could. I honed in on my Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop skills, and Drew and I even started a Web and Graphic Design business to make money during college. My sophomore year of college, I discovered the world of blogging and started following the blogs of Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey, and Sandi Henderson, some of my favorite designers at the time. I learned bit by bit about their design world through their blogs while I continued to study English and Art and learn digital design on my own. But I was still left with a desire to learn how to create patterns and repeats and how to get into such an elusive industry as the fabric manufacturing world.

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After college, I started working full time as a graphic designer while continuing to learn surface pattern design by taking online courses, reading books, and playing around in Illustrator. I started making connections in the industry, which led me to Quilt Market, where I met Anna Maria Horner (and many other amazing designers) in person. Several weeks ago, I was able to travel to New York City to take an in-person Fabric Design Workshop with Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross. It was an amazing experience to learn from Anna Maria after admiring her work for so long! What was even more amazing, is that she actually brought that Small Gathering sketch from the Country Living article bulletin board to the workshop and talked about the process behind it! She drew it while watching her children’s swim meet with art supplies that she had packed for her kids to color with.

There is much more to my creative story, and it is nowhere near over, but it amazes me how Anna Maria Horner and this sketch/print in particular tie into it. Isn’t it amazing when things come full circle?

stress-relieving

My personality and the way that I care and invest in things makes me very prone to stress, anxiety, and depression. This was something I really, really struggled with during college as my health issues, low energy levels, un-settled-ness, stress of grades and performance, exhaustion from difficult and draining courses and late nights studying, difficulty making close friends, distance from family (etc…) really led me into a difficult mental and emotional state. (Thank goodness for Drew, I’m not sure I could have made it through without him!) Things have gotten much better over the last few years as I’ve developed a happy home of my own, no longer have the stress of grades/late nights of homework, are more able to explore my creative passions, and have my health issues more under control. But I’ve noticed that depression can easily sneak up. With all the stresses and many ways that life takes hold, it isn’t hard to get to the point of overwhelm and feel like you can’t handle it all. Family dramas, work burnout, stress of future unknowns, the physical/mental/emotional weight of various work and social commitments, there are a lot of things that can subtly get you down without realizing it until you are already there.

I feel like this is something I will always battle in whatever complexity (and maybe everyone does?), but as I get older, I’m really trying harder to safeguard my mental and emotional health.

For anyone else out there that might find themselves battling stress and overwhelm, here are a few calming and stress-relieving techniques that I’ve found help meI want to preface this by saying that I’m no expert, these are just some of my observations and I’m not perfect at having them all together either. I just wanted to share, in case this could be of help to someone else. These are not meant to be a cure for anxiety or depression, just ways to help keep a more positive physical, mental, and emotional attitude. If you are really struggling, seek professional help!

  • Take care of your body. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism, I’m gluten intolerant and have a couple other minor food sensitivities, and I get headaches really easily. Because of my low energy levels and digestive issues, it is super important for me to eat a healthy, whole foods diet (free from wheat, barley, and rye, and limited on milk, eggs, and sugar) and it is essential that I get a good amount of quality sleep (8-10 hours a night, doing my best to avoid waking up in the middle of the night). I also need to eat healthy snacks throughout the day (I get headaches when I’m hungry), take my vitamins, get more exercise (Pilates/yoga and walks around the neighborhood), let go of stress and keep up positive feelings. You might not have the same dietary restrictions as I do, but eating healthy, whole foods, getting good sleep, and exercising is important for everyone!
  • Let go. This can be a really hard one, but a really important one. There are a lot of things that can be toxic in our lives – family drama, bad relationships, bad workplace environment, stress from where you live, etc. These are often hard to control. But it is really important to do everything you can to not let these things affect you for the worse. Let go of the toxic relationships in your life, change your workplace, move to a less stressful environment, whatever it takes. Living in a toxic situation just tears you down mentally, physically, and emotionally. Maybe for you this is as simple as disconnecting/unfollowing/unfriending — removing the people from your life that make you mad/jealous, you don’t really know any longer, don’t bring joy to your life, etc. It could also mean curating the information that comes in — from news sources, social media, etc. Stop letting information in that just tears you down. In the same respect, let go of things in other areas of your life that aren’t working any more. Let go of goals that don’t work any longer, bad feelings, past hurts, disappointments, and as said above, people that aren’t healthy in your life.
  • Simplify. The things we surround ourselves with take up so much mental, physical, and emotional space in our lives. We often surround ourselves with so many things that they become a burden — a burden to clean, to put away, to find a home for, to take care of, to repair, to manage, etc. It is so freeing to get rid of the excess and to not feel so tied down to objects — keeping only the things in your life that bring you joy.  Clear out the junk, de-clutter, clean out your closet, get rid of everything in your house that you don’t use or don’t love. Less stuff equals more time, more happiness, and more joy. In the same respect, evaluate new purchases so that you don’t end up buying new things you don’t need.
  • Put some love into your home. I’ve found that one of the biggest contributors to keeping my sanity is having a nice, safe, comforting place to come home to in the evenings. It is a respite from a long work day and a place that I feel relaxed and safe. One of my biggest struggles during the beginning of my college years was that I didn’t have this place to come home to and feel settled in. If your home isn’t doing this for you, consider investing a little into it. Make it a place you enjoy coming home to at the end of the day (or all day if you work from home).
  • Make time in the day to focus on your passions. It is really easy to get caught up in the get up, go to work all day, come home, clean up the house, make dinner, go to bed routine, leaving no time left to focus on things you really love or enjoy. I’ve found that if I neglect my creative passions and personal goals for too long, I start to really feel depressed (and that my day job (or school when I was in college) is taking over my life). For me this means carving out a little time in the evenings (even just a couple times a week) to read, work on personal design work, decorate, paint, crochet, practice calligraphy, learn new skills, etc. During college I really didn’t have time to focus on a lot of these, or they were tied into my school work, so my “outlet” became cooking a nice dinner every evening. It was the one time of the evening that I could forget about the work I needed to do and just focus on preparing the meal. Whatever it is for you – set that time aside for it.
  • Fun counts. A friend of mine from work shared this bit of advice with me and I love it. So often we think “fun” things should take a backseat to more important life things. But if we don’t make time for fun, we end up feeling empty and depressed. For me, this means that even in the middle of a busy week, I need to make time to meet with my church group, have a movie night with Drew, get out of the house and explore the city I live in, read, watch TV, do something relaxing and refreshing, take a walk. Live a simpler and more intentional life, enjoying the here and now. This could also tie into your passions, and sometimes it does for me, but even your creative passions can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes and it is good to take a break from them to relax and watch a movie (or whatever).
  • Create a calm mind. By this, I mean taking the time to rest your brain. Making time for work, personal upkeep, creative passions, etc. can lead to a pretty busy and hectic life if we let it. Make sure to allow yourself a little down time for your sanity. Spend time in prayer/devotion, meditation, yoga/exercise, a peaceful walk around the neighborhood, journaling, time to read, to practice gratitude and reflect on your blessings, whatever this means to you. Just take the time to quiet other stimuli and practice solitude. Trust me, it is hard to make time for this, but it is oh-so-good for your sanity. I’ve found that often the only time I end up setting aside for this is when I’m in the car on my commute to work and back. But even just those few minutes of calm/silence can make a big difference in my day(s).
  • Create a calm morning routine. A nice cup of tea or even just warm water with honey and lemon is really nice to sip on while getting ready in the morning. Having a morning devotional, prayer time, journaling, meditation–whatever way it takes to start your day in a calm way (instead of rushing around like a crazy person to get to work or school on time!). Try not to check your phone/e-mails before work (otherwise I compose e-mail responses over and over again in my head until I get to work and can actually reply!). I struggle a lot with having a calm morning routine (I’m always so tired that I want to get every last second of sleep, meaning I often wake up too late and I’m in a rush) but I think this is one of the best ways to make sure you start your day off on the right foot.
  • Create a consistent evening routine. This can be different for everyone, but for me, I like to try to get in the shower by 9 p.m. and get in bed by 10 (I’m naturally a night owl, so this takes a lot of effort for me). Ideally I would then have a little bit of time to read and decompress from the day before going to sleep by 10:30 or 11 p.m. For you, this could also mean a quick pick up of the house, running of the dishwasher, wiping down of the kitchen counters, picking out your clothes for the next day, packing lunch(es), etc. Whatever it takes to get to bed on time and make the next morning/day less stressful.

Those are great overall life goals to keep stress and depression at bay (for me at least), but what to do when you are really having a rough day? Here are a few simple things that help me when I’m in a really low spot or having a particularly stressful day:

  • Take a few deep breaths and read “Desiderata.” During one particularly rough time in college, my dad called me and read this poem to me over the phone, hoping that it would help me. He often quotes it, especially in that “the universe is unfolding as it should.” I find that when I’m having a hard time, re-reading it not only reminds me of him and that memory and that everything will be okay, but it brings a little more peace into my life. Here it is:

Desiderata
Latin for “things to be desired”
Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

  • Drink a cup of tea or hot chocolate. In the middle of the work day, I often can’t stop what I’m doing to do something more fun and creative if I’m having a bad day, so the best I can do is take small steps to improving my day/attitude. There is just something soul-warming about a nice warm drink to sip on. It can also make working on unenjoyable tasks a little more enjoyable.
  • Prayer, meditation, gratitude. Day not going well? Take a few minutes to pray about it. Or take a few minutes to meditate and shift your focus. Or spend a few minutes thinking about all the blessings in your life instead of focusing on your troubles.
  • Re-evaluation. Depending on your situation, this might not work, but often times the easiest solution is the simplist. Ask yourself “Does this really matter?” “Is this situation going to matter in five years?” If not, try to let it go. I sometimes get stressed about things that in the scheme of things don’t really matter. But I get invested and when things don’t go my way I get hurt. Other ways to phrase this are, “the less you give a damn the happier you’ll be” and “fill your heart with what’s important and be done with all the rest.”
  • Writing it out. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in certain situations that I keep re-living them over and over in my head, making me unable to move on with my life or focus on the tasks at hand. I’ve found that sometimes I just need to write it out to get it out of my head so that I can move on. Grab a notebook or open a Google or Word document and write it all out. Once you are done, close the notebook/document and move on to the next thing. You can also talk it out with someone, but I’ve found that is often too close to gossiping/complaining and can sometimes exaggerate the problem. We are trying to let it go (not give it new life with someone else). Write it down where only you will see it, delete the document at the end if you need to, and move on.
  • Read a book. This isn’t always an option (especially if you are at work), but if this is possible in your situation, take advantage of it. Pick up a book and get lost in someone else’s story. It is good to forget about yourself for a bit.
  • Make something with your hands. Paint, craft, crochet, garden, build something, whatever, but do something that you can feel good about making. This is such a positive mental booster.
  • Evaluate commitments. Is your stress coming from having too many plans, things to do, and places to be? Consider reevaluating your priorities and letting go of some commitments. Make less evening plans and spend more weekends free. Sometimes that simple solution is so great for your mental space. Maybe it isn’t too many commitments but some other thing that triggers your stress. Try to find a way to remove that stress trigger from your life.
  • Check some things off your to-do list. This one is pretty obvious, but again, sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. Are you stressed because you have too many things on your to-do list, but you can’t re-evaluate any of those plans? Go through the list and circle the ones that will take you the least amount of time to do, then go do them as fast as you can. This applies to work tasks or home tasks. It almost never fails that there will be things on your list that will only take you a few minutes, yet they are adding so much stress to your plate to see another line item to-do. After checking off a few things you will already feel so much more accomplished and ready to tackle the bigger things on your list.
  • Spend quality time with someone you love. This one is also pretty obvious, but sometimes the best medicine is to forget about your problems and just hang out with someone you love. (Serotonin is an amazing healer, so spend some time in a long hug.) If you don’t have someone nearby who is free, call someone — a significant other, parent, sibling, friend, colleague, neighbor — whomever. Don’t let yourself get to feeling too lonely. (Loneliness is the root of all evil for someone prone to depression!)
  • Turn up the music. I usually just turn on my favorite Pandora station or look up my favorite song on YouTube, but I would love to sit down and compile a playlist of songs that bring me joy to play when I’m feeling down.
  • Remember that “this too shall pass.” Sometimes, we don’t have much control over the stressful situations in our lives. But, often times those things won’t last forever. As much as I wish I could say that I always lived in the moment and enjoyed each day, sometimes the best medicine is to think about the future when one day the stress that you are currently going through won’t exist. (This is mostly how I got through college. Telling myself it wouldn’t last forever and trudging through!) Make it through each day with your future goals in mind — be it a new job, a different career path, a new relationship, the excitement of starting a family, getting your debt paid off, going back to school, getting through a divorce, moving forward after a death in the family — whatever it may be, better days lie ahead!

Remember that having a bad day (or even a sequence of bad days) doesn’t mean you have a bad life!

What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks for how you de-stress and stay positive? I love this article on 10 ways to de-stress your day, hour by hour. I once read a book that said you should write a positive, affirmative letter to yourself to read when you are feeling down. Another idea was to take a dresser drawer and fill it with things that bring you joy — a scrapbook of your favorite photos, a list of inspiring quotes, your favorite chocolates, bath salts for a relaxing bath — and whenever you are feeling down, open the drawer and enjoy some of your favorite things. I haven’t tried either of those, but they sound like good ideas. Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know what helps you!

Again, these are not meant to be a cure for depression, just ways to help keep a more positive physical, mental, and emotional attitude. If you find yourself in a dark place, please see a doctor or mental health professional! Depression can be a very serious illness and you aren’t alone in your struggle.