*originally published July 20, 2020
Have you ever tried doing something regularly for more than, like, one day? Meditation, yoga, running, journalling, not letting your kids watch the iPad. You get the idea.
If you have succeeded in getting to the coveted 28 days of doing something (they say this is the sweet spot when something becomes more routine and therefore you are more likely to keep going with it), you have likely had that feeling of accomplishment that drives you forward and keeps you going with it. Good for you!
But if it takes 28 days to establish a new routine or build a muscle then what’s with all this hype about a #100dayproject?
The thought of doing a #100dayproject has actually appealed to me for quite awhile. Though I have succeeded in creating all kinds of new skills over the years through hours of dedication, I’ve never tried to do something consistently for 100 days straight. At least I don’t think I have.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that I can commit to a full 100 days. That sounds like a scary amount of time. That’s over 3 months long!
But then I listened to this short, sweet podcast and it greatly encouraged me.
1. Doing anything for more than one day, one hour, one minute (my life right now) is good for building the muscle we need to make our ideas reality.
2. If I say I’m going to do something and then tell you that I am, I’m more likely to do it.
3. I need to carve out more deliberate and consistent time every day to be creative, which actually translates into more ME time! Hurrah!
4. Channeling my creative energies on a daily basis may help me make new and interesting art.
I think I'll start this week and share on IG. We'll see how many days I actually end up committing to. Any guesses? Wanna join me?
Me in Print!
I’m in Uppercase Magazine this quarter! If you’ve never seen this luscious publication, you really must find yourself a copy and sink into it. It is packed with beautiful photos, amazing ideas and inspiration ‘for the creative and curious’. I’m so proud to have a little shout-out in a feature in current Issue 46 called ‘Scrap Happy’! It’s all about my fibre art emphasis on upcycled and reclaimed fibre and textiles. Check it out on select newsstands or by subscribing here. #uppercaselove
I’d love to see you over on Instagram and if you make it there, please leave me a reply to any of my posts. It’s great hearing what you have to say.
- Carmen xo
* originally published May 6, 2021
This post is for those of you that MIGHT like to do crafty things, but also might like to just watch others do crafty things.
If these inspire you to pick up a paint brush, glue gun or pair of scissors - great! But if not, that's cool, too. I've curated some of my favourite videos and tutorials from all over the place for you to enjoy (and hopefully be inspired by and happy from watching)!
Air dry clay
Homemade gifts for Mom (and really, anything on this website is fun and well done!)
Papier Mache bowls
More easy art projects to try
* originally published December 30, 2021
As a small business owner and creative, I have to wear all the hats.
Sometimes (often) that means that I'm running off in a lot of directions at the same time.
I try hard to walk the talk of the productivity tools that I am often advising others on trying. I come by this honestly ... it was part of the last role I played in my organization before jumping into running my own show. However, I do slip every now and again into the unfocused overwhelm that can happen when I'm not on top of my planning.
That's why I faithfully take the time in this week each year to sit down to do an annual review and action plan for the upcoming year.
Whether you are a business owner, an artist/maker, a director in a big organization, a teacher, a parent ... doing an annual review can be fun, interesting and a nice way to carve out a few hours for yourself in this time of year to look back and look forward.
I have a few tried and true go-to's when it comes to doing a yearly review, so I thought I would share my favourites.
1. My Maker's Yearbook! I LOVE this book! I have been using this agenda and review/action plan system for a few years now. It's a bit on the pricey side (it comes from the UK so there ARE additional duties/fees on top of the cost of the book) but it is totally worth it (in my opinion).
The book itself is BEAUTIFUL, coil-bound and sturdy. Mine goes everywhere with me (even on our Saskatchewan road trips) and it has nary a scratch on it's cover ... amazing! I even love the process of pulling out my brand-spankin' new book in this week and flipping it open. It is the perfect guide through my review of the year that has just passed and it sets me up with my goals, vision and plans for the one to come.
If you get over to the website to purchase one of these and find out they are all sold out in hard copy for this year, you can purchase the PDF and get the same benefits that way - at a much cheaper price (and no duties/fees!). Anyway, highly recommend.
2. Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity blog and podcast) goes through his own handy framework for doing an annual review. Here is his wrap-up for 2021. (p.s. he writes a great many other blog posts that you might just want to curl up and get into with your next cup of coffee ... so good!).
3. Another nice one you might want to try out: YearCompass. It's a beautiful booklet and absolutely FREE. It's also available in many, many languages! Love that.
4. How about taking the time to do a calendar audit? Here's how (in brief):
5. If you can't make the time for a full review right now, how about just coming up with a word for the year, as suggested by Gretchen Rubin. I've been doing this for a few years now and it is another good reflection/looking forward exercise.
I hope you find some of these suggestions useful. Here's to a happy, joy-filled and possibly even magical 2022. We sure deserve it!
- Carmen xo
*originally published May 20, 2021
Want to guess how I wrote this email? Or where I wrote this? The photo might be a tip-off ...
I left the madness of my home, after having a particularly frustrating moment with my daughters (who don’t want to be learning online and who can blame them) and I went for a walk. And I dictated this entire update into my phone. Yes, it was long. Rambling. This is the edited version of what I wrote/said.
More than a few times in the last week (and more than I like to admit), I could feel my stress increasing and my headspace a little off-kilter.
Here’s the scene: my kids were scrappy. My husband was trying to get too many things done, per usual. We needed to go for groceries, there were dishes all over the counter, the floors needed mopping, the toilets needed cleaning, my task list for the studio was a mile long and nothing seemed to be getting done the way I wanted it to.
Familiar? Is this also your reality right now?
As I was surveying the scene and feeling my blood pressure rise, I took a breath. A really long breath. I realized that the best thing I could do in that moment was to just walk away. To give myself the opportunity to go and do something by myself, for myself, without anybody else around.
So, here's the thing. Whether it's a walk, a moment outside with a coffee, a few rows of your knitting, creating space to breathe and calm down is a MUST.
I've written about the mental health benefits of doing things with our hands on my blog and on LinkedIn. Recently, I re-read this article and this one and they all drive home the same point:
Making things helps to lower our levels of mental distress, improves our mental functioning, increases our life satisfaction, calms us down, promotes successful aging AND there are even studies that show long-term social and cultural benefits from art/craft.
I’m trying to help you find something creative to enjoy, something that will give you a release, something that will make you feel better.
I believe this so fully and so profoundly that I left my full time job and regular paycheque earlier this year in order to do this work.
I'm a case in point. Every single time I sit down to pick up something that I’m working on, I honestly feel my heart slow down and my stress start to dissipate.
So, what am I currently working on? Crocheted poufs, a woven triptych, a whole new line of handspun yarn, woven baskets, and embroidery. Oh, and I'm trying to figure out how to clean, prepare and spin dog hair. Yes, you read that correctly. I'll share that process over on my @intheply IG account, if you're interested (or grossed out?).
If you need a little inspiration and a place to start, take a Ply Studio workshop. Perhaps you're saying 'but Carmen, I'm TIRED of online everything!' ... and yes, I agree. But it's what we have right now. Ply Studio WILL be offering in-person workshops in my beautiful studio space and outdoor garden starting in September. But for now, you can pick up a new skill (and I'll send you the supplies straight to your mailbox!) in the comfort of your own home.
And here's some incentive: take a workshop, buy some supplies, support me. In return, I'll support your creative journey and help you have fun and feel better. Use code GRATITUDE21 at checkout for 15% off anything.
Take it easy. Give yourself a moment today. AND if you just can't stand the thought of taking online workshop (cool), and still need some inspiration or a new way to approach things? Take a walk and dictate that next email or heck, even a full report, into your phone instead of sitting at your desk. It will change the way you write, perhaps what you write about and make you feel better.
- Carmen xo
*originally published June 23, 2021
Here are 5 things you can do today to spark your creative genius!
1. Check out all the FREE patterns on one of my favourite resources for all things knitting and crochet: Wool & The Gang!
2. Read (or listen to) The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and then take yourself on an artist date!
3. Listen to the Creative Pep Talk podcast with Andy J. Pizza (BEST last name, EVER!). Start with this episode!
4. Buy yourself an amazing new dress, shirt, pair of earrings, bag or some other fabulous find while supporting small, local businesses (like my fave Flock/Workshop boutique). I find that wearing something interesting just makes me feel more creative right away!
5. Breathe. Bend. Do some Yoga with Adriene.
Increasing your creativity isn't hard, it just takes some prioritizing. I find that most anything that gets me off my screen and into a different perspective helps.
Leave me a comment below and let me know if you take up any of these challenges! Do you feel just a wee bit more creative as a result?
- Carmen xo
Well ... hello! And yes, I still write a blog. Just not for a little while. And until now, all my writing has been over on my sister site, Ply Studio.
Today, I migrated all the best blog posts I wrote between 2019 and 2023 over to this website.
Because soon, my Ply Studio website will be going away (sigh).
It's not goodbye; it's just hello from a different place. And a different vantage point. And a different business model actually.
In life, we have to reflect, ask questions about what we want to stop, start and continue and then move forward.
So, I'm stopping public workshops where I teach people how to make fibre arts projects.
I'm starting a LOT more organizational team building, coaching and mentoring.
And I'm continuing to put my loving touch on a whole suite of digital offerings (like courses and workbooks/playbooks).
My emails will go out to anyone on my list (are you?) once a month but will have a new focus: how to be well in the modern workplace. I will offer up tips, resources and stories from the trenches of those that know what it's like to be a manager, a colleague, a cubicle-dweller, a remote worker and more. So, basically anyone that works in an office. If that's of interest, I hope you will join me.
Here's to fall 2023 ... a season of abundance!
I have been thinking about getting started on this blog for much too long. So, while I have 10 minutes of quiet before my kids get home from gymnastics and while I'm unwinding from my first day at the Beechwood Farmer's Market, I will take this opportunity to begin.
What can you expect to read on this blog? I will be seeking inspiration from everything around me - an interaction I have with someone, a tree that appeals (or doesn't) to me, the things my daughter's might draw - anything. I will then seek to create a yarn that resembles some aspect of that inspiration. And I will post some photos, describe my thinking and process and hopefully inspire you too.
You see, I spend a lot of time flying by things that I see regularly and don't even notice anymore. I'm sure you do it too. We all do. I read 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron many, many years ago and one of the exercises, which still resonates with me, is the act of noticing and journaling the things that we see in an effort to see (or really, notice) something different every day. I go through periods in my life when I remember to do this and feel pretty good about it. But lately, rushing. So, this is my attempt to slow down even when I'm leaving work late, dinner isn't planned yet, and my girls are waiting for a pickup. There is still time to take a breath, look around and be thankful - and a little bit curious - for all that we see around us.
Join me for this exploration.
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