Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Making It Up As I Go: The Art of Creating, etc.

I've been freelancing for 3 years now, and I still don't know everything about design and business. As a matter of fact, I don't know that much and I'm probably just making it up as I go. I've made mistakes - and still do - but I think it's my best way to learn. I look back and I'm amazed by the process, by what I've accomplished so far, by the people I've connected with. And quite honestly, I can't explain it most of the time.

Something surreal happens when you combine being human and creating. It's as if for a moment, you find yourself in this place that feels perfect and whole, a place that is fully alive. It feels like the core of your being, like it had been there all along. There is purpose, and for a moment, it is the only thing that feels real. It's your very own place, a place that only you can find. And to me, that's magical.

I've been wanting to share a few of my experiences with freelancing and creating for a while now, perhaps a few tips here and there, but never really knew where to start. I don't know if I want to write a few posts about it or just one. So, I'm going to start with a few general tips/notes for anyone wanting to start or continue creating.

- If there is something you'd like to try, try it. Don't hold back because you "don't know". There is no "perfect" or "imperfect" way to create.

- Don't force something that doesn't seem to work. If something doesn't click, try something else. Use a different medium. It's okay to change your mind, even after having done something the same way for years.

- If you make a mistake, don't be quick to throw it away. Keep it, and look at it again a few days/weeks later. Sometimes, I'll hate something I made, but with fresh eyes, come to like it a week later. And in some cases, it's the "mistake" that becomes the trademark, the very thing that intrigues.

- When you find that place, so whole and alive, and you choose to act according to it, creating becomes less scary. There is a great sense of freedom. Whether it be found in words, or music, or design, etc. Comparison doesn't feel necessary anymore. The more time you spend in that place, the more courageous you become. And what you create starts to look that way, too.

- Know that what comes from the core of you is unique and important.

I hope these words can give you a little more courage to create. Feel free to e-mail me questions about freelancing, design, or creating in general, and I'll try to answer them somehow in my next (possible) post. x

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You will become.

It's 2015 and 2015 makes me nervous.
Maybe it's the number, or maybe it's the "future", or perhaps the "I'm turning 25". Maybe it's the e-mails I have to respond to or the fact that I feel comfortable enough to go on a plane alone anywhere in the world. Maybe it's the strangers becoming friends, the people I miss and will continue to miss, maybe it's the feelings, the caring that I can't let go and maybe that scares me.
Maybe it's change. And decisions. And growing up.

It was 2014 and 2014 broke me.
I lived in another city for two months, because I missed the ocean and I missed my friends. I cried out of joy, and I cried out of hurt. And then I couldn't cry anymore. I felt like a fool, but I also felt cared for. I designed a shirt for the organization I bought every shirt from during my high school years. I moved, again. I discovered L.A. streets and tacos and horchata, and got stuck in a sand storm. I wrote, recorded, and co-produced a song with my sister, and we released it as our first single. I held on tightly, and struggled to let go. I let go. I watched my best friend marry the man she loves. I reminisced our friendship that day. It was beautiful, and I was so happy for you. I held my breath. I held back tears. I let myself grow up. I felt everything that love was. Both heavy and light. I went back to the city that felt that way, too. Heavy. And light. The one that held you and watched you go, breaking my heart and healing it, too. I questioned, I looked ahead, and I looked back. I felt whole, and I felt alone. I let you in and I let you out. I feared and hoped and took courage.

2014 broke me, and I am grateful.
I let myself feel pain and joy and anger and forgiveness.
I let myself be fragile and strong. I let myself be right, and wrong.
I let myself be human.

It's 2015 and 2015 makes me nervous.
And that's okay.
I'm learning, still.

"You will become," You tell me.
"You will become."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas: the season of lights, pine, and spices.

And showing off your crafts.

Although I don't have much to show off (no Christmas cards this year), I did want to make a wreath for the first time. So, I invited my friend Linzie and we adventured out to forests to get a few "props" on a Saturday morning. We gathered what we could (not many pine trees in the neighbourhood), and spent the afternoon wiring branches together. (It's tougher than it seems.)

Leftover pieces used for the wall, of course.

And the gifts.

This Christmas is a simple and quiet one for me. But I like it that way.
I hope that whatever you create and however you spend this holiday, you do it in love.

Merry Christmas from me to you x

Friday, September 19, 2014

The night, the end.

When I was very young, I used to fear the night.
Not because of the dark, but because it meant 'the end'.
It was the end of a day, the end of a conversation. The sun would leave us, and so would my parents.
I was 2, and 3, and 4.
Maybe it had to do with time, or change, or maybe it was the closing of the eyes and not knowing where that would take me. Whatever it was, it marked me. This certain fear of transition, this feeling that comes with endings and the unknown of what is coming in the morning, that stayed with me.

Years passed, and I still fought the dark.
But it was there that I found Him. In the 'in between', in the transition, in this strange battle I found myself in at the end of the day. I found Him there, sitting on my bedside.

We'd talk about the day, about my friends and school, and about my questions. We talked about change. We talked about what I wanted to become, what I was afraid of, what I was proud of.

I became fond of the night.
I still wasn't sure what would come when I'd open my eyes.
But I knew He'd be there.
I asked Him to be there.

It's September, almost Fall, and I feel this fear again. Something is ending. And something else is beginning. I have to close my eyes, without knowing what the morning looks like. It's the end of a day, of a conversation. It's the transition, the 'in between'.

And I'm reminded of the night. Something about it is necessary. Something about it is important.
It was there that I found You. It was there that I fought, but also let go.

There is something about change. There is something about 'the end'. There is something about closing your eyes and waking up again.

And so, I find You here, too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

You, too, feel it and know.

When my heart is heavy, I like to listen to songs about heart ache.

There is just something about hearing the words of another one's feelings,
the sounds of someone else's pain
that makes it feel less heavy.
Maybe it's the way that it makes me feel less alone, like we're singing this song together, like you're telling me that you, too, feel it and know. You just know.

I'm not one to write about romance very much. I can't even put it into song.
I always struggle to find the fitting words and feel like what I'm about to say has already been said.
But lately, I've been thinking a lot about people and relationships and being alone.

I had forgotten what it was like to spend time with myself. I hadn't really done it for a while, there were always distractions. But I'm learning to be okay with it - with being on my own.
There is a lot of pressure, all around. Pressure to be, to speak up, to dress up, to do and create and succeed. Pressure to heal and forget, to fall in love and get it right (every time), and to make mistakes but not the same one next time. Pressure to know without asking but "ask questions" they'd always tell me.
But, I don't know.

I don't know what it means to be in love. I don't know who we're "meant to be" or if there's anything we're supposed to be. I don't know if there is one, or two, or five. If there is one before the One. Or one after the other. I don't know when I am being selfish, or foolish, and blind. I don't know if this is all that matters, or if this is a glimpse into a bigger story, where one - the One - is who matters. I don't know if "forever" is forever and if it'll last. I don't know very much.

But I do know that love is real. I know that we are loved and when we love back, something shakes. I know that love is strong and patient and kind. I know that it's okay to be alone. I know that I grow a lot when I'm on my own. I know that people will come into my life, and I'll hold on, and then I'll have to let go. I'll pour my heart into them, and sometimes it'll break in return. But that's okay. It's okay to love whole-heartedly. And break, too. I know that now. I know that it's okay to break, because I'll heal eventually.
We all do.

There is no shame in loving with all of your heart. Because in the end, this is what marks another -
just how much you've loved them.
And I am learning to be okay with the temporary. With each 'come and go', I learn to grow. And with each fall, I realize how much I've always needed You. And how much You need me.

And this is the beauty of relationship, the "I need you" and "you need me". Not about age or place or beauty. Not about the venue or the music or the amount of words and lack of. Not about who replies back or who fell asleep, instead. But rather the way that this is in each of us; a push and pull to one another, a song that we are singing together, where you, too, feel it and know. It is the "I'll carry you" being said over and over and over again, expecting nothing in return.

So, whether I find one to hold onto, or if my heart aches and breaks and heals again; whether I am alone - or with another, I know that I am a part of a story - one that tells of longing and being longed for, of finding rest in the mysteries, and of holding on only to gracefully let go.

We hold on, only to gracefully let go.

...We hold on,
only to gracefully let go.

Monday, June 16, 2014

April and May: Here's to you, West Coast.








I just spent two months in Vancouver, British Columbia. It wasn't spontaneous, but it wasn't planned either. And I liked it better that way.

Let me back up.

I'm a person of plans, and when things don't go the way I had hoped for, I cringe, and break, and eventually cry. I have a hard time letting go. And more importantly, I have a hard time letting things simply "be".

But I needed a change of scenery. And a challenge.
I wanted to know that I could be okay even in the midst of uncertainty, I wanted to move away from the stable and familiar just so I could depend on the One I cannot see, I wanted to be uncomfortable just so I could grow, I wanted to face the ocean and the mountains and throw my old flesh away.
I wanted to break the routine and breathe all over again. To simply be. Without justifying.

Alongside Gabriela, we faded west. We climbed cliffs and waterfalls, gazed at the sea and sky and its sunsets, and ate a whole lot of donuts. But no matter how beautiful the ocean or how majestic the mountains, it was you who made it worth it. You and you and you and all who we met.
It was the community.
A community of the kindest hearts and the most inviting souls.
You took us in and became home to us. You made it easier - easier to let go, to breathe, and to be.
Your stories and your longings and your creations inspired us.
And for that, I thank you. I thank you for growing with me, for your genuine hearts, for the way you honor and value each other, for your conversations and your generosity.

I've come to realize that this is what matters after all.
Meeting Love in the faces of strangers who then become some of your closest friends,
sharing the things that make you joyous, the struggles that bring you pain, and the future that you dream of; doing life together, this is what makes you come alive.
So, here's to less plans and more surprises, to more being and less doing.
And here's to you, West Coasters. I'll see you soon. x

Monday, March 24, 2014

And so we hope to be surprised.

I've been told that I'm good at being honest, and that I have a way with words. But it's 1 in the morning and I am struggling to find the words to write.
My heart is longing and rejoicing and aching, too, in my many questions, and all I know is that it is beating and I am alive. I am alone, but I can hear You sing that Your love is strong and that You alone are worth the fight. Tonight, this is all I know, and I am letting it be enough.

There was a time when words and vulnerability frightened me more than anything, when the weight in my heart and my mind were too heavy for me to carry.

I was once told that nothing is impossible and that if I believed, I could move mountains. The child inside of me found no reason to doubt. I was 11, or maybe 12.
And I held onto those words with everything inside of me.

Until Fear creeped in.
I began to battle wars I couldn't win on my own. I was ashamed of being, of speaking up - I believed my voice didn't matter and that my words held no value. It took me hours before I could fall asleep, and I don't believe my mind ever found rest. I went over every conversation, every class presentation, my every action and response - over and over and over again - in my head.
I had become my own enemy.
I was 13.
I was 14, and 15, and 16, too.

And yet, I could still hear the words I had once heard and chose to hold close to my chest.
They trembled in me when I worried. They would echo and shake and fight the fights with me when I was weak and broken. They were with me. Those restless nights, those questions and cry-outs. They were with me. The desperation, the need, and the push-and-pulls. They were with me.
You were with me. You had always been with me.

And, one night, we faced them together. The fears, the worries, the monsters. You reminded me what I once believed - that I was valuable, that my voice mattered, that You were strong and You were with me, that I wasn't alone, and that I had a story worth telling.
You reminded me that nothing is impossible,
with You,
and together, we broke down walls.
It was 2007, and we had just moved to Ontario.

I began to take courage. I began to take risks, despite the fears. I began to speak up. I began to let go.
Even in the pain, I learned to be okay with feeling. I learned to be okay with the process of growing.
I learned to be okay with being human. And together, we awoke and You showed me what it meant to be alive. Together, we learned to breathe.

I became inspired by the people who surrounded me - the very people who continue to inspire and challenge me today, and I consider my best friends. I also found the story behind To Write Love On Her Arms. A story of pain, but also of hope and healing. A story of redemption. And a wake-up call. I realized that we were broken and hurting, and that the wars I had fought alone were being fought by other people, too. I realized we needed to be more honest and that our conversations needed to matter more. That the words I had once heard had to be shared.

It is out of this yearning that grew more honest relationships. It is out of that same heart that once carried the weight of every fear that grew the courage to be vulnerable. It is there that grew the desire to speak up and bring change, and out of that, grew a week of awareness and of hope, led by a group of us broken and growing and willing teenagers in high school.
It is out of this that this blog became. I started this blog to be honest with you and to be honest with myself.

I started this blog to tell the story of my healing and to remind myself that "nothing is impossible".
I started this blog to tell the story of Love and redemption.

7 years later, and I am asked to design a shirt for TWLOHA.

"And so we hope to be surprised."

It is 3 in the morning, you're singing "bring me back to the beginning again",
and being alive never looked this beautiful.

(Find the shirt here, with a few words here)