Archive for ‘whimsical’

February 9, 2015

The Story of My Success.

quote-winston-churchill-success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to-759

I started out in life thinking if I could just turn 18, I would be an ADULT and things would be amazing! I wouldn’t have to follow rules, do chores and listen to parents. I knew better. If I could only get my own place. If I only had a car, I wouldn’t have to ride my bike everywhere, even in the winter. If college applications didn’t go off the parent’s income even though I lived on my own, I wouldn’t have to wait to start when most people were finishing. If I didn’t have to work AND go to school, it would be so much easier to graduate.

Life is supposed to go a certain way, right? The idyllic childhood, the partying, yet scholarly trip through college. Which of course enables you to land a perfect job, IMMEDIATELY, because that is what college is for. To ensure that you, me, people in general, succeed in life. All that money paid out, all that higher learning is supposed to give you an edge. A step up.

From there it gets even better. It’s TRUE! You just have to meet the ONE. The right person you will spend your entire life with. (But do it in your 20’s or it will be too late!)
Once you find THAT person, it will be magical! There will be singing and dancing (at least in my version) and everyone is happy and life is easy. If you really want to achieve ‘The American Dream’ , then you get married AND buy a house! To add a completely blissful cherry on top, have children. Then your life is truly complete. And apparently there are no more goals to reach until you die.

That was how the version in my head went. I’m not sure exactly where I came to have those exact standards or ideals, but it turned out it was all kinda bullshit. I lived my life in sort of earnest, trying to become something. Someone important. Once I made it to California, I would be an actress. Once I had my invitation business, I gave myself 5 years, then I was going to be featured on Oprah. I wanted public acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. If only I had more money for advertising. If only I could get more exposure. If I just had unlimited resources and time…

success-really-looks-like

I’ll say one thing for getting older, it’s like a fantastical discovery. There are no set rules, there is no “I’ve been through so much crap that I should be good and have it easy for the rest of my life’. Believe me, I wish that were true. If you are one of the few whose life has gone exactly according to plan, then kudos to you! For the rest of us, it’s about learning. Joel and I were just half-joking the other day, about how we felt like we were all filled up on Life’s massive learning experiences for awhile. Because you know, they are rather all-consuming and overall just plain exhausting.

For now though, success to me equals getting Arden to school on time, fed breakfast. Her lunch and backpack in hand along with finished homework. It’s helping her navigate all the drama of getting along and interacting with other kids. It’s getting Cam fed solids as he flops around in his Bumbo seat, then to sleep when he’s extremely irritable. It’s working on the orders I do have, while dreaming up new ideas. It’s getting the insurance to finally pay the claim that collectors have been calling on for almost a year. It’s jumping through all the hoops to file with the City for our flooded duplex. It’s getting another room in the new house repaired/organized/painted/cleaned/livable.

The secret of my success is never giving up. Forever and always, persistent, stubborn and determined. It’s appreciating what I do have and respecting how far I’ve come. It’s knowing that I’ll accomplish so much more, as long as I keep trying. It’s being thankful for the support I have from Joel, who’s always amazing. (and that there IS the singing and dancing that I’d always hoped for!) It’s excepting that while my life isn’t a made-up ideal, it is one heck of an adventure that I’m fortunate to be a part of.

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November 13, 2014

The Bittersweet End~

Our little house! (THEN)

When I was little, my dad would say “That was another lifetime ago.”, when asked about certain topics that he’d rather not discuss. For the longest time, I had no idea what he was talking about. But as we get ready to say good-bye to Walmar Drive, it all makes sense. I moved into this house the fall of 2003. In November. Almost exactly 11 years ago. It was my first house after all my apartment living. After leaving the house I grew up in. I claimed the entire upstairs for my work studio. With it’s gloriously well-made, built-in bookshelves, it would be perfect for all my cardstock I was quickly acquiring. My budding invitation business would steadily grow here. I met with countless clients in this room. Brides and grooms bursting at the seams with excitement to start their lives together. I would greet them at the door, “This place looks like my Grandma’s house!” many would say. It was true. On the outside, it rather looked kinda like my own Grandma’s house. A simple Cap Cod, built in the 1950’s. Then they would come inside and love the decor. It’s always been bright and colorful and happy. (Photo taken by C-Bus Magazine, an article about my business: dfmi designs)

Dfmi Design article in C-Bus magazine

I’ve hosted many dinners here and parties and get-togethers. I was always paranoid when the guest list would swell, more friends wanting to attend than declining. I worried how I’d fit them all. I’d try to rationalize it in my head. Thinking back to when I went to college parties with friends, people always crammed together and no one seemed to mind. Of course, there was beer involved, which did nothing for me and my introversion, but worked well for everyone else. Now though, good food and camaraderie is what ended up bonding all these guests together. First, it was wedding planning. Nothing was better than discussing your dress or reception with a bunch of other girls that were headed down the same path. Eventually, over the years the talks turned to meal planning, how to save money, kids and raising families. (This photo is from January 2004, in the hallway going upstairs.)

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I brought my babies home to this house. Cam will never know what it’s like to live here. Arden, however, is excited for a bigger room. She’ll now have a walk-in closet and lots of space for toys. (Which means they will no longer be threatening to take over my work space.) For her nursery, I had chosen a bright, cheery green. As she got older she begged for it to be blue, because that was her favorite color. I thought for sure when I asked her what she wanted her new room to be she’d now pick pink or purple. But she requested the same green. Some days she’s excited and some days she’s apprehensive. I think it’s to make it feel more like her other one. As long as she has a magenta door too. That is the stipulation. LOL

Arden with sandwich copy

arden and Cam, cam on bed sept 2014 copy

I had my wedding in the backyard here. It was intimate and lovely. Just our closest friends and family. It was tons of work to pull together, but even more worth it once it was featured on Apartment Therapy. Random strangers commented on how cool it was to see Columbus represented and it almost won for our region in the ‘Room for Color Contest’. Which was even more impressive, because it wasn’t even technically a room. (Wedding photos taken by Lisa Penzone)

Room for Color contest Apartment Therapy

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There are so many memories, so much time spent here. It is comfortable, but we have outgrown it. It is hard to say good-bye.

(AFTER) Walmar ready to sell copy

http://www.kingthompson.com/property/details/162760/MLS-214042813/3335-Walmar-Drive-Columbus-OH-43224.aspx

February 25, 2014

Drumroll please: IT’S A …

It's a boy banner copy

I cried.
It felt like a long time waiting for this moment. I had wanted more kids as soon as I met Joel, but the timing just wasn’t right quite. Looking up at the screen today for the ultrasound, I wanted a boy and there he was. All kicking and waving his arms.
Arden got to be there with us. She had talked about wanting a baby sister for so long. I kept her out of school a few hours just so she could witness it for herself. She laughed as she saw the baby move. It’s a cool experience for anyone to see their baby on the monitor. For her I think it was a little magical. I hope that it will be something that she always remembers, how she got to be part of it all.

Baby Stead 18 wk 2 days 001 copy

The other day, I stupidly looked at my paperwork from the previous appointment with my ob/gyn. Under diagnoses it read ‘Supervision of high-risk pregnancy of elderly multigravida’. It simple terms it means at 37, medically speaking they consider me old. As someone who has never quite looked her age, yeah, it’s super insulting. So by yesterday, as the gender determining ultrasound AND the DNA blood-test neared, I had a bit of a meltdown. I suddenly was worried that the baby wasn’t growing right, that a million things could be wrong. We did find out today that he has a tiny hole in his kidney. The doctor seemed pretty nonchalant about it, but ‘hole’ and ‘baby’ aren’t really two words you want to hear together. We still have to wait a couple weeks now for the test results to come back to find out if our son has any other issues.

{OUR SON!!! OMG!}
I cannot believe I’m going to be a mom of two kids. A girl and a boy. It’s wild and surreal.
I already feel like a whale. I don’t recall being this tired with Arden or this large already. Maybe it’s due to MY ADVANCED AGE. I still have 22 weeks to go. Our boy is due around July 27th. I was hoping for sooner. At least it’s not August. Between Arden on the 19th and me on the 26th, we do not need another birthday in August. Arden proclaimed that it would be “SO FUN” until I told her that if that happened, she certainly wouldn’t get a birthday party this year. That shut her right up! LOL.

Arden always has lots of opinions about everything (shocker, right?) A few month ago, she told us that if we had a boy, for his birthday she would have a flag party or a car party. Because boys like those things, she said. {HA HA HA!!!} A flag party, what is THAT? I think she will be pleased to find out that he will probably like a lot of the same things she does. Pirates, ninjas, cars. Possibly even horses. Guess I better start designing more party invitations. 🙂

HOORAY 001

February 12, 2014

The things we do for LOVE.

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Four years ago, when life was less than serendipitous, a high school friend messaged me to see how I was holding up. It was right before Valentine’s Day and I inquired what festivities he had planned for his wife. He stated plainly that they didn’t really celebrate the holiday. I was in disbelief (and disgust.) The holiday of LOVE, how could you not, I thought? Sensing my disapproval, he typed back that they didn’t wait for a holiday to show each other love, that it should be everyday. WHATEVER, I thought. That’s stupid.

And it made me glad I wasn’t married to him.

It turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I still feel the sense of anticipation I did when I was in elementary school and my class had a party. We got to decorate our shoe boxes with glitter and hearts for all the love notes (aka valentines cards, we’d receive.) We’d run around the room giggling, passing out the goods. Then hurry back to our desks, eat cupcakes and survey our stash. It was simple. It was full of fun and excitement! And maybe somebody would profess their undying love!

Arden kindergarten valentines copy

Over the years, though, I had gotten jaded. Valentine’s came to mean that I had BETTER get flowers or Godiva and a fancy dinner. I had BETTER be made to feel special. AND it must be celebrated on THE. EXACT. DAY. or else hellfire would rain down. You think I’m being dramatic. I’m not. Then I married Joel. He didn’t bring me flowers, because I’m allergic. But everytime he runs out for a movie at Redbox or to grab something from the store, he picks me out candy. (I LOVE CANDY!!!) If he goes to UDF for gas, he always brings me back the SERIOUSLY Chocolate Milk (it’s really called that.) And it’s AWESOME.

Turns out, to know I was being thought of consistently, mattered more.

I get up every day when he gets ready for work and make him breakfast and pack his lunch. He genuinely thanks me every.single.time. It is wonderful and heartfelt and it’s what had been missing all along. Feeling appreciated. Without the forced grand gestures.

My friend was right. It is the little things.

Please share what little things (or the person you are with) do for love. 🙂

ardens finished kindergarten valentines copy

January 28, 2014

What’s in a Name?

Joel and I are struggling to come up with names. I suppose when we go in for the gender determining ultrasound in a month, it may make things easier. Until then, we are all like “How about this?” and “What do you think?”

Back when I was pregnant with Arden, I had made a list. I wanted something unique, but not too weird that people couldn’t spell it. There is an ‘Arden Road’ in Clintonville that I used to pass by and fell in love with the name. It still confused my Grandma until my Aunt pointed out that it was like ‘Garden’ without the ‘G’, which sort-of seemed to help her remember, but mostly she would just end up calling her Great-Grandchild ‘Erin’. (LOL)

When I researched the meaning behind Arden’s name, I discovered it was from a Shakespearean comedy ‘As you like it.’ The main setting was a magical forest named ‘Arden’. The forest was named after Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden. Kinda cool, right? It ended up beating out another favorite of mine ‘Veruca’. As in the mouthy little girl from the Willy Wonka movie, (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) who fell down the egg sorting chute. While I had some supporters, I felt like if I went that route, I end up with my hands full. (If you know my daughter, you know the joke is on me.)

In a cool twist of fate, about 6 months after Arden was born, I received a request from a Historical Society out in California to put a bid on an invitation project that were working on for a celebration they would be hosting. It was to honor the late Helena Modjeska, a Shakespearean actress and her estate named (what else, but) ‘Arden’. They accepted my bid and I was euphoric. I ended up designing and making 300 sets of invitations and reply postcards for their event.

Helena Modjeska Foundation invitation

Helena Modjeska Foundation reply

If you notice, in super super small at the bottom of the logo on the reply card, it reads ‘Arden – Modjeska’s Home in Santiago Canyon’.
How awesome was that?! Definitely a highlight of my invitation-making career. I was only sad I couldn’t attend. One day, I’d love to see it for myself.

But back to names. For boys, my go-to was always ‘Xander’. As in one of Buffy’s loyal vampire-slaying-sidekicks on the show, Buffy. It derives from ‘Alexander’, with a meaning of ‘Defender of all mankind’. I really felt I couldn’t go wrong with it. EXCEPT, it’s dramatically increased in popularity over the past 5 years, losing appeal for me. As a kicker, I just don’t feel like it goes with the ‘Stead’ last name. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to top a name with such an awesome meaning, everything seems to pale in comparison.

Then there is the girl name that Arden, who is longing for a sister, came up with like 6 months ago. Begging for a sister for at least a year, one day she sat me down and solemnly proclaimed that WHEN she had one, we should name her ‘Astley’. I have no idea where she came up with it, but oddly enough, Joel and I were both into it. If this name sounds remotely familiar, it’s because of 80’s crooner, Rick Astley. So far, from several of the people we have told, we’ve received the collective response of “Ass-what?”

Pronounced ‘a-st- ley’ it is an actual place in Warwickshire, from Old English east ‘east’ + leah ‘woodland clearing’. Or as some baby name sites list it, ‘A starry field’, or ‘A field of stars’ which honestly isn’t so shabby next to a magical forest. Whatever we end up choosing, I hope it fits the baby well.

Please post and tell us how you ended up choosing your name(s).

January 23, 2014

I did my best.

Here’s some randomness for you.
Sometimes I like to write poems to express myself. (Man, I love to rhyme!)
That sounds pretty hokey, but lately I’m on this kick of trying to find more ways to make myself feel happy and less stressed.

I DID MY BEST.

When I was young
I loved to read, write and do art,
I was bad at math though,
and made to feel not-so-smart.

I would study hard
and barely pass the test.
It wasn’t any consolation,
that I tried my best.

Later I found people aren’t all the same,
some of us function more from our left or right brain.
Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do,
I put my efforts into what I knew.

It’s not like life magically fell into place,
the world is persistently in my face.
But don’t compare yourself to how others do,
focus on and strive toward, what works for you.

Believe that there is a reason or rhythm,
and things will reveal themselves with time.
Now when I lay myself down to rest,
I understand, I did my best.

If you are not familiar with the comedian, Dane Cook, he does a super hilarious stand-up routine about ‘I did my best’.

January 15, 2014

Things I would tell my younger self.

Recently, on another blog I follow, the writer asked readers to post tidbits of wisdom that they would tell their 20-year-old-selves. It made me think what knowledge I would pass on. For me, 40 seems quickly approaching (although still almost 3 years away.) Looking back though, I have learned and grown SO MUCH as a person over that time. Hopefully some of it will benefit my children (if they actually listen.)

I would give myself cookies and tea (because tea parties are still fun and who doesn’t love cookies?)
Next a pat on the head and a reassuring hug that everything will be okay. My 20-year-old-self was sad, awkward and lonely. I could have really used some type of mentor or guidance while trying to figure out this mess of a world without parents around. I pray that my kids don’t ever have to experience that.

So here it goes:

You will learn how to dress yourself. Without maxing out credit cards.
It took me awhile to figure this out. I thought credit meant better style. It does not. It means debt.
If you don’t already have a sense of putting together outfits, buying things willy-nilly isn’t going to help either.
Now-a-days, I get most of my clothes on sale or clearance or from Goodwill or a garage sale. Some people get weirded out from wearing someone elses’ hand-me-downs. I just think of it as a chance to see how the item really held up after someone else paid full price for it. I also learned how to dress my body type instead of trying to follow what’s in. Long skirts = not for me. I’m short and they make me look stumpy. I have hips, so narrow tapered pants at the ankle, not cool. I wear flared jeans, whether they are in-style or not. It just makes my body look more proportionate. High heels are a no go. I have flat feet and they give me spine and neck pain. Conclusion: It’s fine to update your wardrobe with fashionable items here and there, as long as you have classic basics (that fit properly) to build from.

Oh and nude bras go under white tops. White showing through white = bad. Black showing through white is a wee bit trashy. LOL

4662_97039253720_6123846_n bad outfit erin copy

There is more than one way to measure and define success.
I used to think I had to achieve a certain number of goals by a certain age or my life was passing me by. I wanted to by Hollywood famous, with the fancy lifestyle to match. Doesn’t everyone, right? I eventually figured out that being in that type of spotlight wasn’t for me. Comparing myself to others always left me with the feeling that I didn’t measure up. I didn’t follow the traditional path as most do and I always felt like the odd person out. Until I realized, what I do have, is a job that I don’t hate. While it doesn’t always bring me the amount of income I’d like, it does provide me with flexibility and I’m fortunate to be able to do it. I also have an ever-expanding skill set that provides me many future growth opportunities. Conclusion: Self-employment and rehabbing is certainly not the most glamourous route, but we sure know how to get things done.

Hallie ornament 001 copy

For the love of all that’s good, stop forcing relationships. You will find “The One”.
When you are the product of a less-than-ideal upbringing, as with anything traumatic in life, it scars you. If you weren’t given any sort of semblance of how a loving relationship should function, it’s hard to know what to look for. This is the problem I had. Most of the times someone showed interest, I jumped at the chance for attention. Often, this led to making illogical and poor decisions. My gut would be screaming things were wrong and I would put on blinders and keep marching forward, determined to make the best of the newest debacle I had gotten myself into.

I worked at Taco Bell in Bowling Green when I was 20, I can distinctly remember thinking each guy coming through the drive-thru, JUST MIGHT be the person for me. I didn’t like dating. I didn’t like the games you were supposed to play and how a person shouldn’t act interested. I liked straight-forward and putting it all out there. Living in a college town with all the college shenanigans baffled me. I was told my expectations were too high. That I was supposed to make the best of it. No one was perfect. That the things I valued weren’t important. That’s what marriage is, accepting each other’s short-comings. I would try…

I just wasn’t happy.
I kept at it. Eventually and when I was least expecting it, my persistence paid off.
And you know what? THEY were full of shit.
Conclusion: Don’t ever listen to other people that are unhappy too, even if they are your friends. Chances are they don’t have a clue because they can’t see past their own misery. I would tell my younger self not worry, because I would finally get the love and family I always wanted.

If you feel so inclined, respond with your own things.

pic for website

Last photo by Lisa Penzone

December 31, 2013

Things that are *HAPPY* about : 2013

This adult life is not what I anticipated. I’m pretty sure there was supposed to be way more going to the beach, fun and frolic. I imagined my life as a well-framed music video, where all my friends came over for parties and we danced around with glitter, loud music and fun. (Sort of similar to “Tonight’s Going to be a Good Night” by the Black-Eyed Peas.) But oddly enough, it is not that way at all. First off, glitter is messy as shit and terrible to clean up. Secondly, I really dislike loud, crowded parties. (Joel, Arden and I do turn up the music pretty often and have dance parties and THAT is pretty awesome.) Third, real life is rather mundane and dull. And hard. IT’S REALLY HARD. It’s been challenging for not only us, but for seemingly everyone I know. The only thing that keeps me for losing my shit is making an effort to focus on what good things have happened. Because seriously, it sounds like we could all use a break. So have a drink and throw some glitter. (Possibly outside.)

Here’s my happy list of 2013:

1.) Christmas came early to Hallie.
We have these friends, Jeff & Averel. They were technically Joel’s friends, but once we we became a couple, we combined all our stuff, so they are my friends now too. They were cleaning out their basement and offered us a (brand new /still in the box) pedestal sink and toilet. They are awesome and we are extremely grateful for their charitable donation. It was quite timely, since we were just starting the upstairs bathroom and the existing toilet had cracked when Joel was removing it. Once they are up and in place I will post pictures. (Hi guys! & THANK YOU!)

2.) My Aunt Sue and Uncle Mark gave me a really awesome gift this year.
They were cleaning out my grandma’s house and found some of my toys from my childhood.
I will probably write a separate post about this, but for now, I am VERY appreciative to them.

erins little kid toys copy

3.) My kid.
‘Cause she’s ridiculous and amazing and makes me laugh all.the.time. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around being a mom. In my mind, moms are old and I don’t see myself that way, so it’s just weird. This year she started kindergarten, talks too much (and gets in trouble for it at school.) She has also learned to read, add & subtract. I know most kindergarteners do now-a-days, but I’m still impressed. I love hearing her sound out words and read books aloud. So big thumbs up to you kid and your awesome teacher, Mrs. Cousino for dealing with a entire room of crazy kids all.day.long.

Arden school photo brightened cropped to 5 x 7 copy

4.) My husband, Joel.
He is ridiculous and amazing and also incredibly skilled. Without him, the rehabilitation of Hallie would not be possible. Or most of the things that have been repaired at our house or my car or the many other people who he fixes things for OR the people he teaches how to fix things. We work really well together as a team (and I have never liked being on teams previously.) You are the best person I know and I still am baffled how I snagged you for my own.

Joel up on ladder copy

5.) Me, writing this blog.
I only have about 70 readers, which is not much by blog standardards. Most of you are my friends and family, but for all of you, I am thankful that you choose to follow along and read about our projects and our lives. In previous times when I wrote, I usually managed a post a month, if lucky. I took a little break around Christmas, because there is always so much going on. Since giving it another try at the end of August, when Arden started school, I have written 32 post (including today’s.) Again, not a lot by blog standards, but I don’t do it for a living and the important part is that I have proudly stuck with it. It’s been a goal of mine to keep up with writing. I’m excited that, even though it’s time consuming and I don’t always feel like it, this year I have made that happen.

6.) The time I get to spend with Arden.
It’s not quite as much anymore. But I am thankful for the time we sit in the school parking lot and talk about her day. And I’m thankful for unexpected snow days, we she is home with me and we do fun little projects like make this snow flake bunting.

snowflake bunting in livingroom copy

7.) Hallie-the-Duplex
The seemingly, never-ending project. You have come a long way, with still SO FAR to go. It is inspiring to see what just mainly 2 people can accomplish together, but a lot of times, I’m pretty sure we are just plain crazy. I can’t wait till you are completed so we can go on vacation. 🙂

8.) My best friend, Amy, gave me this awesome ornament.
Thanks for stopping along the way on your travels to visit. It is sweet and thoughtful and I love it.

snowmen ornament from Amy copy

9.) And in case you didn’t catch it on the photo above, our family is expanding by 1.
We are expecting a child this Summer. Joel is beyond thrilled. Arden can’t wait to be a big sister. Me, I’m like ‘Oh shit!’
So now you know why my butt has been dragging the past couple weeks and why Hallie projects aren’t moving along as fast.
Baby Stead is sucking my energy level and REALLY likes meat. Last night, for example, I made dinner. Fish, baked potato and salad. A half hour later, I was starving. Needed more protein. If I eat a bowl of cereal I need a side of bacon. It’s sad, yet also delicious.

joel erin arden and baby copy

So that concludes my list. I’m sure I am missing things, but I need to wrap this up and run to the grocery store.
I wish you all a safe and happy NEW YEAR’s EVE! I am hoping that we all get a bright and glittery 2014!

December 4, 2013

I’ve gotta up my game.

When I was in 3rd grade, our teacher did a thing for each student called “Your Special Day’ and it would be a surprise. We would all color that person a picture and make a book. Then their family would come in and show pictures of them as babies, tell funny stories and the class would laugh. Your friends would stand up and tell about your favorite things and then we would all eat treats. It was awesome.

I had been trying since the beginning of the school year to get picked for the task of ‘Errands’. I wanted it desperately. To escape from the classroom and be on important mission. Then finally it happened. I got picked. I had to take a note to the 5th grade class teacher. It was awkward standing in front of the older kids while the teacher took her sweet time replying. I shifted my weight back and forth to each foot now eagerly wanting to leave. Once I returned to my class, everyone’s head was bend hard at work coloring and I KNEW.

It was MY Special Day.

Being so sassy, I said to my teacher “What should I be coloring?”
Yeah, I was a pain.
I got it from my dad, my eye for detail. It serves me well as an adult. But if I wanted to get away with something when I was younger, I had to work REALLY hard at it. Videotape #’s had to be recorded at the exact number they started in the VCR, that way they could be rewound exactly to the right spot he left them. I learned a cold, wet towel kept on the back of the console would defer the heat the tv put off while on. Which really came in handy if my step-brother and I would be watching the tv in the living room and we weren’t supposed to be. My dad would always check when he came home.

So it’s only fitting that now as I try to think of ways to move Arden’s ‘Elf on the Shelf’ around that she of course, calls me on it. I got the elf out yesterday, while she was at school. I sewed it a little skirt and put a button on it’s hat, so it could be a GIRL ELF. I put it in the basket along with my stuffed animal collection (they are cooler than it sounds, not just any stuffed animals will do.) To finish off my ensemble, I made a tiny card. (Actually, I made 3, because I kept messing up writing so small.) I set it on the Elf’s lap until Arden arrived home from school and I couldn’t help but point it out.

note from sassafras copy

She was thrilled. But she noticed immediately that the Elf’s skirt was made out of material I owned. She was fired up and said “That Elf should have asked first!” (LOL) When I said it was okay, then she wanted me to read the card. It said :

Hello Arden,
My name is Sassafras. I’m Santa’s little elf.
I heard you are trying to be good, but I came to see for myself.
You must try hard to listen and not to be mean.
And most of all, to always stay on green. (it’s a classroom discipline technique her teacher does)
I’m so happy to be here and when we are done,
I hope to be telling Santa to bring lots of gifts an lots of fun.
,Love Sassy

Arden loves it and I have to read it to her like 5 times. She asked a million questions about Sassy and Santa.
Then she says “Hey, I think Sassy used your card stock. I remember seeing envelopes like this upstairs.”
(I had cut the freaking envelope in half, for goodness sake!)
Then the real kicker came when I tucked her in last night.

“You know what, Mama? Sassy writes just like you. Did you see that?”
I said I hadn’t. When she kept pressing the issue, I simply told her that we probably had the same teacher that taught us how to write.

Who does that? She’s only 5.
I’ve gotta up my game.

Sassafrass the elf copy

October 29, 2013

Sliding Doors.

Poster GO YOU! copy

A couple weeks ago I received a message from an acquaintance. I don’t know this girl particularly well. It’s not like we have ever been close friends. We met due to mutual interests and I admire her talents. She wrote me to tell me that an article that I had posted on my dfmi designs Facebook page had spoke to her. Now, I try to find things that I think are of interest to my few followers of the page in addition to my blog posts. Sometimes crafty or decorative or how-to’s, sometimes making changes in your life to make it better. That’s the one she referenced.

I was surprised and pleased. For one, I was pretty sure no one reads my random tidbits, except Joel because he’s the only one that usually clicks the “LIKE” button. For two, I’ve read to use all sorts of social media to help boost your business. But I am the worst at just mindlessly pushing a product. Like, straight up awful. I’m a designer, not a sales person. I’m too straight forward. I like making a genuine connection with my clients. To me, I like knowing that the unicorn invite I’m making is going to a make a 4 year old very happy. That they are decorating with rainbow balloons to match. That the child was so excited to send out the invites I made, because it meant her friends were coming to her party. I love getting those emails.

So this situation is like that. But instead of a party, this girl told me the article I posted resonated with her deeply. It made her reflect on what was broken. What wasn’t working and made her want to change it. To make herself right, to take the necessary steps to make her and her family happier. To change her life. How exciting is that?!
To be honest, this is the kind of stuff I live for. To know that I played a very small part in it, makes me incredibly happy. I am so grateful for that knowledge, because on my darkest days, I can reflect on it and know I’m doing something right.

It has always been one of my goals, to make a difference in every person’s life I meet. Granted, for some people it definitely hasn’t been a good experience. For them, I hope it was because they needed to go in a different direction than the one they were headed. Hopefully, me pissing them off was the push they needed and set them on the right path. My techniques are still quite unrefined, but I do my best. 🙂

If there is something in your life that is weighing on you, I hope that you realize that you alone have the power to change it. Find the strength in yourself to let go of “What you think you SHOULD do.” OR “What others EXPECT of you.” Let go of the doubt and fear, because that nagging, sick feeling that something is wrong, won’t go away till you face it. There’s no reason to live like that. It’s no one’s life but yours. Make it the best it can possibly be.

ONE REPUBLIC : I LIVED