Etsy Treasury: Born in a Pumpkin Patch

In the spirit of welcoming the yummy autumn season into my life, and supporting some wonderful Etsy makers.... I have made my first Etsy treasury! Hoorah!

There was a lot of logic behind this decision. Okay, not really. It was mostly that I have been doing this type of Etsy roundup for awhile anyway, so may as well do it officially!! I won't make any promises about doing this on a regular basis... but I am actually confident (for once) that this is a habit I can keep.

Without further adieu, here is my first Etsy Treasury for your viewing (and shopping) pleasure. Click on through to the Etsy site to view the sources.

Etsy Treasury: Born in a Pumpkin Patch


Follow the #30DaySketch Challenge!

Hello, blog world.

I am dipping my toes in the blog pool. It feels nice. It really, really does. And even though my last post has done a pretty effective job of metaphorically stripping me down to my fancies... I am not ready to jump in the water yet. So I'll just sit here, scantily clad, cooling off my toes.

I decided at the end of July to take part in a #30daysketch challenge on Instagram for the month of August. Challenging myself creatively is something new for me, and something I have never, ever imagined doing online.

This challenge, for me, is part creative adventure and part self care. Embracing creativity--forcing myself to dose myself with a little bit of it each day--is an incredible alternative to staring at the ceiling and overthinking things. How fleeting life can be. How dusty my ceiling is.

Reconnecting with my artistic roots and doodling a little something each day has so far been fun. It feels open and honest and liberating... it is less about a perfect "before and after" shot and more about a process and being open to new things. Very #HumanBlogger-y. Each day I feel more and more like myself, and will likely look for another challenge once this one is over.

Follow me on Instagram to stay in the loop!! We have 19 days left.

I've embedded a fancy schmancy web feed of the #30daysketch Instagram tag here, so you can see what I am up to...along with mayabki who started me on the adventure, and thunderpeep who I am super glad came on board!


We are all #BoldBrilliantBeautiful: My "I Am" Statement

If you know me, you're very aware that I am late for everything.

Earlier this year, I started following This Heart of Mine Blog on her Bold.Brilliant.Beautiful.You. adventure. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, the jist is this: a group of bloggers have decided to spend 2014 embracing their wants, needs, dreams, and humanity on their blogs.

I was fascinated by these bloggers opening up about who they really are and what drives them... but I was too scared to do it. That is, of course, until I got fed up and decided I needed only real in my life from now on.

I was shocked to have gained rather than lost a following after posting my #HumanBlogger rant. It made me feel like I could come back to blogging, as soon as I was ready. After thinking more and more about the I Am statements from the BBBY bloggers, I decided it was time to write my own I Am statement, and take my own I Am selfie. Even if I am six months late to the party. (Seriously---late.for.everything.)

So here I go. This is me.

I am a lover. I am not always not a fighter. I am human.

I am a lover of words.
I am a lover of poetry, and a lover of prose. I am a lover of stories.

I am a lover of art.
I am a lover of assemblages, and a lover of found objects. I am a lover of juxtaposition.

I am a lover of music.
I am a lover of lyrics, and a lover of rhythm. I am a lover of songs that get under your skin.

I am a lover of food.
I am adventurous with what I eat and cook. I am healthy, but I am a big fan of dipping things in Nutella when nobody is looking.

I am a lover of family.
I am a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, an auntie and a friend. I am a lover of loving. I am not a lover of the word "girlfriend", but I am one of those, too.

I am one of the guys. I am one of the girls. I am accepting the reality that I can be friends with both.

I am a nerd. I am a geek. I am a little bit of a hipster, and a little bit annoyingly feminist. I am a believer in not embracing labels. I am a big fan of branding, though...

I am tenacious. I am diligent. I am someone you turn to if you want something done, and done right.

I am caring. I am protective. I am always watching the backs of the people I love, ready to go ninja on anyone who messes with them.

I am an excellent sleeper. I am not a morning person. I am a lover of coffee.

I am scatterbrained. I am crafty. I am creative to a fault.

Je suis une personne qui parle le Franglais comme une champion, mais je ne parle pas Fran├žais.

I am competent, and I am stubborn. I am capable of "doing it on my own".

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who are equally competent and stubborn. I am better off for accepting their help once in awhile.

I am a grammar geek, and a language nut. I am proud of myself for knowing better than to type "once and awhile" in my previous statement.

I am a smart ass. I am witty and clever (sometimes). I am (sometimes) self-deprecating.

I am not perfect. I am not trying to be.

I am good at making things pretty. I am good at making things make sense. I am tuned into the beauty in things. I am tuned into anything that could possibly go wrong.

I am an excellent overthinker.

I am an odd duck.

I am the only me I know how to be. I am good with that.

For 2014, I’ve joined forces with some blogging friends of mine to motivate and encourage ourselves and others to be bold, brilliant, beautiful and decidedly ourselves. And we totally want you to join us! The #boldbrilliantbeautiful project is a support group for all of us seeking to be real and vulnerable. No judging, no questions, just support and words of encouragement. Find us on Instagram with the #boldbrilliantbeautiful hashtag and on the Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You. Facebook page. All are invited and welcome. :)


In Defense of the #HumanBlogger: Why it's okay to not always be okay.

So. I'm a happy-go-lucky celebrations and home decor blogger/enthusiast... Who hasn't been feeling happy lately, and therefore hasn't blogged.

And every day that I feel a tiny bit better, I'm completely turned off by the idea of returning to a space where it's like everything is sunshine and lollipops. A space that remains untouched by the awful real life stuff that's been surrounding me offline. The robotic, nonhuman online persona that pretends everything is roses and perpetuates a fakeness I really don't have the patience for lately. So, it's been a vicious cycle of not blogging.


While I've been busily freaking out about reality and where blogging fits into that, I started thinking about why I started reading blogs in the first place. The main reason? To read real people talking about real experiences. Blogs weren't some over-edited and faceless website with tons of information but no soul. Blogs were written by humans, for humans.

But. If we are constantly showing only "after" pictures, and talking about only the recipes that worked, and sharing details of our lives only from the good days....are we not basically rejecting that humanity? Aren't we then just as soulless as the SEO driven About.com style websites that I traded in for blogs?

I decided I would take a chance here. Be real. Maybe try to make that realness a habit.

So here's the story.

A friend of mine passed away. It's all I've been able to think about. It has caused both lags and heavy spurts of some of the behaviours I typically blog about, because the things I share with the world are things that are fundamental to me being me. After a week of crying everyday, cooking elaborate meals and finishing crafty projects helped me regain control. But, again... I didn't want to blog about it. I was afraid to even talk about it. The only thing worse than the guilt of trying to feel better about the whole situation was the idea of coming here and pretending it had never happened.

The days before my friend died I was actually on the ball (for once) with this whole blogging thing. I had two scheduled posts for the week, and a few tweets scheduled. I realized quickly that despite my Twitter being the last thing on my mind, it was going on business as usual. I hated knowing that my online presence seemed unaffected, but understood the value in it. I didn't want to scare people away.

Yesterday I read an inspirational blog post by Stetted Blog (here) which unexpectedly pulled my heart strings. The post itself is about a Black Forest Cake recipe (pictured above), but describes the baking process as a type of therapy. The blogger seems hesitant to go into too much detail, and titles the post "Black Forest Cake", which (intentional or not) avoids drawing attention to the rest. There is mention of a fear that readers would run for the hills if she talked too openly about her emotions on a food blog, including experiences with depression/anxiety. From title to comments, the whole post broke my heart a little (even the recipe... I'm guessing emotional cherry smashing makes for extra delicious cake). 

I'm proud of that blogger for opening up even a little bit about something so real, when it is clearly not easy. I'm annoyed with the world for making real people (who happen to blog, run a business, or have some sort of online reputation) feel that they have to hide their humanity.

My day job is in mental health. I'm a heavily moderated stigma buster. I very rarely speak out against things that bother me here, because I prefer to stay shiny and happy online.

But I'm not in the mood. And frankly, if we encourage this expectation that bloggers leave their turmoil at the door, then we are assholes. Yup. We're basically sending our favourite people down a path towards poor mental health (or worse) because we only want to hear the "good stuff". As if finding out that the cherries being smashed to deal with stress makes them any less sweet. Oy,

Here's my argument, using myself as an example.

I blog as a creative outlet, which makes me happy. It increases self pride. It increases my confidence. It encourages me to continue doing what I love in order to keep creating content to blog about, thereby creating a cycle of positive, healthy experiences.

But. Taking into consideration the way I started this post... when things went wrong, my blog stopped feeling like a safe place. It made me feel guilty, both for wanting to move on from my grief and for not being ready to be the bubblegum blogger I'm expected to be. It actually made a shitty situation feel worse, in a way that should seem so incredibly insignificant in a matter of life and death.

This fear that I could lose my safe place by sharing my feelings and digressing a little bit from my blog's purpose.... that fear is toxic. It is the same as the stigma of talking openly about mental health. The stigma keeps me from blogging (read: keeps me from happy things) and fills me with unfounded negative thoughts (read: makes me dislike myself). It is toxic.

If this stigma affects me with my handful of regular readers... imagine what it's doing to the bloggers with a huge following. If I stopped blogging tomorrow because I just couldn't stand the pressure to smile pretty for the blogosphere, nobody would really be affected. But if, say, Elsie or Emma from a Beautiful Mess went silent, there are tons of people who would have a void to fill.  If we love those blogs, and therefore want those bloggers active... we should be encouraging the positive mental health of those human beings who happen to write awesome blogs.

Here's my proposal:

Let's start showing it's okay to talk about real shit by supporting the people who are already doing it. Reduce the stigma by showing it's okay to talk about. Comment on blog posts or status updates instead of awkwardly averting your eyes. Share posts that are open and honest. Spread the word that you understand that bloggers are people too. Let's encourage more delicious cherry smashing therapy,  like on Stetted Blog. The emotions add flavour.

Use the hashtag: #humanblogger so other people (including me) can keep up with the conversation. 

Want to go even further? Grab the button below.

If even a few people embrace this #HumanBlogger concept, I will be ecstatic. I hope to see some humanity in my newsfeed.