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Beach Day Essentials

 

 

“Summer isn’t over, summer isn’t over.” I am hoping that if I keep telling myself, I can make it true,  or at the least live happily in my own delusion for a little while longer and the reason I am determined to do this post even though it’s practically September and everyone is about ready to gear up for Autumn.

h1BD6E152

Apparently my refusal to accept that summer is over is subconsciously coming out in the clothes I am choosing to wear. Walking down the stairs today, my boyfriend greeted me by saying “Ahoy sailor,” and saw that I looked like I was ready to set sail on a catamaran in the following outfit:

beach day ootd

 

not that I minded being mistaken for an overzealous mariner…..As a fairly new resident of Michigan, the magic that is summers on Lake Michigan has yet to loose any of it’s potency on me. I could spend all day walking up and down the Lake shoreline gathering driftwood and pebbles, or laying on the sand and reading cheap literature until my skin is burnt to a crisp and spend every night watching the sunset over the lake, and drinking unhealthy amounts of white wine with friends around a campfire….There is no better medicine for my soul.

So that’s my excuse for spending an absorbent amount of time putting together my first style board set on polyvore

on which I spent an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over and that I awkwardly titled “Final Beach Day Trip of the Summer:”

final beach day trip of the summer.

 

final beach day trip of the summer. by thiswildpreciouslifeblog featuring fragrance candles

 

IMG_5073

 

 

 

 

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The Monthly Inspiration Edit: The May Mood Board Mash-up (Jesus Sandal Couture, The Return of Fat Amy and Alabama Shakes)

 

I’e been wanted to create my own mood board since I discovered the wonderful world of digital mood boards. I’ve always loved making collages and inspiration boards in my journals and on my wall-I love the physical and visual process of creating collages and have spent countless hours absorbed in arranging and rearranging pictures…. something about the process is soothing to me and have found them to be a helpful tool for aiding in my creative process because I often find new inspiration for creative projects and ideas.
With online mood boards it’s like a whole new world of inspiration has opened up to me. There are so many talented, artistic designers and artists out there to find inspiration from-

I’m going to try and do a round-up at least once a month….

BUT

I would really love to see what is inspiring every one else out there and wanted to offer to anyone who might be interested in being a guest blogger and creating their own individualized mood board on This Wild Precious Life. It could be any handful of things that are inspiring you at the moment: books, music, food, shoes, movies, art, diy projects…and give you a chance to share here! If you are interested just email me at thiswildpreciouslifeblog@gmail.com with the subject title “my mood board” and we can work out the details!

moodboard may FINAL

 

So here is what is inspiring me in the month of May (2015)….

Wear- Jumpsuits and Rompers

 

 

 

free people flutter romper

http://www.freepeople.com/clothes-jumpsuits-rompers/flutter-romper/BCBGeneration Womens racer front jumpsuitBCBGeneration Women’s Racer Front Jumpsuit
BCBGeneration Women’s Racer Front Jumpsuit

electric feather green jumpsuit spring 2015

http://electricfeathers.com/collections/wardrobe/products/infinite-rope-jumpsuit-1

WALK- 

I’m really happy simple leather sandals (or Jesus sandals as I like to call them) are making a come-back. I don’t know why every time I see a pair of simple classic looking leather sandals I just want to be walking around in Greece or Italy…so the closest I can get to either of those places at the moment is a pair of my very own jesus sandals.

free people cafe wrap espadrille

http://www.freepeople.com/shoes-sandals/cafe-wrap-espadrille/

birkenstock mayari birkenstook
Birkenstock Women’s Mayari Birkibuc Sandal

http://amzn.to/1dqgBIM

FP collection Durango Metal Gladiator

http://www.freepeople.com/shoes-sandals/durango-metal-gladiator-sandals/_/PRODUCTOPTIONIDS/83886FE0-6740-46FF-AABD-B3BC062AB204/

STEVEMADDEN-SANDALS_DONDDI_TAN-LEATHER

Steve Madden Women’s Donddi Sandal

Blowfish Women’s Gill Fisherman Sandal
womens-steve-madden-d-band-cognac-multi-423403_366_45

Steve Madden Women’s D-BAND Sandal

LISTEN: 

Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes

Falling Faster Than You Can Run by Nathaniel Rateliff

Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

Pitch Perfect 2: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Carry:

rebecca minkoff fringe backpack

Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack

jericho backpack free people

http://www.freepeople.com/accessories-bags/jericho-backpack-32078669/

patricia nash vasto leather backpack

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/patricia-nash-vasto-leather-backpack/3816140?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=&resultback=6239

 

the sawyer etsy bag

https://www.etsy.com/listing/184422924/the-sawyer-hand-made-leather-backpack?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=leather%20backpack&ref=sr_gallery_4

READ- 

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo

What Alice Forgot

a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805210318/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0805210318&linkCode=as2&tag=thiwilprelif-20&linkId=BP5TUZMGSEASXI5X”>

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar

 

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Daily Affirmation: Live Colorfully (Free Downloadable Design)

 

 

live colorfully originalshort and sweet today, just wanted to share a little design I did last night using some abstract art I’ve been having fun playing around with.

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Art Collaboration with The Mom Edit Style Blog

mom edit march art style fashion collaboration jessica ross

I am so so excited to be collaborating again with the AMAZING Shana, and her equally amazing blog: The Mom Edit on a series of monthly fashion themed art pieces.

Shana's latest spring OOTD on the mom edit.
Shana’s latest spring OOTD on the mom edit.

I love being able to collaborate with Shana. She has been an enthusiastic supporter and an advocate for me and my art, even when I usually can’t stand whatever it is I’ve made. supporter and cheerleader  She is passionate, enthusiastic and just all around bad ass. I love all of her style and she approaches each post with honesty and frankness about life that makes me laugh out loud.

I was really struggling creatively the last few months and this collaboration has  breathed new life into  my art and given me a new purpose and direction. This project has also been hands down the hardest artistic challenge I’ve undertaken simply because it’s so scary for me to have my artwork “out there” to be seen and judged. I usually have two modes: 1) being super impulsive about what I publish on social media and then afterwards feeling embarrassed or 2) overthinking and analyzing every thing I make until I just stop mid-way through and never finish it.

Here is the March art piece I did for The Mom Edit along with Shana’s picks to go along with it:

jess ross mom edit art collaboration march spring style

jessbobess march-collage-01-614x1024

And here is the link to her article:

http://themomedit.com/2015/03/hello-march-and-some-exciting-news/

This is the art piece I did for the February collaboration with The Mom Edit:

valentine-01 mom edit art collaboration

Here is her AMAZING outfit that inspired the art I did for her and the LINK to her article Winter Florals and Leather Jackets (The Anti-Valentines Day Outfit):

chiffon-maxi-leather-jacket-winter-floral-beanie-681x1024 chiffon-maxi-skirt-winter-floral-tank-leather-jacket-sole-society-winter-beanie

 

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OOTD: An Ode to Spring, All the Bright Colors, J.Crew, & My New Style Idol, Monling Lee

monling lee  colorindex jcrew

Her name is Monling Lee and she is my everything.

monling jcrew colorblock

She is an architect and urban designer with a passion for vibrant colors and a sense of style that is one of a kind.  I first discovered her via Instagram @monlinglee fell instantly in love with every single one of her photos.  She combines her unique and brilliantly colored personal style in perfectly coordinated urban environments. moonlingleecolorindex

 

By following her instagram account, I found out that she was teaming up with J. Crew to “Test-drive” Their new spring accessories on their blog: hello.jcrew.com. And was inspired to try to create my own color blocked outfit with my skirt I bought for a penny at Nordstroms Rack. JCrew and Monling Lee are having an instagram contest on how where you wear (and pair, and pile on) your J.Crew accessories with the hashtags #ACCESSORYFIX and #JCREWCONTEST for a chance to win one of three $1,500 shopping sprees. And although I don’t have a new spring accessory to actually join in…here are my outfits:
Processed with VSCOcam with 7 preset

 

color block jcrew spring

 

 

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Current Studio Art Wall Inspiration: A Spring Mood Board Refresh!

Today, the birds were chirping and the sun was out and the snow is melting into muddy lakes, but if that means spring is on it’s way…I’ll take it.

studiowall

Some much needed refreshing of my studio walls and work space. I’d like to try and change my art wall at least once a month but we’ll see how that goes!

art studio work space mood board inspirationThis one day of sunny weather has got me feeling all sorts of alive again.  

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The Continued Battle for a Life of Happiness

I’ve really struggled this month with staying positive and I’ve been feeling discouraged by a slight relapse into negative thinking patterns. I’ve also been saddened by the sudden lost a friend this week, who was a genuinely good person and had a kind authentic soul. But the other day I came across the following quote:

we create our own reality

and later on I found this: happiness quality of thoughts

These quotes helped to re-frame how I’ve been thinking lately and spurred the following thoughts I jotted down in my journal last night:

“I am just realizing I have been stuck inside my head these last few weeks and started to really believe that the negative thoughts I have about myself are the truth of who I am. I need to remind myself that I don’t have to live a life where I am unhappy and dislike myself.

I am responsible for my own happiness and for creating my own reality. I want to create a life built on love- love for myself and for others- a life where I find and focus on joy and happiness in every moment instead of choosing to focus on the negative. happy thoughts quoteI want to get back to the basics of life, an honest, authentic and unselfishness life invested in the happiness of the people around me- a life where I truly believe I am enough and worthy of love, worthy of happiness…A life where I choose to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made and the hurt I’ve done to myself and where I choose forgiveness towards others that I feel have wronged me instead of holding onto anger and resentment.

I can have that life. anyone can have that life.

I just have to continually remind myself of this especially when I start to feel I am sliding into the false world I created for myself based on negative thinking and behavioral patterns.

I am more than my thoughts & there is more to life outside my head and  self-obsession.

I choose to make a life of love and joy- and I choose to continue to fight for that life for as long as it takes.”

This is my mantra and affirmation for the month of January 2015.

p.s. (I’m not even sure if anyone else struggles to remember these things, but you aren’t alone if you do. )

p.p.s. sorry for the self-absorbed focus, but I guess that’s what a blog is aye?

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Fabulous Fall: 6 Autumn Fashion Fundamentals

I spent longer than I should have trying to fit as many words starting with the letter “F” in the title.. (Ill save you the counting: it’s four). I’ve been waiting alll summer to write this post. Because Autumn is my favorite. I’ve seen this Someecards Ecard floating around online the past few weeks:

pumpkinspice

And as a white girl who likes her yoga pants (they  are comfy and stretchy!) I have several objections. First off,  I don’t think an individual’s avid appreciation for the Fall Season has anything to do with the fact I am a white girl who likes her yoga pants on occasion (so comfy and stretchy!). Secondly, I don’t even like Pumpkin Spice Lattes (pumpkin candles, loaf breads, muffins and pancakes are another story). But, I will tell you my favorite things about Fall without you having to go through the trouble of saying “Pumpkin Spice Latte” 3 times. (Who’s the weirdo now? At least Im not the one talking to my mirror…amiright?)

I was thinking about what it was that made me love Autumn so much and I found this “Autumn Blessing” Affirmation on pinterest that resonated with me:

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I never realized before that all the changes in nature that Autumn brings; (the crisp weather, bright colored leaves, the smell of firewood burning that permeates the air) really does represent a time of transformation and reflection. As a very sensory and visually orientated person, I appreciate the transformations to my physical environment that Fall brings. It forces me to acknowledge the passing of time, every time I walk outdoors.  I appreciate the Autumn season even more after being in Southern California for four years while at school. Looking back at that wonderful life experience, it feels like one really long summer and its difficult for me to remember exactly when my favorite and most precious memories occurred.  While the winter season is a whole other beast here in the Midwest, I’ve come to relish the Fall season even more.

Besides the beautiful weather (and the dozens of colorful leaves I find and put in my coat pockets and forget about and then spend the rest of the year pulling crumbled up bits of dried leaves out of various pockets) the other reason I love Autumn is for the fashion!

Maybe its because I remember all those end of summer clothes shopping excursions with my mom trying to pick out the perfect outfit for the first day of school, or maybe it’s because I spend my entire summers sweating through everything I wear the second I step outdoors and I’ve never felt comfortable in my skin in a summer wardrobe: shorts (the chafing!), bikinis (the shaving!) and tank tops (the arm jiggles!). I am much more comfortable covering up “all that” in scarves and over sized sweaters.

As usual,  I  got sidetracked on what was supposed to be a short intro into the main subject of this post: my 6 Fall Wardrobe Essentials.

 

I decided to make an inspiration board using my illustrations so here we go:

My Fall Wardrobe Essentials
My Fall Wardrobe Essentials

1. Leather (or Leatherette) Moto Jacket:

fallessential

Not so heavy or bulky as a winter coat and as the outermost layer of clothing, it’s the important in making a  “style statement.”  With oversized cardigans and slouchy, drapey sweaters and not to mention scarves, a simple, classic and fitted moto leather jacket keeps me from looking like a chunky pumpkin.

My dream jacket is this Veda Max Classic Tan Leather jacket Scuba Vintage Leather Jacket in Tan, available at Nordstroms

veda carmel

for (wait for it, wait for it) $890. I love everything about this jacket (the dramatic, asymmetrical collar or oversized lapels) and the color.  And if I  was in a position to buy it, I would and probably never take it off.

Another similar and more reasonable and equally lovely jacket is the BB Dakota Lillian Vegan Leather Jacket 

32427585_020_g

 

available at Urban Outfitters for $98.00. And it’s VEGAN, so you can feel good about not harming animals while wearing it!

 

2) A Bold (Tribal Inspired) Statement Jewelry Piece:

When I’m browsing for clothing or jewelry online, I always, 100% of the time, go with the more outrageous, the more colorful and bold option. Should a  30 year old be purchasing leopard print jeans? I learned the answer (it’s a big NO for me) when I showed up to the elementary school I was teaching at, only to run into  7th grader wearing the same exact pair as me (she was embarrassed, I was like “twinsies!!)  At these moments, I question my sanity and resentfully acknowledge my actual age. (I am 30, I am 30, I am 30). I am learning the beauty of simplicity but this is not one of those times. I give you the aptly named Falkor necklace from DylanLex.com…

dylanex

and my reaction to seeing this necklace for the first time can be summed up in the following picture:

Neverending-Story-Falcor-flying-with-Bastian-300x250

and the Falcor necklace can be yours for only $980.00!

the-neverending-story-the-neverending-story-690117_720_545

aaaand that’s the face I made when I saw the price.

Sorry, getting carried away again.

Urban Outfitters has some similar pieces like their Lalla Rhinestone Statement Bib Necklace for a fraction of the price ($68.00)

urbanoutfitters 32649659_007_b

Or you can do what I do, to wile away the hours and find some original and tribal inspired statement necklaces over on my favorite site on the web, etsy.

3. Boho Leather Handbag

Just recently I have re-fallen in love with bucket bags and leather backpacks as well as vintage tooled leather bags as well. I have been debating on fringed leather bags for years now and I still like them, although, they are becoming part of that festival season uniform- but my eye is always drawn to them.

Madewell makes a classic and simple style leather backpack- I don’t know why, but almost every leather bag I have ever owned is this carmel color. It’s definitely my favorite and saves me from having to decide wether to go with black or brown.

madewell

 

Madewell’s leather Rucksack can be yours for $298.00 at Madewell.com and also ShopBop! 

Urban Outfitters has the perfect combination of the fringe that I hate to love and is also a rucksack/bucket bag,  the Cruz Studded Fringe Bucket Bag, and is much cheaper find at $54.00 and is also available in red and blue!

cruzurban

I also love the vintage fabric woven tote/bucket bags/leather backpacks but have yet to find a patterned bag that is also a designer brand Etsy and Ebay are my stomping grounds for those unique and beautiful finds and the best part is they are usually one of a kind!

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this woven, Ikat, bucket bag on etsy: 

il_570xN.579586404_8jm2

I am sorry to say I had to purchase it but this Handmade Genuine Leather and Kilim Bucket Bag is still available from the Etsy shop: Puro Leather for $85.00

il_170x135.642443464_qksm

whew, sorry this post is getting long! thanks for sticking with me.

Fourth on the list of Fall Wardrobe Essentials is….

4. Oversized, Slouchy, Sweater or Cardigan:

My two personal favorite sweaters of this season (as well as the color contrast jeans) are both from H&M. Although not everything is carried in their online store…

fallessentials3

hmprod6

The Oversized Sweater is available online in both gray and navy blue for an absolute steal of $14.95. I love this sweater and am so glad it caught my eye, although I have to admit , I would have passed it by if the mustard color version hadn’t caught my eye in the store. I love the length and the lightweight texture. I also am a big fan of contrast colors (as you might have guessed) but the black sleeves are definitely pleather and not very breathable.

hmprod5

And here is the dark blue version also on sale for $14.95. I love the leather pants and really would like some of my own (imitation leather of course) but let’s hope this beautiful model’s leather pants are not made of the same pleather material as the sweater, or she is definitely sweating it out. What do you guys think about leather pants? Do you own any?

My second favorite oversized sweater is also from H&M, the Ribbed-Knit Sweater, which I got in Orange and is also nicely priced at $24.95. For the low prices, I am impressed with the quality of the garments I have purchased from H&M.

hmprod7

 

and just cause a girl’s gotta dream about overpriced clothing items I will never be able to afford way out of my reach… my ultimate dream sweaters are both from Acne Studios (one of my new favorite “Dream” brands).

The Galactic Turtleneck Sweater is available at Barney’s New York and Also Acne Studio’s website for $620.00.

503577431_product_1

Gaja Oversized Sweater ($500.00)  available online at Shopbop. 

acndb3020712447_q1_1-0_336x596

#5 in the Fall Wardrobe Essentials is….

Heeled Leather Booties

oh boots, bootie, boot, boots. I love boots….I can never have enough. What is it about women and their love for shoes and handbags? I don’t know, and don’t really care. In the past, I have always gone for tall, knee high length boots, but in recent years I am drawn more and more to ankle boots.

Basically every boot that Anthropologie has on their website is amazing. Their whole selection of boots, booties, ect, are kick ass, and usually always are.

I love the triple buckles and the price of the Vendaveles Boots (available exclusively online at Anthropologie) for $150.00.

31666977_001_b

Since I am loving anything and everything color blocked this season I love both of these booties from Anthropologie: 

32812562_009_b

above, The Metallic Colorblock Booties by Nina Payne, $290.00 (Also available only online).

d8fce9cad522368ccfd8cd24ba2b6be9

and the Coromell Booties, $130.00, also available exclusively online at Anthropologie as well.

FINALLY!

#6: Patterned Fitted Pencil Skirt

Goes well with an oversized sweater, tights and booties. And again, anthropologie stuns with their patterned pencil skirts:

4120336410577_079_b 2129634a695e35ba771e81300a090621Perhaps my favorite skirt at the moment (which I am currently trying unsuccessfully to persuade my boyfriend to buy for me for our 2 year anniversary)  is this beautiful Tapestry Pencil Skirt, $98.00 from Anthropologie, available online and in stores.

 A5299_KP2389_m

I love the longer length of the new pencil skirts, like this Collection Stripe Skirt, from J.Crew for $128.00, but on sale right now for 25% off using the code: SHOPFORFALL.

Thank you for sticking with me through this incredibly long and incredibly materialistic post. I hope you all take the time to enjoy the first official day of Fall tomorrow.

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blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light (15 Things You Can Do if You are Struggling with Depression).

A bright light in our world went out and now my heart feels heavy. With everything going on in the world right now: the unending riots in Ferguson, and the constant ISIS terrorist threats, just to name a few, it is Robin Williams’ unexpected suicide that I constantly find myself thinking about. I feel guilty that out of all of the chaos, death, and injustice going on around the world, it is the death of an actor that has affected me most. I asked myself why that is and I think it’s because his suicide was so unexpected and it is sad to think that someone who brought so much joy and happiness to the world, could be so unhappy himself.

robin williams

The loss of any human life is painful, but something about Robin Williams’ suicide saddens me to the very core of my being. I have first hand experience with depression and feelings of hopelessness that Robin must have been feeling in order to take his life. And while I struggle with being “real” and transparent about anything serious on my blog (or any other of my social media outlets) about my life but I realized that writing posts like this were the reason I started blogging in the first place about 10 years ago and that is: 

to reach out and connect to someone (anyone) who like me, often feels “different,” struggles with depression or anxiety, feels hopeless, like they don’t fit in, that are depressed…

and although I try to hide my struggle from friends and family, I think it’s pretty obvious to the people in my “World,” who try to get to know me, (my friends, family, co-workers, ect), know there is something “different” about me. I’m the friend who falls off the planet for days, weeks, months at a time, the friend who cancels plans and no one hears from, who isolates themselves, sleeps too much… my family and other loved ones kindly skirt around the issue but I struggle with depression and have since I was 15 years old. 

What saddens me so much about Robin’s death is that…no one really saw it coming and I hope that he had people he could trust in his life and who loved him unconditionally- his wife, his daughter and I hope he knows he was loved.

and now finally I am getting to the point of this post….

it’s okay. I promise. I swear. It gets better. I know that’s not much, but I have been there in that dark, hopeless place where there is no light, no exit.

And while I never contemplated suicide, there were so many times in my life that I thought I could never be happy in life- where sleeping was always a better option for me than living life- that the drain of just being awake and conscious was sometimes to much-

just keep going. one foot in front of the other, baby steps. Don’t stop striving to be happy, develop your passions (no matter what they are), and when things get hard or tough, try to remember that (and this is what I wish I could tell the 12 year old version of myself, for the 16 year old version of my self, the 23 year old version of myself):

you are not alone. however helpless or alone you might feel. I can tell you because I have been in that place- a place I never thought I could leave- and I did.

I have come up with a list of 15 things I hope will be helpful for anyone who has ever been depressed:

1. Talk to someone, anyone. A friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone you feel you can trust. It is important to get your thoughts out of your head and also a welcome relief to feel that you no longer have to struggle completely alone. Don’t feel that you have anyone to talk too? There are hotlines and chatrooms created with the sole purpose of helping people struggling with depression: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline has a list of resources. Still unsure? My email address is ourwildpreciouslives@gmail.com, I am here.

2. Laugh. I could (and do) watch hours  of funny youtube animal videos at a time..There is about a 95% chance that if I am laughing while on my phone or laptop, I am probably watching a cat in a shark costume, on a roomba, chasing a duck, or a dog with a bad case of the Mondays.

my dog, Henri, in a shark costume
my dog, Henri, in a shark costume

Whatever makes you laugh, do it: silly dancing, corny jokes, baby kittens…find your happy place and visit it often. Laughing is not only a quick way to boost your mood, but the neurological process of laughing also releases endorphins and gives your body a boost of adrenaline (much like exercising), leaving you in a better mental place.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others. In today’s society, with all of our social media outlets, it is hard for me to NOT constantly be comparing myself to other people. Be content with where you are in life and who you are..stay focused on your own hopes and dreams and remain true to what makes you happy. I am not Kim Kardashian and I may not be at the same point in life where it seems many of peers are, but thats okay and I have to constantly remind myself that it is ok. This is your life, and your journey, no one else’s! One of the hardest things for me to do is to change my negative thinking patterns. I noticed that for me, most days I struggle with starting a new day with a positive frame of mind and I used to find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning…once I realized this about myself (and it took longer than you would think!) I had to start forcing myself to think positively in the morning and started coming up with (or borrowing) little phrases or mantras to “trick” myself into thinking positively. To this day, I still go back to one of my favorite mental health spokespersons:

I'm Sailing!
I’m Sailing!

and his favorite phrases: “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful” and “Baby steps.” Interestingly enough, when I tell myself this in the morning before I get out of bed, I end up feeling better, greater and more wonderful. 

4. Spend time outdoors/ be Active.

photo 2

Research has shown that sunlight is a natural mood booster and one of the easiest ways to fight depression by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. The sun is also is a rich source of Vitamin D and is also shown to help in bone health, heart health and to reduce the chance of strokes. I enjoy spend time outdoors: hiking in the woods, doing yoga or simply taking the time to be in awe of Nature by listening and looking. I have a habit of collecting leaves, feathers, branches, twigs, stones, seashells..ect…

photo 3

and keep a couple of my favorite ones in a vase by my bed. I sincerely feel that spending time outdoors as one of the best ways to re-focus on whats important and to remember that beauty and life is all around me, all I have to do is pay attention to it. 

5. Keep a journal. 

a page from one of my old journals
a page from one of my old journals

I find this especially helpful, if you are like me and tend to be more introverted and have trouble opening up. It helps me to look back on my journals and to reflect on how far I have come. It is also a great way to motivate yourself and a place to channel your inspirations. It also gives you a place to write down positive quotes, bucket lists, and to keep track of happy memories such as: concert tickets stubs and photos. 

6. Keep a daily routine. If you are like me, or the dog in the video in #`1with a case of the Mondays, this is not easy. I confess, This is one of the HARDEST things for me to do. The idea of a consistent, daily routine always scared me and I still struggle with it every day. I always made excuses for why I didn’t need a daily routine…but sometimes this is a very important step for those who struggle with depression. I love sleeping, I always have and used to put off getting up until the very last moment. But as a result, I never gave myself time to wake up, reflect on the day, focus on what i wanted to get done and to have a general sense of well-being. Even though the initial half an hour or so after I am up is a struggle, I feel better, more calm and more prepared for the day when I have given myself time in the morning before rushing off. 

7. Consider meditation/yoga. (dwell in the moment)

namaste1

 This one fits in with many of the other tips. Giving yourself time to reflect on life, or even to be still and think about nothing but your breath, helps to clear your head and give you a sense of well-being. I scoffed at the idea of quiet meditation for a long time, thinking it sounded to new age or something for me. I also have very little patience and always thought “There is no way I could ever sit still for an hour thinking about nothing.” And that thought is still true! I lowered my expectations and started timing myself of how long I could just “be still.” I don’t think I have ever made it past 60 seconds until my mind has wandered. But if you are intentional in trying and most of all, patient with yourself, you will get better at it and be better for it. 

8. Make plans for the future. Have an old friend you want to visit? (Cassie, I’m coming for you!) or have you always wanted to take a road trip, visit the Lourve, eat real soul food? While spending too much time thinking about the future and not enough time in the present is not healthy, it is important to have something in your life to look forward too. It could be that you are unhappy in your career or with your health. Maybe you have always wanted to write a novel or take an art class. It could be as simple as thinking about something different and fun you always wanted to cook for dinner- just give yourself something to look forward to every day! 

9. Weed out negative influences/people from your life.

photo 4-3

easier said then done right? If you are human, chances are you come in contact with unhappy people or negative situations SEVERAL times a day. At my current customer service job, I deal with many unhappy people and even when I try to remain positive, negativity is draining and wears you down.  There is a difference from coming in contact with negative people or situations and ALLOWING negative people/influences space in your life and brain. Do your best when you must deal with these situations. Be your best self and you will leave the situation with confidence and self-assurance, knowing that you did your best. But, unhappy people, generally don’t like happy  people and may try to bring you down with them (misery loves company). Don’t let them- shrug them off and go your own way (frolic in the fields, hug your dog, laugh with a friend) and don’t waste any more of your time or brain space on them than is absolutely necessary. Most importantly don’t feel guilty about being happy. 

10. Create something. 

DSC02025

You don’t have to have graduated from art school to create something beautiful that brings you and others joy and happiness. Maybe you love baking cookies or always wanted to build a bird house. There is something very satisfying in creating something that took a lot of hard work and being able to look at with a sense of pride (even if it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would when you started) and thinking “I made this.” Even better if you can share it with the people in your life. 

11. Take time for yourself. Again, this ties in to many of the other tips. But I just want to re-affirm that it is okay to take time for yourself, doing something that makes you happy. Many of us have spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers that we spend most of our time and energy on and that is a good and healthy thing (see #13). But at the same time, you shouldn’t  be walking around feeling like a zombie, drained of emotional and physical energy. You are your able to be your best version of yourself for others, and for you when you are re-charged and re-energized. I would love nothing more than an hour long massage by a professional massage therapist (complete with the aromatherapy candles, oils, and whale nosies playing in the background) every few days if time and money allowed. Maybe it’s getting a manicure or having a glass of wine and reading a good book for 30 minutes after everyone else in the house is asleep. These little moments will re-charge you. 

12. renew your sense of purpose in life. All of us have hopes and dreams and desires for our lives. And as we get older, our lives our shaping up to be very different than what we imagined they would be when we were young and carefree (and that’s okay). While I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me in my life (the good and the bad), because it made me who I am today..rememembering what I am passionate about gives me a greater sense of purpose in life. Don’t sell yourself short of your daydreams and don’t let anyone talk to you out of what you know you want (unless you’ve always wanted to be a gas station attendant or a tool booth worker…then we made need to talk). 

13. give back/ invest in relationships.

photo 1

Balance in life is so important. Too much time spent on only on yourself will cause imbalance, just as much as too much time spent on others (and not enough time for yourself) will leave you completely drained. I promise there is someone out there who feels lost and who could use you in their life. I also guarantee that there is someone out there that YOU are important to and who would love to hear from you. Maybe you are not ready to open up to people which brings me to my next point…

14. Adopt a Pet.

photo 2-2

The best thing I did when i first moved in to my own place 8 years ago and was feeling particularly alone and easily sad was adopting my dog Henri. There is something so wonderful about always coming home and knowing that my dog missed me and is happy to see me. I don’t argue that pets are a big responsibility and you should always consider your realistic limitations (such as money, time away from home, space). If you are not in the position for a bigger animal, how about a bird, or hamster, or even a fish! 

15. Don’t ever give up. Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget that there is ALWAYS hope. You can and will be happy. Life is a gift. I mean it. We have all made mistakes, but that is what it means to be alive and to be human. Today is a new day. Trust me, I know this mushy positive talk is annoying when you are depressed. But please, if you take one thing away from this post, let it be that, I know you will make it through this and you can be happy. Chances are, if you are like me, dealing with depression will likely be something I struggle seriously with again at some point- but even when that happens, there is hope. 

And I leave you with this beautiful tribute to Robin Williams and his thoughts on the beauty of life: 

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting. And if you are ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, and the stars that are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting start streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.” 

– Robin Williams

All photos used in this post are mine, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use, just please credit me and link back to my blog. Thank you so much! 

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Artist Spotlight: Natalie Jean Bauer

by Natalie Jean Bauer 
This “Artist Spotlight” post idea came to me one night when I was thinking of how so many of my friends are talented artists and besides that, they are all also pretty hilarious. This is my little way of exposing the world (or a few hundred people a month) to the amazing-ness that they bring to my world and how happy they make me. And hopefully share that with someone else! So, I came up with some questions (some I borrowed from other art blogs) and asked my friend Natalie if she would let me interview her and post some of her artwork on my blog. Natalie is one of the most humble artists (and also one of the funniest) that I know. I have (selfishly) asked her when she is planning on making prints of her artwork and selling them, so I can buy one…but not yet. I’m wearing you down Natalie! So, hopefully you get some enjoyment out of this post AND…
if YOU or anyone you know wants to be featured in an “Artist Spotlight” post, then email me at forourcity@gmail.com. Send me a couple pieces of your artwork (whether its music, paintings, photography, dancing, stand up comedy..it all works for me!) and answer the questions. I will feature you in the next post! 

 Who are you and what do you do?

I am Natalie Jean Bauer.  I try to paint, draw, and write as often as my big dumb brain will allow.
Describe yourself in five words:
Usually really terrible at this.
Do you have a favorite piece of yours?  If so, why is it your favorite?

No favorites, really.  They are all a labor of love and yet I am my own worst critic.  The entire process of creating anything has always been essential for me, but the second I finish a piece (be it a painting, story, comic, whatever) I still notice every rough edge, every single area that shows room for improvement.  This is good in that it always drives me to further develop whatever skills I may possess, but awful when it comes to confidence in my own abilities.  I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to shut this off.  I am ruthless and insatiable.
Any tips or inspiring words for other artists?

Find it in yourself.  Keep fumbling and learning and don’t lose heart.  Surround yourself with books and songs that make you want to scream and explode into a million stupid pieces because of how good they are.  Pile more love and effort on literally everything you’re doing.

 Can we find you anywhere on the world wide web?


Art-wise?  Besides Facebook, not really.  I don’t have a personal website, at least not yet.  I’ve always been intensely private and enjoyed my anonymity.  A bit selfish, probably, but so often I anticipate being critiqued in a way I won’t recover from.  I don’t handle rejection well despite all the practice I’ve had.
What is your favorite:
Color?  The particular shade of green usually limited to chalkboards; grey in the beard of a young man.
Animal?  My dog, Roxy Carmichael, is the obvious answer here.  She has the personality of Gilda Radner, the heart of Gandhi, and the eyes of everyone you’ve ever loved.
Movie?  “Santa Sangre” has been in heavy rotation for me lately.  Otherwise, Martin Short’s “Clifford” never fails to improve my mood.
Book?  I just re-read Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” for maybe the fifth time and it is always such a task but so beautiful and worthwhile.
What work do you most enjoy doing?

Honestly, it depends on my mood and focus.  It all comes in waves; I’ll sometimes go weeks where I mainly focus on writing and finishing a story and not pick up a brush or pencil at all.  But then before I even know it, the opposite becomes true:  I’ll slave over new paintings or comics before I become conscious of the fact that I haven’t written anything in months.  It’s bizarre.  My Moleskines are erratic at best.

Name something you love, and why?


I love The Voyager Golden Record.  It’s this gold-plated record that was sent into space on The Voyager so that if any aliens ever found it, they could listen to this record and know what Earth was like.  The record had an introduction, greetings in fifty-five languages, and the sounds of our planet — a whale song, crickets, the sound of an earthquake, a volcano, thunder, laughter, footsteps, wind, water, a kiss, a wild dog, heartbeats I think.  It had twenty-seven songs on it from all over the world, including Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chuck Berry, and Louis Armstrong.  At the end of the record there were brainwaves.  The wife of one of the men in charge of the record got hooked up to a machine and her brainwaves were turned into sound.  She thought all about the earth and the life on it, poverty, suffering, and some history she could remember.  At the end, she decided to make a personal statement.  The very last thing she wanted her brainwaves to send out there, the very last thing on this golden record that we sent into space for aliens to find and learn and judge about us, was what it felt like to fall in love.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

More often than not, I feel I have no truly creative ideas.  And everything I write, think, paint, or say has already been written, thought, painted, or said by many others.  And though I value the wonderful varied perspectives of people everywhere, it makes me feel like poo.  During a public internet meltdown of sorts, I had two people whose brains and artistic endeavors I admire impart two pieces of wisdom to me in such a way that it helped to hear at that precise moment.  The first was:  the truth is that all creativity amounts to in the first place is putting the basic stuff of existence into different patterns.  These patterns have personal meaning to us.  We ourselves constitute a changing pattern in relation to the rest of the universe.  Creativity is either infinite or ‘virtually infinite.’

The second was:  you just worry about making art because you’ll die if you don’t.

I try to remember both of these things in my worst moments of self-sabotage and doubt.


Name something you don’t love, and why?

I hate labels so much.  Here I am not referring to ethnic, racial, or other discriminatory and/or offensive tags (although OF COURSE I hate those, too).  Specifically I mean things such as price tags and the stickers on plastic bins that helpfully note “Sterilite Storage Bin.  For storage.  Store your shit up in this piece, mofo!”  I compulsively pick labels off of everything that is around for even a short time in my life.  This urge is slightly in opposition to my love of text — I like monograms, painting words on walls, having lots of chalkboards and papers and quotes and journals sitting around, just to put thoughts down on.  I guess it’s just that I want to control how many and what kinds of words and text are thrown at me in my home.  Everything outside is so coated in manipulative slogans and advertising (I mean seriously, you can’t even pee at a bar without forty flyers adding to the visual chaos) that I need to be able to look around my apartment without It’sallinside-Nobodydoesn’tlove-Refrescante-Eatfresh-Ownstheroad-Stayclosealittlelonger-Doubleyourpleasure-Choiceofthenew-Camitasmejors-Gentleman’sclub-Whatissexy-It’syourlife-Thenewalbum-Unböring-Unbroken-Undecided-Uncoordinated-Unlisted-Underground-Unrefined blazing across my retinas like Satan’s own stock ticker.

What couldn’t you do without?

It’s so clichéd of an answer, but there’s no way in hell I would have lasted this long without the people I am so blessed enough to call my friends.  I couldn’t have asked-begged-prayed-starved for better people to keep.

.

 You’ve been selected to go on an all-expenses paid drinking binge with one famous artist, one famous writer, and one free choice.  Who would you choose?


Dead or alive?  I think this answer changes daily for me.  So today I would probably go with Odilon Redon because stylistically I have never wanted to emulate someone SO MUCH.  His paintings are pure magic.  Oscar Wilde, because deep-down I identify with the burned-out view and the scathing insight.  And the free choice…  I guess it’d be that neighbor dog with short legs who runs the way shrimp swim. I like when there’s a dog at a party so my social anxiety doesn’t run down my phone’s battery
Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?

Whose hair?  My own hair?  I think I’d sooner set myself on fire than lick a public ANYTHING, to be honest.  I probably ingest more than a handful of dog hair on a daily basis anyway, thanks to Roxy Carmichael’s proclivity for shedding.  I’m going with the hair.  I think I could better survive that from an emotional standpoint.


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Artist Spotlight: Jonathan Draugelis

Jonathan Draugelis is an artist out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has a talent for creating stunning pencil portraits. Using only pencil and white wax pastels, Jonathan creates portraits so true to his subject, they could be photographs. I love his work and am trying to convince him to share his work with the world. 🙂

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fun and easy art activity for kids

I love melted rocks. Melted rocks rock. I did this art activity with two 6 and 7 year old boys and I think I enjoyed it more than they did (probably because I wouldn’t let them touch the hot rocks…and you know how boys are…they only want to do what they aren’t allowed to do:) ).  Something about the simplicity of the activity and watching the crayon melt and mix and swirl with the other colors is so relaxing.

You will need:

  • smooth rocks- pick out some rocks from your garden (preferably smooth rocks with flattened tops) or you can buy a bag of river rocks from a craft supply store for fairly cheap. 
  • crayons- The Crayola brand work perfectly fine…I had some oil pastels I also tried using…a few of them worked, the more thicker and more expensive they were, the LESS they worked because they didn’t melt as easy and didn’t mix with the other crayons. ALTHOUGH, saying that, one gold oil pastel I had from Blicks art store turned out to be the best. So, try a few different types and experiment. 
  • an oven- or access to one. 
  • An oven mitts (those babies come out of the oven hot) 
  • Foil paper
  • a large (and preferably old and well used) baking tray
Instructions: 
  •  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit 
  • Wash off and dry the rocks if you grabbed them from the garden
  • Peel the paper off the crayons you want to use 
  • Put foil paper on the oven tray (to keep any melted crayons from getting on the tray)
  • Place the rocks on the tray and put them in the oven for at least 15 minutes (the hotter they are the better) 
  • Take the rocks out using the oven mitt (if you are doing this with children make sure to warn them NOT to place their hands directly onto the rock because they will born themselves) and place them on paper plates or foil sheets
  • Put the crayon onto the surface of the rock and push down firmly for a few moments. Use several different colors to get a colorful effect. 
  • Let them cool. 

and WHALAAA! Glorious- beautimus rocks!