Lately, I've totally revamped my mornings. After listening to one expert after another talk about the benefits of waking up early and tackling what's really important to you, I'm now doing just that--and it's changing everything.
Getting up early has never been *too* much of a problem for me. I'm not a "morning person", per se, but I'm pretty goal driven, so if I have a reason to get up, I can get up. That being said, having a reason to get up that actually excites me is totally
different than having a reason to get up that stresses me out or depresses me.
I used to get up early because I was driven by the stress of everything that I had to get done in my day (my to-do list was haunting me!), but now, I'm driven by the excitement of what I actually get to do
in the mornings. This has been a huge mental shift for me.
My time management guru, Laura Vanderkam
, has an entire e-book entitled What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
, where she talks about just this--seizing the day (literally) by focusing on what's important to you in the mornings--before you get lost in your day. She explains that it's rare that something comes up in the morning; Work emergencies usually don't happen before 7am (unless you work at a yoga studio with AM classes, like yours truly...), you still have energy to exercise, and your creative abilities haven't yet been zapped by all of the details of daily life. So why not start using the mornings in a more productive way?
When I say productive, I don't mean get up and start working, I mean do whatever it is that you want to ensure you actually do that day. For instance, I wake up at 6am, stretch, make my tea, and then start writing. Whether I'm working on a blog post, a story, an e-course, or something else, writing has become increasingly important to me over the years, and I like to start my day by doing it. By starting my day in this way, I'm excited about getting up. I feel like I have so much to say, and the mornings are my time to find a way to say it, so I want get up and start writing.
Some people find that the mornings are a great time to practice yoga or exercise (especially if you find that your evening exercise often gets neglected due to work, exhaustion, kids, long commutes, etc.), meditate, do something creative, go on a walk, spend time with kids, or do strategic thinking about your life and goals. Vanderkam explains how you can incorporate these things into your morning routine in this article
, where she notes that streamlining your mornings can open up a lot of extra time in your week.
I know this sounds difficult, but you guys, I promise it's not that hard to make this shift. The hardest part is going to bed earlier at night (Ben and I now get in bed at 9:30 to read!), but if you weigh your options of puttering around on the internet, answering emails, watching TV, versus waking up early to do something that's really important to you, it becomes much easier to put down the remote control and hit the sack.
Another one of my time and energy role models, Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project
, recently said this in an article that he wrote in his new column for the NYT blog
:What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, before you even brush your teeth? Is it checking the e-mail that’s flooded into your inbox overnight? Does the pull feel increasingly irresistible, even Pavlovian? Do you get so immersed in responding to other people’s agendas that 30 minutes can go by before you even look up?
Here’s a radical proposal: Don’t check your e-mail at all tomorrow morning. Turn it off entirely. Instead, devote a designated period of uninterrupted time to a task that really matters.
His article goes on to say something very similar to what Vanderkam talks about in her book--mornings matter, they count, they aren't just throwaway time, they're a very important part of your day where you can really get something important done. I would argue that mornings might be the most critical part of your day, and how they're spent can totally change the tone of your life.
So here's my challenge to you: Start to take a look at your mornings. Notice what you do in the morning for the next couple of days. Think about what you don't have time for in your life, but really want to be doing, and whether or not you could fit that activity or project into your mornings. If you can, congrats! You just found an extra 2.5-5 hours in your week. Doesn't that sound fabulous? Imagine all that you could create, do, enjoy, feel, experience, and accomplish in that time!
It's how I have the time to write this blog, you know... ;)
Now go enjoy your morning. Make it count.
Legs-up-the-wall in my purple sweats.
Upon waking this morning, I felt 90-years old. I went straight to the floor to do my lower back release routine
, and then hit the wall for some legs-up-the-wall. Wow, my body.
I hesitate to say that one could ever do *too* much yoga, but I'm going to say it: I've done too much yoga this week.
We're doing new teacher auditions, something that I really enjoy and something that is very exciting for the studio, but something that also involves a 30-minute class taught by each teacher auditioning. We've done a total of 15 mini-classes over the past couple of days (on top of my own classes that I teach/take), and I. Am. SORE.
However, as I've spent the last few days practicing, observing new (and seasoned) teachers teach, and thinking about what it means to be a teacher, I've been overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel SO lucky that my job means practicing yoga all day (I'm paid to practice yoga! What!?!?
), and that I get to spend my time in such an amazing environment. When I think back on the many hours spent sitting in a cubicle
with no windows, tons of stress, and an aching back, I feel extremely grateful that my body now aches from hours of yoga, instead.
Isn't life funny? I complain about doing too much yoga this week, but honestly, I don't think I'll ever max out on yoga. #Grateful. Ommmmmmmmmm.
So that, my friends, is what I'm doing on my painting day today. Working [and hoping that inspiration strikes].
I hope that inspiration strikes for you today, as well!
Christmas present for Navy Officer.
Illustration for promo materials.
Unlike many artists, I actually LOVE
doing commissions (commissions = art created on behalf of someone else, or "on order"). As I mentioned in a post earlier this spring
, I enjoy commissions because they give me a chance to help someone bring their vision or idea to life. I get to work with an individual to learn exactly
what they want, and am then challenged to create what they may not be able to create themselves--a work of art that meets their desires and hopefully, looks better than what they had imagined in their head--it's so fun!
So, with that, I wanted to tell you a little bit about commissions today. I promise, this isn't just a shameless plug (it kind of is, but really, it isn't!), as I want to encourage you--and everyone else out there in internet-land--that buying and commissioning art is a worthwhile endeavor. With the amazing accessibility and reach of Etsy, blogs, and websites, commissioning a painting by an artist that you like or admire is easier than ever these days, and often, the prices are very
reasonable and the quality of the work very high.
Not sure how to commission a painting or even what you would commission? Here are some ideas from past commissions that I've done:WEDDING GIFTS
Place where he proposed.
Not a commission, but something I made as a gift for our parents at our wedding. Used pieces of our invitation, quotes from ceremony, and an illustration from the programs.
Personalized bridesmaid gift for a bridesmaid who teaches yoga in a beachy place ;)
Wild horses on island where couple was married.
HOLIDAY/SPECIAL EVENTS OR BIRTHDAY GIFTS
Birthday/Mother's Day gift.
Birthday gift for roomate (this is the person's dog!).
Birthday gift for husband.
Birthday gift for Ben (obviously).
Christmas gift for wife--a yoga teacher.
Christmas gift for my parents (our dog who passed away).
Anniversary gift for girlfriend.
New baby gift for husband--this is where they lived when they first moved to DC.
LOGO DESIGN, LETTERING, OR PERSONALIZED "ART QUOTE"
Blog header for blog redesign (also created other design elements, not shown here).
Blog header/business logo.
Final product on t-shirt.
Promo material painting--final material above.
Tranquil Space Dedication painting.
TO PERSONALIZE YOUR HOME
Commissioner grew up in Hawaii--a way to bring Hawaii into her home here in VA.
Same Commissioner, another way to commemorate where she was born.
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New baby's nursery decorations-5 paintings.
(What I spent last Thursday doing!)
See how much you can do by commissioning an artist? Isn't it fun and versatile?
Here are the typical steps for commissioning a painting:
- Reach out to the artist and ask if they're currently taking commissions (if it isn't posted somewhere on their website or blog).
- If they are, tell them what you want--materials (if you know), approximate size, timeline, vision (and if you have it, a price-range). Ask if they're interested and if so, ask for a price estimate.
- The artist should get back to you with a price-list or cost estimate. If they don't, please ask for one ensure they won't go over! The price could skyrocket during the creation process, so ensure that you have a clear understanding of how the pricing/payment structure works before agreeing to a commission.
- Some artists will ask for a "downpayment" or "deposit" for materials before starting, others will just send an invoice at the end.
- The artist should send images along the way, so that you can provide input and give them feedback. Remember that although they're an artist and may have a vision, you also want to be in love with the final product since you are paying for it. Don't be afraid to speak up if you're not happy with something in the painting--almost everything can be tweaked :)
I hope this helps! Do keep in mind that not all artists do commissions, as it's a very personal preference (not everyone loves them as much as I do, haha!).
I'm currently working on a moving gift for a fiance, a wedding gift from the bride to the groom, a 30th birthday present for a close friend, and a logo--each project is extremely different and thus, keeps me fresh and challenged, which I adore :) I hope to have time to do more work like this starting in June, when my schedule frees up a bit (!).
Want more info about commissions? Contact me
for pricing--I'm up for anything and I promise, my prices are very reasonable and I'm able to work with almost any budget.
Now off to enjoy my painting day...
This video says all that you need to know about why I'm [finally] giving up flip flops--forever
Not because I'm some amazing "athlete" and "athletes don't wear flip flops," but because I want my body to function as optimally as possible (and feel as good as possible)--and I think that proper alignment starts with the feet (read more in my "Lets Talk About Feet, Baby"
Oh, and if you're not familiar with him, the creator of this video is Kelly Starrett
, THE go-to guy for all CrossFitters seeking mobility help (and my #1 fitness/online crush). You can learn more about his "mission to get you guys to stop destroying your feel and ankles" on his blog, here
I hope you'll join me in giving up flip-flops this spring! Or maybe just working to reduce the amount of time you spend wearing them...?
PS. Notice that I didn't say cute strappy sandals with backs of some sort...just flip flops ;)
I know that this video has been circulating via Social Media
this week, so I apologize if you've already seen it, but because it is SUCH an important message (go Dove!), I wanted to be sure that I highlighted it here, as well.
The basics: Dove had real women describe their faces to a forensic sketch artist (unaware of what was going on), and later, a stranger was asked to describe the same woman to the sketch artist. This (obviously) resulted in two very different portraits, thus highlighting our inability to see ourselves clearly, our inability to look past our own "flaws," our inability to see our own beauty. Genius.
I know that all of this is part of an ad campaign meant to get us talking about Dove, but I'm willing to let that part of the equation slide, because it's also gotten us talking about body image and self-esteem, which are two very
important topics--especially when it comes to women. Also, as someone who used to work in marketing and has been addicted to Mad Men
lately, I have to say that it's a pretty incredible ad campaign because it's actually
working and has gone viral (Don Draper would be very impressed!).
You can learn more about the campaign and watch personal videos about each of the women on Dove's website
, but here are a few of the sketches that really impacted me:
All images courtesy of realbeautysketches.dove.us
The differences are striking, aren't they? Something to think about: if you were asked to describe your face--just giving the facts and discussing your features--what would you say? I'm willing to bet that you would highlight the things that you think are unattractive, prominent, and different, as opposed to the things that make you beautiful.
Why do we have so much trouble seeing ourselves clearly? Why do we look in the mirror and only see the frizz, the dark circles, the pimple, the mole or freckle, and not the beautiful smile, kind eyes, open face?
You are beautiful just the way you are. Don't forget it.
I think the title of this post says it all--I'm obsessed with San Diego, with vacation, with letting go
, with having nothing to do except what I/we want to do, with sleeping 11 hours per night and eating amazing food at every meal. This trip reminds me why vacation is SO important for all of us, and why taking some time to completely relax is a true necessity in life--it's necessary for the soul!
That being said, I want to get out there and keep experiencing CA while I'm here, so I'll keep this short and sweet: more pictures. Some of you have asked for more, so here they come!
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"They see me rollin'...they hatin'..."
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This sign made Ben FREAK out ;)
I told you, many more obligatory yoga pose shots to come--this is what we yogis do--we can't help ourselves!
And this is what CrossFitters do ;)
My new best friends.
I'll also be sharing more pics tomorrow, of course, for this week's SJOTW
(get ready, it'll be chock full ;)Hope this gives you a nice picture of what we've been doing while we've been away! It's been a dream, seriously. I feel grateful, fulfilled, content, and 100% present. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
As the title of this post suggests, the time has come
. Just like many other bloggers who have come before me, I've decided to enter into the amazing world of e-courses. Why, you might ask? Because I think they're fabulous. I've thoroughly enjoyed every e-course that I've ever done, and here's why:
- E-courses give you a chance to learn something new in the comfort of your own home. Usually, from someone who you feel like you already "know" through their blog (I love this about blogs--so many friends!).
- Often, you can do them at your own pace. There's no pressure to finish by a specific deadline, and the content is yours to delve into as deeply as you'd like.
- It's a great way to "go back to school" and study a subject that you're really passionate about. I LOVE learning, I love homework assignments, and I love the process of digesting new information. E-courses make this process really accessible.
- They're usually much more affordable than taking an in-person course, and the cost of supplies is up to you (you can spend as much or as little as you'd like).
Sounds fab, right? If you've never done an e-course before, I highly recommend doing one...maybe starting with my new e-course, Get Inspired
Here's all the info about Get Inspired
, which launches when I return from San Diego on Monday, April 15th (tax day!):Get Inspired
is designed to help YOU get in touch with your creative side--a side that many of us lose touch with over the years, as we become more worn down, more rushed, more inundated with technology, family, and work. By enrolling and participating in this e-course, you will have the chance to begin exploring what inspires you, to learn how to make inspiration and creativity a part of your daily life, and to think about (and play with) ways in which you can share your unique viewpoint with the world through various creative outlets.
The e-course is made up of 4 unique sessions and is designed to be completed over approximately 4 weeks:
- Week 1- What Gets You Going? Figuring Out What Inspires You
- Week 2- Now What? Getting to Know Your Creative Self
- Week 3- Living Your Inspiration: How to Make Creativity a Part of Your Daily Life
- Week 4- Get It Out There! Sharing Your Creativity With the World
This is a "do-at-your-own-pace" e-course, which allows you to complete each week's work on your own schedule. You will receive the full course + all sessions with your login information. Although the coursework is broken up by week, if it takes you 2-weeks or even a month to do each section, that's completely fine. However, to get the most out of the course, I recommend that you stick with the schedule *as much* as possible ;)BonusBuilt-in e-course community (communicate through blog comments!) and a chance to showcase your creations on Starr Struck, if you desire!
Investment$35 + your time + your creative energy ;)Although the e-course launches on April 15th, you can pre-register now to ensure you'll be one of the first in line to Get Inspired. Click here for all the details and to sign-up.Thanks for being a part of my journey. I'm so excited to take this next step, and hope that through this course, we can all begin to make daily creativity (and inspiration!) a non-negotiable.
My morning: 5:25am wake-up call, oatmeal, studio: decorations for TSA Open House
, streamers, balloons, snacks, 6:45am yoga class, savasana (ahhh), chalkboard signs, more decorations, teach 9am family yoga class (freaking ADORABLE
), buy ice, clean-up studio, just a few more balloons, head home, email, paint.
It's amazing how different your day feels when it starts at 5:25, isn't it?
Now that I'm settled in at home and working on finishing two current watercolor commissions, I thought I'd share a sneak peek of each...because sometimes I think the little snippets can be just as exciting as the final product ;)
I'll share the full, finished paintings (and the process) when they're done and have been presented to their rightful owners.
1. Worked through the weekend and hit the ground running--and I mean, RUNNING--on Monday (even when you love your job, this is exhausting!).2.
Got motion sickness on the metro on Monday and almost threw up [on the metro].3.
Roofers unexpectedly showed up at the studio to fix our roof and proceeded to hammer + bang through the majority of the classes that I took/taught on Tuesday and Wednesday (and they also yelled and/or cussed at me when I asked them to quiet down).4. Real phone conversation between my Mom and Ben on Tuesday:
-Mom: My neighbor called the police on me for cutting her thorn bushes and the police are here. Should I lie to them and tell them she gave me permission, or tell them the truth--that I did it without asking her?
-Ben: Don't lie.
Always tell the police the truth.
-Me: FML. Do you think my mom is going to go to jail today?5.
Studio toilet overflowed twice and our plunger was a dud. Stepped in the toilet water in my socks (yum!).6.
Started to come down with yet another cold or sinus infection.7.
Got scolded in my sleep by Ben--who was also asleep but was evidently still mad at me (cool, Ben!).8.
Had total drama with our building manager + cleaning people on Wednesday and kind of got yelled at. Not worth going into, but a total disaster, nonetheless (and a very, very spoiled #firstworldproblem
, I know...)
1. Started the day with a delicious 6:45 AM yoga class.
2. Picked up a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks on the way home.
3. Headed to get a massage at 10am.
4. Schedule is free to paint all afternoon and I have two really fun commissions to work on.
5. Argo date with Ben tonight. Can't wait to see this movie!
6. We have Samoas AND Thin Mints AND Tagalongs in the cupboard (!!!).
I'd say things are looking up, wouldn't you? Annnnnd this is how to schedule your "off" days--especially on weeks that don't go as planned ;)