09/07/2017

The Energy Of Summer

In the summer of 2011, I remember walking to work on a sunny hot morning in early August. I don’t have the journal I stopped walking to write in anymore, but I remember almost photographically what I stopped to reflect on as this realization came to me while observing myself and surroundings. The energy of summer is a thing. More specifically, a thing that sends my whole foundation of existence in way too many directions. I have been thinking about this a lot, and it made me remember that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. I remember recording in detail my feelings about summer in my journal (or the summer-ness about my feelings). So much of it is about nature.

In summer, the sun is out for the longest time and it brings the life, so much life. Zillions of bees are pollenating native flowering plants. Squirrels and birds and chipmunks skitter through the uneven grass and up in the trees. Every garden and field and yard and plant and weed is this constant state of pushing and pulsing – pushing more flowers out, making more vegetables, climbing higher up the fences. Herbs are mass producing, invasive leafy bishop’s weed is taking over our entire perrenial garden. Everything is in this constant, chaotic, active go-state. Go, go, go, move forward, create more, happen, happen, happening. Hot. Sharp. Overload.

This is me in the summer. I am the overgrown garden. I say yes to everything, I take risks, I work more hours, my cheeks get hot, I get lightheaded in yoga even in cool early hours if I’m not careful. I make and think and go and grow. Thankfully, there are things in the summer that offer balance – swimming in cool natural waters, not going outside during the hot sun-blasting times, the prescription sunglasses I finally let myself justify buying, completely abstaining from coffee and caffeine and spicy things and hot water. Cardamom. Cool showers. Coconut. Longer exhales. However, year after year it’s impossible to not notice a pattern – that my default summer state forgets to prioritize self-care. I don’t rest as much, I don’t carve out extra time for myself unless I really REALLY schedule it. I’m the out-of-control garden in the summer that is hard to remember to maintain and tame. Maybe I will get more skilled at this in the future.

There is something about us and our human bodies that are so receptive to our environment and it fascinates me to no end. Today, with a tiny coffee in hand and cold toes buried in the backsides of my knees as I sit, I welcome autumn with a big, gentle, welcoming, grateful “sigh” of the happiest relief. Summer was filled with energy and growth and I am going to miss my newfound love for cool lake swims and the feeling of cold water in my hair and simultaneous sunshine on my face, but I thrive in autumn. I trim my overworked stems and leaves back so I can see a little more clearly.

Cheers to that. <3

P.S. It’s no wonder my work is sometimes inspired by the seasons ūüôā This print set is fresh off the press and will be available soon!

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08/10/2017

Motherhood didn’t “change my life”.

This is something that people say to new or expecting moms all of the time: “It will CHANGE your LIFE!” I remember the first time someone said that to me and the feelings of fear and uncertainty and curiosity filled my stomach and heart. Obviously becoming a parent is a huge deal. I often described it as your house being flipped upside down – you still have the same stuff, but now you just have to put it together again, in a different way!

However, becoming a mom didn’t change my life, it has taken me to a place in my life where I was always meant to be. This event didn’t alter the natural path of my life, it is simply a part of my journey, and most notably an inevitable part. This was supposed to happen, my life wasn’t supposed to go any other way. I am still the same person, the same soul, the same mind, the same body. Did it open my heart more? Yes. Did my schedule need to be re-evaluated? Yes. Am I a different person with a different identity and a different life? Nope.

Can we say something different to expecting moms? Something like: “your journey into motherhood is a beautiful and perfectly timed phase in your life.” or is that too long, too drawn out for average small talk from strangers in line at the co-op?

I think a lot of women my age (I’m 27) who want to have kids eventually are hesitant to have kids at a young-ish age for various good reasons, one of them being that we want to feel established in our career first, “discover ourselves” (as if you stop discovering yourself after a certain age or something…), live out our 20s with tasty sounding ideas like “freedom” and “adventure” until we are “ready” to “settle”. But here’s the thing, if you end up having kids earlier than you may have planned, you don’t have to give up all of those awesome things! And you most certainly don’t ever have to “settle” (well, unless settling is a positive thing for you).

When we found out we were having a baby, it became my my mission to create a reality for myself that included still having a¬†dreamy job and still being able to go on plenty of adventures while also being a good mom (and I feel SO UNDESERVINGLY LUCKY to have these things as accessible opportunities). All things aside, my identity isn’t¬†anchored to or defined by whether or not I have children. I have a choice to frame it how I want to. I can adopt the attitude formed by traditional ideals that impose pressure on women to not have jobs or have fun or leave behind their passions when they become moms, OR I can choose to have a different attitude. I don’t have to “do it all” or “hustle” 24/7, but I can still choose to live a full and happy life. If there are things in life I want or that I am passionate about, I will do the things to make them happen in the most balanced way I can to ensure that I am happy but also that I can show up for my family.

I have decided that me living my fullest life can only be good for my relationship with my son. I want to do things that make me happy because being happy influences my child to be happy. It’s contagious. If I was sad and angry and stressed and resentful all of the time about not “being able” to do things I want to do, that’s going to pass on to my child too. ¬†So, I guess in one way I am changed, by the way I direct my energy and actions (and for whom I do so). I’m not just pursuing happiness for myself, but I am doing it for my son and for my husband and for everyone I have relationships with, for that matter. It’s a new meaning of love for me, and I feel it everywhere.

Sure, there’s always going to be guilt, anxiety, anger, stress, fear, etc. in parenting, but there is also joy, comfort, release, surrender, happiness, contentment, spontaneity, laughter, one million cheek kisses, and absurd amounts of love. Becoming a mom has lead to so much self-discovery and adventure. I am letting things go that needed to be let go of, I am learning a lot about myself, I’ve found more meanings in love than I can count.

The bottom line though, is that I am not a different person because I had a kid, I am the person I was meant to be, and I strive to be a better person every day.

07/06/2017

Introducing: Visible Vinyl

The makers of the hand made wooden framing kits we sell with our art prints have launched an awesome new thing, and it’s best friends with your vinyl records. It’s called Visible Vinyl, and it’s a ledge especially made for displaying your favorite records (or the one you have playing) on the wall! If you’re like me, you are a sucker for good album art. This ledge makes it easy to switch out your favorite records to be able to see and enjoy the record covers.

They sent me samples (!!!) and I wanted to share, and also do a giveaway because I want to help spread the word! (The giveaway will be appearing on my instagram this Monday, stay tuned). If you just don’t want to risk not winning the giveaway, check out their kickstarter campaign! They come in multiple finishes and sizes and I think they have special deals for kickstarter backers.

I really love supporting hand made, and this is a really cool idea. I love the idea of having one by the record player for a “now playing” type feel. Right now, when I play a record, I just lay the cover on top of the record player top. This looks much more lovely (and keeps the record jacket and possible second record safe while the music plays).

BTW: The symmetrical folky forest animal print is by fellow awesome artist print lady¬†The Diggingest Girl, if you’re wondering. A personal favorite ūüôā

02/07/2017

Opening eyes + confronting guilt.

It is so easy to feel like what I am doing is not enough, especially right now, a time when there is a lot of healing and change and action needed in the world. It is natural¬†to feel so small and useless when the scale of the problems and suffering seem so large. Enter downward spiral of the mind: How can I help make the world a better place? What am I EVEN DOING? How is what I am doing even meaningful or useful at all? I spend a lot of my time working, but is my¬†work serving anyone else but myself and my own enjoyment? Entering the dark side is a slippery slope these days if you’re not careful. This time, I¬†hit a point where I seemed to convince myself that enjoying what I do for work is somehow bad (?!). Guilt is a powerful force.

The problem? A negative voice tries to make me believe that I am not a¬†good enough person because my work isn’t directly healing people or helping anything that matters or¬†saving the planet from ultimate destruction single-handedly.¬†Trying to figure out where my guilt and confusion were coming from, I sat down and tried to transform my feelings into an overall¬†negative statement¬†– something written down so I could understand it better. This is what I came up with (warning, it’s ugly):

“Making design and paper goods is not of service to others, it is a self-serving form of pleasure¬†to use my skills to do nothing but have fun and prove my worth to myself for the sake of my own self-acceptance and enjoyment. It is a way for my ego to thrive and nobody else benefits.”

Ouch! Do I actually feel this way? NO! What a terrible way to feel! You know how the¬†mind just wants to make us¬†suffer?¬†It tells us¬†“Hey you, yeah you, YOU are not good enough” as if it’s an automatic function of the mind. Actually, it is. Studies have shown that the ‘default state’ of the human mind, the state that is active when we¬†are not¬†intentionally directing our¬†intention toward something, is powered¬†by¬†the parts of your brain that 1. think about the self, and 2. look for problems. It is no wonder we are so self-critical all of the time. I took an online course/lecture series on this topic called¬†The Neuroscience of Self-Compassion¬†(recommended to my yoga community by our amazingly supportive teacher), and it was eye-opening.

Anyway, through this process of journaling and unravelling, I realized that this super negative statement isn’t actually how I feel, but it is what sums up my FEARS in relation to my work and purpose. As in, I would hate it if that statement were actually true. It’s the same kind of fear as not being a good mom, a good person, a good anything. There is something to learn form this and I started paying attention. When I am self-critical, it is almost always fear-based. But the good news is this: the fact that I am feeling this unveils a deep truth, and that truth is “This is what I care about”. I wouldn’t feel this way if I didn’t care. Our fears reveal what we care about the most.

So, I did an exercise. I tried to transform my statement into a positive one, to realign and discover what it feels like my purpose is.  Writing is a magical thing, it causes your mind to slow down and get things out that you may not be able to discover by just thinking about it since thoughts can be so racy when untamed. Through this negative-to-positive phrase transformation, I actually learned a few things about myself.

Here is my transformed positive affirmation I came up with:

“Creating¬†thoughtfully made goods and artwork is something¬†that does benefit others. I can¬†help make the world a better place¬†even on a small scale, which matters¬†too.¬†While my work is¬†fulfilling for myself, my intention is the driving force behind it –¬†to use my creativity to spread joy¬†and simple beauty to other people. It is a way for my true self to connect with the world and it is a practice worth engaging in”.

I know now that my Negative Voice must just have high standards and was giving no credit to small gestures of kindness, acts of sharing, inspiring¬†small¬†personal – human – raw – loving connections when we need them the most, making things that encourage compassion and an appreciation of the Earth. Negative Voice forgot to examine my intention. Negative Voice says “You are no hero”. Positive voice says “You¬†are doing enough, and¬†small victories are special too”. I love my negative voice because it teaches me things, but it isn’t actually what makes up actual ME. Whatever that is, it’s far beyond my limited human comprehension, but I think I am grazing the surface just enough to feel comfortable.

I am happy I stepped out of the dark side and¬†got¬†productive doing some inner work. What is the purpose of being an artist here and now? Artists¬†can make the world a better place on a big or small scale. Artists¬†can be¬†introverted in other areas,¬†but visual¬†art is a way of communicating and connecting with the world around us. Art makes the world a more beautiful¬†experience. Art is expressive, personal, healing, natural, influential and necessary. Art can spread ideas. Art can bring people together.¬†I can’t single handedly save the planet, but I¬†CAN¬†use my creative gifts¬†to make things that¬†will bring some kind of good to the world even on a really personal level, such as a meaningful, loving connection between people, or a human connection to¬†nature.

Life is a gift exchange, and this is my gift. This is what I have to offer. It it is a small but beautiful thing, and I am thankful for every opportunity I have to share it.

XO + thank you for reading.

09/29/2016

Positive Reminders

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These are things I think everyone needs to way hear more of. It is amazing to realize how big of an impact a small mantra or positive affirmation can have. Some sentiments need to be heard more often (or in this case, in an everlasting form of a card!). I was inspired to make these cards with epic amounts of love put into them and their designs as an effort to promote positivity, encouragement and extra meaningful connections with others (or even ourselves).

For a lot of us, card-giving is reserved for Birthdays and Holidays, but my goal is to put more things in the world that are intended for something more unexpected. An act of kindness toward another can be an encouraging card in the mail they didn’t expect. An act of kindness toward ourselves can be a mantra¬†hanging on our¬†wall to remind us something we want to be continually reminded of.

My goal has always been to make cards that people want to keep, not throw away. My hope with this little collection is that these designs have a dual purpose, and can be experienced as meaningful enough to keep around after they are sent + received.

These are on our shop now in our “new” section available individually for $5 or as a bundle for $15.

09/07/2016

The space I’m in where less is more

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I came across this quote online and it just keeps coming back to me so I lettered it out for my studio. Not only is it catchy and clever, but it’s so true to me right now and helpful and comforting. Before Worthwhile became my full time job, I had a lot of different things going on. I worked two part time art/design jobs, did freelance logo and lettering design work along with calligraphy, invites and signage for weddings while also making my own designs to sell. Uhhh.. whoa! These things all gave me loads of experience in different things, and wonderful opportunities to explore my creativity which I am so thankful for. However, it’s very hard and stressful to have too many things going on at once, especially when I became a new mama. I was fairly stressed and anxious all of the time, so I gradually disconnected from some things and focused on fewer things that were the most important to me because I had to accept that I only have¬†so much time and energy, which lead me to moving forward with making my line of prints and paper goods, the thing that feels like it fulfills my creativity the most, my primary¬†focus. Ever since I have decided to devote my work-self to one thing, I have felt much more on-track and balanced.

 

However, a creative mind still wants to go in all sorts of directions when untamed. I mean, come on! There are just soo many possibilities! We are lucky to live in a place where there are so many open doors to choose to go through with a creative career. Even now that I have my one true job-love, it’s only natural to get excited by the thought of starting new types of projects to branch off with. (A design blog! A new line of things that aren’t paper! A book! Textile design! Pick up custom design again for fun!) But I have been really mindful¬†of always asking myself this: Hold on a sec, does it contribute to my main focus? And if not, is it worth it enough to take time and energy away from my main focus? Sometimes it is! Often it isn’t. Knowing is key. Saying no and stepping back form ideas that initially excite me is totally ok, especially when I’m¬†even more excited about my¬†main thing. If I have a very limited amount of work time, any amount of time I spend on something else is time taken away from being extra on top of my main focus. And that’s just a good thing to remember in prioritizing.¬†I always say that I’d rather be extra badass at one thing, not mediocre at 10 things. Even though it was sad for me to disconnect from¬†other avenues in favor for one, it has made everything feel much more¬†balanced and focused for me.

 

Here’s the best part:¬†Instead of feeling like I’m missing out on a million things, it feels more like a very strong and¬†loving commitment to my work and intentions! Attitude is everything. I’ve found myself in a space where less is more.

 

Visualize this: a¬†ball of energy with different streams pouring out of it like outlets for each “thing” you¬†have going on, and you¬†get to¬†choose how many outlets. Divide that ball of energy into three things and there is way more energy flowing to and fulfilling those things than say dividing it by 10 things. Conclusion: my energy ball is happier and more focused with less streams. Exciting ideas sound a little less exciting when it means that would be me dividing my time amongst more things¬†and thus¬†spreading myself, and my energy ball (which btw in my imagination looks magical and glowy and fiery and yellow like the sun?) too thin.

 

Anyway,¬†might I add that this is literally just me, right now, at the moment and maybe doesn’t resonate with everyone.¬†This is NOT an advice post about¬†me telling anyone else to do exactly what I’m doing because everyone’s journey in having a creative career / working for themselves / owning a small biz is totally unique. Maybe there are people out there who ARE badass at 10 things all at once and have bigger balls of energy than I do or whatever and this isn’t a problem (congrats!) But¬†if this sounds like a good reminder to you as it does to me and you wanna keep it around, I made a downloadable print-off of the hand lettered quote¬†on a white background that you, yes you, can print out directly from a¬†home printer at 8.5 x 11 ¬†Download it here. (For personal use only,¬†please).
XO
06/20/2016

Magic of the Strawberry Moon + Summer Solstice

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Today is a special full moon day¬†because it is also the summer solstice, the first day of summer where there is the most daylight. This is a special time for me personally in general, because Henry’s birthday immediately follows the solstice and the words “strawberry moon” remind me of how there was a big super strawberry moon the month he was born.

In addition to that, there¬†is a certain significance about strawberries that I realized after he was born. Firstly, when I was pregnant with him, one of the only cravings I had were strawberries – I literally HAD¬†to eat them every day, even in the winter months. I didn’t really think anything of it (other than, “strawberries are good”).¬†After he was born,¬†strawberries reminded me of being pregnant, and I¬†got a tattoo of a strawberry plant on my thigh to remember that special time.

I didn’t know it at the time but we know now that¬†Henry SERIOUSLY LOVES strawberries, ¬†fruit in general is is favorite food, and it makes me wonder what the source of my cravings was…! Now we have strawberries growing in our back yard (here’s a picture below of them flowering. Sadly, the local adorable rodents got to take them home to make summer strawberry rhubarb pie for their families. Good for them).

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When I pieced together that strawberry season is in June (thus, the name for June’s full moon) and that’s when he was born, and that’s what I craved, I got all cosmic with feelings of nature being all connected and became in awe that my pregnancy craving was something that would be in season when I gave birth. Whoaaaaaaa. Is there a connection there? I want to believe.

Making those connections made me so excited. I felt for a moment like a lunar goddess of seasonal fruit with a special connection to plants and moon cycles and still feel the magic to this day. Ha!

No joke though. We are connected to nature so deeply and the moon plays a huge role in our lives. Feel it. Life is pretty cool. Happy full moon!

05/25/2016

Mystery Film

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Here’s a thing that’s worthwhile: shooting film!¬†I love it when so much time has passed and I forget what was on the roll of film. It’s so exciting! This roll was laying around for almost 2 years before I found it and sent it in.

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It was a true black & white roll of expired film I took to Mackinac City on our way to Pictured Rocks when we got engaged Рhow exciting! Henry was only 3ish months old, and it was his first trip and first hike! I still remember the little handmade felt green hat he was wearing РI think we lost it on this trip.

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When Steve and I looked through these last night we couldn’t believe Henry’s little face. How his eyes are the same but his face is so much different now. I remember once we were in Munising he made¬†his first smile. I really love¬†taking him outdoors. He has no idea about how much adventure we have planned ahead for him.

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One by one, local photo shops have¬†closed¬†around us, and even recently the drug stores stopped doing in-house film processing. I knew you could send your film out, but I didn’t know where. I finally found a place called The Darkroom and sent in these two black & white rolls along with the 4 disposable cameras that we had at our wedding reception! (Don’t worry, those will end up on Facebook sometime soon I believe).

I’m already almost through a color roll that I can’t wait to send in.

05/20/2016

Creative process + cultivating brand meaning

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“Lively screen printed paper goods” is Worthwhile Paper’s tagline and I really like this little definition of “lively”. I feel like I’m in an everlasting state of personal growth with my business and at this moment I think it’s useful to remember my original intention about my creative process, and also to be open about the meaning behind my brand, so I wanted to write a bit about it!

When I began the process of starting my own design/product-based business I got stumped by a question I saw somewhere: “What makes your products unique”.¬†¬†I didn’t have a definite answer for that question on the spot, and that was a huge problem for me! I quickly started thinking about what makes my products unique. They are screen printed, but that isn’t the only thing I have that¬†makes them totally unique. We use recycled paper, but so do a lot of people. My designs are hand made and hand lettered, but I’m not the only one making hand made designs. I decided that while the combination of those things make my products special, what really makes them special is the intention behind the design, alongside my personal aesthetic style.

I wrote a mission statement and set this as my intention: To make paper goods that spread happiness with modern, energy-filled designs inspired by nature and feel-good experiences.

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I always keep in mind the following question when designing: “Does this fit in with my overall intentional look & feel?” Another question I ask myself a lot (that I think all creatives should all check in with) is: “Is this idea coming from inspiration rooted in my true self and my own experience, or is this coming from some other subconscious motive inspired by something else, or someone else’s work completely?”

I always think back to this post by Emily McDowell about defining your brand that I happened to read during the beginning stages of starting my little biz (perfect timing). It actually started a foundation for the way I think about designing and coming up with ideas. In the post, Emily talks about creating adjectives that you base your brand or style off of and using them as guide rails when coming up with ideas (Basically, everyone starting a creative product or design-based business needs to read her post!).

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I think coming up with adjectives for your style is a great exercise. The adjectives I would use to describe my brand are Lively, Modern & Thoughtful. I used Lively in my tagline because I think it is the most important and has the deepest meaning of the three. While the visual aspect of design is something I love and think is important, “Lively” is particularly special to me because it’s based on feeling and emotions and not just the way something looks.

I want someone holding one of our cards or prints to feel happy some way or another and to know that the person who designed it really meant it!

Another good source of inspiration on brand development is Aeolidia’s post on having a unique selling proposition. Arianne says “It’s what makes you different from¬†every other company out there. You should be able to immediately tell someone what makes you different from even your closest competitors.” This is a really good read and very on point.

Anyway, I just had these thoughts on my own creative process and identity that I wanted to put out there, and a desire to write a little bit about what “lively” means to me. Thank you for reading!

05/12/2016

Intentions

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I’ve been wanting to create a blog for Worthwhile Paper for a while now that wasn’t just a shop news¬†page. I used to write in a personal blog and really¬†enjoyed having a blog as a creative canvas, but, I let that fizzle out (semi)accidentally. My dorky domain name expired (whoops) and it just vanished. Plus, the last post I did was a re-cap of my baby shower and said baby is now almost two! I think you can do the math – obviously writing in a blog wasn’t my top¬†focus while having a newborn when I had just started a brand new paper goods line to run. Thus, out the window it went. But now I’m feeling really motivated to share more of my self again. So hello, Something Worthwhile – A¬†hybrid of a¬†studio blog and personal space. This is a thing that creates joy for me but¬†hopefully, maybe, a small chance, something I post in here will bring joy to some others along the way as well.

Also, did I not score the perfect domain name?!

Here’s¬†the main¬†thing,¬†I‚Äôve come to realize that sharing things is something that makes me feel both spirited and useful, so this is my outlet to do just that.¬†Along with Worthwhile Paper shop news & updates, the focus of this journal will explore the following topics, hopefully featuring the stories of others along with my own:

+ being an independent maker / small business.
+ adventures & travel ‚Äď everyday adventures and bigger trips alike.
+ healthy eating / recipes to cherish.
+ art, design, creativity + inspiration.
+ motherhood.
+ personal growth and peaceful practices.

Thanks for checking it out – see ya soon.

-Kristen