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Breakfast with Nina

So glad that you stopped by for our latest Breakfast installment! And you’re going to be glad too: Meet Nina Johnson, clothing designer, blogger, and single mom of two. Nina’s commitment to her creative life — and her ability to make it happen — are a huge inspiration. So whip up a fruit smoothie and enjoy!

nj1CC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family headcount.
NJ:
Let’s see…some know me by NeoSewMama. My given name is Sha’Nina — although most everyone calls me Nina. I’m a 29-year-old funky, vegan, urban hippie, rockin’ a nose ring and a curly red ‘fro, who designs clothing, sings way too much, and spends most of my time making the lives of those around me lovely. I’m currently living in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, which just so happens to be the metropolis of everything funky, vegan, indie, and Earth conscious…therefore I fit right in!

nj2I am a single SAHM to two beautiful and full-of-life little people — Jade, 6, and Myles, 3. I also have a special guy in my life who we call Buckets, that I spend as much time with as his busy college football coaching job allows (long-distance relationships aren’t for the faint of heart).

My journey as a SAHM began when we learned shortly after birth that Jade had a rare condition called VACTERL Association. She spent 3 1/2 months in the NICU, had countless surgeries (open-heart, diaphragmatic hernia repair, TEF repair…just to name a few) and once home, required my around the clock TLC. nj3Although she has long-lasting medical issues, Jade has made remarkable strides from where she once was.

A few years ago (after becoming a single mom and having Myles), I began providing in-home daycare so that I could bring in some extra income and remain at home with my children. About 10 months ago I realized that the long hours and stress was putting too much of a strain on our little family, so I quit and decided to pursue my clothing designing on a more full-time basis.

CC: Tell us about your creative work and what’s on the offing in your Etsy shop.
NJ:
Although my true love creatively is clothing construction, baking and crafting with my children come in a close second and third.nj4 I can and will make just about anything. Lately I have been focusing a lot of time on learning (and mastering) dyeing, printmaking, crocheting, knitting, and weaving. I used to think it was bad that I was so all over the place with my creative interests. I now know that it’s great because it expands the possibilities of what I can create.

My goal is to incorporate all of these various mediums into my clothing creations as embellishments. My dream is to build a complete line of clothing and accessories and to successfully maintain a boutique of my own. Right now, my etsy shop consists of a few hand-dyed items and a handful of my favorite vintage finds. Over the next month or so I plan to introduce many new designs…mostly one-of-a-kind pieces for spring and summer.

nj5CC: What prompted you to start a blog? What keeps you going?
NJ:
I originally decided to start a blog as a project of sorts with my best friend and sister, Ki. We are inseparable (even though we live thousands of miles away and didn’t grow up with each other) and are ALWAYS finding things that we can do together. We thought blogging would be a good way to document all the things happening in our lives and provide a visual scrapbook not only for the two of us to share, but also something that we could show our children someday. Gradually it grew into much more than that as I found it becoming a part of me…my voice. As a single, stay-at-home mom with very little family and few friends, I spend all of my time with my children. There is only so much that I can share with them…meaning there is not a lot of deep, intellectual conversation being had here. So a lot of my thoughts and ideas where being stifled. I have found that blogging is just a new form of the journaling that I have used as an outlet throughout my life. I’ve also met so many wonderful people blogging. I feel blessed to have made many lifelong connections through the blogging community.

CC: Do you find that your blog keeps you “honest” creatively? Meaning that you have a place to state your intentions — and that you need to keep producing work in order to have something creative to blog about?
NJ:
I do believe that it keeps me honest creatively…just not necessarily so that I have something to blog about. I mean I do believe that mentioning my works in progress helps keep me motivated somewhat. I’m a firm believer in the idea that we speak things into being. So once I state it there…and can visually see it, I am much more determined to see it completed. As much as I am blogging to share my creations with others, I am also doing it to encourage myself.

nj6CC: Where do you do your creative work?
NJ:
I do most of my creating in our living room/dining room. I began working in a small space I set up so that I could work while watching the kids play. My work has now spilled over to the dining room table (it has a larger cutting surface area). I have also created a dye “studio” in my basement in which I spend quite a bit of time as well. I want to move my work elsewhere so I can feel better about leaving things messy, but that will have to wait…more than likely until we move into a bigger place.

nj7CC: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
NJ:
I have a schedule. I even went as far as setting alarms into my BlackBerry to stay on track. It worked for a while but as of late we have had a lot of distractions and illnesses that have really curtailed things on the creative end. Since I’m at my best in the morning, I try and spend the first two hours back home after dropping Jade off at school blogging, e-mailing, picture taking, packaging, fabric cutting and/or sewing. From noon til 8:30 it’s pretty much mommy duty. After the kids are in bed I try to fit in as much sewing and dyeing as I can before I pass out (which lately has been well before 10 p.m.).

nj10CC: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
NJ:
My journey through motherhood has pushed me to pursue my creative endeavors with much more passion. I was originally planning to go to college for fashion design right after high school. But for whatever reason I thought it was impractical, so I put my interest in clothing design aside and focused on becoming a teacher instead. I packed away my sewing machine and let it sit collecting dust. After many, many years of always putting everyone else’s needs first and going out of my way to make sure everyone else was happy, I made the choice that it was time to do something for me. I rediscovered my first love…sewing.

nj9CC: What do you struggle with most?
NJ: My biggest challenges are time management and staying productive. There is hardly enough time in the day to do all the things that I need to do, even less to do all that I should do and NEVER enough to do all that I want to do. I have tried many tactics — some that have worked better than others (lists and prioritizing), but it continues to be a struggle. I want so badly to be able to become more productive as far as my shop is concerned. I have very small blocks of time to work within, so a dress that I should be able to finish in day usually takes me days (sometime a week) to complete. I know there is a solution…I just haven’t discovered it yet.

nj11CC: Where do you find inspiration?
NJ:
I find inspiration everywhere…literally. Playing outside with kids. The colors in ads or product packaging, old movies, African and Japanese culture, magazines, people on the street, blogs, the way my daughter puts her clothing together, vintage fabric, my imagination…the list goes on. I sketch out ideas as I get them…sometimes in my sketchbook other times on napkins, receipts, bills, or on whatever I have near me at the moment.

CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?
NJ:
Just five? Hmmmm…this is hard. I’ll have to do the first five that come to mind…

  1. Quejimenez — my sis
  2. Fly
  3. Heart Handmade
  4. Jubella
  5. Puhti

nj12CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
NJ:
Indulgences…another hard question. It used to be fabric and magazines but I have cut both my fabric and magazine buying drastically in the last year or so. I’d have to say that drinking tea or coffee in the morning before the kids wake up…and again at night after “cuddle time” is over is something I like doing just for me. The occasional pint of Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet or a movie via Netflix (when I can stay awake) is always a lovely treat. With all that said, my most favorite thing — hands down — is spending time being silly with my children. Our singing/dance parties are much more lively than any nightclub could ever be.

CC: What are you reading right now?
NJ:
I’m always reading something. There are stacks of books all over my house to prove it. Never been much of a novel person. I was always that kid reading biographies and home improvement/how-to manuals…which is probably why I can figure out how to make just about anything. The books I’m currently dragging from room to room are: Donald Trump’s Think Big and Kick Buttocks (I don’t use the real word), The Unschooling Handbook, The God of Small Things, Ralph S. Mouse (with the kids), Fast Knits Fat Needles and a constant source of reference is Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.

nj13CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
NJ:
I know it sounds like the obvious, but be creative when and wherever you can be. As a single mama with very little help, I’m almost never alone. If I waited for free time to create it would never happen. I find things to do that are portable and take them with me to Jade’s doctor’s visits, to the park or anywhere else we go. It may take me a bit longer to finish things, but at least I’m continually creative.

Although creating for self is great, I believe making time to create on a daily basis with your children is just as important. Teaching kids to be creative at an early age helps open them up to self-discovery and gives them methods in which to express themselves. It puts the power to dream in their fingertips.

nj8It’s never too late to learn a new craft or skill. I’ve always wanted to learn to crochet or knit but could never quite get the hang of it. I had come to the conclusion that maybe it just wasn’t for me. But after Jade learned to knit from a kit she got last Christmas, I was determined to pick up a pair of needles myself. I’m happy to report that since then I have not only taught myself to knit, but I have also figured out crocheting and we have made a weaving loom as well. I guess I’m trying to master all the fiber arts.

Last but not least, NEVER let anything or anyone keep you from expressing yourself creatively. There have been many setbacks and detours in my life that at times had me questioning whether or not I should pursue my creative endeavors. But to suppress that desire would be to deny all that is within me. And what good are you to anyone — yourself, your family, or society — if you aren’t your authentic self? I have known from a very young age who I was meant to be and what I wanted to do with my life. I am not settling for anything less than living this dream. Don’t stop until you have become the you that you see in your dreams!

CC: Love, love your advice and perspective, Nina. Thank you so much!

Brittany: A Half-Finished Life

The first time I ever saw Hungarian embroidery was the first time my new host mother took me on a tour of Pécs, the town where I would be living for the year. It hung in the window of the local souvenir shop, a cheery beacon in the newly post-communist landscape. It was the only thing cheery in town. In 1995, inflation was rampant, new construction had halted, the economy was in turmoil, the people downtrodden. It was everything you imagined in your worst Cold War nightmares. And I had just found my 18-year-old self in the epicenter of the once-communist block, without a single word of Hungarian, homesick, and slightly panic-stricken. I had just seen the house next door insulated with hay. Hay! And never mind the next-door neighbors who, when their house was condemned, moved their farm animals into the living room. I truly thought I was going to die in that godforsaken, backwards, barnyard-animal-in-house-dwelling world.

The embroidery stopped me in my tracks. “What is that?” I asked my host mother. “I want to learn how to do it.”

That weekend, my host father took me to the market, where I perused stalls of crisp white tablecloths covered in blue dye patterns. I chose one that didn’t look too complicated, as well as needles and embroidery thread, and headed home to my host mother and my first lesson.

The embroidery kept me sane during my first months in Hungary. When I was bored, I embroidered. When the family watched TV that I didn’t understand, I embroidered. I used it to wind down at the end of the day, to appear more social than I felt, as a way of connecting with a foreign culture. finembroidNo one objected at all to the exchange student who sat quietly embroidering all day. And the more I fell in love with embroidery, the more I fell in love with Hungary.

It took me the entire year, but I finally finished that first tablecloth the week before I came home.

I have struggled to finish another one ever since. This week, while doing some early spring cleaning, I ran across two more I had started, but never completed. They were wadded up in a ball in the furthest reaches of my closet. I had forgotten they were there or that they’d ever existed.

bv1The first I started as soon as I got home. I worked on it in my spare time all through college. It traveled back to Europe with me, then came all the way home to be abandoned when I started grad school and became too busy to work on it anymore.

The second I started several years ago, when we moved into this house and I decided I wanted to make a tablecloth for our table and the bright Hungarian colors wouldn’t fit in with the color scheme we’d chosen. Then I started work on my novel, the boys were born, and I didn’t have it in me to sew on a button, much less embroider a full-sized tablecloth. bv2

When I rediscovered the tablecloths, it was with deep regret that they were still unfinished. Even more than my writing, embroidery feels like pieces of my soul made of cloth. Along with strands of my hair and pin pricks of my blood, I have woven my hopes and dreams and aspirations into the fibers. Both unfinished tablecloths represent a different period of my life when I didn’t know what was next on the horizon. The first, during a bright, colorful, chaotic time. The second, when my new life as a mother was right around the corner.

Lately I have been beating myself up for not accomplishing more. Like the delicious newness of a freshly printed tablecloth, I itch to start over. I want to do something bigger, more elaborate, and prove to myself and everyone else that I’m not squandering time, that I’m challenging myself, and that I’m not taking my life or my creativity for granted. I’ve also been acting like a person with an expiration date.

Yesterday, watching the Elizabeth Gilbert video, I was struck by a comment she made. She was talking about how quite possibly her best work was behind her, but then she added that she was 40 years old, and probably had 40 more years of work in her. I thought to myself, “And I’m only 32. I might have 50 years. Why am I killing myself to do it all today? I can save some of this mojo for tomorrow. It’s not going anywhere.”

Right now, I need to find a creative outlet where my mind can drift. An activity that requires no concentration. That I can pick up and put down as the mood strikes. As a creative mother, my soul will always be split in half. One half will be with my art, one half will be with my boys. What better use of my fractured time than finishing the partially-embroidered tablecloths from my (not quite) half-finished life?

2/25 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt

Ah, the eyes have it! Lovely submissions for this week’s creativity contest. Our winner is Elizabeth Beck, for this beautiful collage. Elizabeth writes: “i just finished this collage this week …. and intentionally left out the eyes …. to leave it all more ambiguous and mysterious ….. so … for my eyes entry, i give you no eyes!” (I just love your work, Elizabeth, and I’m anxious to try my hand at collage with the SIX BOXES of potential collage materials I gathered up while packing for my move.) Congratulations, Elizabeth — your $10 amazon.com gift certificate has been issued.

100_79311

 

From Karen Winters, a watercolor painting. Karen writes: “I have always admired the way Egyptian women were portrayed in sculpture and painting, so I decided to do a closeup watercolor just featuring the eyes of an exotic beauty. Unlike the ancient paintings that were very stylized and graphic-looking, I chose to represent the eyes in a more realistic manner. The kohl that Egyptian women and men used for distinctive outlining served more than a decorative purpose. Originally made from the soot derived from burning sandalwood paste, kohl served as a medicinal aid and protection against strong sun. Modern preparations may contain lead, so caveat emptor.”

eyes-3x5

 

From Jen Johnson, a poem. Jen writes: “My submission is a quick little poem dashed off during naptime (because that’s all the time I had this week!) based on something I seem to remember reading somewhere a long time ago. Your prompt reminded me of it — not sure if it’s scientific fact or not (and a quick google search with the kids in my lap can’t confirm it) but I like the idea anyway.”

Moongaze

They say that the dark side of the moon,
The side blind to human eyes,
Has a gigantic crater, so big it could be seen
With ease from our own Earth –

If ever we could see what can’t be seen.
It would look like an enormous lunar eye,
Peering down at us each night.
The huge hole a dark iris, pale moondust sclera.

What myths would have been made,
What stories spun, what gods imagined,
If each night we looked up to see
A changeable gaze staring down from the sky?

 

From Rebecca Coll, a painting that she created this week as a gift to her husband on their anniversary. Rebecca writes: “I stretched the theme of ‘eye’ to include how we use it and experimented with the whole optical illusion thing. I figured after 19 years a marriage is about so much more than you can see on the surface. It’s about who we are and the love we have shared. To show this I painted a tree (growth, stability, branches for our independent passions, etc.) using both of our profiles to create the trunk. Then, up in the tree I added 19 hearts for the 19 years… Can you see them all?”

annivtree1

 

From Kelly Warren: “Pure goofiness…the eyes are two of my evil eye pendants.  I’d say this is me after one too many margaritas.” Love it, Kelly!

goofy-eyes

 

From Cathy Coley, a poem:

Eyes

My eldest son’s mossy deep forest green
glow in the sun and mute to wood.
They are the unusual eyes
of my grandfathers,
both of Carolina Cherokee blood.
I wander lost in those eyes
when they look at me.

At a powwow when he was three
a young Mohegan boy of eight
smiled and said,
‘He has the eyes of my tribe,
the eyes of the wolf.’

From boy to boy passed more
than a stick of rock candy.
This is his second early memory
after the red and licorice
ladybug birthday cake.
He has the eyes of a wolf.

My second son’s eyes kaleidoscope
from bright blue to green to slate.
My mostly Irish father’s eyes are aqua green,
Turn to crystal blue, even lavender.
My boys’ father’s Irish eyes switch, too –
Sky eyes clear blue to thunderclouds.
My young son’s eyes are big as the sky.
I can fall into them, and rarely swim back out.

My daughter’s eyes are deep,
clear, warm bullets,
black brown depths of her father and me.
My mother, my grandmother,
his father and generations
back into the hills and across the ocean.
The deep history of continents
collide in our daughter’s eyes –
founders, natives, immigrants,
brown as earth’s rich soil.

Histories upon peoples read
in our children’s eyes.

 

From me (Miranda): A header image that I several months ago — it’s one of my favorites. Naturally, I am enchanted by the eyes of all of my children, but I have to say that Liam (the youngest) has extra depth to his baby blues.

babyeye

 

This week’s prompt: “Light”
Use the prompt however you like — literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by 10:00 p.m. eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, March 3, 2009. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to amazon.com. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly contest, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 24 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

All eyes on you!

Don’t forget to send in a submission for our weekly creativity contest. The prompt is “eyes.” Deadline is tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern time. Come on, “see” what you can do!

Relieving yourself of genius

If you loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, then you’re going to love this video of Gilbert discussing her paradigm of creativity, and how it might help you too. Recommended viewing. Do you subscribe to Gilbert’s philosophy? If not, do you want to?

(Thanks to Suzanne Révy and Rebecca Coll for alerting me to the clip.)

Cathy: Stopping the analysis

The February Finish-a-thon has been a great tool for all of us to realize where we fit in setting ourselves deadlines, what project we’re working on, how far we have to go, and whether can we finish it in a certain time frame.

For me, it turned my otherwise small penchant for analysis of why I’m not writing as much as I set out to into a life’s purpose in a public forum. I spent more energy on thinking about not writing than I spent on writing my manuscript. In the meantime, and it took 21 days of this, to realize that I was actually keeping the same pace I had been keeping on the manuscript since I re-opened it last spring: exactly the same pace. The six weeks around the holidays were taken up with the holidays and everyone in the house being very ill in long phases, including me. Otherwise, I have written a small burst of between three to six pages on one day per week, while Baby C naps in the morning, since the beginning. Those naps are rare these days.

There are reasons for this, not excuses. I am incredibly sleep deprived, and can barely function on normal household stuff, let alone have a clear thought for continuity in a novel. I am now on the older baby chase besides her usual kicking keyboard cuteness. She motors everywhere and I follow. We don’t have baby gates up or cabinet locks on, etc. I am all for letting her learn her world. The rest of the world doesn’t have baby gates, why should I here, except it would make my life easier in getting basics done. I am vigilant, and how will she learn to cope on her own, if she doesn’t understand how to get around safely. She needs to learn the stairs, so we teach her, when she wants. She wants to now, so there I am, following the climber up, and keeping her from repelling to her doom. I hold her hand while she scoots down on her butt. We do this over and over, and she laughs and learns a little more each time. The dog and cat enjoy it, too. We’re having a blast.

In the meantime, the little nagging voice in the back of my head tells me I’m making excuses to go fly kites, tend the baby, and bake cookies to avoid the writing. Once, it was a huge voice in the front of my head that told me who the hell do I think I am to write? Who wants to hear what I have to say? The voice shrinks and fades into the background, because, yes I am almost done with this novel. Now it’s just the voice that still wants a voice as I gain my own. During Feb-Fin, I let it out and let it inhale deeply in order to spout through my all my public analysis of not writing. Well, it’s time to show that voice the back door. I won’t give it anymore fanfare.

I will escort it back to where it belongs, as the distant echo in the back of my head. I will get on with writing, my little bit as I can. I will tend the baby, bake cookies, and fly kites. I will enjoy my kids, my husband and dare I say, the housework. I will do so without the dread that the time I am doing something else, or better yet, nothing at all, is time not writing. If my ideas percolate away from the keyboard, so be it. They will form better in the single two to three hours I really have to hobble all those ideas together.

As for the writing itself, I have blogged before that I can’t set a schedule for it. That’s just an axe at the throat of my writing. I can set a maybe schedule, but have to be realistic that if I “set aside” three mornings a week, really only one will serve for the possibility. John Updike may have written six days a week, but that’s just not how my muse works. Mine sprints and recoups. She’s always been like that to an extent. She’s never been a marathoner. Since motherhood, it’s her modus operandi. Regardless of my whining online about not writing, I really have been pretty good about recognizing this pace and letting the writing happen in its own time, and Baby C’s.

Kelly: Humming John Lennon

gypsy-moon1The girls and I lay down and stared at the moon and the stars last night, all cuddled up like three little ladybugs, telling stories. We weren’t outside. No, we were laying in Sarah’s bed, staring up at this particular moon and stars you see here. Aren’t they fabulous? This now covers our attic access, which just so happens to be in the girls’ room, courtesy of my friend Gypsy who came for a visit earlier this week. Not the best picture, but the best I could do shooting up while laying in Sarah’s bed! Gypsy, her apprentice Michelle, and I spent two days doing some painting, having some heart-to-hearts and enjoying a sunny Florida afternoon in Fernandina Beach gallery hopping and scarfing down some awesome barbecue at the Happy Tomato Café (highly recommended if you are ever in Fernandina!). Gypsy’s visit was definitely food for the soul for me.

Gypsy (otherwise known as Lizz Hundley) is a wonderfully free spirit, making her way in the world while living life to the fullest each and every moment. I’ve been trying to do that more lately, too. In case you haven’t read my comment in my Dodging Curve Balls post, I got good news from the surgeon Monday, so I’m going to be fine for now. Dr. H met with the radiologist and pathologist again and decided that sometimes radiologists and pathologists are a little too quick to recommend further surgery in cases like mine. He wants to wait a bit and re-evaluate in six months. I’m glad Dr. S sent me for that surgery consult as a second opinion.

These past few weeks have made me slow down a bit, though, and I think that’s good. Between this little health scare and learning of a friend’s death by a massive heart attack at the ripe old age of 39, I’ve definitely taken a step back from my usual going in eight different directions. When we started the February Finish-a-thon, my “I can do anything” self took over. I definitely didn’t need to add another thing to my plate, but I went ahead and signed on anyway with the goal of creating a new affordably priced pendant line in preparation for the kickoff of the Riverside Arts Market April 4. Well, today’s February 20 and I haven’t made a one. Heck, I haven’t even gotten around to photographing all the new pieces I finished in November and December! My workshop has been sorely neglected. But I’ve decided that that’s really okay (and that seems to be a realization hitting a few of us right now). Yep, I’ve decided that’s just fine because what I have been doing instead? Just hanging out…and I’ve really been needing to just hang out. I’ve been hanging out with DH and the girls…hanging out on the dock looking at the river…hanging out with my furry four-legged friends…hanging out with all the art currently leaning against the walls of my great room waiting for me to rehang it all…hanging out with my students on Facebook (I actually had to learn Facebook for work!). I’ve been moving at a snail’s pace, and it’s been nice.

blue-doorI’ve been keeping up with our running comments on the February Finish-a-thon post. Obviously, since I’ve made zero progress, I haven’t had much news to post, but I’ve tried to be encouraging to the rest of you. I have noticed one thing coming through though. This is truly an incredible group of women, but from my prospective anyway, I think we all have “superwoman disease.” We think we can do it all, and we get frustrated with ourselves, our self-imposed deadlines, and our self-inflicted failures and misgivings when life gets in the way (okay, go ahead and throw darts at me if you think I’m wrong :-) ).

I refuse to do that anymore. Life should not be what gets in the way. Life should be what it’s all about. It should be about taking a few days off to spend time with a good friend and go chow down on some barbecue. It should be about making up stories about the things we see in a whimsical painting of the moon and stars while cuddling up with our children. It should be about creating simply for creating’s sake, not for a deadline hanging over our heads. And don’t tell me you can’t do this because you’re too busy dealing with the kids, ladies…we’re all in that boat together. Sure, sometimes deadlines are necessary, and I’m not knocking the idea at all; I think it was a good one to give a kick in the pants if needed. But for me a deadline takes all the joy out of creating. It becomes a “I must do this to meet my deadline” instead of a “Hey, I wanna try this just for fun.”

There’s definitely been some good wisdom in the comments, all from different perspectives, but as I mentioned in one of my comments, something Kristine said has struck the biggest chord with me: “So I’m taking a step back and giving myself a break. I’m taking pleasure in my daily accomplishments and no longer obsessing over what I need to accomplish by the end of the month. It’s a journey, not a sprint.” Yep, it is a journey, not a sprint. I shared a John Lennon quote in my “Keeping Calm and Carrying On” post on my Happy Shack blog last week, and it bears repeating here: “Life is what happens to you while you’re too busy making other plans.” And life in general is the best part of the journey. Don’t let it be what gets in the way; make it what counts most instead. Go live it.

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