Hi there, sweet souls.
I am, slowly, making my way back to this space.
I have been mentally preparing to re-enter the blogging world, to take the passing thoughts that bounce and flit around my mind like shy mythical creatures and transform them into something coherent for others. It's a strange task, once one has fallen out of the habit of solidifying internal thought.
Again, I realize that I harbor some apprehension about tending, watering, and pruning My Peacetree -- apprehension about living up to my own expectations of what it has been and what I want it to be. So right here and now, I promise myself to take this journey in my own time, in my own way, however that happens to look right now. People change, blogs change, and for anything thing to become great, we must start at the beginning (again). And that's ok.
So here I am and here this new not-really-first post is, unperfected, and finished.
See you soon.
I am still here.
I am still here, working hard, growing professionally and personally, building my life.
I am a nanny of three young boys, who fill my days to the brim seven days a week. I am an intern at a beautiful, creative, passionate organization that fights for children's rights to an art-filled education.
I am happy.
And oh, I am so tired!
I love this space.. And I love you. And I miss both of you.
And when my days are less full, when I have a few moments to spare, I will visit this space with joy and excitement and share all that I have been doing, all that I have done, how I have grown, and where life has taken me.
In the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.
Way back when I first began blogging, I found and shared a questionnaire called "15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission". The survey pushes you to define what you love to do, what – and who – inspires you, and in which areas you are most naturally gifted; the idea is to condense these answers and reveal what would be most fulfilling to you in your career or personal life. I first answered the questions in a post called Soul Searching in 2009.
I have come back to this survey a few times, and it has always been helpful. Answering the questions again 5 years later shows me how much I have changed, grown into myself, and lets me see how I am healing from the scars of emotional abuse. I am sharing it again to assist in developing my blog focus, but also to get back in touch with myself and let go of those things that I still assume are part of my identity, even though they have long ago disappeared. I also may discover new things that have changed how I define myself.
I will be breaking this up into three posts – the original single post just kept growing and growing! Comments have been disabled, but if you like this or want to share your own answers, you can write me here or contact me on Twitter or Facebook!
Discovering You, Part One | Questions 1-5
1. What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
Animals. Children. Terrible anti-jokes. Spring. Creative flow. Beautiful stories about compassion. Those who struggle, fighting their way to higher places. Being inspired. Thunderstorms. The ocean. New Year's. Working on a craft project. Experiencing others' joy and excitement, especially kids'. Investing in clothes & housewares that feel like me. Fireflies. Beautiful art. Spoken word poetry. Sunlight. Nature. Rainy days. Trees. Seeing little ordinary things that no one else notices – like an ant crawling in the grass, or a heart-shaped piece of confetti forgotten on the sidewalk. Being barefoot.
2. What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
Piano. Crafting. Being in nature. Art journaling. Observing wildlife. Journaling. Nurturing animals, dolls, or children. Writing. Learning about art.
Traveling. Spending time with animals & nature. Decorating. Crafting. Visiting my dearest friends. Reading self-help stuff. Working on design. Window shopping. Collecting ideas. Having deep discussions. Being anonymous in a city. Spending quiet time alone. Spending a day at the beach. Observing wildlife. Driving. Talking to people of different backgrounds and experiences. Improving my Self, one moment at a time. Doing anonymous, random acts of kindness. Thrifting.
3. What activities make you lose track of time?
Reading a great book. Any creative flow. Being busy with things that are interesting and somewhat challenging. Web/blog design. Seeing a good play. Listening to Prairie Home Companion. Window shopping. Browsing Pinterest. Learning something new.
4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
Doing my hair and makeup. Getting enough sleep. Finishing something – usually art or an article – that I'm proud of. Making another person feel valued, loved, and worthy. Having time to myself. Going to a new place. Getting all the dishes washed. Connecting with animals. Having beach hair. Being affirmed by others. Running, and meeting my goals. Having things in order. Wearing clothes that fit, are beautiful, and make me feel amazing. Spending times with kids. Being barefoot outside all day. That first kiss after 6+ months apart. Feeling productive.
5. Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
> Kate Winslet as Clementine - who possesses a carefree, I-am-who-I-am, take-it->or-leave-it attitude.---
> Nicole of Life Less BS - who is an I'll-give-you-a-kick-in-the-butt-because-I-know-you-can-do-it cheerleader.
> Morgan M & Amanda G - who both radiate sunshine, positivity, confidence, and love.
> Natty Mutrux - who is funny, quirky, and amazingly artistic.
> J.L. - a girl I taught who is creative, wonder-filled, funny, sensitive, active, and comfortable in her own skin.
To be continued; stay tuned!
Part of the process of aligning your Self with your blog is looking at the journey your blog has taken. Taking a close look at where you have been – examining your favorite posts, most productive stretches of time, and most popular subjects – correlates directly to where your blog is now, and can help you solidify your vision of where you want it to go.
I want to share with you some of the important indicators I've found while looking at patterns from the past five years of blogging.
WHERE I WAS (2009-2010):
- Reader: Quiet, fragile, tender, vulnerable. Seeking safe place to be accepted.
- Content: Art journaling journey (discovery, process, technique). Love letters. Observations of the seasons, nature, and world. - Examples: one, two, three
- Frequency: 3x/week
- Keywords: Art. Gentleness. Self-discovery.
WHERE I AM (2011-present)
- Reader: Die-hard! ;)
- Content: Life updates. Art journaling (finished pages). - Examples: one, two
- Frequency: 1-2x /month (see graph below).
- Keywords: Inconsistency. Unfocused. Disjointed.
WHERE I WANT TO BE:
- Reader: Resilient, courageous & compassionate woman in search of ___.*
- Content: TBD*
- Frequency: 2x/week.
- Keywords: TBD*
* These answers are developing as I travel this road of rediscovery.
The above graph shows how my pattern of posting has decreased over the past five years. This is not something new to me, but seeing it visually is quite illuminating. 2010 was my most productive, artfully successful year – and it's very obvious in the huge spike in posts. This was when my interests and blog focus aligned, making it easy to compose and publish posts that were interesting and pride-worthy.
My goal is to once again find that beautiful balance, one that inspires me to share often, my writing heart-felt and my focus bigger than my Self. Looking at blog stats is part of that; rediscovering who I am and what drives me is another. I'll be writing about that soon!
How do you make sure your blog and your Self align? Tell me here!
^ This photo is property of Natty Mutrux. Find her on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
Several months ago, Natty (artist and generally awesome person extraordinaire) tagged me in an instagram post. The challenge was to list twenty facts about oneself. I am long overdue, but here goes:
- I believe in kindness, compassion, and love.
- I also believe in fiercely fighting for oneself and others who can't fight for themselves.
- I take my sweet time drinking coffee, and have no problem with sipping lukewarm coffee an hour after I make it.
- I have been in a long-distance relationship for more than six-and-a-half years.
- I am a self-taught artist.
- In another life, I would've liked to pursue psychology or marketing/advertising.
- While the arts lie very, very close to my heart, I hope to make a career that in some way addresses the nexus of education and socio-economic and racial inequality.
- I really, really like sleeping.
- If I were an animal, I'd like to be a seagull. Independence, flight, and the ocean – it couldn't get better!
- Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery, is one of my very, very most favorite books.
- I graduated college in 2013, but I still have nightmares about forgotten classes and homework.
- I get dizzy really, really easily!
- I have a huge sweet tooth.
- I am an INTF.
- Ingrid is my middle name. I've been going by it on My Peacetree since 2009; in real life, 2010.
- My brother is one of my very best friends.
- Three of my all-time favorite movies are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Amelie, and You Can't Take it With You
- I connect deeply with nature and animals.
- When I was about 11, I taught myself piano.
- I really dislike raw onions.
Yellow the bracken, golden the sheaves
Rosy the apples, crimson the leaves,
Mist on the hillside, clouds grey and white –
Mist on the hillside, clouds grey and white –
Autumn, good morning!
Summer, good night!
Summer, good night!
("Autumn" by Winstones Press)
Fall is here! It is unbelievable, but yes – summer has begun to make her way to the Southern Hemisphere, and last part of the year approaches. Today is the autumn equinox, when long, lingering summer evenings give way to chilly, Orion-lit night skies. The Michaelmas Festival will be celebrated in a few days, and before we know it the approach of winter will have made it presence known in the intricacy of sparkling early morning frost.
(Incidentally, the tilt of the Earth's axis is what determines the date of the equinox – not when day and night are the same length. Read more here.)
Practically overnight, the trees have dressed in bright oranges and reds, putting on a fireworks display before each leaf dances with the wind to the ground. I have been collecting the most beautiful leaves I find, in part to brighten my apartment and in part to help convince me that summer is at an end. I do love this season, as long as I stay in the present; winter is not my favorite. But there is no denying that this is a magnificent time, full of movement and bustle and the most beautiful palette imaginable.
The transience of seasons, really, is what makes each of them so precious. It is knowing that everything comes to an end that makes it that much sweeter.
Check out these lovely fall-inspired activities to make the most of this season:
Categories: special occasions
Hello, my loves.
I've been reading up on a lot of theories and opinions and suggestions about blogging. Many successful bloggers use an editorial calendar (a planned schedule of posts to publish), ensuring that they have on-topic posts prepared and ready to publish long before they need them. This creates consistency in voice and the blog feed, increases readership, and (they say, or at least suggest) keeps a wave of inspiration flowing.
After reading these articles, I was overwhelmed with inspiration. I decided in the midst of all this to reevaluate the blog, rediscover myself, and make sure that my interests are aligned with my posts. So I delved into Evernote for the first time, came up with more than seventy post ideas, and even planned out an editorial calendar all the way through the next three months. I wrote up and published the first post on that list right on schedule – and haven't followed through with anything I came up with in that frenzy of creativity since. Even though I had the next post planned out and half written. (Instead, I jumped ahead two weeks and posted an art journal spread that required little writing.)
Inspiration strikes me in bizarre ways. I can be overrun with ideas and motivation – usually at about eleven at night when I have to be up early the next day – and can ride that wave for hours and hours, so long as I stay with it. If I go to sleep, I often wake in the morning with little inspiration left to pursue the big ideas I'd had the night before. If something like work or running an errand interrupts my wild-donkey-riding, I become distracted and that momentum is halted.
As I went through this whole process, and as I attempt to try again, I wonder about the relationship between structure and creativity, right-brain and left-brain thinking, and the spontaneity of creation and the reliability of planning.
I feel like artists are often thought of as impulsive: so much of creation is about the flow of creativity. We talk about writer's block as an impediment to that flow. Yet when I took a course in oil painting in college, much of the process of creating a painting was spent planning out the composition, doing preliminary sketching, and deciding just the right angle and colors and methods to use.
Steve Denning wrote the following in "Creativity Must Have Structure", published on Forbes:
"Structure and creativity have the same parentage. It is structure that enables creativity. [...] In the twelve notes of the musical scale, in the twenty six letters of the alphabet, these fantastic structural inventions have unlocked the enormous creativity of literature and music. Without structure, there is nothing for creativity to get leverage upon."When put that way, the correlation between structure and creativity is obvious. In fact, I am reminded of an article I actually wrote several years ago discussing whether or not originality exists. (I unfortunately no longer have the piece. But my conclusion was that, since every individual is influenced by art, tools, behavior, or ideas others have created, there is no originality – only original thought of how to re-assemble pre-existing pieces.)
Below are five tips on how to use your left hemisphere to jump-start creativity:
- Research: Read books or articles that address the creative blocks you are currently facing.
- Delegate: Find resources that help you prepare and plan ahead for future creative droughts. (Blogging-wise, use the schedule post tool on your blog to automatically publish to your blog, and check out BufferApp as a useful Twitter/Facebook-publishing tool.)
- Create a routine: Take out your journal, paintbrushes, or sketchbook even when you aren't inspired. The act of beginning, of pushing yourself into creation, often inspires inspiration.
- Prepare: Get ahead of yourself. Having a list of possible posts, ideas, or ideas to explore will give you a place to jump from, and you will avoid having to start from scratch.
- Make notes: In a moment of inspiration, get as much done as you possibly can. If you have to step away from your project, leave a note outlining where your project is headed to help yourself find your way back into it.
This subject something I'm going to keep thinking about, mulling over, and addressing. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this, and I'd especially love to know about your own habits and ebbs and flows of creativity! Please share in the comments below.