7/28/2016: Crazy

A reminder to leave a little room for entertaining the seemingly impossible! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Today's piece is obviously outside my normal style, but I found myself itching to experiment with some new digital techniques. When I stumbled upon this "glow-in-the-dark" vibe I said to myself: That looks CRAZY. 

And then I paused to think about that word: crazy. 

There's the negative context -- we've all likely encountered that "crazy" friend (or that EX boy/girlfriend), maybe someone whose behavior is irrational or their presence is toxic. And there are certainly more than a few things I could get into in the news now that have me thinking the word "crazy" on a regular basis, wondering how all the screws got loose in our collective consciousness. 

But more often than not, "crazy" is a word that is simply used to describe "that which we cannot comprehend." Something that is outside the norm, that challenges the status quo, that asks us to consider what's possible. Certainly there was a time in our history when the notion of having a female president would have unilaterally been branded as CRAZY. Politics aside, reality suggests that notion is now a very real possibility. 

So I think it's all about maintaining just the RIGHT amount of crazy. Not necessarily endorsing the irrational or the toxic, but of leaving room for the unthinkable, the seemingly impossible. 

As Apple's iconic "Think different" campaign famously said: "Here's to the crazy ones...Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." Let today's piece be a reminder to entertain just the right amount of crazy in your own life!

7/27/2016: Off

A reminder that those things we put off become toxic to living a vibrant life. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Is there anything you REALLY need to do but have been putting off? I have a list of things probably two pages long that I’ve avoided either because I don’t like doing them OR it’s gone so long that I’m embarrassed to confront them OR (the deeper, more honest reason) tackling them highlights a judgment I have about myself that I’m just not prepared to acknowledge. WHOA, procrastination is deep stuff, y'all.

What I realized today was… they’re not going anywhere. These things that we put off because they’re difficult or uncomfortable or just plain mundane become a lot more dangerous the longer they fester. They become guilt or self-loathing or stress and all of those things are toxic to living a vibrant life.

So this morning, I made a “Toxic Procrastination” list, I set the timer for one hour and I tackled each item one by one. Did I make it through every one? No. BUT I feel so much lighter just for finally lifting some of that weight off my conscience.

Maybe today’s the day you make your own Toxic Procrastination list! Stop putting it off and make it happen. You will feel all the more brighter for it!

7/26/2016: Pick

A reminder that while a break in the chain can be disheartening, it can’t erase the positive impact of every link that came before. $25 giclee print available in the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Have you ever promised yourself you’d stick with a commitment only to slip up once and then convince yourself the WHOLE commitment was ruined? Like a 30-day challenge where you miss one day or two days and then suddenly it’s like the 15 days you put in before that were totally worthless?

I know I’m guilty of this in the past, namely with any kind of workout or fitness routine. If I fall off the wagon, I run as far away from the wagon as possible and chalk it up to a failed attempt at consistency.

But the truth is, it’s NOT too late to pick it back up. Whether it’s a workout routine you abandoned two months ago or a blog you haven’t updated since 2015 or that unfinished project that’s been collecting dust because you lost momentum… the work you’ve already put in counts for something.

If I’ve learned anything about consistency it’s that while a break in the chain can be disheartening, it can’t erase the positive impact of every link that came before AND, more importantly, every link that will come after.

So, whatever it is, pick it back up, dust it off, and start again. The past is the past but it’s a new day and a new chance to commit.

7/25/2016: Forward

A reminder to keep your focus on the next step to make the goal ahead less daunting. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

I’ve decided to make this my new primary mantra for the time being. I’ve laid out some big goals for the second half of this year, and if I think about them long enough, I start to get overwhelmed by all I need to do in order to make them happen.

But instead, once my vision is set, if I can focus less on the goal itself and more on simply putting “one foot in front of the other” then it all seems a lot less daunting.

When we focus too much on the destination, the result, the end goal, not only do we run the risk of paralyzing ourselves with overwhelm but we also risk setting ourselves up for disappointment and self-criticism if our plans change and we miss the mark. Instead, by making the new benchmark simply FORWARD MOTION, then we can feel good about logging one more tally in grand pursuit of our dreams. (This always brings me back to @elisejoy’s #gettoworkbook motto: “Big things happen one day at a time.”)

So, my question for you today is: did you take one step forward? Did you do make one tiny dent in your bigger picture? Then you, my friend, should reward yourself with a gold star.

Keep moving forward. Keep chipping away.

7/24/2016: Hand

A reminder that there is no magic solution to the health you want. There is only work. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Thanks to a little boost from the 2016 Crossfit Games, which Jason and I have been watching all weekend, I’ve discovered some newfound motivation to start making fitness a priority again. (I tend to go through stages of complete commitment and then just a stage that I refer to as “wine & cheese.”)

I was trying to dissect what exactly it was that I found so motivating about seeing these athletes lifting weights and doing upside down hand-stands so that I could hold on to that feeling and maybe let it sustain me for more than a week at a time. I decided that it was actually something pretty simple: the notion that if you do the work, you get results.

Yes, we all know that statement to be true, but for some reason at this moment in time I was ready to actually HEAR it. I think until now I’ve been secretly waiting for a day where I wake up and see the muscle definition I want, the tighter tummy, the stronger legs... but I haven’t been willing to actually put in the WORK to get there.

How many times in our lives do we unconsciously wait around, hoping that our dreams will just magically come true? That someone will call our number, pick us out of a crowd, that the tides will turn in our favor? But the hard (and EMPOWERING) truth is that it’s just not going to happen that way for 99% of us. No one is going to hand us the life -- the results -- that we want. Instead, we have to commit (and continue to commit) inch by inch, day by day.

Who knows if this time the fitness kick will stick, but now at least I have a mantra to come back to when I need a reminder that there is no magic solution to the health and body I want. There is only work. (And for those curious, Crossfit is not my workout of choice, but I have a huge amount of respect for it!)

7/23/2016: Discover

that there’s a payoff that comes from committing fully to something $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Jas and I have been on a Netflix documentary tear this weekend, which started with us watching “Fittest On Earth” (the Crossfit doc) last night. That, followed by “Top Spin” and “Somm: Into The Bottle” and I’ve basically spent my weekend thus far watching movies about people obsessed with stuff.

Whether it’s fitness or table tennis or wine… all of these films are fascinating to me because it’s hard for me to fathom the level of commitment and enthusiasm for mastering just one single subject. The only thing I can think of that comes close to that kind of commitment is my own commitment to creativity, trying to create something every single day for years now.

But what I learned from watching these people (and from my own experience) is that there’s a payoff that comes from committing fully to something, because the longer you show up, the deeper you dive, the harder you try… the more layers you’re able to discover hidden within that subject AND within yourself.

While I don’t plan on becoming obsessed with any one skill or subject or topic any time soon (I prefer my jack of all trades sensibilities), it DOES make me wonder what I could discover if I would commit just a little more to certain aspects of my life. Could I discover new limits of strength if I worked out more diligently? Could I build software if I committed to upping my coding game? Could I write a book if I committed to writing every day?

The answer of course is YES but it’s always good to remind ourselves of what we’re capable of with a little intentional effort. My question to you today is: what in your life could use a little more commitment? And what could you discover as a result?

7/22/2016: Balance

A reminder that balance isn't a destination, but something to aim for. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Some people say the word balance is a crock. They declare war on the phrase “work/life balance” saying it doesn’t exist, that it’s a false notion that we obsess over.

And to that I say… I get it. I agree it’s impossible to maintain some ideal equilibrium point into eternity between two opposing forces, not just work and life (and for many of us, those lines are blurred anyway.) But I’ve never been able to dismiss the term balance out of hand because with every single day of my life, and in almost every aspect of my life, balance provides me with a guiding force that keeps me on track. Nearly every single challenge I encounter can’t simply be solved with some binary, black or white response. It’s all gray. A situation might require a bit of strength and a bit of vulnerability. Another will require me to be open and also convicted. A little this, a little that. Throttle up, throttle down. Buckle down, lighten up.

Life is really just a series of these juxtaposed forces and the idea of balance asks us to find what ratio of these diametric ideas to hold at any given time.

The equilibrium point is different for every person and changes from moment to moment, but personally it gives me some kind of metric to aim for, some kind of construct that allows me to constantly hold two different helpful things in my psyche at one time. So I, for one, am a fan of balance. Knowing that it will never be a final destination but that it can be an incredibly helpful target to aim for.

7/21/2016: Searching

A reminder that that you get in life what you're willing to settle for and you are the designer of your own life. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

I’ve been working almost daily on wrapping up the new branding for Made Vibrant, but for the past few days I just couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that something was missing, that it wasn’t quite complete yet. So I kept searching, kept pushing, kept exploring, not quite certain of what I was looking for, but knowing for sure that it just wasn’t there yet.

Then today, the final piece came to me, the missing part of the puzzle that suddenly made everything else make sense. I was so grateful to myself that I listened to my gut and kept searching until I found what I was looking for.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that life is a delicate, constant balance between striving forward and appreciating what’s right in front of you. There are moments when we need to press on, and moments when we need to say “that’s enough.” I know this.

BUT, I also know that we get in life what we’re willing to settle for. We receive what we’re willing to go out and get. So if there’s one area of you’re life that is calling to you, one thing that feels out of place, not just right quite yet (that job, that house, that relationship), well then keep on keepin’ on, my dear friend. Keep searching, keep striving, and don’t stop until you arrive at what you’re looking for. It’s not about perfection — we all know there is no such thing as a perfect ANYTHING — but it IS about claiming ownership of the reality you want to create.

You are the designer of your own life and you get to say when it’s time to stop and when it’s time to keep going.

7/20/2016: Curious

A reminder when you're feeling frustrated or irritated, consider if any of your highly held values are being threatened & adjust accordingly. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Today I completely flipped out over something embarrassingly small. I was helping Jason out with something that should have been a fun break from my workday, but I turned it into something that was beyond stressful and something that caused me to get unduly irritated.

After I lost my cool, I noticed I was mentally beating myself up a bit for it. I was self-criticizing for not being more patient, more relaxed, more centered. But, recognizing these critical thoughts, I did something that my internet bud @heyamberrae talks about, as well as the insightful @brenebrown... I got CURIOUS. Why did this bug me so much? What was striking a chord that was inciting such a strong emotional response in me?

After some digging, I realized that I simply hadn't been able to sit down for more than two hours of uninterrupted work since I returned from San Francisco last week. I'm someone who needs time to sink into a more flow-like state and punctuated short-term bursts of work just won't cut it for me. So what seemed like a tiny task today actually turned into a much bigger annoyance, pulling me away from what I needed to feel productive. Once I was able to find the root of my frustration, it also illuminated an important value for me: control over my day and work schedule.

See, irritations and emotional responses and mini-meltdowns can actually be AMAZING learning tools because they often are a response to one of our highly held values being threatened. Get curious enough to investigate and you're one step closer to really understanding what's important to you.

So next time you think about getting critical with yourself over flipping out, get curious instead and see what you discover!

7/19/2016: Imagine

A reminder that your imagination leads you to destinations you didn’t even know were possible! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Jason and I have been having a lot of “future” conversations lately. I think this usually happens halfway through the year when we start itching to put our adventure pants on and ask ourselves: Where do we want to travel? What do we want our lives to look like in a year? What about our businesses?

I try to spend a majority of my time focused on the present, but taking a moment to steer the ship to the future (and adjust the sails, if necessary) can be valuable too.

I find that our best conversations about plans tend to begin with this simple phrase: “WHAT IF WE COULD…” What if we could spend three months at a time living in a different European city?

What if we could start a business together that incorporates our strengths?

What if we could do this or build that or travel there? What if?

The truth is, as humans we vastly underestimate the power of our imaginations. Our imaginations lead us to destinations we didn’t even know were possible. At times we can become so blinded by our reality, that we forget to look beyond what’s right in front of us and reach for possibilities we had never entertained before.

So whatever your dream for your life is right now, I challenge you to stretch your imagination and see what’s just beyond. Finish the sentence “What if you could…” because by asking the question, you’re one step closer to discovering the answer.

7/18/2016: Stand

A reminder to trust your eye and that standing out is actually the whole point! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

I put in a few good hours on the MV brand update/new site design today, and this is the lesson that I inevitably have to teach myself time and time again.

Any time I work on designing my own site, I start with one thing in mind, one clear direction that I want to steer my ship in. Then, without realizing it, I accidentally take a peek around at what everyone else is doing, and suddenly I start doubting myself.

Subconsciously I think we all have this fear of sticking out like a sore thumb. Of being the odd man out. So we mold our look and our feel and our brand to fit in with what we see around us. The same layouts and design treatments. The same blog post images. Why mess with it if it works for everyone else, right?

The only problem with that is… when it comes to marketing, it’s actually a GOOD thing to stick out like a sore thumb. Not only does it make you memorable, but chances are it also means you’re creating something that reflects YOUR unique vision, not a conglomeration of other people’s visions you see on Pinterest.

So… today I cut myself off from looking at what other people are doing until I arrive at my final design and relaunch the site September 1st. From here on out, I’m promising myself to embrace my instincts and not fear creating something that is too “loud” or “busy” or “different.” I will trust my eye and I will remind myself that standing out is actually the whole point! I encourage you to do the same!

7/17/2016: Indulge

A reminder that not everything in life has to be born out of utility or efficiency or necessity. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

I didn't grow up in a family with a lot of money. There was always love -- so much love -- and my parents certainly gave me everything I needed, but my mom definitely taught me what it meant to be frugal. Still, she always found ways to sneak in little indulgences when she could. A surprise Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar from the store (a luxury that rarely made the weekly grocery budget) or a nice dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant to celebrate a special occasion.

I didn't fully appreciate it then, but I'm so grateful she taught me the beauty and value in the occasional indulgence.

I was reminded of this today when Jason and I decided to have a spa day for no reason at all. We ate lunch at the gorgeous Omni La Costa, sipped cocktails, lounged by the pool and booked a massage. When the attendant asked us what we were celebrating, I smiled and simply replied: "LIFE." The reason I think indulging every once in a while is good for the soul is that it reminds us that not everything in life has to be born out of utility or efficiency or necessity. Frivolity has its place too because it teaches us to cherish JOY and joy alone.

Whether it's the GOOD ice cream sandwich or a luxurious bubble bath or 20 minutes of that juicy fiction novel while the kids nap... find out what feels indulgent to you and carve out a little bit of time for it. It's good for the soul.

7/16/2016: Credit

A reminder to avoid the urge to brush off your gifts, hard work and accomplishments! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

I’ve been trying out this new style of painting with wax paper, layering on areas of color and texture just to switch up my process and keep it interesting for myself. Normally I do my very best to use each new painting as an opportunity to explore and create without judgment, caring more about the unfolding of the process itself rather than the final product.

But today I caught myself thinking, “This painting is just a series of color splotches and patterns. ANYONE could do it. It’s isn’t ENOUGH.” Somehow in my head I planted the seed that just because it was different from the way I had always done it (or the idea I had of what a painting SHOULD be), that it wasn’t good enough. That it didn’t take any artistic talent to create and it wasn’t worthy of sharing.

Then I reminded myself… wait a second here. I have been painting every day for nearly a year. I’ve logged hours and hours learning what color combinations I like, what brings balance and visual harmony to a piece, and establishing my unique artistic voice. Why then was I so determined to rob myself of the joy of creating what I want to create? (And who cares what is considered “art” anyway - it’s completely subjective.) Instead, I took a step back, looked at how far I’ve come in my own artistic journey, and I gave myself permission to be proud of what I created.

The truth is, we could all stand to give ourselves a little more credit from time to time. We need to fight the urge to explain away our gifts or brush off our hard work and discover the confidence that comes with owning our awesome.

The next time you find yourself in a moment of pride and your instinct is to brush off your accomplishments or diminish your gifts or attribute your success to luck, try giving yourself a little more credit.

7/15/2016: Handle

A reminder that you are stronger than you know. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Sometimes it can feel like the whole world is stacked against you. Like the burden is so great that you can't possibly bear it.

Or... (perhaps less dramatically) sometimes it can simply feel like you're out of your depth. Like you're not strong enough, smart enough, experienced enough, WHATEVER enough to handle a responsibility placed on you.

In those moments, repeat to yourself that you CAN handle it. You ARE capable. And you are stronger than you know.

We all have moments of doubt and of weakness but we also have the power to reassure ourselves if we stay mindful.

Whatever it is... you CAN handle it.

7/14/2016: Doubt

A reminder to believe in your own abilities and focus on what you CAN do! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Today was such an amazing day! The shoot went so well - better than I could have hoped -- and it made me think about how often I've doubted myself when it comes to something only to be surprised. Doubt, it turns out, only distracts you from being awesome. It causes you to focus on what you CAN'T do, rather than what you CAN do.

When I got to the studio this morning, I was nervous about my ability to talk through each slide of the course clearly. That is until I realized that being too in my head was actually distracting me from being myself. Instead, I promised myself I'd let go of that doubt and allow myself to believe in my own abilities, which actually made me feel more capable!

Next time you find yourself going to a place of self-doubt, remember your AWESOMENESS instead!

7/13/2016: Magnet

A reminder to unapologetically and confidently be yourself! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

About to take off for San Fran and just reflecting on how excited I am for the opportunity to work with a company I’ve admired since BEFORE I started my own business. I’m thinking about what that girl — the girl who started her biz with ZERO idea of what she was doing back in 2013 — would say to this girl just a couple short years later.

If I could go back, I would reassure that girl that her instincts to be AUTHENTIC, transparent, and uniquely HER were correct. Why? Because authenticity is a magnet for opportunity. When you show up confidently and unapologetically for who you really are, people pay attention. It will take time, it will take hard work, but people will always respect and respond to realness.

SO, if you feel like you’re at square one right now OR if you’ve been pursuing your dreams for years… the advice is the same: be yourself. Be yourself radically, authentically, radiantly, and good things will come. I just know it.

7/12/2016: Eyes

A friendly reminder to believe in yourself the way those who love you believe in you! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

I’m just about packed up and ready to jet off to San Francisco tomorrow to film my online class collaboration with the folks at @britandco! I’m SO pumped about the content we’ve worked together to create and I’m thrilled to be teaching it, but in the interest of full transparency, I’ll admit there are some nerves!

It’s an opportunity to work with a company I’ve admired from afar for so long, so I think it’s natural to want to do my best. Whenever I feel those nerves bubble up, whether it’s because of an opportunity like this or a speaking gig or even a client project — any time when I can feel that pressure to not let someone down — that’s when my kind inner mentor whispers to me: “You were chosen for a reason. THEY believe in you, so now you just have to remember to believe in yourself.”

Don’t you wish sometimes we could see ourselves through someone else’s eyes? Maybe our parents, our partners, our best friends, the people we serve — what would THEY say about us? The honest truth is, I bet they’d say better things than we say to ourselves because we can often be our own worst critics.

So the next time you too feel those nerves or you find yourself in a moment of doubt, try to see yourself through the eyes of someone that loves you or respects you. They believe in you — now all you have to do is believe in you too.

7/11/2016: Distance

A friendly reminder to see where you might have a renewed perspective and appreciation with a little distance from where you're focused. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Turns out there’s a reason they say “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Today I resumed my Monday morning newsletter after a five-week break, and I don’t think I quite realized just how much I missed writing long-form content on a regular basis. Week after week, I think I became so accustomed to writing that I took it for granted a bit. The break away — the distance — allowed me to appreciate my audience and how far my writing has come in a completely new way.

Sometimes distance can actually be a doorway to gratitude. So… what are you so close to that you might be taking it for granted in your own life? Could time or distance or separation give you the perspective you need to approach it with a renewed appreciation?

7/10/2016: Means

A reminder to stop choosing the work that feels convenient and commercial and start following your heart. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Today’s message is less a universal directive than it is a personal directive. I don’t necessarily think that all creativity has to have any meaning at all - I think there is meaning enough to be found in the very ACT of creating.

However, over the past few months I’ve had this feeling bubbling up, a feeling that I want to recommit to the idea of making art that matters. Of creating content that SAYS something, that MEANS something. While that’s certainly always the aim with these daily art pieces, I have to admit it hasn’t always been the case with everything I’ve created.

Looking back, there are times when I’ve created things because they seemed like a convenient opportunity to make money — not that my heart wasn’t in them (I always find a way to mold my work to feel purposeful) BUT it’s not like they were touching on any deeper, soulful subjects either. What I’m saying is… they may have been HELPFUL but they weren’t always HEART-FULL.

These past few weeks of slowing down in my business and giving myself space to breathe have reminded me to follow my instincts toward creating projects and work that always have a deeper, more meaningful thread.

So today’s piece is a declaration to myself and to any other SOULFUL creative that needs to be reminded — try making something that means something. Let’s stop choosing the work that feels convenient and commercial and start following our hearts toward what feels scarier but more rewarding — the vulnerable and messy and heart-full work that calls to us.

7/9/2016: Score

A reminder that keeping score rarely ends in any kind of victory. $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Something I’ve promised myself to work on lately is this notion of keeping score. Whether we realize it or not, I think it’s often our our instinct to keep a mental tally of all our moments of sacrifice and bigger-person-hood — especially in relationships. You know the tally I’m talking about, right? “Well *I* washed the dishes last night AND the night before.” “*I’ve* been making more of an effort than you.” “This is the third time so-and-so has asked me for a ride.” It could be our partners, our friends, our family members, or even larger groups like our communities.

What I’ve realized is that keeping score rarely ends in any kind of victory. Instead it conditions us for disappointment, resentment, and passive-aggressiveness, none of which are feelings or qualities I want to possess. So, instead of racking up that mental tally, I challenge myself (and you) to give generously without expectation. To be the bigger person with no hidden agenda or need for reciprocity, because when we give graciously we inspire others to do the same and THAT is when everyone truly wins.