7 Tips for Being a Self-Taught Artist

Being a self-taught artist has brought me both immense joy and overwhelming fear.

The joy stems from the freedom to learn my way and to create a style that is truly my own and that reflects who I am and the life I’ve had.

The fear seeps into those dark moments where I feel like a fraud or a failure. The moments when I compare myself to others and find my art lacking. Or when I put my art into the world and…crickets.

7 Tips for Being a Self-Taught Artist…

1) Be willing to make mistakes – This may be a no-brainer, but art is rarely a linear pursuit. You don’t start from A and end up at Z. Instead, it’s a series of steps and missteps that lead you to a darkness where you are convinced you are lost and creating total junk, only to end up where you never knew you would be. So, be willing to make mistakes, sometimes it’s those mistakes that lead you to the most beautiful discovery.

2) Passion is the most important – Passion will be the thing that ignites action in you. The idea that artists need to practice is 100% true, but without the passion driving you there won’t be many hours of practice. You’ll find yourself bored or doing other things instead. So, let the passion that grabs you and won’t let the thought or idea go. Those are the things to follow. Let those feelings, no matter how crazy they may seem, lead you to new discoveries.

3) Walk away when you hit the “meh” stage – You’ll know this stage when you get there. There’s a moment in every art piece where the artist looks at it and thinks, “What on earth is this and how the hell do I fix it?” That moment where you hate everything you’ve done and would much rather toss, burn or cover over the offending work is when you need to step back and return with fresh eyes. Pushing through has never worked for me, I always end up regretting it.

4) Provide your own structure and guidance – To be self-taught there must be a measure of structure to your learning. Without school to provide that structure, you are the one who must provide that piece of your art practice. Set up a schedule or deadlines to force the structure needed.

5) Choose your learning style – The beauty of being self-taught is having the freedom to choose how you get to learn. Are you a visual learner or more auditory? How do you learn best? Do you learn best from one-on-one training or at your own pace with an online class platform?

6) Check the self-doubt at the door – Self-doubt is a killer to creativity. Comparing ourselves to others is the fastest way to stir-up a fresh pot of self-doubt. This means that you need to accept that you are learning and there will always be someone more advanced than you, but that also means there is someone who is not yet where you are. Art is a journey and to believe that one day you’ll master it is the quickest way to self-doubt. Because in my humble opinion we never stop learning as artists.

 “Give yourself permission to fail” – Theodore Roosevelt

7) Let yourself play – In my classes, I think I say, “just let yourself play” more than anything else. There is no right way to do anything. What speaks as true for me may not for you, so giving yourself the freedom to play and to try things is the best advice I could give. This one plays into #1 and #6.

5 Steps to Finding Your Artistic Voice

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from students is how they can find their artistic style. It’s followed by how do they find it if they are learning…copying…another artist’s style?

Finding your unique style is a matter of finding yourself in the art. It’s noticing the little habits or traits that appear in your work over and over. These aren’t thing you choose but rather they are things you’ll find by looking at your artwork and noticing the little things you do without thought.

Our artistic styles are a combination of our overall drawing style, color palettes, texture or subject.

But then how do you go about finding your style?

I believe we can find our artistic style if we follow these basic five steps:

1) Be curious – They say that creativity breeds creativity, so being curious in the beginning is super important. This will be in the form of experimenting and trying new things. It’ll be taking classes and copying those that inspire you. This is the stage where learning is so important.

2) Focus on the craft – Mastering your tools in this stage is key. As writers we are told to learn the rules before breaking them and this applies just as well in art. So learn the programs you need to create digitally. Know how to use the traditional tools accurately whether it’s oil paint or charcoal. Learning how to use things properly will give you the freedom to break the rules and create authentically. Once you understand the fundaments begin to experiment and slowly introduce little tweaks.

3) Know your personality and demeanor – If you are a perfectionist you may not connect well with loose or abstract art. Knowing how you are as a person will help decide what type of medium you choose and how you go about creating art.

4) Let your voice be heard – Our creative voice influences our style in many ways. Art is a way to express yourself and the things you are passionate about or the things you believe in. This is a big part of finding your artistic style…listening to your own voice.

5) Be aware – Stop and look at your art. Really look at it and be aware of reoccurring themes or elements. These are the little things that make your art pieces unique and easily identifiable as yours.

With all that being said, the number one thing I can say that will help you find your artistic style is to create LOTS and LOTS of art!!

Daily Journaling Practice

When I began my daily journaling practice I was hoping to form a more consistent journaling rhythm as-well-as to form a more honest and personal relationship with myself and my writing voice. Up until that point, I found my journaling to be a list of things I did that day or a long winded dramatic dump of all the emotions I was feeling that day.

But the idea of having an unlimited amount of space each day felt overwhelming. I ended up choosing the Moleskine 18-month planner. It would give me one page to write each day…no more, no less. I could do one 5″x8.25″ page!

I began on October 22, 2019, and planned to complete it by December 31, 2020. Who knew that I would be capturing our lives as we dealt with a global pandemic, a change so drastic that it affected our young adult children as they made decisions for their future, a change in our work and lockdown that kept us all distant from family and friends. My daily journal was a place for me to document all that we were dealing with, learning about ourselves and each other, as-well-as the world around us.

I hadn’t planned to capture such a momentous time, but rather just to help me find my journaling groove again and yet this pandemic helped me to return to my journal each day because there was so much to work out.

I’m down to my last two days in this journal and it’s amazing to look back and see all that I’ve accomplished. It feels good to have met the goal I set out to achieve, but I’m mostly pleased that I have this time-capsule of sorts to help me look back at a time where the world changed daily.

Tips for Creating a Daily Journaling Practice

  • Set an attainable goal – For me that was to have only one-page each day to fill. I did have another journal where I wrote more in-depth on certain days but I didn’t have the time to do that each day. I recommend sitting with the idea and knowing who you are and what kind of time you have to put in each day. Journaling is 100% about you, so do what works for you.
  • Where will you do your best writing? – If you can write sitting on the subway or in a lunchroom at work, go for it. If you need a quiet space away from anyone else, then find your private place.
  • Keep your journal close – If you journal in bed before you go to sleep or first thing when you wake up, keep the journal next to your bed. If you journal on the go make sure to buy a journal that travels easily.
  • Aim to write for 15-20 minutes – That doesn’t mean you can’t be quicker or take longer, just carving out 20 minutes each day should give you enough time to write one page.
  • Write freely – Try to avoid all the “shoulds” and just write as freely as you can. My goal was to avoid writing a giant to-do list each day, but with limited space, I knew I couldn’t write out everything that happened that day and how I felt about it, so I would pick one thing. Something in the news that affected us, the way my kids were handling a situation, the way I felt about something that happened at work.
  • Try to find the lesson– I didn’t want to look back at my journal and see long emotional monologues about how someone at work hurt my feelings or how the kids didn’t like my dinner. So each time I sat down to write I wanted to focus not so much on the emotional side of an issue but what I can learn from it. I wanted my journal to help me grow. Each day I would look at all that I’d written and say to myself “What’s my part in this?” In other words, was a situation difficult because of how I behaved or how I filtered the situation? Did I do something to contribute to it and what could I do differently next time? If it was something that was happening in the world and I felt out of control, I would ask the same question…”What is my part in this?” In other words…”Am I allowing the negativity to affect me? What can I do in my life to help alleviate the fears? What do I have control over?”

I’ve decided to continue this daily journaling, so I’ve purchased another Moleskine, this time in red. I know that we are looking at 2021 and are hopeful for what this year may bring. We’re all ready to let go of 2020 and yet I know that much of what we have dealt with this year will follow us into the new year, but I have my trust journal to help me through.

My 5 Rules to Live By

I believe we all have a basic 5 rules we live by. The trick is, each of our 5 are not the same. This makes us each unique as we’re guided by these rules. These are the things we filter through as we make decisions and move through our days. Our 5 can be partly dictated by our upbringing, our religion and our community.

Here are my five~

  1. Do not procrastinate – This was a rule that gathered steam as I got older and suffered major grief, loss of my health and facing my own death. When we’re young it feels like we’ll always have ample time, but it goes by so quickly. Procrastinating brings regrets and lots of “what if’s”, so take the leap and be open to new things.
  2. Always ask yourself, “what is my part in this?” We can only control ourselves in any situation, so sitting around feeling angry or frustrated or “whatever”…ask yourself what your part is in the situation. Is there something you can do differently? Is there some change in thinking or attitude you can make? Is there a way to see it from another’s perspective? By asking yourself what your own responsibility in any given situation is takes back the control and doesn’t let you feel a victim.
  3. Get enough rest – I’m a huge advocate for naps. Everything feels heavier and seems impossible when your tired. Exhaustion brings a fog into your vision that makes everything harder. There isn’t an attitude that can’t be fixed with a nap or a goodnight sleep. Anything is possible with enough rest!!
  4. Find your creative outlet – Creativity is expression. It gives voice to things we can’t express otherwise.
  5. Get your fingers (or feet) dirty – Plants and dirt is grounding and offers fresh life and oxygen into our space. Being around plants helps us concentrate better. Whether you have a large yard or a tiny apartment, you can have plants in your life. If you struggle to keep plants alive, look for a hardy plant and always under water. Over watering kills plants faster than under watering. Take it from a person who use to kill any plant she brought home.
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

I’d love to hear what your FIVE rules are. Comment below to share!

Gardening Without a Green Thumb

Growing up with a mother who can grow anything was intimidating for me since I wasn’t born with a natural green-thumb. I think us “NON-GREEN THUMBERS” carry that title around almost too afraid to even try. I’ve had many dead plants and more than a few failed gardens, but I never gave up. I began to turn my thumb green a few years ago, but kept the news to myself for fear it was a fluke. Yet, this year as gardening has become a new pastime for many practicing social distancing I thought I’d share a bit about my transformation into a “Green Thumber”…is that a thing?

I didn’t give up on plants because I have always found such pleasure in them. I am in total bliss when I’m outside in my garden with my knees and fingers dirty.

All Plants Have Specific Needs

It wasn’t until I realized I couldn’t just plant anything I wanted and hope it would survive. Learning that each plant had different needs helped me to find plants that could…and did…survive in my house and yard.

Read the tag that comes with the plants. This will tell you whether it prefers sun or shade. It’ll even describe how much water it needs.

Schedule Watering

Yes, I put “Water Plants” in my weekly schedule. I water on Wednesdays. Some plants need water a bit more often, so depending on the plant and how warm your weather gets, you may need to have two or more days to water.

A trick I learned was to put ice cubes in your plants (don’t let them rest against leaves) and they will slowly water your plants. I love to do this with my orchids.

Start with Easy Growers

The first plant I could successfully keep alive was a Golden Pothos. They are hardy and grow really well. I loved to put them in hanging planters because they grow long vines of bright green leaves. Other easy growers are Spider plants, cactus, Boston Fern, Rubber Plant, Weeping Fig, Peace Lily for indoors. Outdoors I like fuchsia plants, Hydrangea, pansies, geraniums, forget me nots, ferns, lemon balm, strawberries and lavender.

Just Plant Them In The Ground

My best advice for starting a garden is to begin. Just plant something. It’s in the doing that we learn. You need to take into consideration the needs of the plants of course, but by watching your plants grow you will learn what they need. The plants will tell you. If the leaves change and look funny or something is eating them google why and a remedy for it.

Our yard gets a ton of shade and because we live on the Oregon Coast we don’t get hot summers, but we do have mild winters. So I had to learn what plants would work here. Because of shade we can grow lettuce, spinach, and kale really well. We have one side of the house where we built garden beds for the plants that like the sun, such as tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

Enjoy the Garden Friends

When you plant a garden you will find lots of new friends…snails, slugs, etc. I don’t like slugs in my garden, but I will move them else where. Snails can stay in my flowers, but not my garden. There are lots of tricks, so ask your garden friends or google ways of dealing with pests. A great way is to add hair clippings to the beds, it keeps the slugs and snails away. Also coffee grounds!

I like to imagine stories for our little snails that visit us. We have a few that stick around for a while and it’s fun to watch them.

Feeds the Birds

This year I decided to add bird feeders to our back deck. I put up a seed bird feeder as well as a hummingbird feeder (I’ll share links below).

Watching the birds has become an entertaining pastime. Oh and watching our indoor cats watch the birds is even more entertaining.

Here are links to the feeders:

(hummingbird feeder)

The bird seed feeder I purchased at Fred Meyers, but here are a couple similar ones.(option 1) (option 2)

You don’t have to be a green thumb to enjoy plants. Just begin somewhere and you’ll find your home and yard filled with plants soon enough.

Couture Tangles Class

When I started creating Couture Tangles I was sitting on the couch watching the Oscars. This was many years ago and during the Zentangle craze. I shared a couple of my drawings on Pinterest and then forgot about it. I was contacted a couple years later by an editor with Walter Foster and asked if I would contribute to a Fashion Tangling book. It was such a wonderful experience and I was fortunate to have my art included in two of their books.

My Couture Tangles have changed a bit since their early conception. This time I’m mixing digital line art fashion illustration with painted watercolor marks.

I’ve had such a blast creating this class!!

Class Description

Combining the world of fashion with doodle art, Couture Tangles will take you on an imaginative, playful drawing journey mixing digital and analog to create fun and whimsical illustrations.

In this class I’ll break down each step of the illustration process into individual lessons then I’ll walk you through 3 projects so you’ll get a chance to see all the steps in action.

Lesson 1: I’ll share the basics Procreate functions we’ll be using in class

Lesson 2: How to find reference photos

Lesson 3: How to draw a fashion figure

Lesson 4: How to make and edit watercolor marks

Lesson 5: Practice doodle worksheets

Lesson 6: Project 1 Couture Tangle

Lesson 7: Project 2 Couture Tangle

Lesson 8: Project 3 Couture Tangle time-lapse

Lesson 9: Your project

I’ve also included three exclusive printable/downloadable worksheets that you can use in this class. You’ll be able to download them as images and insert them into Procreate to use as practice sheets where you can warm up, learn new doodles and play with Procreate Brushes. I’m also including a PDF version for those who would like to print the worksheets and practice on paper. There’s also a PNG file with bunch of watercolor marks you are free to use in your illustrations.

This class will be done almost entirely with the iPad and the Procreate app, however, you can follow along and create these illustrations 100% analog if you want.

Materials You Will Need

Here’s a general list of supplies you’ll need to complete this class’s assignment. I want to stress that the brand of paper and paints does not matter, so use whatever you have on hand.

  • Watercolor Paper (I’m using Canson Cold Press Watercolor Paper -140 lb) 9″x12″
  • Watercolor Paints (Use whatever you have on hand. I’m using Jane Davenport Paints and Windsor Newton
  • Paint Brush – large and small (I’m using a large size 24, and Princeton size 6)
  • Jar of Fresh Water
  • Paper Towels
  • iPad
  • Apple Pencil
  • Procreate App

I’ve created a Pinterest Board with lots of reference photos, so feel free to jump over there to see all the beautiful photos.

14 Ways to Successfully Homeschool

We began homeschooling our kids in kindergarten while working from home. The kids were little, and it was a choice we made to keep them at home with us. We had a curriculum and plans in place, yet our daily homeschool/work situation rarely looked like the pretty schedule I created and hung on the wall for all to see.

For those of you who didn’t get to make this choice and are carrying tons of fear and worry around, these days are going to feel overwhelming.

Here are things to keep in mind…

You don’t have to make it just like school

Your kids are used to a structured day at school, with teachers and other classmates. Schooling at home isn’t going to be the same and you shouldn’t even be trying to make it that way. Whether your kids are young or teenagers, don’t try to mimic the routine or environment they are used to getting at school.

Create a schedule…and then throw it away

Life is moving so quickly and we’re each forced to reassess and pivot from moment to moment, so holding yourself and your kids to a strict schedule is going to drive you crazy. That being said, I do think a schedule will help everyone know what is generally expected each day, but keep it lose and flexible giving your kids goals to achieve more than strict lessons and homework. Remember, homework keeps the kids busy only so long before you must help and then, of course, you have to grade it too.  

Batch Learning

In school, especially in the higher grades, kids switch between anywhere from 5-8 classes each day. Let me tell you from a mom who homeschooled for 14 years, trying to write lesson plans and teach that many classes each day is very difficult. I recommend picking 2 or 3 subjects to teach each day. Pick one that’s more difficult for your child, Math, English, or Science, then pick one or two easier subjects. Another option is to assign each day a theme and have each subject play off that theme.

Create Learning Stations

Set up different stations around the house and even yard for kids to move to when they are feeling bored, overwhelmed or frustrated. Having a puzzle station, art table, or even games set up in your yard will give them the freedom to move from activity to activity without you having to set up and cleanup between each.

Snack / Water Station

I can remember days that by 11:00 a.m. I had gotten a dozen glasses of water and prepared 5 meals. I started setting up a little water station in the kitchen where I had a water jar with spout full of ice water and little cups set beside it. I would add fun things to the water like orange slices and whole clove, cucumber, lemon or berries. I also would set out a basket of snacks the kids could grab from if hungry. Apples, bananas, carrots, crackers, etc.

Quiet Reading

It was mandatory in my house to have a quiet hour each day. The kids were required to find a spot and quietly read or work on any other quiet project. No phones, tablets, computers, or TV. They had to do something quietly. It seriously was my favorite thing!! Silence!

Creative Learning

My son struggled with reading as a young boy and therefore things like spelling were torture for us both. I started letting him go outside and bounce the basketball while he practiced his spelling words out loud. It was amazing how quickly he was learning.

There are so many creative ways to teach your kids, if something isn’t working, that doesn’t make you a terrible teacher and your child a difficult student. Be willing to scrap something that’s not working and try new ideas until something does. School doesn’t have to be done sitting at a desk for 5 hours. Times tables are all about repetition, so toss a ball or bean bag back and forth while reciting them. Foreign language is about speaking, so do that on a walk or while cleaning the kitchen. Math concepts can be taught in so many ways, don’t think you have to beat your head against the table teaching it. Be creative!

Family Read Aloud

Pick a book the family reads together and read aloud to each other. Reading out loud is a very different type of reading than in your head. In our heads, we skip words or make them up so we can quickly move on. Forcing our kids to read out loud gives us a chance to see what words they are struggling with.

Arts / Music / PE

You don’t have to be artistic or crafty yourself to do arts and crafts with your kids, but I encourage you to get your kids crafting if you haven’t already. Our schools have lost so much funding over the years and sadly our arts, music and physical education classes are taking the biggest hit. You have such a wonderful opportunity to give these back to your kids. This doesn’t mean you have to be musical or artistic yourself to teach it. There are YouTube videos, Skillshare and Udemy classes and so many more options out there.

Getting your kids outside for walks, basketball in the driveway, gardening, hiking or tag in the backyard is going to burn out all the wiggles your kids have and make them more likely to sit still long enough to learn something during math lessons. Over the years I taught my kids how to knit, crochet, sew, cook, draw, paint, journal, and so much more. The options are limitless.

Group Learning

You do not have to teach each child individually for each subject. Put your kids together and teach one subject to them all. Yes, even if they are all different ages, you can teach one subject. You can be lecturing about astronomy to your teenagers while your middle schooler is learning about planets and your little ones are coloring a worksheet. Some of what you are teaching may be above the heads of the younger ones but being around the vocabulary will only help them later on. Another great thing to do is get the older ones involved in teaching the younger ones. They say that teaching is the best way to learn something, so let your teens teach math or science to the younger ones.

Grant Wishes

There must be something your child has dreamed of learning to do. Ask them and then make it happen! Do they dream of learning to write code or play the guitar? Are they interested in baking and wish to learn cake decorating? Are they into fashion and makeup and wish to learn to sew or apply makeup like celebrities? We’ve been given, for better or worse, TIME. Give them permission to take this time to learn something new.

Just Chill

On the other hand, your kids might be overachievers who normally have a very full, active schedule running from classes, to sports, to work, to college prep and probably much more. Maybe this time is for them to slow down a bit. Sleep in, read a comic book and play video games. I’m all about balance and moderation so take your child’s personality into account and find what works.

Stay Social

The hardest part for your kids, especially your teens, will be staying away from their friends and girlfriends/boyfriends. They are social and their days are filled with it, so losing that will create a sense of loss and even depression. For some kids their self-worth is wrapped up in their social status, so you might find that your kids are struggling with that loss. Permit your kids to find ways to stay social whether through Zoom, Snapchat or TikTok. Let me talk to their friends or even play video games online with each other. Have them set up Netflix movie marathons together and have them Skype, Zoom or Facetime while they watch their movies.

Keep a Journal

I’m a huge proponent for journaling. It offers a safe place to write about or deal with our emotions and right now we’re all running high on them. I taught my kids from a very early age to keep journals/diaries. I always had them working in journals in class and I encouraged them to keep private journals as well. There are so many ways to journal, I could write a whole post about just that, and maybe one day soon I will. Just know there are no wrong ways to journal. Here are just a few journaling options:

  • Collage journal
  • Art journal
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Diary / Journal
  • Shared Journal (one you pass between two friends or family members)
  • Dream Journal
  • Food Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Reading Journal
  • ‘Rona Journal (all about your experience during quarantine)

Just remember that any moment in the day can be a teaching moment. The kids will hear news reports and see what’s going on so use those moments to teach about Government, Science, History or Medicine. They’ll ask questions about God and humanity and why this is happening, so use those moments to teach.

Don’t be afraid of homeschooling. You are capable and you will find your way. Just take a deep breath and let go of the expectations to make it the same as school. It’s not the same and that’s perfectly awesome!

9 Ways to Protect Your Business During Uncertain Times

During the housing crisis of 2008/2009, my husband and I were running an architectural marketing company and overnight the phone stopped ringing, emails dried up and clients stopped paying their bills. Our world finds itself in the midst of very uncertain times again, but we survived the 2008 crisis and we can survive this as well.

Below I’ve listed some of the practical things we implemented immediately to protect our business, and these are things you can do as well, no matter the industry you are in.

Don’t panic!

Sitting around shell shocked and not acting is going to be the thing that kills your business. Take a moment to mourn the business you had and what you may have lost and then pivot and work through all the suggestions I offer below.

Take a full audit of your income and expenses

Taking a full audit of where your income and expenses sit at this moment will give you the easiest way to increase your profit margins and that means cutting out absolutely everything that isn’t necessary. Each company will have a different set of needs and where they sit financially, so it’s important to take stock of what is most important for your company.

Build your email list

No matter what industry you are in, you want to have a way to keep in contact with your loyal customers/clients. If you don’t have one yet, you need to build one. Trying to keep contact with customers only through social media isn’t a viable plan.

Use your downtime wisely

As business owners, we are busy working our businesses and rarely do we get the opportunity to stop long enough to take a true inventory of our business. Really look at what’s working. Is there something that you are holding tight to and in reality, it’s not a successful avenue of income? Are you up to date on your accounting and taxes? Are there services you dream of adding but don’t have the time to implement? What about your website and social media presence? Can you update your website and clean up and create a consistent brand style across all platforms?

Build a side-hustle

Building a side-hustle now may seem like a waste of time as so many are watching their businesses crumble, and many are out of work. That’s just not the case, now is honestly the best time and the reason being you will be filling in the gaps of a new way of life and work. We don’t know how long this will last and waiting around for life to return to normal when the reality is it may never return to the “normal” we knew before.

Offer support

As you dive into your own business don’t forget to offer support to the businesses around you. We may not be able to help everyone, but we can focus on businesses in our network, or local community and offer up assistance. Trade services to assist each other or share information and ideas for growth. We don’t have to isolate our businesses even if we are isolating ourselves at the moment.

Make a to-do list

Keeping a running list of all the things you want to work on, research and incorporate into your business or side-hustle will give you a place to return to each day for guidance. There are going to be days when it feels overwhelming and you might feel defeated, but that’s the perfect time to return to your list for the next thing to work on. Just keep going.

Be patient

Emotions are running high. Families are isolated together with partners and kids all underfoot. Finding your space to work will be important if you are working from home but being patient with each other will go a long way. The stress and worry can eat away at you and create tension between relationships, so find your patience and grace.

Take care of yourself

During these uncertain times as you fight for your business don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your health and well-being are a big asset to your company so add a bit of self-care into each day. Drink plenty of water, take a nap occasionally and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Take 30 minutes to an hour in the morning to get your head on straight. Take a walk or workout, eat a healthy breakfast, drink a cup of tea or coffee while you enjoy a good book. Don’t let the stress of business permeate every part of your life.

So, take a deep breath and begin!

7 ways to start your mornings right when social distancing

My husband and I have been self-employed and working from home for 19 years. During those years I homeschooled two kids through graduation. I found in all those years the most important thing is to have a great morning routine. Otherwise your mornings drag out and by the time you get to work your day is half-over.

There are a few things you can do to ensure you start your day right.

No phone

We all want to be informed but looking at the news seconds after waking up will only raise your stress level even before getting out of bed. That includes avoiding social media, news apps, etc. at least until you’ve completed all five things.

Get up earlier

If you’re self-isolating, working at home or your kids school is cancelled that doesn’t mean you should sleep in and get out of your typical routine. That will make for a rough return to normal. In fact, during this time I recommend getting up 15-20 minutes earlier than you normally do. For the first time you might have your spouse/partner, and kids underfoot and in your space all day, so finding time that is just yours is so important.


Try journaling first thing in the morning. Julia Cameron suggests morning pages, which consists of three, hand-written pages. Essentially a brain-dump that allows you to free your mind of all the worries and clutter. I’m a planner and find that planning my next day even before leaving the “office” gives me a great start. Morning journaling, whether it’s in diary form, morning pages, or brain dump your to do list, the act of writing slows you down and gives you a fresh start. If you are looking for a great journaling technique read my post on “The Art of the Written Word”.

Get Moving

Start your day with a bit of exercise. If this is new to you, try light stretching or a nice walk. If you are more of a morning person, maybe try turning on some music and having a bit of a dance party or a more vigorous workout to work up a sweat. Getting out of the house during this time of isolation will be important, so think of ways to keep your distance, but still be able to enjoy the sunshine.

Other ideas: go on a hike, sit outside and drink of cup of tea, take a walk on the beach, uncover that treadmill or rowing machine and start using it, watch YouTube workout videos or download workout apps to try.

Enjoy a Cuppa

Take that extra time in the morning to sit with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy a good book or newspaper. If the news is to stressful, stick with a book.

Do the Basics

This includes showering, getting dressed and making your bed. It’ll be tempting to stay in your jammies all day, and I’ve done it many times, but by the end of the day I feel nasty and my mood shows it.

During this social distancing I’ve decided to simplify

Wake up Your Office

Whether you have a designated office space or not it’s important to wake up your office. Waking up my studio is one of my favorite things. Turning on the lights, warming up the space, and opening the blinds to let in the sunlight. As soon as the studio is awake, I’m reading to work.

What are some of your favorite ways to start your day? Tell me in the comments

11 ways to keep kids busy when stuck at home

This coronavirus crisis has forced many schools to close and has left many parents scrambling to find ways to occupy their kids during the day. There will obviously be schoolwork to stay on top of, but parents are forced to find ways to keep them busy.

I homeschooled my two kids from Kindergarten through graduation so I’m quite familiar with finding things to do with kiddos at home.

Cook Together

This is a great opportunity to get your kids in the kitchen. Many people are eating out less and this would be a great time to teach kids cooking skills. Plus, having the kids as a helper in the kitchen makes things go a lot quicker. Whether they are new in the kitchen or not, this is a perfect time to share family recipes or to try out new ones together.

Teach Them to Care for Plants/Garden

If you have a garden having them help with planting, weeding and watering would be a great way to keep them physically active and working outside.

No garden? No problem. Put them in charge of watering the house plants. Teach them how each plant is unique. How they each like a different temperature, amount of sunlight, or how much water they require.

Read a Book Together

This was a favorite in our house when the kids were little. Now that we’re all spending more time at home together, we’ve decided to start this up again. We picked a book and each night we read it out loud together. Pick a book that is new to each of you or reread a favorite.

Do Something Physical Each Day

Staying physical will not only keep your bodies healthy and strong, but it’ll also help with the stress and anxiety all the negative news brings into our bodies. Take a walk with your kids, have a dance party, ride bikes, do yoga stretches or even a bit of meditation to quiet the craziness for a bit.

Learn a New Hobby

How many of us say we’ll learn to (fill in the blank) when I have some free time? Well, now that many are forced to stay home, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn a new hobby. Maybe you always wanted to learn to paint, or embroidery, or knitting. Maybe you wanted to learn a new software program or take a class. Watch YouTube videos or Skillshare classes to learn a new skill. Get your kids involved and learn something new together.

Do a Puzzle Together

This is a family favorite! We used to do puzzles all the time when the kids were little. When we pulled out puzzles the other day it was a hit! We made room on the coffee table and sat together for hours working on the puzzle. Then over the next day or so we’d each sit for a few minutes to add a piece or two. There is something wonderful about puzzles, you can’t help but stop to try a piece of two.

Our current favorite is called “Verticalville”.

Create a Sketchbook Together

The Brooklyn Art Library hosts an awesome collection of sketchbooks from people all around the world. You can order a sketchbook from their website.

Let your kids write a story and illustrate it. Use it as a journal for your time home together or for them to express how they feel about the world right now. Work on each page together and then send it to be a permanent part of the library.

Have a Special Spa Day

If you are feeling nervous about heading to the spa for a little pampering, just do it at home.

Turn on some music or a corny movie and put on a face mask, paint each other’s nails, and give each other foot massages. Your kids will love it!

Color Together

A few years ago, coloring was all the rage, but now would be a great time to bring it out again. Coloring is soothing and lowers anxiety and stress. Plus, their kids love it!

Another form of coloring is to cover your dining table with parchment paper and leave coloring crayons and water-soluble markers out and let them color on the table throughout the day or when eating. It’s a favorite at restaurants, so why not try it at home?

Tour Museums Virtually

Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t tour some great museums.

Travel and Leisure has a great article with tons of links to check out.

Play Music Together

Use this time to teach kids an instrument. Or if you don’t know how to play, learn one together. Being creative in a time of high stress and anxiety not only helps soothe but it works out the boredom.

Even as the world continues to get crazy, helping your kids and yourself to find ways to connect, stay busy and having fun will draw you closer and help calm all the nerves.

Tell me some ways you are keeping your kids occupied.