Category: Journal

Not a “prepper”… just prepared.

We’re getting for another wet weekend with a chance of hurricane down here in South Louisiana. And I spent my afternoon driving around town gathering water and canned food and batteries.

Growing up, I never worried about how we would manage through a storm. One, because I was a kid and it wasn’t my job to worry. But two, I always knew my dad had it covered. For the great terror that was Y2K, he had stocked enough canned food and water to last us through to Mardi Gras. You know, just in case computers, society, the internet, and every financial institution collapsed at midnight.

Now, every hurricane season, he double checks his cases of fresh water, gallons of gasoline, piles of chopped wood, and cans of red bean. He does it right. Stays stocked all year long. Rotates out his supplies. Keeps the water clean and the gasoline fresh. It’s impressive, and a little obsessive, but if you needed it, you would be glad he was there, ready to go.

I would joke in college, back when I was young and invincible, that the only preparation I did during hurricane season, was making sure I had at least half a tank of gas to get me home. Dad would take care of the rest.

Whenever I explain that to people, they call him a survivalist or a doomsday prepper. And, I guess technically, he may check off a few of the same boxes. But he knows he’ll be able to take care of himself and his family and even a few of the neighbors, when the next hurricane comes. And there is always a next hurricane. So I don’t see how it’s a bad thing.

Now that I have a house and my own small family… ok pets mostly if I’m being honest… I know I have to put more effort into my own hurricane preparations. It all comes down to me if the power goes, if the food is dwindling, if the water turns sour.

And it brings out the doomsday prepper in me. Every time.

Blend my love of post-apocalyptic survivalist fiction, with a yearly threat of hurricanes, and you get the perfect storm of over planning and green bean stockpiling. Add in a dash of learning from a father that has his shit on lock, and you find yourself feeling confident in your ability to ride out the end of the world in comfort.

Even if this time, it’s just a bit of rain.

Distill everything

How do you warp something as much as possible, but still make it recognizable?

That’s what I kept coming back to as I stood awestruck and questioning, in front of James Flynn‘s work at the Baton Rouge Gallery last month.

This was the first time in a long while that I just let myself experience art. Absorb it. Have thoughts and feelings. And not have to make small talk with the artist like you always have to do at the markets I am so used to attending.

Galleries let you just sit with someone’s work. And think whatever you want to think. And make all the faces you want to express. And stare for as long as you think you possibly can.

How do you translate something so completely while the original looms right there beneath the surface?

What language is so universal, that this level of transgression is rendered inconsequential.

How transcendent are the visual arts.

How strongly bound together.

Something had to happen

Hmm, so this is weird. Maybe this is what it’s like when you haven’t written anything publicly in like 9 months. Oh my god how has it been that long…. But also strangely feels longer?

After I quit… no, quit isn’t the right word. After I chose to stop making jewelry, I pictured a life full of other activities. And maybe I was right, but I was also wrong. That’s really not all that different or interesting.

Fuck. WHy am I even writing this? My brain feels busy. I want to create something new. Something with words and ideas. Not with pencil or ink. Not with hammers and paint.

Something is aching to get out but I don’t know if it’s a good idea or just a bored 30 year old with no more distractions. TV is boring. Instagram is boring. Video games are slightly less boring, but they make you feel hazy before bed. Books are less boring, and you’ve read a lot this year. But books don’t scratch the itch like they did 3 months ago.

The van is moving along… finally. After collecting pollen and spiderwebs for 6 months. And that is good for a couple hours or so maybe once a month because you can’t even stick with that.

And life just happens. My 2019 mantra was supposed to be “___ on purpose”. To live, create, act, be, on purpose this year. And I think that it’s just a remnant of my small business life, setting goals for the year and all that. Because what happens when you repeat a mantra day in and day out, is that it loses it’s power. It’s just meaningless letters on a paper calendar clinging to the wall with a few pieces of dusty tape.

It can’t change you anymore.

I also recently tried to trick myself into a 12 week workout challenge. 5 weeks down, and only ONE week went to plan. How… How did I used to stick with shit, and get shit done, and make progress, and move forward, and keep the momentum up?

Like, what the fuck changed with me?

Everyone says that having accountability helps. And maybe that’s what I am missing. But also, my deadlines are arbitrary. I know who set them and I know that a lot of the time, she is full of shit. Hopeful past-me thinks that future-me will set aside time every week to meal prep, when current-me hates cooking and is already tired just thinking about it.

Past-me is ever the optimist, while future-me never follows through. And here I sit, pissed at them both for not agreeing on one fucking thing.

Why is it that we think we know ourselves so well?

Do we even ever just sit with ourselves? With our current-selves. And just, explore inward?

Being bored in the age of the internet should be a disgrace. It certainly exposes a deep lack of imagination.

Maybe my brain itches so that I will actually take a fucking second to stop and see what’s going on up there. To find the itch. To scratch it. Instead of distracting myself from it. Mindlessly going from screen to screen in hopes to numb the itch instead of addressing it.

Maybe I’m meant to scratch it and see what words come running or tumbling or tripping out. To poke, and wait with a pen or keyboard and travel down the stream of consciousness that spills across the white page.

I mean, if you haven’t noticed by now, that is exactly what happened.

Little Eli is Dead. Long Live Eli Makes Things.

Little Eli is Dead. Long Live Eli Makes Things.

Basically, I woke up one morning in 2018 and decided that I’m not doing jewelry anymore. After launching an Etsy shop in 2013, and becoming an LLC in 2016, one January morning in 2018, I decided that I just didn’t feel like it anymore.

It’s crazy, but also reassuring, how things change.

I’m writing this to address the questions that I assume are coming. And to address the feeling I’m having. And any possible confusion, on your part or on mine.

I think a little of backstory is going to be important for this… As I was reviewing 2017, to start planning for 2018, I uncovered a few truths about myself.

TRUTH ONE. I am good at doing things once. Whether it’s taking an exam for my professional career, or building a new brand around an idea for a blog I had, or spending one month making something new every day. Doing things, no matter the size, just once, is easy for me. The flip side of that is, that doing things, no matter the size, consistently, is incredibly difficult. Studying daily for that exam, writing consistently for that new blog, making something new every month. That’s the stuff that trips me up.

TRUTH TWO. When I look 3-5 years down the road, I want to be traveling more. I want to live with less, and spend more time exploring the country. Jewelry, in the early draft of that goal, was going to be the vehicle in which I could afford to travel. The progression looked like this. Make jewelry > grown jewelry business to support yourself > take jewelry on the road > live in an RV while you traverse the country. But after talking with my boss at work, I learned that I wouldn’t need to quit to travel like I wanted to. So now I didn’t need jewelry to support my travels. And being realistic with myself, I didn’t need to wait to take a year off, I could start sooner, with something smaller like a van rather than an rv, and go on long weekend trips instead of taking months and months off work. Making that goal more attainable, made me reevaluate everything else I was holding to be true.

TRUTH THREE. I want the freedom to evolve. I wanted to grow, to learn, to experience more this year, and every year after. I like putting my head down and getting things done, but I also love changing my mind. I love reinventing myself. I love adding things to myself. I love the thought of becoming more. I spent 2017 wanting to do more, but having to do jewelry instead. This year, I don’t want to hold back.

When I laid out all that I wanted to do in 2018. Get in shape, read more, travel more, draw more, drink rum, get licensed, further my career, get married. All of that conflicted with the time and effort I would have to spend on jewelry. If I had to keep up the business, if I had to release new jewelry every month, if I had to attend an art market every other month, if I had to take product photos and stage photo shoots, if I had to post to instagram and write newsletters. I was left with “had to” conflicting with “want to”. I had to only look back at myself, and my motto, to know what I needed to do.

I do what I want.

You can borrow that by the way. And if you ever want my advice on anything, it will almost always be that.

Ok, so now we are up to speed on my thought process behind this seemingly huge switch, going from a jewelry designer to a lifestyle blogger. Going from someone with one purpose, to someone who finally embraces and all her passions.

I spent less than a week talking it over with my friend before deciding to just make the switch. I decided to fully embrace my instagram handle and be more than just jewelry.

What you see now is a more word-friendly site. Something more focused on the blog side, rather than the shop side. The jewelry will still be there and the shop will still be open, but I don’t know when I will be making any more jewelry.

Right now I’m letting myself drift from hobby to hobby. I don’t have a posting schedule or any real plans.

I’m doing what I want, and you are invited to come along.

Reading List – 2018

Reading List – 2018

Towards the end of the year, I plan my next year of reading. So, at the end of 2017, I went through my notes, my podcast recommendations, and my goodreads saves, to put together a reading list for 2018. 

In 2017, I was just trying to get a hold on what was happening to this country, and I was trying to broaden my reading horizons. I ended up reading 21 books, but looking back, I don’t remember most of them. I remember enjoying what I was reading, but the heavier reads just didn’t stick.

My 2017 reading list included White Trash by Nancy Isenberg, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Some pretty great books, but I wasn’t able to retain or learn as much as I really wanted.

So for 2018, my goal was not to “read more” it was to “learn more”. As I made my list, I also added the goal of starting a book journal, where I write summaries and takeaways from each book once I finished it. Hopefully, this will help me retain more information, and assist me in actually incorporating parts of what I’ve read into my daily life.

I don’t plan on writing those notes and findings here, but maybe at the end of the year, I’ll give a quick takeaway from each book and a rating.

Anyway, here’s what I’m reading in 2018 and why:

  1. White Rage – Carol Anderson (To learn about the history of the racial divide in the US and to try and understand where some common misconceptions came from)
  2. Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance (Recommended by a close conservative friend to try and understand the rust-belt and the class and cultural divide)
  3. The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood (Part 2 of the MaddAddam series that I started in 2017)
  4. Dark Money – Jane Mayer (Highly recommended by Tommy Vietor and Pod Save the World)
  5. The More of Less – Joshua Becker (Been in a minimal mood lately. Hopefully I can really stay inspired with this read)
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (I love a good dystopian fiction story)
  7. Fantasyland – Kurt Andersen (An interesting podcast suggestion, an analysis of American history to see if we’ve been socialized from the beginning to believing ridiculous things)
  8. The United States of Fear – Tom Engelhardt (How fear tactics have gripped the American conscious and if we can do anything to stop it)
  9. American Gods – Neil Gaiman (I loved the tv series and I want to read more about these characters)
  10. Why the Right Went Wrong – E.J. Dionne Jr. (To understand the evolution of the Republican party over the last 60 years)
  11. Listen Liberal – Thomas Frank (A podcast recommendation to understand the evolution of the Democratic party, seen from the outside and as told by a conservative #nevertrump-er)
  12. Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler (I love a good dystopian fiction story)
  13. The Age of Acquiescence – Steve Fraser (When did American’s stop revolting against the ruling class? Why have we surrendered to a dog-eat-dog capitalism that renders so few winners?)
  14. Symphony for the City of the Dead – M.T. Anderson (Podcast recommendation. Seems like a sorrowful and beautiful read)
  15. The Sheep Look Up – John Brunner (A dystopian “classic” I’ve never heard of)
  16. Ravensbruck – Sarah Helm (Women in War as victims)
  17. They Fought Like Demons – DeAnne Blanton (Women in War as fighters)

You can follow me over on goodreads if you want!

UPDATE: I changed book 5 to The More of Less by Joshua Becker since I could not find Why Not Socialism by Gerald Cohen in my local library system.

Quit Doing Shit You Hate!

Quit Doing Shit You Hate!

From August 20th until January 14th, I posted to this blog every single Thursday.

Along with half-assly posting to twitter, trying to grow my instagram, sending out too few emails to my wonderful Insiders, and not spending enough time making beautiful things.

Along with weekly check-ins with my fave #ladycreative, monthly meetings to plan our next steps, and still working 40+ hours at a real-ass job.

21 uninterrupted weeks of words from my keyboard.

21 Wednesday nights spent trying to get something out on time.

21 weeks spent dreading the blog post.

Then I took 2 weeks off. And I’m about to take a lot more time off.

Why the change? 

Well, I learned I really loved writing off-the-cuff, bullet style narratives. (Like this one. Ta-da)

I learned I could happily sit down and write vaguely appropriate content about life or my experiences as a creative, but I dreaded writing content just to pitch you my newest thing.

I learned I loved styling my pieces, because I finally started to understand how my jewelry fits into this much larger picture of personal style.

Then it happened, I read this eye-opening piece from Regina. (Are we really surprised here? Regina = Goddess) 

And I was given permission to actually evaluate what I want to do, and how I want to do it.

Read that again.

Evaluate what I want to do, and how I want to do it.

I took Regina’s blogging evaluation, and realized, that NO, I DO NOT:

  • Enjoy researching and writing about topics, concepts, products, or people.
  • Enjoy strategy and planning–you love organizing written materials.
  • Want to express your views online and limiting it to “traditional” social media alone is not enough.

With Regina’s evaluation of why you should blog, I gave myself permission to stop blogging.

When I started this way back when, everyone was blogging. 

I loved reading blogs. And all my favorite people were good at it.

Therefore I must blog. To drive traffic. To get featured. To get exposure.

Hits. Page views. Unique visitors. Sponsorships. Adds. Affiliate links. Click to tweet. Hashtag. Community. Tribe. Opt-ins. 

Buzzword bullshit that is honestly, one big circle-jerk.

Don’t buy-in, if it doesn’t make sense.

I sell jewelry. Just look at it, and if you like it buy it.

I didn’t need to blog.

I didn’t need to drive traffic, or master SEO, or create useless opt-ins to grow my list.

I need to focus on images and story telling.

I need to focus on creating a narrative around my work. People love stories.

People connect with stories.

Not with top 10 lists. Not with 3 things you must to do grow your blah blah blah. 

So, I decided to stop sticking to a blogging schedule.

I would blog when I wanted to.

About the things I wanted to.

No pressure. No judgment. No stress. 

And oh my god, I wanted to scream, to cry, to run around with my hands in the air.

It was such an overwhelming sense of freedom. Pure bliss.

And pure anger, thinking about all the time I invested in writing this blog, and seeing almost nothing in return.

When I could have been working on something else.

When I could have been happier doing anything else.

So I got permission, owned my decision, and took my own advice.

I stopped doing shit I hated.

And I bet there is something in your life you can stop doing too.

I dare you to find it.

(and then tweet it at me cause we are bff’s now and I wanna give you a high-five, fist bump, bear hug!)

Just Learning this Shit as I Go

Welp, today is my 27th birthday. I have no experience to qualify me to be older. I did not apply for it, ask for it, pay for it, or prove my worth to get it, yet here I am, with no control over it, finding myself another year older. 

What a nice number though, 27. It has an evenness to it. A nice balance. Anyway, I like to wait until my birthday to review the year, see what I learned, and see where I’m going. 

If 25 was trans-formative (think: buy a house, get a new job), then 26 was a intro into real life. I did little things around the house, like filling it with more animals. Dealt with losing a few loved ones. Hit up some weddings. Attended my first big craft show. 26 was a glimpse into what life is really about. Ups, downs, sometimes in control, most often not.

26 became about finding a groove, and adapting to what was happening around me. It’s a powerful feeling, going through life, knowing you can handle the next curve in the road, trusting your co-pilot, figuring out life’s turbulence together. 

So here are 26 things that I figured out along the way. In no particular order really:

  1. Not everything is about you. People have a million other things going on in their lives. Live more in yours and less in theirs. 
  2. Don’t put up with bullshit. Mistakes happen. People get busy. But some stuff is bullshit, so don’t waste your time thinking about it.
  3. Make more things with your hands. Take something that was purely an idea and make it real. Then show people.
  4. Don’t mentally masturbate. Either do the thing or don’t. But thinking about the thing will only get you so far.
  5. Eat your veggies. Find one or two you love, figure out how to cook them. And eat up.
  6. Spend money on experiences. And take all the pictures. Make all the memories you can.
  7. Clean up after yourself. You’re really an adult now. This should go without saying. So why is it so difficult. 
  8. Find someone who ”gets” you. No one does anything alone. Find someone who will help you refine your brilliant ideas, and call out your bullshit on the bad ones. 
  9. Pets change your worldview. Have something else that relies on you. Something waiting for you to get home from work. A warm fuzzy body to relax with is so worth the cost of pet food.
  10. Lift more weights. Feel stronger. Feel better. Make time for it. Enjoy it. Make life easier.
  11. Probably drink less diet coke. But whatever. It makes you happy. I’m not here to judge.
  12. Don’t do shit you hate. Seems simple enough, but how many of us suffer through unending bullshit? Stop doing it, just to see what happens. 
  13. Experiment more. Fiddle with things. Smash things together and see what happens. Take notes.
  14. Be god damn nice to people. There’s rarely an excuse to be mean or rude or short. Even if they are shit to you, your positive attitude could turn around their whole day. 
  15. Wear comfortable shoes. Get some gorgeous ones and rock them. 
  16. Buy art you like. It could be $10 from the thrift store or $600 from a local artist’s exhibit. But do it.
  17. Stick with something. Commit something and follow through. You’ll be more upset if you don’t. 
  18. Do extra-curriculars for your career. Find peers in your profession and do shit together. Network without pressure. You’re probably more similar than you think. 
  19. Make more time for your relationship. Date nights are important. Sleeping together is important. Listening is important. Support is important. Being lazy together is important too. 
  20. Pay off debt when you get money unexpectedly. Splurge on one thing, but put the majority into paying off debt or into savings. If not, it just slips away.
  21. Find something you really like doing. And do that thing. Make time for it. Schedule it. Appreciate it. Plan for it. Reward yourself with it. Invest time and money into it. Share it. 
  22. Honestly, one more piece of candy won’t kill you. Make it something you really enjoy, not something that is just convenient. 
  23. Take out the trash. Its like 50ft to the curb. Drag your shit down there. Come on. Really.
  24. Learn to write better. Communication is all we have. Choose your words carefully. Watch out for spelling. Connect with people on a deeper level. Say fuck a lot.
  25. Realize 26 things is a lot of things. Why do people do a thing per year. Maybe don’t do this next year. Realize this is a long list.
  26. Have fun with it! Seriously. You can’t go back. You can’t change it. You can only move forward and choose how you life your life. 

What do you reflect on in the new year? How you could have been better? Or how you are going to be better? By the things you didn’t do, or the things you did? 

A few things for 27:
Read more.
Cook more.
Play more.
Learn more.

Permission to be choosy.

Permission to be choosy.

I’m choosy with my time. I choose who I invest my time with, who I invest my emotions on, and who I invest my money for.  So why are the holidays open season for spending time with people you can’t stand?

I read a really great newsletter from Caroline at Made Vibrant about getting rid of your expectations for the holidays to remove some of the stress. Everyone strives for the ‘perfect’ dinner, the ‘perfect’ gift, the ‘perfect’ pie. When we all know ‘perfect’ is bullshit.

So, why do the holidays turn us into crazy perfection monsters, and how the fuck to we navigate the minefield of family, friends, co-workers, and social obligations?

Why do you get to choose what you do the other 11 months, but come winter its back to tradition, routine, and obligations?

I’m not saying I have all the answers, I’m not even saying I have the right answers. But I do like to ask questions.

And I think we should be able to pick and choose our holiday events too.

No, I don’t want to go to your office Christmas party where Doug from HR gets too handsy.
Yes, I will meet you to go ice skating under the stars.
No, I don’t have an ugly sweater, and I’m not riffling through 3 thrift shops just for you.
Yes, I will come over and drink with you and your cats, while we play Cards Against Humanity.

And what do you do when the obligations you want to avoid are family? The in-laws? The siblings?

How do you say, “No. Your Christmas is always a drama filled, alcohol induced nightmare, and I choose not to object myself to that this year”? …Well, I guess you could say it like that…

Maybe next year we all just say fuck it and head to the Bahamas for Christmas. 

How do you measure success?

How do you measure success?

So, Renegade Craft Fair came and went.

I spent November in a blur of wood chips, concrete dust, and ink splatters. 

I built a display from scratch. Then a rolling storage unit. Then some signs.

I painted my logo bigger than my face. Twice. 

I bought a new printer, then printed 100+ brochures.  I handed out maybe 10. 

I inked quotes until my fingers were black. Then I kept going. 

I packed my entire booth in my hatchback.

I drove 7 hours in the rain.

I stood in heels for 9 hours. I still can’t feel my toes. 

I sold fucking prints hand over fist. I spent a night making more, then spilled my entire bottle of ink on my black jeans. 

I painted a custom quote that almost made me cry. 

I found people. I found people who my words resonated with. I found my people.

I met some amazing makers. New ones and ones I’ve insta-stalked for ages. 

I barely saw Austin. I spent 90% of my trip at the fair or in my hotel room. I was too exhausted. Too emotionally spent to even attempt to explore the city like I planned. 

I became angry and bitter when we couldn’t decide on a place to eat. I have a man who understands me and did all of the decision making after that.

I went to a restaurant where 50% of the things included fennel for some reason. I walked out of that restaurant. 

I spent an evening at Buffalo Wild Wings because I couldn’t find the LSU bar. I had a really shitty hamburger. Then watched a really emotional football game.

I cried when I thought I had watched my coach’s last game. Then cried again in my hotel room when I learned it wasn’t.

I stood in flats for 9 hours.

I sold prints faster than I could make them.

I heard a British lady say the word c*nt. And it was glorious

I made money. I made the most money I’ve ever made in a weekend. But it didn’t come close to covering my total costs. It didn’t even come close to 4 digits.

I had the best pizza I have ever eaten.

I slept better than I ever have.

I drove 7 hours in the rain.

I’m mixing the highlights and the disappointments because that’s life. That’s how we experience it. Bouncing from awesome adventure to huge let-down and back.

If you asked me today if I would do this trip over again, I honestly don’t know what I would say. Probably? Maybe? Ok sure? 

We put a monetary value on everything because it’s easy. But only because I can’t tell you the value of the gift a grieving daughter will receive from her best friend. I can’t tell you the value of instant customer feedback. I can’t tell you the value of rocking my first out-of-state market. I can’t tell you the value of the best fucking pizza ever. (Actually, it was $9.50)

What I can say, is that monetarily, it was a loss. I spent more than I made. Black and White.

But if I don’t act on all the things I learned. All the progress I’ve made. All the feedback I received. Then, and only then, will it truly be a loss.

Its all about what you do with it.

The Problem with Guilty Pleasures

The Problem with Guilty Pleasures

I like the thing. You like the thing. So why are we afraid to own up to it? Think about the connections we’re missing out on by not being open about what makes us happy.

The internet describes a guilty pleasure as “something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.”

As someone masquerading as an “adult woman”, I shouldn’t admit that I enjoy listening to The Backstreet Boys, and I certainly shouldn’t brag about driving 5 hours to see them in concert last summer. They are an aging boy band from the 2000s, and real adults listen to easy listening or something. But fuck that. They’re awesome and Brian is my secret lover. BSB stirs up fond memories of singing too loudly in my room, and squealing with my girl friends when we got the newest Teen Bop magazine.

There is something inherently negative about the term “guilty pleasure”. Guilt implies that you’ve done something wrong, but there’s never anything wrong with enjoying life.

Why shouldn’t I own my love of new millennium pop? Why should hide this piece of my personality to make others more comfortable, or out of fear that they will judge me negatively? Who am I to censor my life. Loving pop music doesn’t make me worse at my job. It has no effect on my relationship. It doesn’t make my jewelry any less awesome. What it does, is help me connect with others. And isn’t that really the goal?

I once had a friend tell me her guilty pleasure was listening to Papa Roach, we high-fived, proceeded to rock out to Last Resort, and now I think of her whenever that song comes on. We share that connection.

Another friend hesitates to admit to his coworkers that he plays video games. Even though it has connected him with people all over the world, and made him more involved in his relationship.

So while you might be embarrassed to admit that you play with miniatures, there are thousands of overweight grown men, proud to show off their painted shirtless chests and cheer for other, more athletic grown men. 

My challenge is for you to own your guilty pleasures, like grown men own their team colors.