EssaysRecipe

2018 Goals

Travel, learning, ceramics, film photography. A highlight of 2017. Tortus Studio in Copenhagen, August 2017.

I have big goals for 2018 (I always do but this year in particular I’m feeling it). My focus has shifted from last year. My focus and interests felt action/effort related in 2017; I’m interested in internal attention and strength for 2018. It feels like a natural evolution and truthfully, it is a sign of growth for me. I have always been achievement oriented, to a completely crippling fault, so focusing internally feels like I’ve grown up a bit. I’m not as worried about achieving ‘the shoulds’ or external successes – what I really care about is knowing my actions are true to myself and pursuing what feels good.  

Like last year, I’m motivated to share myself + my goals in public form in an effort to make myself a better person. It is vulnerable to lay all this out, particularly when I’m unclear about aspects, but I also think there is magic is putting things out into the universe and seeing what unfolds. I’m excited to refer back throughout the year and see where I stand one year from now.

Two words I’m focusing on in 2018 (+ how I’m defining them):

Surrender

an inner softening.

/I really like how this article discusses surrender. I’m currently reading Radical Acceptance and have been brought to tears a few times by how deeply I resonate with the message. I highly, highly recommend for everyone, particularly those who have suffered/are suffering with feelings of unworthiness.

Languor

the state or feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia.  

/What I seek in a good day’s work/my goal at the end of the day/my favorite feeling. A new-to-me vocab word recently learned from Just Kids, an inspiring book for artists and those forging their own path in the world. One of the things I love most about reading is learning new words, at 31 it feels like being a kid with eyes wide open again.

Now, onto my 2018 targets. Seems a bit contradictory to list out goals after just going on about surrender but oh well! These targets are a part of my productive side and I guess I need that to balance out my pensivity…

Read 15 books

I have always loved reading. I was that kid who brought a book to a restaurant, to a baseball game, etc. I read eight books in 2017 as well as so (so, so) many articles. In 2018 I want to make a concerted effort to read even more, with a focus on quality. I’m hoping to surpass my target of 15 books, too.

/My favorite tip to start reading more is to set a goal of reading five pages before bed – it’s low commitment enough that you can make it a daily habit – and most of the time you’ll keep going once you get started. And the five page commitment is easy to stick to every night. Try it for a month and see what happens!

Make $$

I have big goals for 2018. Achieving those goals requires money. AND I am ready to do the personal work and make big bucks. I’m meditating on the specifics and putting the energy in to manifesting what is true for my path. I’m excited to see what unfolds next year (and if I reach my target $$ goal).

Train myself to relax

The definition of a first world problem though I know I’m not alone. I want to strengthen my ‘relax’ muscle in 2018 by just being (not doing). This looks like less tv, less phone, less overwhelm from multi-tasking and taking in too much information, less busy work. It looks like Sunday piddle days (learned from this book by Oprah, which I listen to over and over), meditating, morning walks, more games (currently looking at gin rummy and bananagrams – would love suggestions for fun two player games, especially competitive ones ;)!), and more reading actual books (less articles on my phone).

/Further reading: I cited an article about productivity being a class signifier at the footer of this post.

Detox

Physically as well as emotionally. I focused a lot of time and effort in 2017 to physically detoxing my body (particularly looking towards chemo nearly seven years ago). Things that have worked for me: finding a naturopath, blood work + starting supplements, ozone saunas, therapy, month long breaks from alcohol, whole 30. In 2018 I’d like to focus more on physical detox (I’m currently researching NAC, for liver cleansing and immune support, and MSM, for oxygenating the body). 

/Further reading: I wrote more under the ‘ten strict pushups’ header here about my physical + emotional detox pursuits in 2017.

Write

I’ve always enjoyed processing and expressing myself through writing. I find it especially pleasant when I get into flow states while writing (which is often but not every day). I have a flexible starter goal of writing for three hours per week but we’ll see. Left to my own devices, I tend to write in one long session and then recover for a few-to-many weeks before writing again. I just started this book last night and I’m looking forward to seeing if it resonates with me to follow the structure – essentially it sees writing as a meditative practice – which I can really get behind!

Less but better

Less but better has been one of my core tenants for a few years now (dating back to 2013, I believe). To me it is a guiding force to fill my plate with less things but choose those things really sing to me. In 2018, I’ll continue to apply it to work projects, friendships + hang time, purchases, food/drink consumption, etc.

Etc.

Some extra goals I hope to accomplish in the next year:

– Get a kiln + learn how to fire my ceramic work.

– Glowy skin! I transitioned from traditional skin care six+ years ago (from soap/moisturizer to using oils for cleansing and moisturizing) and this year I want to spend more time on my skin. Drink more water, do more masks, focus on hydration (through oils), eat well, less makeup.

– Get more manicures. I don’t take care of my hands because I work with them every day (I used to think, ‘what’s the point?’) but that’s exactly the reason why I should/want to!

– Personal newsletter –  structured in the vein of emails I send to friends + new friends with recommendations based on our conversations, new things I learn as I go along, etc. I love discovering new things and find it especially rewarding when it’s a useful recommendation for a friend.

Goals I’m carrying over from 2017 to 2018: 

Strong

Play/explore curiosities

Cheers to 2018!

 

2017 Reflections

Shooting in Big Sur, CA. 2017.

Every year I intend to write a yearly wrap up and I often don’t get around to it (excuses, right?). This year I’m making it happen, mostly because I know that the only way I’ll make it a habit is through discipline, practice, and writing the initial draft in early December :). I endeavor to write them for my own purposes – a way to document where I was and what I experienced – the nuances that slip away as time passes. My hope in sharing them is that there might be one thing that makes you think and maybe even inspires you to take a step forward in an area of your own life. This is the first installment – I’m also working on an essay on books I read + recommend in 2017 as well as my goals for 2018. 

Here’s a recap of my 2017 goals (full post):

Share yourself

Goal: share more of me with customers, with my community. Share my outside-of-work interests, the products that I research and love to discover, and personal curiosities.

Recap: I am proud of the strides I made in this area. I wrote and published eight essays, shared more personally on instagram, and shared myself with my community here in Austin. As always, I sent lots of emails to friends and new friends with recommendations for them based on our conversations and new things I learn as I go along [sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to get in on these – one of my 2018 goals :)]. I am looking forward to continuing to grow in this area next year.

My word: remarkable

Goal: Investing my time and energy into worthy causes/projects/relationships. I endeavored this year to spend my time only on ultra-relevant things.

Recap: I thought back to this word a lot this year. It helped me to decide to close the store, guided where and how I spend my time, and has even inspired me to invest more than ever in my education (through two intensive workshops and signing up for a semester long course this upcoming spring). I recently read this post and realized I’ve basically been DIYing my graduate education (for years but I’ve taken it seriously the second half of this year).

Ten strict pushups

Goal: I have long wanted to feel strong, a desire that stems from experiencing  profound weakness during surgery and treatments for cancer. My thinking for ten strict pushups was that I’d have to be full-body strong to do ten of them.

Recap: I could say I ‘failed’ at this as technically I did – I can’t do ten strict pushups (I can maybe do three). But I don’t see it that way. I have consistently pursued strength this year. I’ve worked with a personal trainer on weight training, taken yoga classes, walked several hundred miles (a good cure for those who tend to wake up anxious/grumpy like I do), and consistently chosen what feels good for my body. That is a win for me! And most recently, I’ve been working with a healer to reintegrate + reconnect parts of my body that I disconnected from a long time ago (due to early trauma). I’m releasing emotions + trauma that are stored in my body, learning how to properly use my body, and am beginning to work on deep strength. Working with Shannon has been the biggest gift and I can’t wait to see where I stand in my body one year from now.

One week money fast/month

Goal: Abstain from spending to practice awareness around spending, owning, and consuming for one week per month.

Recap: This was a wildcard for me and one that I entered the year open about seeing where I went with it. I ended up doing two or three proper money fasts early in the year before feeling like the practice wasn’t serving me (and continuing with them was just to prove my discipline). The few weeks that I did undertake a money fast were telling and I’m very proud of them. It’s hard not to spend money for a whole seven days! It takes planning, discipline, patience, and delayed gratification. It left me with more awareness around my motivation for purchases (Why am I buying this? Because I have great energy around it and I’ll thoroughly enjoy having it in my life? Or because I’m sad/frustrated/bored and looking for some gratification?). It was a great exercise for me and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more/gain perspective about their relationship with money.

More play/explore curiosities

Goal: Create space/time to explore curiosities/new skills I feel drawn to. Curiosity and desire to learn are the core of my being and I wanted to create space for more in my life. I felt particularly interested in photography and ceramics at the beginning of 2017.

Recap: Per usual, I knocked this one out of the park (written with complete humility). Learning and exploring curiosities is truly my favorite way to spend time and I had no doubt I’d find myself doing it more if I created time/space for it. This was one of the primary motivations behind closing the store. I had little capacity in my life to be open enough to even feel curious about new things, let alone what I was already interested in, during the year the store was open. Here’s what I ended up pursuing this year:

  • Photography: I took two classes with Austin School of Photography. I am confident shooting manual photography now (something I didn’t believe I’d ever be able to do) and I’ve even taken up shooting film as well!
  • Ceramics: I feel beyond fortunate to have studied with Eric Landon of Tortus this summer (a dream of mine that I emailed to myself on 9/25/15 and came true less than two years later). I spent seven days learning from Eric in his CPH studio and my skills have taken a giant leap from that time. I’ve since taken two courses at Austin Pottery and recommend them to local Austin friends. I am thrilled to pursue pottery more in the coming year.
  • Jewelry: I fulfilled a long-time goal of learning wax lathe carving with master carver Kate Wolf last month. I’m excited to incorporate these skills into my custom work as well as begin to pursue more collaborative projects. Wedding bands have been my longtime passion and were the motivation for why I got into jewelry in the first place. It feels good to go ‘home’ and begin to pursue more work that deeply resonates with my passions.

Hang out 1x/week

Goal: To spend more time in and with community with the hard goal of hanging out once per week.

Recap: Another goal that I went into with an open mind to see how it served and evolved for me. I definitely didn’t meet the once/week quota but I did make a consistent effort to spend time with friends and making new friends. I also learned that I go through cycles of feeling very social and then feeling like I want to hibernate/craving quiet space. And that’s ok! That’s true to me and I know that now, which is a win.

Prioritize self care

Goal: Focus on self care. Particularly focus throughout the day and in the morning (not just checking off right before bed). See self care as a foundational need, not a luxury.

Recap: I still keep a tiny spreadsheet checklist next to my bed and it serves as a reminder for me (not a ‘must do or feel guilty’ list). I now consider them rituals and I’ve trained myself to see self care as a core need, not something to categorize as a luxury or an indulgence (or feel guilty about). This is progress for me! I tend to be the person who denies my needs and instead focuses on achievements, which leads to a very stressed, not-fun-to-be-around being. That’s not to say I haven’t faltered – there are days at a time where I don’t track and that usually leads to a down day. Then on that down day I ask, ‘What’s the cause of my feeling depleted/anxious/depressed/drained/etc.? Am I taking care of myself?’. And then I go back to my checklist and start again. I edit my list every month just about and now focus on broad categories with lots of room for interpretation to keep it fun and functional. (here’s a link to my current ritual checklist – feel free to download, edit, and make it your own!)

Wowee that is a lot! As you can see – these aren’t strict pass/fail goals for me. I made them knowing that I’d interpret them differently at the end of the year than the beginning. That’s a win for me as I see growth in a changing interpretation of goals. I hope there’s a tidbit of information you can use/think on to inspire one small change (or one small step towards change) for you today, tomorrow, or even the next year.

Our Gluten-free and Dairy-free Christmas Dinner, 2017

Christmas Dinner, 2017

We’ve spent many holidays in recent years away from family. I thought it was going to be so sad the first year, Thanksgiving 2009 – the year we moved to California, but it ended up being really nice just the two of us. We cooked a nice meal, stayed cozy in our pj’s, took our pup (we only had Charlie then) for a walk, hung out, and watched movies. We’ve followed the same ritual since and we make an effort to provide special holidays experiences for ourselves. This year we watched more holiday movies (The Family Stone is one of my favorites) and traveled to Sonoma and Big Sur — I had a dream of ceremonially closing out the year in my favorite part of the country to find solace and quiet (mission accomplished).

I’ve learned a lot of great recipes and workarounds since removing gluten and dairy from my diet a little over two years ago. There are so many great recipes available and truthfully, I don’t miss it too much even for big holiday meals. Everything we made this year turned out delicious and I’d happily make the same meal next year. Here’s what we made this year for our GF + DF Christmas Dinner:

GF + DF Biscuits

notes: I used cashew milk, lemon juice, arrowroot starch, and ghee as the fat. Best gf biscuits I’ve made yet!

Mushroom Bisque

notes: I used olive oil and chicken bone broth in place of vegetable broth.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

notes: I doubled the amount of roasted garlic (because I can’t get enough) and used ghee. These are the best mashed potatoes – I think better than the ones loaded with cream and butter. Make sure to use yukon gold potatoes.

Maple Roasted Delicata Squash

notes: I used yellow onion, I would do a bit less red pepper flakes next time, and I used some leftover bacon fat from breakfast with the olive oil.

Honey Butter Roasted Carrots

notes: I tossed everything together and roasted because I misread the directions. They turned out great and I’d probably do it again to save some steps — the carrots were tender, not really caramelized but the honey didn’t burn!

Chocolate Chip Meringues

notes: I didn’t think I liked meringues until this year. I first noticed them in Europe this summer – they were in most desserts as a garnish. I liked their delicate, sweet, almost glassy texture. Then Matt’s Aunt Jane made meringues when we visited Sonoma and I really liked them! I used these vegan chocolate chips, added lightly salted + toasted chopped hazelnuts, and ½ cup sugar. I followed the fast cook method as I prefer them crackly and fully cooked. These are so good, I’ll definitely make them again.

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

notes: I halved the recipe, subbed Trader Joe’s cashew butter (any smooth nut butter should work) for peanut butter, used Maldon salt. Next time I’d like to experiment with using less sugar or substituting some of the sugar with maple syrup/honey. Maybe add chocolate chips too?

We purchased our ham locally from Texas Honey Ham (you must try their Frito Pie if you’re ever in Austin!). We also got a few slices of pie from Quack’s (not gf/df). And we enjoyed a bottle of “Old Vines” Zinfandel from St. Francis Winery, found locally at Central Market, which is one of my favorite reds right now. (We went to an amazing tasting at St. Francis Winery when we visited Sonoma – highly, highly recommend.)

Charlie “helping” unwrap gifts 😉

Year 31 Portraits

About a year ago I got this idea to do yearly portraits. I think it came from the realization that we change a bit every year but don’t document it. I know, I know – we all take photos at weddings or selfies while traveling. I’m talking about really capturing a moment in time – a photo to reminisce on where I was at the time, what I looked like, and how I felt. I’ve gotten in photography over the past year and I would say that this yearly ‘project’ is certainly inspired by Sally Mann’s portraiture. She captures real-life images (albeit in a stunning manner) of mundane moments. To me it feels like a celebration of everyday life. What is more important than that? As I get older the saying ‘the days are long but the years are short’ resonates more and more. I blink and a few months have passed, another summer has passed, two and a half months have passed since Europe, etc.

Anyway! I signed us up for a portrait session with my pal Katie Jameson on Matt’s 31st birthday. I love (love love) the way Katie captures people in her portraits and knew working with Katie would be the perfect intro to a yearly portrait. Matt and I haven’t been photographed professionally together since our wedding (five years ago!) and the whole time I was so grateful we were marking this moment in time. This is a special time for us – we just celebrated our five year wedding anniversary, October 15th (tomorrow!) is our 13th anniversary together, Matt is killing it professionally, I spend every day getting closer to aligning my purpose with my work, we are healthy, happy, and have two of the best pups. I am so grateful to Katie for capturing us during this time. I hope this inspires others to begin celebrating the everyday (and taking yearly portraits) as well!

Photos by Katie Jameson. Thank you so much, Katie!!

Choosing Challenge

Shot on the streets of Copenhagen in August 2017

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.” – Wendell Berry

I’m determined to choose to do more hard things to get what I really want – really want is the key here. Something clicked for me while I was away and I think I finally got it – we work towards goals that are hard and seemingly impossible for the personal development/enrichment – not for the pain or even for the glory (I’m thinking about running a marathon but really anything we dedicate ourselves to applies here). It’s not about what we get, it’s about who we become in pursuit of our goal. Deep down, we all want to feel the satisfaction and exhaustion that comes from really applying yourself, working towards the goal, feeling filled up at the end of the day. We used to live simpler existences. Our ancestors hunted and gathered, made what was needed, tended to their family. Did our ancestors have an existential crisis about their purpose or feel ennui from their privilege? (Nope.) I also think about how my grandparents’ generation – not that long ago – tolerated a fluctuating level of discomfort. They didn’t have the same expectations for a mostly pain-free experience like my generation has developed along the way.

It got me thinking about how I spend my time when I’m in distraction mode aka ‘multi-tasking’. So many of us live in this space — mentally expired by 3 pm, stressed/anxious, bodies brimming with energy that needs to be used but we’re burned out and too exhausted to do anything. We work hard to pay for conveniences (because we don’t have time/energy to do it ourselves due to working so much) and then we’re so exhausted (mostly mentally, rarely are our bodies used sufficiently day to day) that we don’t truly experience the pleasure of our hard work. I find this profoundly sad and pointless. I have asked myself this for the past year or so – ‘what are we working so hard towards?’. Matt and I are part of the generation born in the late 80’s that feel the drive and pressure to achieve achieve achieve. I have personally been on this achievement hamster wheel ever since I left for college at 18. Though truthfully I started feeling the pressure of college and figuring out my career well before that, probably around 15 or so. And so over the past decade we have hustled – worked our asses off, said yes to every opportunity ever, sacrificed – moved away from friends and family out of college and moved several times since (we have great friends from college but feel like we are always re-building friendships as we bopped around chasing job after job until our late 20’s), took on debt to say yes to the next career opportunity in faith that it will work out, and generally sacrificed a personal life in pursuit of “making it”. All that has left me (I would say us but I can only speak for myself) burned out, exhausted, stressed, and feeling like a failure at 31.

Within the past year, my spirit started crying “uncle!” and begged to slow down, to find peace, to do less. That was the mindset I entered my month abroad with – I want to do less but better, I want to feel peaceful, I want to feel content. This is at direct odds with the lifestyle we created (inherited?). I started to feel nervous about mid-way through the trip as I’d relaxed, physiologically and mentally. I felt like I had to prepare to put my daily armor back on to get up and fight through every day. And somewhere along the way (I’m still figuring this out), I decided I didn’t have to go back to the way it was. It’s a daily decision the way we live – we choose every single day how we show up (most of us are just on auto pilot and don’t realize it). And I came back with a different resolve. I’ve been home for a bit and I still feel grounded in the desire to be present and do less. To choose the temporarily uncomfortable option to get what I really want. To stay out of the all-to-easy-to-get-into hustle and stress that I gravitate towards out of habit. This is my goal right now – to wake up each day, be quiet enough to hear what I really want, and figure out how to do it.

Here’s the personal side that got me thinking about this topic:

As someone who prefers to avoid discomfort, I’ve attempted to systematically remove uncomfortable experiences from my life one by one to the best of my ability over the last few years. Matt and I have worked hard and slowly began to spend more and more of our income paying to remove these so-called uncomfortable or hard things so we didn’t have to do them. We work in order to pay someone to clean our house, tend to our yard, file our taxes, sometimes use instacart, take our pups out on a playdate, etc. And as we remove more of these daily chores from our plate, I’ve started to feel more and more empty. Yeah, my life is getting more “comfortable”, but I feel less fulfilled. [I feel the need to stop and say that this may sound shallow or vapid and I really debated sharing this but this is my truth. It’s what I’m currently learning, what I’ve recently realized. I think there is a relatable truth in this regardless if another is in my exact situation or a different one.]

I started thinking about all of this while I was on an extended trip in August. While away, and traveling alone, I encountered situations that ranged from mild discomfort to tear-inducing frustration several times a day. And because I was completely alone in a foreign country, I couldn’t fall apart. It is the first time in my life I didn’t have anyone else to lean on during a hard moment (I realize this makes me blessed beyond measure). It was a revelation for me – I realized that facing head-on and conquering several discomforts every day left me feeling deep satisfaction at the end of the day. WHAT?? This is exactly what I’d been working towards avoiding and removing from my daily life.

I came back from my trip and started choosing the uncomfortable path. For me, this means spending my time working towards things I truly want. This also means not immediately turning to money to solve the problem.  I was aware that this would be a decision I make in small ways, every day, not a decision I make once and then stick to it.


Further reading —

An article via The Cut on women in their 30’s and ambition. My takeaway – don’t expect my career to fulfill my purpose. Have more than one priority in my life. Focusing on my personal life will make me happier and work smarter.

“Instead of bringing about a leisure class living in actual leisure, we have wrought a world where the upwardly mobile are instead obsessed with productivity. Indeed, productivity itself has become a kind of class signifier.” – fascinating NYT article about a ‘lifestyle guru who sells self-absorption as the ultimate luxury product’.

Nandina in July

Shot on a summer day in Texas. Canon EOS3 + Fuji Superia 400, 35 mm.

A seeker (and still am)

Published ex post facto, originally written July 15, 2017.

snap from my first roll of film!

These past few months have challenged me and exhausted me to the point that I’ve dropped the pretenses that I’ve operated with since childhood. For awhile I felt ready to outgrow my old habits – like a snake’s old skin they were restrictive and I felt disconnected from them – but I didn’t know how to actually release them. And then slowly, as I began to speak my truth and be more willing to just be myself, I’ve felt a natural evolution. It really is that simple. Be yourself – whoever you are in this moment. Feel whatever you feel, sit with it, let it be there. And trust whatever you’re feeling or whatever action you want to take. We have so much intelligence in our beings. When we stop getting caught up in ‘who we should be’ and forcing/pushing/running/trying/grinding then we can actually just be who we are. So simple and yet so profound. It has taken me six years of true struggle to realize that for myself. I hope that by sharing this it can take you less.

As I arrive in this new version of myself, I’ve felt clarity around one of my biggest existential struggles – my purpose. (A side note – I think there is way too much emphasis on defining our purpose. For me, it’s created a ton of pressure to find my purpose and I felt lost/less than without having my ‘purpose’ totally set in stone.) It wasn’t a huge revelation, it probably rarely is, but it felt like a relief to stumble on this simple truth of myself. I wrote this a month ago, “I figured out some progress on my purpose – I think it’s to connect. When I think about what lights me up, what moves me, what inspires me, what motivates me I always come back to connection – feeling connected to another person, to humanity, connecting people to each other, to ideas, etc.”. How did I realize this? Through interaction with others, of course.

Last month I went down to Mexico to visit a friend while she was on a work assignment at a beautiful resort in Cabo. Besides the top-notch location, the staff really made the experience. The most touching and profound part of my trip was experiencing the staff greeting. Each time I passed or encountered the resort staff, they placed their right hand on their heart and bowed their head. The gesture symbolizes “welcome from our heart”. Now, skeptics would say that they are trained to do that and it is not a choice. And that the resort is in a resort community and there is a service mindset in the area. And of course I’ve considered that and it is true. But does that fact take away from the gesture? Not to me. It absolutely seemed sincere and even if it wasn’t (which it was), what really matters is what I take away from it. Our greetings made me feel connected to them and I felt deep gratitude for the gesture and sentiment.

It reminded me of my time in Bali earlier this year. The Balinese greeted in a similar way, by placing their hands in a prayer position and a small bow. (Same skeptical judgements apply – Bali is arguably third world and extremely dependent on tourism. But I believe the same – I felt their gestures were genuine to their own nature and I returned the greeting each time with deep gratitude and feelings of connection. I don’t believe they greeted me for my benefit, I believe their greeting was a reflection of their true nature). To me, there is a common thread with these experiences that to be frank, I’m still fettering out. I know it has to do with being connected to something greater than myself. I think it also has to do with the disconnection I’ve felt being raised in a solitary, individualized society like the US where we don’t particularly value community or the greater good. I’ll share more on this as I continue to understand the role of purpose and connection.

I believe two sources helped me take this next step in my personal evolution. One – I listened to the You are a Badass books by Jen Sincero (book 1 book 2), which I highly recommend. The concepts are digestible, she is incredibly likeable and witty, and you will undoubtedly learn a few things (I listened to them on Audible, my favorite way to ‘read’ non-fiction). These books aren’t life changing but they definitely made an impact on me and inspired me to change a few of my beliefs and thoughts. The simple change of altering your beliefs and thoughts can change your life because you show up differently and your belief in what is possible expands. I believe that is the secret to ‘changing your life”.

And second – a truly profound thought for me. A few months ago I asked myself, “What if nothing is wrong with me?”. My first response was that nothing is actually wrong with me but the sense that I’m not being who I ‘should’ be (there’s the shoulds again) or that I’m not doing what I ‘should’ do has plagued me since childhood. I have always felt wrong – I am deeply introverted and that was not embraced in all my years of school. I am also introverted in a family full of lots of loud, talkative people who have little concept of healthy boundaries and personal space. My dad left my family when I was four and I thought that I wasn’t good enough for him to stay. I’m not chatty enough or my shyness is bad because it isn’t what people want from me. I loved art growing up but thought I should get a ‘real’ degree and build a corporate career. I haven’t felt peace with my body since my pre-teen years. And on and on.

All of this I silently carried and felt disappointed/ashamed/unworthy/different – all of which leads to feelings of disconnection. But that little voice started repeating the question – “what if nothing is wrong with me?” – over and over. And then I began to explore what it would be like to release all the energy I put into trying to change those things. What if I just put a bathing suit on and look like a 31 year old woman with hormones and softness (because that’s what happens to a lot of bodies during childbearing years)? What if I choose to feel comfortable with my quietness and let others feel however they feel about it? What if I identify with my dad for leaving and choosing to stay gone with my own relationships right now? What if I let myself pursue art without knowing where it will lead (and definitely not worry if it’s good enough)? And so that’s what I’ve been doing. I have a thought that feels like conflict with who I am and then I ask myself, “what if it’s not wrong?”.

So many of us suffer unnecessarily and live smaller existences than we are meant to. Trust yourself, your desires, your instincts, what you feel called to, and what you feel deeply against. Start small by following those little impulses and desires that we often ignore in our everyday lives. Most importantly, spend time doing things you truly care about and light you up – that is the best way to gain clarity.

“I have been a seeker and still am

but I stopped asking the books and the stars.

I started listening to the teaching of my soul.”

-Rumi

One week + one day in CPH

Copenhagen Streets

“To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen

I’ve been in Copenhagen for just over a week now and want to report on what I’ve done, seen, experienced, and thought so far. It has been an experience for me and not quite what I envisioned. The first few days I was extremely jet-lagged, not sleeping enough, and had some serious doubts about what I thought I was doing traveling alone to a place I’d never been and knew exactly zero people. I’m proud to say I only had one meltdown and shed just a few tears in despair and frustration. (I think because I knew I was on my own and no one would save me if I really lost it.) I’m seeing now that I’m used to leaning on someone during traveling and letting them take the lead when I feel overwhelmed. A good thing to learn about myself and eight days in I already feel more independent. Yes, it still can take me 1.5 hours to get takeaway for dinner and I’ve walked in the wrong direction more than a few times but I’m figuring it out. It makes me appreciate new experiences and also have a lot of compassion and gratitude for my younger self when I moved to D.C. for university completely alone when I was very much used to being one of a pair. Maybe that’s why I like exploring a new city on foot (and apparently solo) so much – I’m seeking that feeling over and over.

Magic Light

Anyway, here are some takeaways so far:

  • I finished a book – The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it easy to get into, to pick up and put down, and a few passages very profound. I’d suggest starting with her article, Thanksgiving in Mongolia, in the New Yorker and then pick up the book if you enjoyed and want more.
  • I have been walking, walking, walking. CPH is very walkable and I’ve walked everywhere so far, between 5-10 miles a day. I’m loving it as it could not be further than driving and sitting in Texas traffic all day every day. I miss living in a walkable city that gets you out and about.
  • I enjoyed my workshop with tortus so much that I signed up for a 5.5 day workshop that begins Monday! It surprised me how much progress I made in just two days and the notion of how much improvement I could see over five days was just too tempting for me as someone that is motivated by personal improvement. Eric is incredibly talented and a great teacher. Perhaps it was the structure of throwing ten hours over two days but I saw more improvement (and learned lots of tips) than I have in much of the year that I took classes once a week. Also, due to the nature of a short two day workshop, we could not keep anything and that was ultimately liberating for me. My personality is to keep everything and make it as perfect as possible but knowing that I would be scrapping everything gave me latitude to play and push myself. It has actually inspired me to take that attitude into other areas of work, particularly jewelry and photos. I want to push myself more (and feel less fear around failure or something breaking/not working on the first try), edit, only keep the very best pieces I feel most connected to, and keep trying new things.
  • What can I say about the Danes? Well, I’d say that they’ve surprised me a bit. I naively assumed that Danes would be how I found the Dutch: extremely friendly, warm, and fairly open. So far, I’ve found Danes to be aloof, a bit impatient, and direct. I’d put it this way — they don’t suffer fools in any sense. Americans tend to be warm and friendly with most people and especially polite to strangers. It doesn’t really matter if it’s sincere, it’s just the norm. I feel that the Danes are opposite – they don’t do niceties or friendly greetings, they don’t chit-chat, they communicate directly with strangers. (As someone with a pretty solid resting bitch face I feel I can also say that many Danes, men and women, also have a solid rbf and a ‘don’t mess with me attitude’). But I’ve seen them in groups (they are always in groups) and they are very open and warm amongst their circle. As a solo traveler it was a bit of a shock at first and truthfully, it made me feel very alone, but I’ve acclimated to it. I can appreciate that it is their genuine nature – they are never going to be fake nice – they are always going to be 100% truthful. I can get behind that as someone who personally struggles with feeling too direct within American culture.
  • Coming on the heels of feeling very alone – I have felt all the feelings while on my own. I felt isolated and lonely for the first few days and it’s only in the past few days that I’ve felt some of the highs that come with feeling those lows. I have been aware and diligent about these feelings and any attempt to avoid them. They’ve served a great purpose – I’ve spent lots of time with zero distractions (actual silence in my fifth floor walk up!) reflecting and sitting with myself. I’ve unwound and have enough space that I can actually hear myself and some of my deeper desires. It is what I hoped for in traveling alone and I think gaining clarity will pay off in spades.

  • I’m listening to audiobooks to curb loneliness. So far, I’ve gone back and forth between these: one two. My tendency is to listen to audiobooks over and over to: 1. gain as much information as possible, 2. hear things I might’ve missed the first time around, 3. hear the same things (that I want to adopt) over and over. There’s also a sense of familiarity to re-listening which I find comforting.
  • Before I left, I downloaded Ozark onto my ipad. Holy shit, if you haven’t watched it yet I highly (highly) recommend it. It is dark, intense, and has zero predictability. I loved it.
  • I found a matcha place (apparently the only one in CPH) about 1/2 mile from my airbnb! I’ve been drinking matcha for a few months now as I switched to green tea (I’m trying to stop drinking black tea as it leaves me jittery/anxious). It is a very well-designed space (as everything in Copenhagen is) and I’m really enjoyed the honey matcha iced tea at BYOH Matcha.
  • I have had decent luck with eating around my dietary restrictions (I don’t eat dairy or gluten). Thankfully most restaurants are very accommodating with allergies but it really does limit what I can eat – I have pretty much eaten a salad or a burger (no bun) at every meal. Not all that surprising when you consider that most Danes eat a few slices of bread every day, often with cheese or butter, as one of their meals. And a funny anecdote about salad – I ordered a salad with a vinaigrette dressing substitute (most dressings are made with cream or dairy of some sort) and was served a salad with a side of vinegar :).
  • Dining alone (something I love to do) feels a bit strange here. As I said above, Danes are always in groups. The only time I see someone eating alone is when they’re walking down the street eating a sandwich or a slice of pizza. I have literally not seen a solo diner besides myself. I think it is cultural – there is an emphasis on community and togetherness, especially around food and dining. I guess it could be seen as a missed opportunity to dine alone? I will say it strikes me a bit funny as Danes are so independent and individualist but they are always out and about in groups. Anyway, I am looking forward to sitting down to a real meal when my dining companion, Matt, arrives.
  • Touristy stuff I’ve done so far: Tivoli, Nyhavn, and Christiana + Paper Island (food trucks/street food). Touristy stuff I’m looking forward to: Louisiana Museum of Art, Botanic Gardens, changing of the guards at the Amalienborg Palace, Meat Packing District, Torvehallerne.
  • Places I’ve enjoyed so far: Hay House, walking/shopping the walking street (Strøget), Royal Copenhagen. Food I’ve enjoyed: Mad & Kaffe, Sticks’n’Sushi, NOHO, Strøm bar, Danish hot dogs (food stand).
  • I’m staying in Vesterbro (my airbnb), just south of the city center. I’ve heard it compared to Williamsburg in BK and that’s about right. It’s gritty, hipster-y (+ attitudes), lots of culture, a little seedy, not a lot of tourists. I’d stay in Vesterbro again and next time I’d also look at a few days in Østerbro and/or Christianshavn.
  • I watched The Happy Film yesterday. I found it really thought provoking and much deeper than I expected. My two favorite takeaways:
    • “If I’ve done it before I get bored. If it haven’t done it before I get anxious.”
    • Seeking discomfort is a great way to build confidence

Well that’s a lot more than I thought there would be! I guess spending the better part of a week alone results in me having lots of thoughts and things to share. I’ll share more photos soon!

Full Moon in Copenhagen. August, 7 2017.

Everything is an Experiment

Here goes – I am closing the Moulton storefront.

While we often interpret closing or ending a venture a failure, I don’t see it that way at all. Opening a brick and mortar was an experiment for me. Retail has piqued my interest for years, particularly individually owned retail shops, and I felt that opening a retail shop of my own was in my future. At my 30th birthday dinner a friend asked me what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, five years, and ten years. I blurted out that I wanted to open a retail shop in the next five years (it was the first time I’d said it outloud and some wine might have been involved. But it was a truth deep within me that I didn’t over-think and just came out. I’ve learned to trust those truths over the years as I feel that they are meant for me – even if I think they’re a bit crazy at first).

And so I opened up to my goal of opening a retail shop. I thought it would come to fruition within the next three years or so. I was very surprised when a space became open, a space that I had said aloud was exactly where and what I wanted, just four months later. I felt like I’d been tapped by a magic stick that I got to be in this location with some amazing partners in the space. A location that I’d frequented often five years before when we moved to Austin. It felt right.

It has been an incredible experience. I’ve grown tremendously as a person. I am still surprised that I, a fairly quiet introvert, opened a store. A storefront! That I’ve worked countless hours at building. Where I’ve spent more time talking this past year than maybe the previous three years combined. It is truly a feat for me and one that I never would’ve thought I’d be brave enough to do. I am so grateful for this past year – I think it’s been my most transformative year yet.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m closing then? It sounds like it has been all amazing. Well, it’s a complicated answer. While having the store has been truly amazing, it has also challenged me and really pushed me to my limit. And living at my limit caused me to become really aware of my energy, my time, and my sense of fulfillment.

Some of you may know that I had cancer six years ago. I was 24 when I developed ovarian cancer (answers to your questions: Yes, that is really young. No, I didn’t have a family history or predisposition. Yes, I lost my hair. Yes, it sucked. My surgeon described it as bad luck.). It was a grueling nine month journey to recovery and I am very grateful to be in remission for almost six years. I am also grateful for my experience and I feel very lucky that I came out of it as a better person and with a hopeful prognosis. My experience with cancer changed me deeply and set me up with a very intense evaluative process for how I spend my time (my life).

So I was really shaken when I had a health scare this spring. I’m not going to bury the lead – I am healthy and have a few upcoming follow ups to make sure all is good. But for a few days I wasn’t sure which way it would go and let me tell you, nothing will clarify your priorities like not knowing. And while I lived in that place of fear and the unknown, I dwelled on a specific question – if I am not well, am I content with where I am and what I’ve done these past six years? It’s basically a version of: if this all ended tomorrow do I feel satisfied with where I am and what I’ve done? Everyone says it but we really don’t realize how truly fragile life is. Things can change in an instant.

So, I spent many weeks thinking on that: am I content with where I am? For me that means: Am I spending my energy in a way that lights me up? Am I making a difference the world? Am I connecting to the people and things that matter? Am I fulfilled? Etc.

And then very quietly I knew. I knew that closing the store was the right thing to do. And then I spent a couple months thinking through it, making very sure that it was the right decision. And I mourned it – closing the store felt like a loss at first. And a failure. It was a dream of mine and I had entered into it with the best of intentions – I truly believed that owning a store was ‘it’ for me. Over time I’ve come to see it as a success. And that some things are meant to be in our life for a short time. I set a goal to open the store and I actually accomplished it! It is an incredible feat to accomplish any goal and see something through. I am grateful for it and I am also grateful to let it go when it isn’t part of my purpose anymore.

So now what? Well, I have a few exciting things on the horizon. I am traveling to Europe for the month of August! I am taking a ceramics workshop in Denmark, spending two weeks traveling alone, and then spending two weeks traveling with Matt. (Spending a month traveling is another one of my blurt-out-not-sure-how comments I made after my first trip to Europe in the summer of 2015. My sister reminded me that I’d told her that and now it’s coming true). I have traveled more this year than any other and this year is my first time traveling solo on two international trips. I am thrilled and nervous. I am growing so much this year, it feels good. I wrote this back in 2015 and it still resonates with me: I’m beginning to see travel as more than a luxury, it’s an investment in personal development. Yes, thank you, more please.

As for business, there are some changes on the horizon. I want to devote more time and energy to custom and semi-custom work. I’ve gotten to collaborate on some incredible projects this past year that challenged and fulfilled me, deepened my relationships with clients, and left everyone thrilled at the end. And I’ve had to say no to some things due to lack of time in my schedule. My heart has always been in the custom work, it’s just taken me awhile to fully realize it and have the courage to pursue it fully.

And lastly, I’m excited to have space in my schedule for the things I love – Learning. Ceramics. Photography. Sewing clothes. Maybe even a drawing class! I’m also developing a podcast (which both excites and terrifies me – a theme for me it seems).

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much! I love that I get to do this work and I’m grateful for this wonderful community that I’ve found myself in. Thank you, thank you for the support this year and the ones before it.

Lastly, a few logistical things. One, our last day open will be July 31st. Two, online shop/custom work will be on vacation for the month of August. Three, keep an eye out for a sale beginning next week! Sign up for the newsletter or keep up on instagram to be notified. 

We are all born creative

One of my beliefs is that our curiosities are quietly tugging us to go somewhere for a reason. I’ve learned over the past few years to listen to that curiosity, even when I don’t quite understand why. I trust that those seemingly random interests and impulses are part of a bigger picture that I can’t quite see. And truthfully, I think that it makes my work more interesting. I’ve come to see my work as a sum of the knowledge and skills I’ve picked up along the way. I’m not just a jewelry designer, I’m a vessel for techniques and knowledge and my output (be it jewelry, pottery, leather, opening a shop, writing, etc.) is influenced by the intersections across mediums.

The past two years or so I found myself drawn to photography as a means of documenting. Of capturing details, little and big. Of preserving a moment – a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a sunset, a studio still life. I started with my iphone like many do. And it is incredible what it can do, especially considering the small package. But I started to find myself wanting to have more control over the image and capturing details that don’t usually come through an automatic image.

So! After much dragging my feet, I bit the bullet and invested in a dreamy camera (to me at least). When thinking on a mirrorless vs dslr, I felt interested in a mirrorless camera and was able to test one before making the big purchase. (I’d previously owned an entry dslr and didn’t carry it around much due to it’s size). I ended up loving the Fuji colors! And the size felt right for what I wanted – everyday use and travel. I went with the Fuji X-T2 and I am very happy so far. Of the all the X series options, I chose the X-T2 because of its 4k capabilities. I like the idea of being able to grow into a camera vs outgrowing one really fast.

And then I started my search for how I would learn manual photography. I went in knowing that I wanted to take a class because A. I love taking classes and learning new things! and B. I learn best when a medium is taught sequentially. I struggle with grasping knowledge when it’s piecemeal or taught in a nebulous fashion. And I have asked many (many) people to explain what aperture, shutter speed and ISO mean and I could never wrap my head around it. So I knew I needed to find a high quality class or instructor because I didn’t want to spend 6 weeks not really getting something (I’ve done this before in other classes and it is so frustrating to complete a course and still not get it). Once I knew I wanted to take a class I kept my ears open and randomly walked past Austin School of Photography (ASOP), who happens to be in the same building as the store. I looked them up and they have excellent reviews – they’re almost hard to believe because they are so positive and complimentary. So, I signed up for the Photo 1 class and here I am.

I’m going to share my progress over the coming weeks with two goals. One, to document my progress and two, to share with you in hopes of inspiring you to learn a new medium that you feel tugged to. I am a firm believer in that we are all eternal students and our primary focus in life should be to stay curious, actively seek new information, and let it change you. If you are interested in something and don’t know why, don’t question it! Just go with it. Watch a youtube video, find a mentor, take a class, or just play around. If you don’t know what you’re interested in learning – think back to your childhood and ask yourself, “What felt like play?” or “What did you enjoy doing just for fun?”. Don’t put pressure on yourself – this is a do what I say not what I do suggestion. I am notorious for showing up as a perfectionist and putting lots of pressure on myself to get it right, to be great at the beginning, be a savant at everything I try. And while it probably causes unnecessary suffering, it pushes me to keep going because nothing feels better than that first moment when it clicks and I know I’ve got it. That moment inspires me because I know I can accomplish any task or even master a medium with practice, patience, and perseverance. And I firmly believe that anyone can. Every single one of us is creative, we are all born creative. Think back on your childhood self, wasn’t he/she creative in play? In creating without judgement? We all are and the work is to get back to that childhood space where we create from our deeper selves and see what comes of it.

Here are some photos (taken on automatic, unedited for posterity).

Before class:



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