Posted in Attitude, Design, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

The Inside vs The Outside

I recently took some ‘glamour shots’ for my professional profiles thinking it was no big deal – but the feedback was really interesting and spurred on this analysis:

It wasn’t until I was around 25ish I started to come in to my own look and just go with it. I realized it was much less dramatic than I thought it would be – actually, downright boring. I was addicted to the struggle, the fear, the anxiety of trying too hard. In a morose way, I liked the drama of obsessing. When I decided to say, “Okay, I’m just going to do this and trust the process.” No beating myself, no self loathing, no constant comparison to other people, no standing in the mirror over analyzing every bit of extra flesh. Just cause and effect. I toned up, extra weight fell off, and there was nothing left to do.

The most anti-climactic win Ever. 

Then what? I’ve always gotten compliments because I smile all the time, so compliments were nothing new. I felt better in my own skin, but after about a week I was over it. It was Extremely disappointing to not have habitual goal to think about all the time. I knew I didn’t want to lose more weight or build muscle because I had done that before and didn’t like it. Chest bones are not pretty. And then you go from compliments to people openly saying rude things like, “Eat a sandwich.” So I had found my happy medium. But now what? I missed the drama, the obsession about a process.

Success is less dramatic than the journey there – and sometimes, even the journey there is boring. I believe this is part of why so many people don’t achieve their goals – especially physical goals. It can be highly disappointing when you get to the top and find there’s no where else to go, but down the other side.

About the age of 30, I decided beauty wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. All you really get with being beautiful is compliments from the outside world and being confident in yourself (okay, so, that last one does help quite a bit!). I realized that unless I was going to be a model or something where I’m in the spotlight, good looks is really inconsequential. And I want to be more than just a pretty face. 

The process is the real treasure. Developing attributes like Patience, Will-Power, Focus, Resilience, and Determination. These ideals are easy to transfer in to any area of life once you have an area to relate.

Coincidentally, around the time I was having this epiphany- I took a challenge to do 2 weeks of live videos on Facebook saying one thing I’m thankful for. And I realized, I do Quite enjoy being in the spotlight! I don’t believe looks are completely under our control, a lot of it is the genetic lottery – so I can’t take credit for most of it. But I also don’t believe in squandering gifts, so I’m working on ways to incorporate where I already have my confidence to other places I’m working on building up. 

Turns out, looks do matter in this world despite how unimportant it can seem, so it’s good to be wise about it. And just like how you dress and look can attract/repel certain people in your personal life, the same is true when making a portfolio. I realized the “Look” of my portfolio doesn’t appeal to those projects I really want to work on. So, I’ve decided to re-design my portfolio. And no, the irony isn’t lost on me that my mind is still focused on the look of things. I’ve just re-routed the means and the end goal to be a marketable skill.
In creative fields (and other fields that use the mind as the main tool), there’s no ‘top’ to reach because imagination is endless and always growing.

A few years ago, I would have thought that would be disheartening, but now, it’s encouraging to know there’s no disappointment at the top and the journey will never end. 

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp. – Robert Browning

Posted in Attitude, Design, Personal Life, Psychology

NOTEvember 14: Aiming for Anything

Thanks to Inktober, I have a good bit of artwork to use for my tshirt shop! Two uploaded today and they look pretty dang good if I do say so myself. I already have plans for the second round which will feature watercolor elements to these designs.

I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to get one thing done, a whole lot of other things get done in the wake of anticipating that one thing.

Today, I opened my UpWork profile up for proposals again and within 5 hours, received 7 invites for projects. Business wise, it was a pretty good day all around. … despite me not making my 5 Design Goal of the day. 

This is what happens when I set my sights on something – I feel like I should be busy doing Something at any given moment – even if it’s not what I originally intended, I still get interesting things done.

This is probably how serendipity finds me.

And tomorrow I’ll try again to reach my goal.

Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

NOTEvember 12 : Weekend Bust

I mentioned before that I never get anything done on the weekends.
And what do you know?
No posts over the weekend. 😃

I did manage to fulfill my goal of 5 crochet spiders and they turned out quite nice. I’m still tweaking the design a bit since it’s a bit difficult to get them on the pencil.
Once I iron out the kinks, maybe they’re something I can sell through my site. …or give away. People always like free things.

Once I get in the zone of doing something, it’s very difficult to get out of that zone.
I crocheted all weekend and now have quite a few crochet spiders and a new cat toy. That made me think, maybe I need more than just a day to focus on something, maybe I need to ride the wave until it dies down.

Maybe I need to stick to a plan for more than 5 seconds! 

With all this Christmas stuff being advertised, I feel an urgency to get my shops up and going with new designs. So I’m going to switch focus to my online stores this week.

This weeks goal: 5 new designs in at least one store per day. 

That seems achievable. I’m lumping the whole week’s goals into one thing because… I hate thinking of a new goal every day. Maybe I’ll be more successful that way.
Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology

Notevember 6 : Commitment Issues

This happens Every Single Time.

I decide to start something new or try to do something – again – and I’m almost instantly hit with a “Commitment Check”. I start a new project/challenge and something happens to test just how much I’m Really Committed to it.
I’m pretty sure this is a common thing that happens with everyone so I’ll share my insight on the matter. This is how the pattern of events normally proceeds:

  1. On a whim, decide to take (or Retake) on a challenge 
  2. Excitement / Motivation die off
  3. Slow slide off band wagon
  4. Wave of procrastination/avoidance/exhaustion
  5. Timely reminders of habit changing and the benefits following through
  6. Stable-minded re-commitment to challenge
I’ve seen myself go through this process over the span of hours or months depending on how quickly I become aware of what’s happening. And sometimes, I’m completely aware, but entirely apathetic. It’s rare that I abandon a challenge all together, but it can be put on the back burner for quite some time.

These past 6 days of slacking/overthinking were the Commitment Check Effect.
And, as usual, I had the timely reminder of how and why to get myself back on track. This time it came in the form of a podcast from The One You Feed. Of course the first episode I listened to was a mini-episode about how Avoidance drains you of all energy – which complimented the habit building tactics of the next episode. One major point was to deconstruct big tasks into smaller manageable ones. But by the time I think about how to deconstruct the main goal, I need a nap.

I’m going to take a concentrated stab at schedule making, yet again. But this time, with a second back up routine for when I can’t do something when it’s normally scheduled*. Some things in my schedule I already do – but I reach a point of “what now?” and get tired thinking about what I should do next. I figure this is the perfect spot to implement routine things.


Eliminate Decision Fatigue
Accomplish Daily Tasks
Incorporate Small Consistencies
  • 5AM : Feed Cats / Make Coffee / Check Email / Write Blog Post / Work Projects
  • 10AM: Clean Kitchen / Catbox / Crochet 
  • 2PM : Waste an Hour**
  • 4PM : Go for Walk
  • 7PM: Draw
  • 10PM : Edit Website

Backup Plan!*

  • 10AM : Feed Cats / Make Coffee / Check Email / Work Projects
  • 4PM : Go for Walk
  • 7PM: Draw
  • 10PM : Write Blog Post
*Backup Plan is not an “I don’t feel like doing it right now, I’ll just do it later” plan. This plan is for those days when things just don’t go as scheduled
**Why would I schedule a “Waste an Hour” on my routine list? Because this gives me the opportunity to relax and not feel bad about it.

So, here we go again! If at first you don’t succeed – Try, Try again.

Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

Notevember 2 – Goal Setting

I have the lifelong habit of biting off more than I can chew. Mom’s gentle warning “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” was foreshadowing for the rest of my life – my ambition is more than I can physically handle. 

So, what then? Do I lower my sights? How can I make things manageable enough to actually complete?

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” My sister said as she was helping me with my multiplication tables – this entire scene feels significant. Like a dream chock full of subtle clues about my future.

The theme of setting small goals to accomplish big things has been a constant in my life – however, I’ve never liked this way of doing things. In fact, I’ve stubbornly resisted this method with every ounce of my being – but, it seems to be just as stubborn as I am because it keeps reappearing.

In school, I had a ‘goal card’ I had to make fresh with new daily and weekly tasks to accomplish a long term goal. The start of each day was to evaluate what was done yesterday and was the aim was for the day in context of what needed to be done that week – month – year.
The stinging irony of my schoolbooks being named “PACE” isn’t lost on me either. 

But, that’s all so dreadfully boring and unmagical if you plan things to happen and then they happen. It’s always more exciting if things just serendipitously fall together!

This is a prime example of having the answer screaming at you and trying to find ‘another‘ answer because you don’t like the truth. “I don’t know” starts out as an excuse, and then with maturity, becomes a blatant lie to yourself.

I realized that I’ve been looking at it from an all or nothing mindset – It’s either routine or spontaneity – not both. But this isn’t true at all. In fact, my love of winging it can be incorporated when things can’t go as planned. Maybe, the solution is in the problem.

So here we go again, with the daily/weekly/yearly goals – but with an attitude adjustment and foresight of how to deal with the boringness of it all.

Goal for today : Make daily / weekly / yearly goals for next post

Posted in Attitude, Design, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

#Workmode Hello Holly Vlog: Rule of Threes

Last night, I was having a conversation with a client of mine and he introduced me to the “Rule of Threes”.

The Rule of Threes can be a lot of things, as I found out when I looked it up after we talked. In context, he was referring to a method to narrow down a focus in business – specifically how to market myself and narrow down what I want to do with my business.

I wonder how many other designers have great conversations like this with their clients. Truth be told, I often pick my clients brains about business strategies and try to absorb as much of their lessons from experience as I possibly can without being too obvious. I feel like this is another reason why I prefer working with start-ups, new businesses, and small businesses that need an update.
Maybe I’m an entrepreneur at heart – maybe I’m taking notes for later. 

I’ve worked with a few Engineers lately in particular (engineers seem to be some of the most interesting brains to pick), who have really let me in to their thought processes and I love it – I don’t always understand it, but, I file it away for later so hopefully one day I will.

This is probably my favorite part of what I do – being able to openly talk with super interesting people. The line between “Client” and “Friend” is very blurry for me – I would call almost all of my clients ‘friends’. They’re people I’ve gotten to know really well over the phone, internet, whatever – and once you work on a project with someone, it’s pretty impossible to Not form a connection. For me, anyway. I wouldn’t know if this is the case for other designers because THEY NEVER TALK ABOUT THIS! 

Anyways, back to topic. 

The rule of three in this context is making a concept catalyst.

Ideas that react with problems to synthesize solutions.

Dividing the concept into two categories – Overall Concept and Description – I narrowed down what it is I really do … and I feel like I’ve found a lot more. 
Probably the best thing I got out of doing this exercise was the ability to clear the clutter in my head. 

“Graphic Design” is a very vague term and can mean a lot of things.
It’s easier to say what I don’t do than what I do. And usually, if someone requests something I haven’t done before, I’ll take a calculated stab at it. 90% of the time it works out. 10% of the time I finish it – but, don’t exactly nail it.
Trying out new things lets me know immediately what I’d like to do more of or stay away from in the future.
Posted in Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

3AM Internal Alarm Clock

Why I’m usually up at 3AM in no particular order:

  1. Someone is Snoring Loudly
  2. Cats. Cats are being loud.
  3. I’m thirsty.
  4. I had a weird dream and now I need to look something up
  5. I had a night terror and woke up screaming.
  6. I read somewhere waking up at 3AM is the perfect brain frequency for working on creative projects.
  7. I was born at around 3AM, so now I feel like it’s a “lucky” time for me.


So, what do I do with this time? 
I use this as “extra” time. I can do whatever I want! If I want to draw, I draw. If I want to play a game, I game out. I exercise, do yoga, write, read about spiders. Whatever I want to do.

Sure, I could probably use it to work or do something “productive”, but I noticed when I try to do that, I get sleepy very, very fast. I need this time to be pressure free.

And that’s what works for me. Anyone else have this weird internal alarm clock thing happen to them?

What do you do with your “Extra” free time?

Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

The Bully in my Head

When I was in highschool, there was a guy I thought was just the apex of cool. The way he carried himself and the things he was interested in were so outside everyone else I knew. From music to movies to ways of writing and reading, it was a window into another world.
I studied his family from a distance trying to figure out their family dynamic. Somehow, they seemed closest to my own.

His parents were also a huge influence on me. They were my teachers and children’s church leaders. And they talked to me like I was an actual person…which I didn’t feel like most of the time. I didn’t really think of them as parents, but I definitely trusted them.

Their son was my #1 role model as a teenager and the primary voice of doubt in my head for years afterwards. He was a huge jerk most of the time. Always saying things like, “You’re a loser.” “No one cares.” “No one cares what you have to say.” 

He did me a huge favor by impersonating all of my self doubt.

And, as an added bonus, since we basically grew up together, I saw the times when he was hurt, angry, frustrated and vulnerable. And at the strangest moments, he would do something kind and sweet. Which was usually not taken seriously and rejected. This gave me a huge insight.
He had made his reputation and probably felt like he was in too deep to turn it around. People were already expecting a certain thing out of him and I think we all know from experience, how hard it is to destroy your reputation in a positive way and rebuild.
This made me want to try to understand why he would say so many of the mean things that cut me deep – seemingly totally unaware of what effect his words had on other people. I learned later on that this need to understand people that on the outside seem so mean is called, “Compassion“.

I might have misinterpreted the quote – “Keep your Friends close and your Enemies closer.” But it seems like it happens way too often to ignore that we have more in common with our ‘enemies’ than our friends. And get more out of it. Our enemies challenge us, push us, and make us better people. As the Joker said in The Dark Knight, “I don’t want to kill you – You complete me.”

Strangely enough, I started counting up the similarities between us. Neither of us felt like we belonged where we were. Neither of us wanted to be there most of the time. Both of us wanted bigger things in life than the people around us. Both of us had so many questions that were constantly going unanswered – and being reprimanded for asking.
The big difference was, he externalized all of his anger. He wasn’t afraid to get in trouble. He wasn’t afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. He wasn’t afraid to be in a bad mood. While I, on the complete opposite end, was terrified of all of these things. I internalized all of my anger and kept my thoughts to myself because I tried to avoid confrontation at all costs. 

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

This guy is the epitome of “dragons turned into princesses” for me. He unknowingly showed me how to confidently look my monsters in the eyes and have compassion for it.
Because, I realized having compassion for my monsters, my demons, my bullies – is having compassion for the darkest parts of myself.
Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

Vlog #10 : Transforming Anxiety

I’ve spent a LOT of time analyzing anxiety – studying where it comes from, biologically what happens in the body, and mystical theories. I’ve also spent a lot of time documenting different strategies on how to cope with anxiety, so I’ll share some of that with you today.

In terms of biology – Anxiety is the fight or flight response. Something has sparked the survival instinct in you that says, “You’re in immediate danger! Quick! Either put up your fists or RUN AWAY!! THIS IS LIFE OR DEATH!” All of this happens in the less evolved part of the brain nestled inside of the neocortex – the Limbic system in us. Meanwhile, our rational evolved pre-frontal cortex is like, “What are you freaking out about? There’s nothing happening.” And this is where judgment of ourselves really intensifies matters. Because once we start saying to ourselves, “I’m overreacting” we belittle ourselves (often adding depression to the mix) and have little hope of actually figuring out what’s going on.

Our minds are a complex interaction between the evolved parts (the prefrontal cortex) and the primal parts (the limbic system and the “reptile brain” autonomic functions). However, since the primal parts don’t know how to speak in words (frontal lobe – far, far away from the limbic system) – we must learn how to interpret their signals.

For years, I tried meditating, a LOT of exercising, reading, affirmations, pretty much everything you can think of besides medication. I really did not want to take medication. Then, in 2014, I was going through a very stressful time and having convulsive panic attacks which were scaring my stepdaughter – really, if it wasn’t effecting people around me, I probably still wouldn’t have gone to the doctor! But because I knew I needed to keep my sanity for her, I went and was fortunate enough to have a fantastic doctor who listened to what I was going through. She prescribed sertraline and buspirone and seriously, it was life changing. I was internally warm for the first time that I can remember. Walking down the stairs was a challenge because I could actually feel my legs – I had no idea I was living as a floating head all of this time, totally disconnected from my body. I was actually viewing life through first person view instead of 3rd person. AND! The best thing is, I continued doing all the things that were supposed to help and they actually did! Meditation, exercise, even sleep, everything was so much more effective. I was afraid that medication might ‘change me’ or make me a zombie, but it did exactly the opposite. I would just lay in bed and enjoy feeling my own body heat itself. This was the first time I felt “back in my body” again.
As a teenager, we had this furnace in the hall next to my room, and I would lay in front of it trying to get warm. But it was like the cold was on the inside and I couldn’t get the warmth past the skin. 

Another part of anxiety was the racing thoughts. Darting from here to there, up and down and around again. At around the same time I started taking medication, my husband was also experiencing intense anxiety said he had never experienced it like that before. He’s normally a very level, even keel type of person and really didn’t know how to handle it. I remember saying to him, “It’s like you’ve eaten way too much sugar and your brain is foggy and racing – but you haven’t eaten any sugar.” He was like, “YES, exactly!” I like to think that it helped to have someone near that understood – even if I couldn’t make it go away.

When I feel really anxious, I feel like I can see the particles in the air. Everything is intensely bright and loud.

I’ve had really intense night terrors – there was nothing to fight, nothing attacking me, just extremely real. I once dreamed my husband and I were going to bed and all of these children were around. I told them they needed to go to bed and all but one ran off. The one girl sat at the end of our bed. I picked her up to carry her to bed and she fell limp in my arms. Her head turned to the side with a slack jaw and half of her skull was missing with the brain exposed. I woke myself up trying to scream and when Brian asked me what was wrong I told him about the dream and told him the girl was “pretending to be alive“.

I still haven’t figured out a solid way to get rid of anxiety for good. But I have found a few ways to transform it into excitement and use the extra energy for good.

  1. Racing thoughts – WRITE IT ALL OUT. It doesn’t  need to be pretty, it doesn’t even need to make sense. Take a timer, set it for 5 minutes and just try to get out everything that’s in your mind. If the timer buzzes and you’re still writing, keep going and go until you can breathe again. If you finish before the timer, then say to yourself, “Wow, all the things I’m worried about fit into less than 5 minutes.”
  2. CLEAN something! Anything. And really take your time to see the difference. The floors work great for me, especially the corners, because you have to get on your hands and knees into “working posture”.
  3. Think about how much time you’ve spent being anxious. Say to yourself, “Something bigger than myself knows that this thing is bothering me – I’m going to trust in it that it will take care of me.” Trust in God, the Universe, Family, Community, whatever you believe in that’s bigger than yourself will help you realize you’re not alone and you don’t have to figure it all out yourself.
  4. Realize that sometimes, anxiety just happens for no reason at all. Once you stop looking for a reason, you break the cycle of “Why am I anxious?” Cut off the dialogue in your head with the anxiety. Instead, start a conversation with gratitude. “Why am I thankful today? What am I looking forward to in the future?”

Being anxious is a repetitious and addictive cycle that feeds off of itself.

Be thankful that you experience human emotions with such intensity – this means you’re a very empathetic individual, meaning you’re very in tune to those around you and desperately want to help. Let go of control and start trusting that everything will be okay in the end. Once you realize you’re stuck in a rut and determine you’re ready to move on, only then can you really break out of it. But don’t expect to be ready right away, it’s a process. And it’s totally okay to run around in this circle for a long time until finally – you’re just bored of doing the same thing over and over again. Get bored of being anxious!
Once that happens, you can transform the anxiety to energy you can put into the things you have control over and be aware of the things that are out of your control.

Then we can focus more on becoming who we want to be, rather than who we were or what happened to us (often lending ourselves to blame and giving up our responsibility and power to others), only then can we move forward with our lives.

“You have many habits that weaken you. The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

Thinking Whole Brained

Today, I want to talk about WHOLE brain thinking and share with you a couple of books that have really helped me to think in different ways when I put in the effort.

Some of you might have heard the term “Renaissance Man”. This term references the ultimate jack of all trades and man before his time – Leonardo Da Vinci.

There are Seven Da Vincian principles:
  1. Curiosita (Insatiably curious approach to life)
  2. Dimostrazione (A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes)
  3. Sensazione (Continual refinement of the senses)
  4. Sfumato (A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty)
  5. Arte/Scienza (Development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination)
  6. Corporalita (Cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise)
  7. Connessione (Recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things.

These are the principles I’ve studied and try my best to live by because it covers Everything! And, I know I’ll never ever be able to “perfect” these things in my life. Sometimes, we need completely unattainable and unrealistic goals to push us forward. Because even if we don’t meet that goal, we’ll still do way more than we would have otherwise. 

Also, if you’re always pushing yourself to think in these seven different ways, forcing yourself to be aware of your own thinking patterns, actions, and words – you will be WAY less likely to get irritated with others or ungrateful for the life you have. If you’re focusing on doing the best job you can – and I mean Really focusing and trying hard – there’s no energy left to nit-pick on others or do the mindless things that hold us back.

Really, the only energy left is a silence. This silence allows others to be themselves and allows you to understand and appreciate the people around you – even with all their flaws and inconsistencies.