Monday, July 24, 2017

Where's Your Head At?

Tuning into yourself and discovery what is missing. Notice when your perception is not in sync with your reality

As of recent, I find myself often starting my posts the same way; apologizing for a long absence and giving excuses as to why I haven’t shared anything recently. Instead of giving an excuse, I decided it would be best to open up and simply update you as to why I’ve been absent as of late.

The past couple of weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with more downs than ups. I’ve really been fighting with my own insecurities, attempting to stay on top of them, failing in the process and struggling with personal demons that keep saying that I’m not good enough and I will never be. Thoughts such as: “Why do you keep doing this? No one cares about the work you do. Stay in your lane!” You know those negative thoughts that we all berate ourselves with from time to time. These feelings started affecting my work and writing became yet another task that I was not accomplishing. Ultimately, I found it difficult to get out of my head and out of my own negative bubble. Outwardly I portrayed an image that everything was fine, smiling and conversing with friends and family like I’m all good and not shedding light on my personal struggles.

Not only did my work suffer, but my ability to take care of myself was not a priority. Things like cooking a well-balanced mealsweres like pulling teeth. I started spending money unnecessarily on junk/”comfort” foods, and forget about making it to the mat! There was no time for yoga and meditation in my agenda. My self-esteem which was already far from high took a hard hit. I felt trapped in a self-inflicted state of misery.

After weeks of being miserable for no reason, it was time to get to the root of the problem. I decided to do things differently by taking an altered approach to the way I usually self-reflect. I went back and looked at some of my past work and sought clarity from some of my favorite wellness blogs. I also tuned into my self-talk and actively listened to the thoughts which were constant in my mind.

It became clear that not only was I not taking my own advice, but I failed to recognize my successes. There were no valid reason to feel as low as I did. It came down to noting that I didn’t give myself enough of a break and wasn’t mindful of the accomplishments I’ve achieved thus far. Half the year is already gone and my lettering work has improved immensely yet, I looked at myself as a shitty designer. In my day job, I’ve slowly transformed the way things were done in the past and worked out a system to create better flow in the day, yet I still saw things as disjointed and unorganized. I put into action a plan to pay off my bills while making room to save money and treat myself on occasion but still felt as though I was lacking, when I really wasn’t. 

Essentially, I had created a false narrative of my life in my mind. My perception of reality was not as I imagined it to be. I wasn’t living in the moment and accepting things for how they truly were. The real demon was my failure to recognize my self-worth and accomplishments.

Self-compassion is the idea of treating yourself in the same way you would a dear friend who needed help or comfort; of being compassionate to yourself and knowing when to give yourself a break. This important lesson I learned from Dr. Kristin Neff helps remind me that I need to be gentler to myself, especially when it comes to the mind. Self-compassion helps me notice when my own toxic thoughts are splaying into the way I perceive the day, and myself, or even the way I function.

When I decided to take on all the goals I set for myself this year (365 days of lettering, blogging, and becoming a sustainable minded human being), the goal was to gain a better understanding of self; to define who I am and define my own happiness. I know that staying positive can be work, a lot of work for that matter, but in the end it really does take the same amount of energy to stay positively minded vs negatively minded.

Staying positively minded all starts with your inner thoughts and treating yourselves with a little care and compassion. Sometimes you have to ask yourself “where’s my head at?” Where are my thoughts focused on? Does this state of mind actually match my reality? Am I giving myself the love and attention I need? Am I being compassionate towards myself? In asking myself these questions I was able to pinpoint where my pain and suffering were coming from.

I want to learn more about the practice of self-compassion so I went and found Dr Neff’s book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself  at my local library. Once I finish reading I’ll be sure to give a review of it and share my thoughts with you all. I look forward to the next post and I feel refreshed knowing that I am on the right track. We are all flawed human beings in some way and that’s fine. As long as we stay focused and check in with ourselves on occasion, I believe we can do some amazing things with our lives.  See the glass as half full vs half empty! Till next time folks!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Company We Keep

You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts.
The last couple of weeks has been some of the best times I’ve had this year. Jon and I got the pleasure of seeing some of our close friends and enjoying a few backpacking trips with them. We went primitive camping in Kentucky's Red River Gorge and went backpacking in Tennessee's South Cumberland State Park for Memorial Day weekend. Trips like these, where I have the opportunity to reconnect with really good friends, are always refreshing.
You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts.
Since Jon and I moved to Tennessee 3 years ago, building friendships and finding people we truly connect with has been difficult for us. We just haven't clicked with a lot of people, aside from a few casual acquaintances, and honestly, finding people who are real is a challenge! In light of that hardship, staying in touch with good people and good friends that I've met in life has been very important to me. I have them to thank when it comes to finding the motivation to keep going. They're always a voice of reason when I hesitate to make life changing moves. I really do have a lot to thank them for. <3
The road to gaining such a great support system has not been easy. As I'm sure you've encountered, there are times when we meet people in hopes of becoming good friends and they end up disappointing us. Unfortunate to say, events like this happen far too often! It puts you in a state of mind that makes it difficult to let people in; almost like isolating yourself from meeting new people out of fear of disappointment, or because of the unwillingness to trust others. It can also lead you to start resenting people altogether and completely lose interest in making new friends. 

Another aspect of friendship that’s often overlooked is the act of keeping people in your life that are overtly a burden on you; the ones we hold onto who always seem to bring us down, no matter what the occasion. It could be that person you've known for years that you stay friends with because of how long you've known each other, trying to sustain a dying relationship and afraid to let go. But why is it that we keep people like this in our lives? I know it’s harsh to say, but it’s almost like holding onto dead weight everywhere you go, carrying on with something that serves you no purpose.
You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts.
When you’re a kid, you don't necessarily worry too much about the people you call friends or the impact they'll have on your life. But as we get older, the company we keep becomes a reflection of us. In order to build a well-rounded support system, you start by aligning yourself with people whose core values align with yours, surrounding yourself with people who only want to see you thrive and people you completely trust. By investing your time into creating your support system, you’re always with people who truly matter to you and are a positive impact in your life.

When I decided to live my life in a minimalistic manner, learning to let people go was one of the biggest hurdles. I came to realize that holding on to possibilities of long lasting friendships with people who only communicated with me when I stretched the olive branch was not serving me any purpose. It forced me to deal with some inner demons which ultimately meant having to part ways with some "friends."

Friends are like family, and we all know how difficult family can be. The difference is you can choose your friends. You can choose whether to keep that person you can't rely on around. You can choose to call the person that’s always talking negatively behind your back your “best friend”. You can choose to stay friends with someone who's betrayed your trust repeatedly.

You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts. Just be advised that in choosing to do so, you’re doing yourself a serious injustice. When we meet people we connect with, our intent is to keep them around long term and build a solid friendship from it. But sometimes, you have to ask yourself whether these relationships are beneficial or toxic to your growth. It’s a harsh reality but you should be selective of the people you surround yourself with. Not everyone you know can be called a friend and not everyone in your life wants to see you succeed. In the beginning, it’s impossible to know where every friendship will lead but it’s important to be able to recognize when you must cut the cord.

If you’re struggling to part ways with some toxic people in your life, here’s my advice:
Ask yourself these questions: "How does this person make me feel when I'm with them? Are they supportive, encouraging, and open with me? Are they drama filled or self-destructive? Does this person put me in situations that I don’t want to be in? Is this relationship uplifting or defeating? Will their absence be missed? What will be gained or lost by keeping them around?” Note: pros and cons lists are great for this!

Once you understand how you feel, decide whether this is a feeling that you want to continue to have. Be confident in your decision, then go ahead and act on it. I know it can be very hard to let people go and again this is one of those things that are easier said than done. But truly the people we surround ourselves with play a huge part in our quality of life. You have to choose whether you want to continue to be a part of that person’s life and vice versa. Carefully assess the relationship you’re on the fence about. Chances are you’re on the fence for very good reasons.
You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts.
Lastly, try to make smart choices about the people you let in your life. When you spend countless amounts of time with someone, some of their traits start rubbing off on you without realizing it. You should want to be amongst people who push you to do better, make you go for your goals, and calls you out when you’re making the wrong moves by giving you sound advice. You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trust Yourself

Trust, that 5 letter word we all seem to struggle with. It may be a lack of trust in your friends, family, co-workers, or lover. It can also be a lack of trust in ourselves and the decisions we make that effects our lives.

A talk with self: Trust yourself

Trust, that 5 letter word we all seem to struggle with. It may be a lack of trust in your friends, family, co-workers, or lover. It can also be a lack of trust in ourselves and the decisions we make that effects our lives.

Trust is something that I can honestly say I struggle with especially when it comes to trusting myself. Even as I write this, I find myself second guessing every sentence and ask, “Is there a point in doing all of this?” I know it’s easy to just tell someone to trust themselves and the decisions they make; easy to say your intuitions know best. But how do we actually translate that into our lives? Why is finding trust within us so difficult to do? Is it due to lack of self-confidence? Fear of failure? Or simply being uncertain of the decisions we’ve made for ourselves?

In a previous post a few months ago, I stated that I wanted to open up my own design studio in the future. However, within the course of saying that, I’ve changed my mind more times than I can count. I had this clear image of where I wanted my life to go and now it’s all become a blur; it feels like a grueling nightmare of insecurity and self-doubt. But in the midst of it all, I refuse to give into those negative thoughts. I still show up for myself everyday even though I feel lost.

Trust, that 5 letter word we all seem to struggle with. It may be a lack of trust in your friends, family, co-workers, or lover. It can also be a lack of trust in ourselves and the decisions we make that effects our lives.

I like to use myself as an example in these situations because I understand how it feels to struggle, to doubt every step you take. I know how it feels to overthink things to the point of driving yourself crazy; to cry yourself to sleep because you’re so frustrated with your own indecisiveness. How can one be so sure one minute and then spiral into a sea of doubt and uncertainty the next?  Why do we have the tendency to go against our gut and our intuitions? I don’t know and I wish I had the answer to the question, but what I do know is that stopping or quitting is not the solution.

When you find yourself struggling to build the bridge between your inner desires and discovering the strength/confidence needed to keep going, ask yourself this “what will I gain if I quit? Will this be another thing I told myself I can do only to give up midway?” And if you do fail, why is this viewed as a negative? Isn’t life supposed to be filled with highs and lows? Isn’t failure part of life’s lessons? Maybe just doing and trusting that you’ve made the right choices is all you need to do.

Trust, that 5 letter word we all seem to struggle with. It may be a lack of trust in your friends, family, co-workers, or lover. It can also be a lack of trust in ourselves and the decisions we make that effects our lives.

Imagine all the time wasted on striving for things that added no value into our lives. Think about that new product that you stood in line for hours or days to get, that relationship you fought tooth and nail to keep alive only to be disappointed in the end, or the countless hours spent scrolling through your social media accounts envying the success of your friends or strangers. Now imagine redirecting that same time into things that did add value in your life, even if you didn’t know where it will take you. Nothing that I do comes easy or naturally to me. From lettering to writing, cooking or getting in shape, all these things took time, patience, and practice and I still have so much to learn.

In preparation for this post, I read a few articles on the characteristics of successful people. The most common traits that they share are: they are focused driven, patient, optimistic, self-confident, work well with others, and have a strong sense of self. Most importantly, they make decisions that align with their goals. Some of these characteristics are qualities that we all possess in some form; however the everyday person falls victim to fear and doubts or listens to the naysayers who hinder them from putting their best foot forward.

Trust, that 5 letter word we all seem to struggle with. It may be a lack of trust in your friends, family, co-workers, or lover. It can also be a lack of trust in ourselves and the decisions we make that effects our lives.

Success in any form (not only monetary) is what we all want in life. But success does not and will not happen overnight. Achieving your goals truly may take many years and many failed attempts to get there. Regardless of what form of success you seek, just remember that you will never get there if you don’t trust that you are capable of getting there. Try not to get overwhelmed with the circumstances of your everyday life. In times of adversity, giving up is a guaranteed way of ensuring you will never actualize your goals. Don’t let your inner demons take over. Believe that you can do what you say you will. Trust starts with you.





Thursday, May 4, 2017

6 Forms of Yoga

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned yoga and meditation quite a bit, and how both have really helped me in many areas of my life. Specifically, the ongoing practice of both has helped reduce stress and guided me to a level of self-awareness previously unknown to me. Since yoga has taken over as my primary workout regimen, I want to gain a better understanding of all forms of yoga and fully grasp what I'm getting into.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned yoga and meditation quite a bit, and how both have really helped me in many areas of my life. Specifically, the ongoing practice of both has helped reduce stress and guided me to a level of self-awareness previously unknown to me. Since yoga has taken over as my primary workout regimen, I want to gain a better understanding of all forms of yoga and fully grasp what I'm getting into.

As a Christian, I definitely don't want to dive into anything that will lead me astray with my walk with God (not that I think that yoga will) and I know certain religious sectors believe that Christians should not partake in yoga in any form. However, I disagree with that notion. In fact, I believe that certain forms of yoga can act as a catalyst to bring someone closer to God, or at least their form/vision of God.  Ultimately it all comes down to understanding and having the willingness to look at someone else’s perspective versus a one track minded view.

So this week, I will talk briefly about the different practices/forms of yoga, what they all mean, and some most commonly heard terms.
As a disclaimer, I am in no way a yoga teacher or guru; simply someone who wants to share a way to find peace and balance in your life as it’s helped me in mine.

The 6 forms of Yoga
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned yoga and meditation quite a bit, and how both have really helped me in many areas of my life. Specifically, the ongoing practice of both has helped reduce stress and guided me to a level of self-awareness previously unknown to me. Since yoga has taken over as my primary workout regimen, I want to gain a better understanding of all forms of yoga and fully grasp what I'm getting into.


Bhakti Yoga (Yoga of Devotion)

If you’re in search of spiritual guidance or simply looking for a path to self-realization, then Bhakti yoga is for you. The Sanskrit Bhakti comes from the root word bhaj, which means to adore or worship God. It has been referred to as “love for love’s sake” and “finding union through love and devotion.” It is also viewed as a method to gain the purest relationship with your inner self.  The origins of Bhakti yoga comes from the book The Bhagavad Gita written around the 2nd or 3rd century.

Originally, the practice included devotions to Hindu deities such as Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, or Kali, by offering gifts and offerings through a puja ceremony. Once the idea started to spread, devotional schools started opening in southern India. Common customs of practice include worshipping and chanting mantras to deities, singing devotional songs (which are known as Kirtan), following a guru either dead or alive and writing and reading poetry. The emphasis of this practice is a longing to know God, also referred to as the Beloved. Westerners tend to connect with the idea of the divine, the beloved, the spirit, the self, or the source. Bhakti yogis also have festivals everywhere around the world, like Bhakti fest in California.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned yoga and meditation quite a bit, and how both have really helped me in many areas of my life. Specifically, the ongoing practice of both has helped reduce stress and guided me to a level of self-awareness previously unknown to me. Since yoga has taken over as my primary workout regimen, I want to gain a better understanding of all forms of yoga and fully grasp what I'm getting into.

Hatha Yoga (Transformation Begins In the Body)

Hatha yoga is the most popular form of yoga in western culture. Sometimes called a dual type of yoga, it includes duality between 2 opposites the sun (ha) and the moon (tha). Hatha can also mean willful or forceful and is viewed as the yoga of balance. When you practice physical yoga postures such as ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar, and power yoga classes, these are all forms of hatha yoga. In earlier times, hatha was used to prepare participants for long meditation sessions. Today it is highly recognized as a form of exercise which helps work on body alignment, and relaxation techniques, as well as building strength and flexibility through structured poses and other activities that help with body and mind purification. Common terminologies include asana (posture) or pranayama (energy control).

Jnana Yoga (Inner Knowledge and Insight)

For the scholarly type of person, there’s also a yoga form for you. Jnana yoga is the study of scripture and text of the yogic tradition. It appeals to those who are more intellectually inclined and probes the discovery of self through the question “who am I?” Jana yoga recognizes man's intelligence and tries to surpass limitations of the body and mind, by unifying intellect and wisdom.  Along with Bhakti yoga, Jnana is the best approach for becoming aware of the eternal self. It is considered the most difficult and most direct forms of yoga. It’s yoga of the mind, of wisdom, and the path of a scholar.


If you’re a regular reader, you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned yoga and meditation quite a bit, and how both have really helped me in many areas of my life. Specifically, the ongoing practice of both has helped reduce stress and guided me to a level of self-awareness previously unknown to me. Since yoga has taken over as my primary workout regimen, I want to gain a better understanding of all forms of yoga and fully grasp what I'm getting into.

Karma Yoga (Energy of Action)

“Do good for others and good things will come to you” that is the philosophy behind Karma Yoga. It is the path of service, or the desire to do service for other. We practice this when we perform work and live our lives in a selfless manner serving others. People who study Karma Yoga believe that the actions of our past influence our experiences today. In the Hindu belief structure, service to others is a path to spiritual fulfillment. We consciously create a future that frees us from being bound by negativity and selfishness when we are concerned with the wellbeing of others. Volunteering, coaching, a selfless act for a friend or stranger, and other acts of service classify as karma yoga. Over time, the act of servicing others becomes naturally engrained in you.

Tantra Yoga (Pathway of Ritual)

One of the most misperceived and misunderstood of the yoga forms. Tantra yoga has been linked to sorcery or witchcraft and misconceived as exclusively being about sex.  It is the most esoteric of the 6 branches. Based on the worship of Hindu deity Shaki, the divine feminine energy, its main goal is to expand awareness in all states whether awake or asleep while utilizing rituals to experience the divine in everything.  When the masculine and feminine energy is balanced in one's life, the practice leads to the awakening of kundalini -- the divine cosmic energy that brings for self-realization. Tantra yogis must have purity and humility, devotion, courage, cosmic love, non-covetousness and truthfulness about themselves. It also encourages a ritualistic approach to life.

Raja Yoga (eight-limbed path)

Last but not least, the final yoga form is Raja (Royal) Yoga. If meditation is your primary focus, or you would like to dive deeper into meditation practice, then this is the yoga for you, as meditation is the focal point of the practice. Raja Yoga teaches you how to control your thoughts through meditation, uniting your ego-based self with your higher spiritual self. Raja is known as the eight-limbed path because there are 8 strict requirements to follow which are:

  • Yamas (Ethical standards)
  • Niyamas (Self-discipline)
  • Asana (physical posture)
  • Pranayama (extension or control of the breath)
  • Pratyahara (Sensory withdrawal )
  • Dharana (Concentration)
  • Dhyana (Meditation)
  • Samadhi (Ecstasy or final liberation)

Members of religious orders and spiritual communities devote themselves to this branch of yoga. It teaches deep self-respect through mastering yourself.

Overall whichever yoga path you chose, it all comes down to self-realization. You can practice more than one form at a time. Once you get past the idea of the awkwardness of some of the poses, be one with your breath and let your mind be free; you'll start to connect with your inner light.
I really enjoyed doing this research about yoga. I can now put a name to the form I practice, which is Hatha, and have gained a better understanding of it all.  If you are interested in learning more about yoga or meditation, I recommend visiting Yoga Journal. It was a very helpful tool during my research process. They have guided meditation practices, yoga videos and of course helpful articles to guide you along the way.  I hope this was as helpful for you as it was for me. Till next time!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Go With The Flow: Minimize Your Daily List

Go With The Flow
Here we are again: a month or so has gone by without a new post. To be honest, I don't have an excuse this time. The plan was to post a few weeks ago about yoga and meditation since they’re my newfound loves, but time got past me, a week turned into 2, and here we are.

It’s been difficult setting aside time to write and draw daily. The two are fighting each other and I'm left half-assing two things that are very important to me. I've been at this crossroad before, finding it difficult to better manage myself and wisely distribute my time. It’s overwhelming being a one-man operation and trying to plan things accordingly.

As much as I would like to say that I'm organized, there is a mild form of self-destruction that goes on in my life. I'm starting to understand that if I'm to be my own boss, I need to first learn how to manage myself. I know the beginning is rough and there will be challenges along the way, but that was part of the reason I chose to transition to a minimalist lifestyle: to put a head the things that are most important and everything else last.

Go With The Flow

Moving forward there's going to be some lifestyle changes to be made.
·         To start, I'm no longer creating new lettering pieces every day.
I've realized this has caused unnecessary self-induced stress in my life. I’m expecting perfection daily vs. enjoying the process of producing work I'm very proud of. The point of taking on a daily lettering challenge was to freely express me creatively every day, even if that meant working on the same piece for multiple days.

I wanted to explore going through the design process of planning and execution but instead, I feel stuck to my sketchbook and not experimenting with different mediums. It's also the main reason I currently feel overwhelmed with lettering. It's becoming a daily haunting project and another form of work rather than an enjoyable experience. Because of that, I've decided to do away with themes for the moment until I get into a groove of doing things.

·         Next I'll have designated days to blog.
For now, expect to see posts on wellness, lettering, or just an update of life every 2 weeks; of course, if I have free time, I will post more often than that. As I've said in the past, I want this blog to be a melding of art and sustainable/ethical/fair trade living. I'm trying to find the balance between the two and so far, this is a good start. In the beginning, things will be slow moving as far as getting acquainted with change but over time I'll get the hang of it and fall into a smooth rhythm.

I know I often share posts like this where I reevaluate what I'm doing or thinking and make changes accordingly but being capable of recognizing areas that need improvement in your life is beneficial to self-growth. I enjoy sharing the battles and doubt that goes on in my life as I explore the realms of entrepreneurship. The idea is even when you’re down you have to keep pushing.
Last night, I told Jon that I was afraid because I've never really pushed myself to do anything. Imagine how different my life would be if I just believed.

Go With The Flow

I wanted my work to be a source of enjoyment but along the way, I turned enjoyment into a revolving door of stress.  Now that I'm putting appropriate time into steering my business in the right direction, I know I can start to relax a bit.

I suppose this post was an open invitation to review your goals. Check in with your progress and see if some adjustments need to be made. Are you feeling unnecessarily stressed or anxious? Is that stress steamed from your goals? Can adjustments be made? Are you doing too much? Ask yourself open ended questions and give yourself permission to take a break when necessary. Taking care of yourself has a huge impact on how you walk through life. It’s one of the many reasons why I love yoga so much, but I'll share more on that the next post. 

Having a better understanding of how you feel and why you feel that way will guide you to pinpoint the areas where change needs to be applied. I think these small changes will help dramatically. So, I ask you to take the time to tune into yourself.  Remember if you need any extra guidance or need support I'm always here to listen and to guide.

Till Next Time!


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Blues

Hi there and welcome back! First and foremost, I must sincerely apologize for the long absence. February has been a whirlwind of emotions for me. While working towards all my goals, I somehow fell into a mild state of depression. The things intended to bring me joy (specifically my daily lettering) were making me feel angry and unfulfilled. I fell into this trap of “woe is me” and found myself uncontrollably crying at least once a week. There was no desire to talk to friends, go out, or simply do anything for myself. I drowned myself in work and nothing else. Since I was solely focused on lettering, I let the blog fall by the wayside, uninspired and unmotivated to write.

This unhealthy pattern lead me to fixate on everything negative versus the good in my life. Due to all the work I've been doing, the need for success felt overwhelming. I constantly checked my Instagram feed, hitting refresh every 15 minutes and counting likes as though that would validate my work. I felt obsessive over getting followers, judging others’ work, and lettering felt like it was stressing me out instead of allowing me to relax and have fun with it. Though I was happy with my lettering work, in the end it all looked mediocre to me. Despite my better judgment, I fell into the inevitable pit of comparing myself and my work to others.

To get out of this self-inflicted negativity and to step out of my head, I turned to my journal to gain a better understanding of what I was going through. During my journaling sessions, the one constant I noticed throughout the month was my struggle with self-identity. I realized that I was unknowingly adding unnecessary stress to my life through over-thinking and over analyzing my life. My self-talk was rehearsing my future instead of living in the present. As I continued to open up to myself, I understood the root of my problems but was trapped; trapped in my own bubble of worry, masking the pain with work, and neglecting myself.

The only way to get out of this funk was to identify the range of emotions I was experiencing. Outside of feeling stressed and over worked, I felt impatient, scared, uncertain, vulnerable, eager, frustrated, and annoyed. But on the flip side there were feelings of being proud, strong, capable, curious, and confident. It was evident that I needed to take back control of my thoughts and feelings and find balance in my life again. I needed to remind myself of why I'm doing all of this to begin with.

2017 is the year for me. It’s the year of living my life: discovering who I am, doing work for me, and putting content together that appeals to me. Yes, I want others to enjoy the content I write and appreciate my lettering, but pleasing others was not my goal in starting all of this blog. It was meant to be a starting point for me. A space where I could share my creative point of view, despite what everyone else is doing or how my work measured up. After taking some time to rethink and reevaluate, it's time to start doing that.

As February comes to an end and marks the completion of #blackhistorylettering (this was to be the blog post of the month), March will be the start of something new. Being that it's my birthday month (29 here we come!) I wanted to do something special for myself. In order to infuse positivity back into my life, I'm doing #31daysofpositiveaffirmations. March will be a month-long recognition of things I love about myself and the positive mindset I want to instill back in my life. I'll focus on not just the physical, but a mental shift from this negative way of thinking throughout February. In case you were wondering, yes! Lettering will be involved in this. It's important for me to fall back in love with myself and my art.

Outside of lettering, I will dive deeper into my meditation and yoga practice with Adriene. I want to understand the foundation and fundamentals of yoga. I know I've said this before but yoga has helped me appreciate my body, mind, and helped me focus on the present. My daily bible reading has also been a much-needed recharge in my faith. As a Christ follower, understanding the word of God and how it translates into my life has been very important. Within 2 months of reading the scripture, my faith has grown immensely and I know that God has me covered. I can no longer deny that art is my track in life. I feel that God wants to use me in a way that will not only bring the best out of me but also others; that means you too!

I will, of course, go back to posting regularly and hope that my words, and ongoing struggles in life serve as motivation for you to keep going, keep fighting, and stay strong as I am. Thank you all for your support and patience throughout all of it. I would love to hear from you about your struggles and how you've managed to overcome them. Till next time!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Power of Self Talk


Happy Saturday Folks! I hope the start of 2017 has been going as smoothly for you as it has been for me. As I shared 2 weeks ago, I've got a lot in store for myself this year. From lettering to blogging and gardening later in the year (just to name a few projects), I've got my hands full. If you're like me, juggling from one task to another can be a bit overwhelming at times. It may start to take a toll on your mental ability to keep pushing yourself forward. If you ever have moments like these, being mentally strong and present is the biggest key to guiding you back to positive, healthy thoughts. A method to help you stay grounded is tuning into your self-talk.

What is Self Talk?
Self-talk is basically your inner voice. They are the things you say to yourself but not aloud. Depending on your self-esteem level, your self-talk can be negative or positive. Negative self-talk includes berating or speaking low of yourself, feeling hopelessness or useless, and overall putting yourself down. Positive self-talk includes words of encouragement, setting goals, being more optimistic versus pessimistic. In an article I recently read on Mindful.org it identifies 4 common types of self-talk:

Catastrophizing - the minds way of playing what it scenarios. It involves either predicting a negative outcome or concluding that in the event of a negative outcome, it would be catastrophic.
Blaming - blaming ourselves for others pain or blaming others for our own pain, giving up your own power to make changes.
Rehashing - replaying past events repeatedly in an effort to figure something out.
Rehearsing - the mind practicing future events, the possible way an event might turn out.
Why Self-talk Matters
Our self-talk is more powerful in our mental health than we realize. In essence, the message we signal to ourselves effects our overall perspective of life. If you view things in a negative manner, it impacts the resounding message you tell yourself about yourself.

During my daily bible reading, I came across Matthew 15:11 which says " What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them". It continues to say in verse 18, "But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.”

If your inner voice transmits messages that empower you, it will impact your mood and your will to succeed. You'll start to focus only on the things that bring your joy and will be better equipped to battle negative thoughts. Self-talk can be more than a confidence booster. If you look at it from a neuroscience point of view it might be more like internal remodeling. Channeling your self-talk into positive affirmations is like a restructuring of the mind, especially if you don't already think that way.
How To Change Your Self-Talk
Change is never easy, particularly when it involves a behavior unbeknownst to you. Formulating healthy self-talk can be a key to keeping you on track with your goals and prioritizing your life. Here are some tips to help you work on your self-talk:

Be Mindful of your self-talk. Actively tune into the dialogue you have within. Try to identify when you're being unnecessarily harsh or critical of yourself. What kind of self-talk are you experiencing? Are you playing the blame game or obsessing over a past experience? This will involve learning to be open and honest with yourself.

Let Go of any negative views that you may have about yourself. Most of the time, we tend to be our worst critics. It’s time to give credit when credit is due. If you really want to be a better version of yourself or reconnect to a part of you that may be lost, embrace new habits that add value to your life and see yourself as empowered. This really is all about you. If you envision the life you want, start the steps to make it a reality.

Call Yourself Out. Acknowledge when you're being negative. Is this energy that can be placed somewhere else? Most likely the answer is yes! This was a big area that helped me tremendously in breaking free from a negative mindset. Being mindful of your own negative connotation makes you more accountable in making conscious decisions to feel otherwise.

I hope this advice truly does helps you. I am still learning, but I enjoy sharing the knowledge I've gained so far in order to help others. When you become aware of your inner language to yourself, you can decide whether this is a feeling you want to fester around you. Gaining that level of control will take time and patience, just stay open to the process.

P.S Hahaha moment, I just noticed I spelled my title wrong on my drawing for this post. I don't understand how I keep doing that!!! :D :D :D All good though It's all relevant! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

5 Tips To Help You Stay on Track With Your Goals in 2017


When a new year approaches, most of us generally feel the need to make a change in our lives for the better. We actively want the new year to be a start of something great; whether it's a get into shape plan, cook more, be a nicer person, and so on. We want the year to be a shift in some of the norms. Though we have the best intentions in setting New Year’s resolutions or goals for ourselves, too many times we fall short or lose sight of things, and the next thing you know the year is already over. I will admit, I too have set New Year’s resolutions only to falls back into the same bad habits by February (LOL). But in 2016 I managed to figure out a way to stick with my goals and turn my life in a new direction.

To help you kick off the New Year on the right foot and stay on track with your goals, I want to share some of my personal tips that helped me stay on track in 2016. I want you all to take ownership of your lives. Make 2017 your best year and the platform for many years to come!

Here are my top 5 tips to help guide you in staying on course with your goals in 2017.

Be Honest With Yourself
When making changes to your life, it is important to be open and honest with yourself. You have to accept where you are now and willing to put in the necessary time and effort required to accomplish your goals. Owning up to your own downfalls opens you up to the obstacles holding you back. Journaling helped me self-reflect and identify my problem areas. Understanding that trying to be someone you're not gets you nowhere. Embrace your inner voice that tells you to go it and put yourself out there!

Take Baby Steps
At times when trying to accomplish something, we tend to put too much on our plates at once. Taking on too many responsibilities can lead to feeling overwhelmed, discouraging you in the long run. Taking things one day and one step at a time helps alleviate that stressed out feeling. Cultivate a habit of setting small attainable goals that will build over time. Understand what limitations you may have and work on viable solutions to overcome them. For example, if your goal is to become a writer but unsure of where to start, form a habit of daily writing to spark your inner creativity. The important thing to take out of it is that change does not happen overnight. True mastery of any desired goal naturally requires time and, most importantly, patience.

Reward Yourself
As humans, we get joy from being rewarded for a job well done; even in the smallest gestures such as a sticker on a report card, to being given an award for an accomplishment. Since we put in so much hard work into achieving our goals, it feels great to reward yourself from time to time! This does not have to involve spending money. It can be as simple as taking a day of relaxation and giving yourself permission to do whatever you want. A well-deserved reward can be that fire you need to keep you going.

When You Fall, Get Back Up
When faced with adversities, it is extremely important to keep your head in the game! Moments will arise when you feel like giving up or quitting. You have to stay strong and push through any negative thoughts that come your way. Stay grounded and remind yourself why you took on this goal/challenge to begin with. Giving up ultimately means you’re giving up on yourself. Reconnect back to your inner voice that pushed you past the starting line in the first place. Don't let a moment of doubt or a minor setback define you. If a moment comes that makes you feel like quitting, just take a step back to reconnect with yourself, give yourself a moment to understand your feelings, wipe the tears off your face, and get back up! You'll feel empowered knowing that you fell off the horse, but mustered the strength from within to get back up!

Have Fun
Last, but definitely not least, remember to have fun. Too often we lose sight of our goals because we find them too difficult or we’re not enjoying the process. Imagine starting a workout plan but absolutely hating everything about working out. Chances are the likelihood of sticking with it are slim to none. Instead of trying to force yourself into a new habit, find ways to make it interesting for you. Instead of saying to yourself I hate working out, try finding alternate ways to exercise outside of the typical #GymLife such as hiking, rock climbing, yoga, even skating. You'll be surprised at how eager you'll be to get up and go once you find something you have fun with. If what you're doing is adding more stress than relief into your life then it’s probably not for you. Make sure to distinguish the difference between not having fun and wanting to give up out of fear.

I hope these tips help you build healthy habits with staying on course with your goals like they helped me. I definitely have days where I struggle, but I'm only human so that's fine. Stay positively minded and grounded within yourself and you'll be amazed in what you're capable of doing!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 The Year of Living


Hello 2017!!!! It feels soooo good to finally be here. 2016 was such a life changing year for me, and I have a lot in store for this New Year. I took the last week off to get settled into a new groove of doing things and I want to share that with you. As we got closer to the end of 2016, I posted more on the areas I want to grow in my life. They included getting out of debt, building more content for the blog, and getting better with my hand lettering. For the first post of the year, it was only appropriate to share my New Years resolutions as we start a new year.

365 Days of Hand Lettering




As I mentioned many times last year, 2017 would be the start of 365 days of hand lettering. This is honestly the most challenging goal I have ever put myself through. After accomplishing 100 days of Hand Lettering, I found a renewed love for typography. Within those short 100 days, my technique significantly improved. I finally gave in to my gut feeling and accepted the fact that if I'm going to be successful in anything, I will do so using my own two hands and building a business for myself. It's time to stop fighting my inner inhibitions and put in the work and time into something that truly brings me joy. 10 days in so far and I'm feeling really good. I've had some difficult days but I have to keep focused on honoring the practice and showing up for myself each day.










One Year Bible Reading Plan



In my getting to know me post, I talked briefly about my faith and being raised in a Christian household. When I moved out of the house for college, I got the ability to understand my relationship with God and my build my faith without the push from family to go to church every Sunday. As the years passed, I've gained a deeper connection with God and awareness of my faith. The church I attend here in Knoxville gave out a new book for the New Year titled Called Out. The book is written to guide us through our faith so God gives us a new name, prophesying over your life. It included a One Year Bible reading plan as well as a Personal Growth Plan. It felt right to use my faith and strength from the Lord as guidance alongside with my hand lettering challenge. I've never read the bible in its entirety so this reading plan was perfect to help me do so!

Personal Growth

Finance - In my personal life, there are some areas which I would like to improve on. For example, one of my biggest hurdles is my debt. Though I'm not drowning in a pool of it, my student loans and car payment is set back I wish no longer existed. Last year I was successful in paying off my credit card debt which opened up extra funds to put towards my car this year. I've dramatically cut down on my spending and set up bi-weekly budgets for food, gas, bills and savings. I believe it's important to gain meaningful experiences with friends and family by doing things together that does not necessarily involve spending money or a lot of money. With that in mind, it puts less pressure to feel obligated to spend money doing or buying things that add no real value to my life.


Food - Another area which I would like to improve is my relationship with food. I don't have bad eating habits and eat relatively well for the most part. I want to expand my knowledge on healthy food options and gain a better understanding of where my food comes from. I feel that in our society we have a nonchalant way of thinking of our food. We show no honor or appreciation for it which has lead to the abuse of our food system. Jon and I have been experimenting with growing our own food using different techniques and learning to be sustainable human beings. This year we intend to start a small food garden filled with herbs and vegetables were prone to buy often but easy to grow. I will share updates on this as the year proceeds.


Exercise/Active Lifestyle - I've adopted a regular workout routine that's stuck with me during the past year. Late in the year, I discovered yoga and meditation as a method to help deal with stress, get back in touch with myself, and become more mindful and present. At the start of the year, I joined the #yogarevolution with Adriene, embarking on 31 days of yoga. My goal is to continue to immerse myself into my yoga practice and dig deeper within my meditation practice.




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thank You 2016!

Hi everyone and welcome back! Can you believe 2016 is gonna to be over in a matter of hours!! This truly has been a remarkable year for me as well and the start of a lifelong journey. It's the year I decided that my life needed to take a turn from the direction It was currently heading. A path of unhappiness, self-loathing, and berating myself over unfulfilled goals. After reading through my journal that I'd kept since 2014, it was evident that for 2 years all I did was complain about not being ahead in life and put very little actions in changing things. At the start of this year, I deemed 2016 as the Year of Planning Ahead. The start of getting my life back on track and taking ownership of my downfalls. The plan was to get out of debt, get back into a fitness routine, be more mindful of the foods I eat as well as getting back in touch with myself.

I can happily say that most of my goals were accomplished! I successfully paid off my credit card debt, completed a vegan challenge, finished the Insanity workout plan and have now adopted yoga as a new workout routine thanks to Yoga with Adriene, and lastly rediscovered a love for my artwork in finishing 100 days of hand lettering. None of these accomplishments would have been possible if I didn't take responsibility for my actions and keep myself accountable. It took showing up for myself every single day, confronting my inner fears, and understanding that I am capable of accomplishing anything with daily practice, focus, dedication and a will to succeed! It took a lot of trial and error to get to this point. I had moments where I felt as though my efforts were useless but had to remind myself that negative thoughts are simply wasted energy that sets us back versus moving forward.

Setting small attainable goals gave me the momentum to push forward. Every time I checked something off my to-do list, it gave me a much-needed boost in confidence to stay on track with the next goal.

As the new year approaches, I feel better than I've felt in years. I now have a sense of purpose and embarking on a 365 hand lettering challenge (Yes I know that sounds crazy but I know I can do his). I also plan on diving deeper into my yoga and meditation practice by starting the year taking part in Adriene's 31 days of yoga titled Revolution. I have more goals set for the new year but will get into more details on the next post. I'm overall grateful for the impact 2016 had on my life and looking forward to keep the momentum going into the new year and beyond!