Start Today

I always have intentions of writing more regularly, but I’m a slow writer and get lost in my thoughts and never actually post. So once again inspired by Austin Kleon, I am deciding to just write. I want to build the consistent habit of writing and publishing online to help me get faster and find my voice. I also am trying to get in the mindset of “done is better than perfect.” So here goes.

Kleon shared a quote by Richard Walker that resonated with me:

“Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.”

I think it is true that it’s the depression about the past and the anxiety of the future that drives us mad. Even though it’s easier said than done, let us do our best for our minds to live one day at a time.

Even though I’m still working on living more in the present, some things that help me are:

  • Think about what you did accomplish in a day, not what you didn’t
  • Write down calendar items or your to-do list so it’s all out of your head
  • Sacrifice something small for someone else
  • Show gratitude
  • Go outside
  • Meditate
By | 2018-05-07T21:49:30+00:00 May 7th, 2018|Life, Slider|0 Comments

Spring Break Recap

Spring Break is finishing up. Just wanted to round up a list of things I’ve been up to lately. In no particular order…

1. We’re homeowners!

Hayden and I officially bought our first home. After searching for almost a year, we found a house that fit nearly every criteria. We’re excited to move in, renovate, and make it our own. My favorite thing about it is the view, which supposedly is the best view our agent has ever sold in Utah County. I’ll post more about the house once we’re actually moved in.

2. Day Trip to Moab

Even in the midst of packing and buying a house, I convinced Hayden to take a day trip to Arches National Park. We ended up buying the annual parks pass because we have so many parks nearby in the state of Utah, and it makes for a cheap and fulfilling vacation. (My dad would be so proud.) More pictures to come.

3. How to Keep Going

I subscribe to the Austin Kleon newsletter, and he sent out a link to this article about artists and their day jobs. It gives me a little hope because I don’t care for my day job right now, but if it helps keep art tantalizing and fun for me, then I suppose it’s worth keeping for right now. It was a good read.

He also posted a talk that he gave about how to keep going, which was inspiring too. He’s in process of writing a book on this topic, so I’m looking forward for that to come out.

4. Wandering Aimfully

Caroline Zook is another person from whom I get weekly emails. She and her husband recently started a new business called Wandering Aimfully. What’s intriguing about this is that they are showing you all the behind-the-scenes of launching an online business from scratch as they go. I feel they’re being a little pretentious because they claim they’re starting this business “from scratch,” yet they both already have a fairly large following and tons of online business experience. But despite my reservations, their content is very good and very helpful for one who is looking to figure out how to run an online business.

5. Home Inspiration

I’ve been pinning like crazy all my home decor and renovation ideas that I want to incorporate into our new home. My brain is spinning just thinking about everything from indoor plants, to flooring, to furniture, and ceiling lights. I can’t get enough of the pretty home photos and can’t wait to transform my home over time. Here’s a picture of the end table I want to build. Check out my other pins here.

6. Magic of Tidying

In addition to planning improvements and decor, I have also been dreaming about tidying my home and going Marie Kondo on all our possessions. I purged my belongings a couple years ago when I first read her book, but now that I am finally going to be living in my own space, I feel like I can really embrace the magic of tidying (goodbye 6 years of roommate/apartment living). I re-read the book again this week, so I’m ready for the challenge.

7. YNAB

While I’m obsessing over home decor, Hayden is obsessing over our finances (which is why we can afford a home in the first place). These past several months, we haven’t really needed a budget because we have been living in his parent’s basement and have been putting most of our money into savings. But now that we are going to be on our own, we have been working on setting up our budget and making more goals about what we want our money to do for us. We have been using a free trial of YNAB, which stands for You Need a Budget. We just finished reading the book that the YNAB founder wrote to explain his philosophy on money and budgeting. I would recommend it if you don’t know how to budget or want more perspectives on what to do with your money.

8. General Conference

General Conference happened to fall at the beginning of my spring break. This event is always motivating and faith-building for me. It reminds me that no matter how much advice and information I can find on the internet, nothing competes with the scriptures and words of our living prophets.

This is just one quote I read this morning that added a little hope into my day:

“Brothers and sisters, life can be filled with faith, joy, happiness, hope, and love when we exercise the smallest amount of real faith in Christ—even a mustard seed of faith.”

-Elder M. Russell Ballard

9. Meditating

I started meditating this past year and it has been essential in helping me fall asleep when my mind won’t stop racing. My favorite app has been Simple Habit. I like it because it has enough free sessions to be useful. It’s not like other meditation apps where you only get a 7 day trial or there are only a handful of free recordings. I also recently started using our Amazon Echo Dot to play Guided Meditations. I don’t like the meditations as much, but the advantage is that it is voice-activated and automatically stops when it is over.

10. Coming Up

Even though I’m still dreading going back to work, this time off has been rejuvenating and I have some things to look forward to. Besides moving, I’m also stoked to meet a baby niece who will enter this world any day now. Plus I’m dreaming up creative projects and things to keep me busy during the summer (8 more weeks. So close, yet so far…).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this smorgasbord of a post and keep visiting because there’s going to be some photo dumping happening very soon (house, Arches, newborn baby niece, etc.). Until next time!

By | 2018-04-06T05:46:01+00:00 April 6th, 2018|Life, Slider|2 Comments

Values

So my school meets as a faculty every Friday morning for collaboration time. Last Friday, the principal gathered us all together and wanted to share what she learned at some leadership training that she went to. She started by saying that the definition of stress is when you have strayed too far from your values for too long. Because we’re all teachers and it’s third quarter and we’re nearly always stressed, she wanted us to identify our core values so we could figure out how we could go back to those and get a handle on the stress. She gave us all a stack of paper with different words on each paper and we had to go through them and narrow down our values. Usually I roll my eyes at this stuff because we did it at the beginning of the year and I’ve done it countless times before and it doesn’t seem to change anything. I did the activity, but I thought it was silly and that it didn’t really apply to me.

Except that now I’m sitting in my bed on a Saturday night thinking back on that experience.

First, she had us pick our top 10 from the list of words. Which was hard to do because pretty much everything on the list is important. Like Loyalty, Love, Service, Growth, Making a Difference, Traveling, etc.

So I pick my 10. In no particular order:

  • Joy
  • Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Learning
  • Purpose
  • Respect
  • Health
  • Financial Independence
  • Spiritual Life
  • Orderliness

Then we had to narrow that down to 5.

What’s funny is that as I narrowed my list down to 5, I think I got self-conscious about my values and tried to put the top 5 that I thought others would want to see. And I don’t really know why that happened. Why was I getting ashamed of my values? There’s no wrong answer. How could there be? No one actually cares what I think are my own top 5 values. Yet somehow that was all getting to me.

My list of 5 ended up something like this:

  • Joy
  • Purpose
  • Respect
  • Learning
  • Compassion

And there’s nothing wrong with this list. Except that I started feeling regret for some of the things that I cut away from the list. How could I cut Creativity? Orderliness? Health? Somehow I thought that the things I spend the most time thinking about weren’t important enough to be on a list of Top 5 Values. My list of Top 5 Values ended up feeling shallow and basic. Not that these things aren’t important, it just didn’t feel like me. Yet somehow I ended up with this list.

The next step in the activity was to think about each value and consider how much effort you were putting into each value in your life. In other words, we had to quantify how aligned our life was with that value. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. I started to feel guilty because right now I feel like I’m struggling to feel Joy and Purpose (3). I didn’t know how to quantify Respect (5?). I felt pretty good about Learning (10), but that I could do better at showing Compassion to others (6). I was starting to feel disappointed and guilty because my life is not really aligned with these values that I picked. These aren’t the things I think about every day. These aren’t related to the specific goals I aspire to accomplish. The original 5 I picked are good values, but they are not the ones I want to prioritize right now. They are not the things I am regretting not including in my life. I also felt some dissonance because I’m honestly not sure that teaching is the best fit for me, yet here I am sitting at my school thinking about how teaching gets in the way of my values sometimes.

So I reevaluated.

These are my real Top 5 Values:

  • Purpose
  • Creativity
  • Compassion
  • Health
  • Orderliness

There are still some areas where I feel I am lacking, but they are the things that I want to work on and get better at. You’ll also notice how some other values intertwine with each other. Here are the reasons for why I included these in my top 5:

Purpose

While religion is a huge part of my life, I specifically chose Purpose because I think that’s the point of religion and spiritual practices. To know why you’re on this earth. Some of those purposes for me include learning and growing to become more Christlike, raising a family, and developing relationships that bring others to Christ. My other values help me discover and work towards these purposes.

Creativity

I don’t know how this didn’t make my original top 5 because Creativity drives everything that I do. This is the biggest way I find my purpose no matter what I’m making. Sometimes I doubt my creativity and if I’m good enough. I fall into the comparison trap all the time. My lowest grades in college were the 4 art classes I took freshman year. I thought I wasn’t talented enough to be a designer. Yet, I always come back to the idea of making things, and being creative is always what brings me the most joy in my life.

Compassion

This one is in my top 5 because I when I was a teenager, I was given a special blessing from a leader in my church and he told me something that I will never forget. He told me that there are many things I will learn in this life, but the most important thing that I should learn is love and compassion for others. One reason why I became a teacher is because I thought that this would be the best way to learn love and compassion for others. Aside from teaching, Hayden and I made it a goal to serve someone specific that we love every month of this year. This has been incredible so far and I look forward to completing this act of service every month.

Health

This one I struggled with putting on my top 5 because it feels shallow. Like it’s synonymous with looks or appearance. But really, health is so much more than that. Good physical health leads to good mental health. I have also struggled with making this a habit since I got married, but I’m always conscious of it and want to work on it more.

Orderliness

This was another one that felt silly to be in a list of values, but I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a big deal to me. I can’t think straight when things are out of order. It makes me irritable. I’m not perfect at keeping things orderly, but it’s always a goal of mine. When things are in order, it helps me be less stressed and feel more peace in my life.

In Conclusion…

I hope you can learn from my thought process as you hone in on your values. Don’t let outside influences and comparing yourself to others psych you out. These are for YOU. Any decision you make should align with one of these values to help you lower stress and anxiety in your life. This has been helpful to me so far and I’m excited to report back in a couple months to let you know how this has worked for me.

In the meantime, you can tell me:

What are your top 5 values?

By | 2018-03-16T23:33:52+00:00 March 16th, 2018|Life, Slider|0 Comments

Why I Letter

Ever since I was little, I loved the art of lettering.

Exhibit A

I still remember the first time I wrote something in cursive. I moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa, FL in the middle of second grade. I moved into a school that was teaching cursive. I had not learned cursive at my old school, and my teacher was going to have me start at the beginning of the alphabet. I did not want to be left behind, so I had my mom teach me how to write my name in cursive. I copied my name onto a folder and showed my teacher the next day at school. She assumed I already knew cursive and let me move on with the rest of the class. I continued to learn the alphabet and loved writing in cursive. It felt so fancy.

Sidenote: My little trick to get caught up backfired in third grade. Because I never really learned the first half of the alphabet, I never learned how to correctly write “b” in cursive. I thought it was the same as an “l”. I ended up getting a bunch of words wrong on my spelling tests because the b’s looked like l’s. After getting so many incorrect on spelling tests, I finally figured it out!

Kindergarten Handwriting, circa 1999

4th Grade Handwriting, I only wrote in cursive on spelling tests apparently. Also this story. Ha!

Exhibit B

In middle school, I was known for carrying around a 20 pack of Crayola markers. I doodled and drew pictures for my friends every day. I would change out the pictures in the front of my binders at least once a week. I also colored a lot and made designs on graph paper. This was before adult coloring books were a thing. I would literally spend my summer designing pictures for the covers of my binders for the next year. After a couple years of practicing this hobby, Crayola came out with the 50 pack. I literally got 4 packs of markers for my birthday that year from different friends. It was awesome.

Sidenote: I still have those 4 packs of markers and I donated them to my classroom so the next generation of middle schoolers can enjoy the wonders of Crayola markers. Lest you think I’m generous, I’ve moved on to better things. I just bought the 96 pack of Tombow Brush Pens!

Above: Lettering from high school when I got a cruise for Christmas. Right: New Tombow brush pens!

Exhibit C

AP World History was one of my least favorite classes in high school. It was boring and crammed too much material into one semester. The one redeeming quality was that there was a lot of note-taking. I learned to enjoy taking notes because that meant I could practice my handwriting. Even in college, I continued to take notes by hand. I’m a firm believer that writing things down helps you remember things better.

Sidenote: Writing things down is not only beneficial for school performance; it also has psychological benefits. I have written in my journal nearly every day since I was 12, which has helped a lot with feelings of anxiety and loneliness throughout my life.

In Conclusion

I started this blog post with a totally different intention, but this is what came out. It’s fun to think about how you got to where you are today, even with something as insignificant as your handwriting. And despite my years of being a lettering enthusiast, I still don’t consider myself an amazing lettering artist. But I’m practicing every day! Go take a peek at my 12 Days of Christmas Lettering! I’m excited to share where I started, so you all can watch me progress. Thanks for helping keep me accountable. Have a good week!

By | 2017-12-15T04:54:39+00:00 December 12th, 2017|Lettering, Life, Slider|0 Comments

Advice from a Therapist: It’s Not You

I never had problems with my mental health until I became a middle school teacher. I majored in education, but I never had desires to be a public school teacher. Ironically, I began my teaching career because it seemed like the easy way out. It was easy to find teaching jobs and get interviews. Teaching felt secure. Little did I know what I was getting into.

I applied for several jobs. My dream job would have been a high school photography teacher, but there were no openings for that in the area. I interviewed with several middle schools. I decided to sign with the school I did because I liked the faculty, the commute wasn’t too bad, and I was told I could teach photography the next year. I was scheduled to teach 4 different classes across 3 different grade levels. I would be teaching various engineering elective classes. Then principal called me a month before school started and asked if I could teach a fifth class, keyboarding. I naively agreed. They say if you can teach middle school, you can teach anything. I accepted the challenge.

So I start my first year of teaching. Honestly, it didn’t even take a month before I started experiencing waves of anxiety and depression. College and student teaching did not prepare me for the profession. During my student teaching, I never had to contact parents, I never had to prepare for more than 2 classes, I never had to be on a committee, I never had to advertise for my classes for the next year, I never had to purchase supplies, etc. In short, it was a reality shock. At the time, I was dating my future husband, so I kept telling myself I’ll get married and plan all summer and then I’ll be fine for next year. Except my principal told me the photo class didn’t carry and summer was terrible because I would have nightmares about teaching, which paralyzed me from planning. I got some things done, but not nearly as much as I was hoping.

Now I’m in the midst of my second year of teaching. I keep pretending to like my job, but the depression has only gotten worse. I started seeing a therapist. Coincidentally, this therapist taught 6th grade for 3.5 years and then quit because he couldn’t handle it. He went to grad school and became a therapist. More importantly, he became happier. I met with him for ten minutes the other day, and his advice was: “It’s not you.”

Teaching is rough. There are so many unrealistic expectations, and it’s impossible to fulfill them all. So I just have to keep telling myself, “it’s not you.” Because I’m doing my best. To those new teachers struggling with anxiety and depression: It’s not you. You’ll never make it through if you take it too personally. Learn to laugh at yourself, take time for yourself, and leave school at school. You can do it!

By | 2017-12-13T02:29:16+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Life, Slider, Teaching|5 Comments

Happily Ever After Hurricane Irma

In my last post, I recounted how I went home to Florida during the summer to make my own wedding dress with my mother. Before I went back to Utah, I was going to visit my fiancé in Virginia. I didn’t want to travel that much with a wedding dress, so I left it in Florida, counting on my mom to bring it with her when she came to Utah for the wedding in September.

Originally, I wanted to get married Labor Day weekend, but my parents had already scheduled an Alaskan cruise. So we settled on the next available weekend, which would be September 16th. The plan was for my parents to come home from their cruise on Saturday, pack for the wedding, and fly out to Utah on Tuesday for my wedding that weekend.

However, all these plans shifted when Hurricane Irma decided to head straight for South Florida. The flights to Florida were cancelled and my parents were stuck in Seattle. There was no way for them to return to Florida and get the things for the wedding, including my wedding dress.

The funny thing is that even though I have been struggling with anxiety and depression, the fact that I might not get to wear my wedding dress was not freaking me out. I was very calm about the whole thing and knew it was going to work out. I had my backup temple dress, and a coworker who lent me her daughter-in-law’s dress that happened to fit me. But really, I wanted to wear my own dress and I know everyone was praying for it to somehow get to Utah.

While my parents were stuck in Seattle, they sent a house key to a neighbor in Florida that arrived on the Tuesday before the wedding. Thankfully, the hurricane did not knock out power in our area and there was no damage to our house. That neighbor (also my mom’s visiting teacher) got into the house, packed all the wedding things into a box, and overnighted it to Utah. My wedding dress arrived Thursday night for my Saturday wedding!

By | 2017-12-13T02:29:32+00:00 November 23rd, 2017|Life, Sewing, Slider|0 Comments

Utah Wedding Reception: Springville Museum of Art

I feel like I could write a novel about my wedding and all the details surrounding it, but that’s what pictures are for. Here’s the summary.

Venue: Springville Museum of Art Sculpture Garden

I picked this as my venue because I wanted it to be outdoors and I love art museums. The location, price, and amenities were also perfect for what we wanted. There was also a weather contingency in the case of inclement weather.

Photography: Tara Wilcox

I chose Tara for her attention to detail! She captured all the details of the reception and even took portraits for my siblings during the evening. She also did a great job with getting through the group photos quickly and pleasantly. I also got some film shots by Sol Harris.

Decorations:

I wanted the reception to be casual and minimalistic. We kept the decorations to a minimum by mostly relying on the natural beauty of the venue. We made simple centerpieces, CNC’d a welcome sign, and put some photos on the provided easels. I used Shutterfly to create the guest book.

Music: Renshaw

I didn’t want any dancing, but I did want live music. I’ve known Cayson Renshaw since kindergarten and he is an amazing musician, so I booked him as soon as I had a date for my reception. He formed a band shortly before my wedding, so he brought one of his band mates as well. They were awesome and added the perfect ambiance to the evening. They’re going to be famous one day.

Food: Marvellous Catering

My mom was in charge of figuring out the food and she found Marvellous Catering. They definitely live up to their name. I only heard raving compliments about the food during the night. We went with appetizers and lemonade to keep it simple.

Cake: Sam Keele

I’m not into most wedding traditions, but my mom told me if I was having a cake I had to get photos of me cutting it. I wanted cake as dessert, so we did cut the cake. But there was none of this save it for the anniversary nonsense. We served our whole cake and got Costco cakes to serve when we ran out of the decorative cake. To save money, I put the flowers on my own cake. Though I couldn’t eat the cake on my wedding day because my stomach was acting up, they did save a piece for me that we took on our honeymoon, and I was able to eat it the next day, which happened to be my birthday. And it was delicious.

Florals: Roots Floral Design

I couldn’t have my tropical Florida wedding, so I settled with a tropical bouquet. Kaytee Stice of Roots Floral Design did a beautiful job giving me a taste of the tropics in the Utah desert! The main flower was a protea surrounded by tropical greenery.

Rings:

We got my ring custom made at Forge Jewelry Works. I showed them a picture of what I wanted and they mocked it up in CAD and made it happen! Hayden got his band from E-Wedding Bands. They both had great service.

Send Off:

I wanted the reception to be as minimalistic as possible, so we didn’t do anything fancy for our send-off. Everyone stood in a line and cheered as we left. But Hayden did pull through and got his dad to bring his old Fiat for us to drive away in. This was special because this was the car his dad drove while he dated his mom. We drove it around the block before switching into Hayden’s car. 🙂

By | 2017-11-29T23:29:39+00:00 November 19th, 2017|Life|0 Comments

Hello World 👋🏼

Hi! I’m Michelle!

A little bit about me:

Love

I Love

my family, creating, organization, minimalism, & sunshine

Work

I Work

at a middle school teaching wood shop & engineering classes

Play

I Play

by taking photos, designing, & admiring art and architecture

Like

I Like

Q-Tips, double-sided tape, gummy worms, & hedgehogs

Dream

I Dream

of someday owning my own stationery shop with all the pretty things

Make

I Make

elephant sweaters, lesson plans, baby blankets, and chocolate chip cookies

By | 2017-11-29T01:57:57+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Life|2 Comments