Picture Story: Santa Cruz, CA

Picture Diaries

We decided to do a spontaneous trip to Santa Cruz for the 4th of July weekend.

Here is a quick list of the things we did:

The Mystery Spot – Gravitational Anomaly

**RESERVATIONS NEEDED**

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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

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Hiking at Wilder Ranch State Park

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Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Co.

I always love a good cider =)

Also a really great place to sit in the sun and hang out..

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❤ Next up on the traveling list: Maui, HI.

Peace Easy,

D. Marie

June 2017 Layouts

Illusions of Productivity, Picture Diaries

A little late on this one, but I’ve had a pretty busy month.

A lot of big things happened in June :

I had a performance, which always takes a lot of time and energy to prepare. But then once that performance was over, it cleared up my weeknight commitments allowing a lot of time to sit and think about my life, which can be a very overwhelming for a Virgo!

Learning how to be still is difficult .

I was apartment hunting with my boyfriend. Then I was looking for someone to fill my current apartment because – Hooray! We found a place.

There were a lot of little things in between: Friends in town, SF Pride, brunches, coffee dates, and consulting projects.

Motivation and inspiration was sparse, especially in a sudden bout of change. Here are some blogs/websites that really helped me remember my goals and focus:

https://tinybuddha.com/ – Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives

The Orange Dot – Headspace: Meditation Made Simple

John WestenBerg on Medium – Productivity, Motivation, and Failure

What are some blogs you enjoy reading?


Alas…. my June 2017 planner layouts ❤

 

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Happy Planning!

-D. Marie

On Burnouts & Inspiration

Creative Writing, Illusions of Productivity

Feature Photo Cred @fitnessxart

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It’s a fact – I have too much on my plate. I have FOMO (fear of missing out) and a desire to learn everything and do everything. I work a full time job at a non-profit and do social media consulting on the side; I’m in two music ensembles; I have a personal blog (hello thanks for stopping by); I workout 4 times a week; I’m in a relationship (shout out to my awesome boyfriend <3); and I try to keep up my professional network and friendships. It’s CRAZY. I know. But I’ve always operated this way, packing my schedule to the brim. I am often finding myself in a position where I feel burned out. Here are some quick fixes to recharge my inspiration when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

First things first – routine is everything & a little inspiration along the way can help.

First of all, routine is the key. In case you couldn’t tell from the theme of my blog, I’m all about planning, down to the last second. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t stick to my weekday goals and schedule, then I get overwhelmed and frustrated when it comes time to have professional meetings, rehearsals, or even dates! I feel unprepared, stressed out that I have to catch up (which I ain’t got time for!)

I’ve joined a couple entrepreneur and solopreneur group chats on Facebook that have been really inspiring and has helped me realize that I’m not alone in my insanity. One thing my favorite girlboss duo Sarah Elder and Andrea Holland of PRtraction said was that being an entrepreneur means you’re working ALL the hours, contrary to what people assume (you know, that you get to choose your hours).

My other favorite duo are bloggers Linda and David of Kinlake, they travel the world and work remotely as digital nomads. I love their segment ‘Gone Nomadic’ explaining their journey. It’s encouraging to hear how they debunk the myth of the freelance traveler; it’s more than just wandering around aimlessly – it takes a lot of planning, preparation, structure, and discipline in order to have that freedom.

When I start to get lazy, I change it up.

More facts – I change my bedroom layout quarterly (maybe even more), sometimes all I need is a fresh start. When all my clothes have been piled and scrunched at the foot of my bed for days, maybe a week, with shoes and purses and unopened mail dispersed all over my room in disarray – I know it’s time to move my furniture around.  To me, there is nothing more inspiring than a fresh new layout, a fresh new look, and a fresh new environment.

In a study done at the Princeton Neuroscience institute, they found that physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus and process information. The clutter competes for your attention, wearing you down and resulting in frustration. Scientific proof or not, I’m sure many of you can relate and agree with this point that in order to get things done, you need a clean desk, countertop, canvas, etc. I know decluttering is key, but sometimes I can lose the inspiration, and that’s why rearranging my room resurges my excitement to have an organized clean space. It’s like buying a fresh pair of white sneakers: for the first couple of days, maybe even weeks, you try your best to keep them clean, paying attention to all the scratches and marks, brushing them off at the end of the day. But after a while, you start to let it go, and eventually they become a bit battered and grey and become your go-to pair for a pickup game of soccer in the park. Then it’s back to the shoe store for a fresh pair.

Dressing for success really is a thing.

On a more extreme level – I like to change my look (obvi); my hair has been blonde, pink, blue and now I just chopped it all off. But I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or bottle of dye). But, in this same vein, a less extreme way would be to clean out your closet, sell your clothes and refresh your wardrobe. It doesn’t have to be a huge money venture, one-thing-in-and-one-thing-out is what I (try) to say. You can sell your clothes and buy some pretty awesome gems secondhand.

Insert: My most recent find at the Goodwill 😉 $6 never looked or felt so good…img_3350


In an interesting article by the Wall Street Journal,  Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success, Ray A. Smith states that in dressing up and dressing the part, people were more productive in a work setting. Outward confidence begat intrinsic confidence. Better dressers even tend to think more abstractly – which is the style of thinking seen in senior executives and other people in power.

I like to think about being a little girl and playing around with my mom’s lipstick and high heels. My mom, as a businesswoman, was always wearing the classic 90s pencil skirt with tights and high heels. To me, this carved out my perception of what being a woman was. My sister and I would play dress up and play out these scenarios of working in an office and such. Likewise, as I got older and I started interviewing for jobs, there was and still is a sense of excitement when I get to put on a pair of pumps and walk the walk. All of a sudden, with every high heel click-clack, I felt a bit more feminine (read: powerful).

So when I start feeling a bit drab or like I’m half-assing my life, I change up my look, buy a new lipstick shade, chop off my hair, and I feel like I’m ready to conquer the world again.

Step outside of yourself. Meet new people. See new things.

I mean really.. duh.. this is a given. Like you didn’t already know this. But sometimes it’s easy to forget to just be still and observe. Sometimes when I forget to bring my laptop home from work to work on my other work or if I left my cello at my boyfriends house, I’m forced to think outside of my list of to-do’s.  At those times, (with my Type A personality let’s be real, god forbid I spend this accidental down time sitting on the couch) I get outside and start walking.

I’m fortunate to live in a city where there’s always something creative going on, always an open mic or poetry slam at a nearby cafe. When I get to be an observer of someone else’s creativity, I feel a sense of reassurance and empowerment. I’m not talking about watching an A-list top 40 musician in concert (of course there’s loads of inspiration and empowerment there) but I’m talking about seeing other hustlers who work day jobs who make it a point to pursue their creativity and share it. I always write my best poetry or have the best rehearsal after I’ve stepped outside myself and watched someone else perform their art.

Everyone is different.

What inspires you? I’d be interested to hear about what you do to recharge. So please share!

Thanks for reading and keep on hustling.

On Creativity

Creative Writing, Illusions of Productivity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein


Working in front of a screen inputting and analyzing numbers all day takes a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I work full time and consult on the side, sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about all the things I want to do and have to do once I get home. It’s also hard to find personal time, I really need to carve it in anywhere I can. Having a Type A personality , I find it hard to sit still, there’s always something I should be doing.

With the constant need to feel busy, I find that cultivating my creativity helps satiate the angst I feel in empty spaces. Not only does it help my mind step away from my lists and anxiety, it gives me a fresh look at how to execute all of my projects. Even if you don’t consider yourself an ‘artist’ here are some reasons why you should incorporate creativity in your weekly or daily habits.

Creativity is within all of us.

Contrary to belief that the creative process is a right brain activity, Social Psychologist Graham Wallas’ model of the creative process emphasizes that from Preparation to Verification, creativity is a whole brain activity. When you think about it, humans in nature are a creative species, our ability to manipulate our environment is what sets us apart from other animals; so to say that one is not creative is to deny your innate ability to solve problems, which is essentially a creative process.

One of my favorite modes of creativity is sketching. The act of taking in a scene and translating it onto paper is a remarkable skill. Now, I’m not the best at it, but I enjoy tapping into the basics of perception, shadows, and shapes. The senses used to solve the problem of translation from the intake of what you see, to manipulating your tools to draw it on paper, is something I feel helps reset my brain when I’m having a stressful week or am in need of inspiration for words, or other departments of creativity.

When you draw, you become more aware of details and awaken many suppressed senses. While starting out my sketch of the Golden Gate Bridge you see above, it took me awhile to get the correct proportion of the towers, which even still could use some improvement. This mental exercise in itself- spatial improvement and functional connectivity –  helps relieves stress, sharpens your brain agility, and improves emotional awareness (Bolwerk, 2014).

Awakening of the senses.

This awakening of the senses that study after study proclaims art and creativity does for the brain, is something that is so important especially now in the digital age. One thing I hate about social media is that you can easily find yourself stuck down a rabbit hole staring at your phone screen! I’m guilty of this, and when I finally snap out of it, I feel like my brain has been buffering, numb, or blurry – kind of like when you use the street view on Google Maps and the image is a blurred collage of earth toned, pixelated streaks… yea, that’s my brain after wasting an hour of my life scrolling through Instagram.

One of the reasons I’ve started blogging is to expand my creative practice. I was telling a friend the other day that I kinda (key word KINDA) miss writing essays! That was crazy to hear coming out of my mouth; but I felt like in this ‘like, share, comment, tweet in 140 characters’ age, my thought process was becoming too shallow. So for me, blogging is another creative process where I can practice formulating complex thoughts and expand one simple idea into a beginning, middle, and end (like this post ;)).

Simple modes of creativity.

Even if you can’t commit to a full blown essay or mural of the Golden Gate Bridge, there are little things you can do to squeeze in that little bit of creativity. One of my favorite tips I heard from a colleague is that she challenged herself to write haikus on the bus instead of looking at Instagram. I don’t find myself writing too many haikus, but one thing I do enjoy is experimenting with descriptive language – writing a small paragraph about the scene I find myself in. I use my phone to keep these notes, and sometimes these paragraphs turn into something more that I expand on later.

Force yourself to learn something new.

I’m a huge fan of formal instruction, I take cello and bass lessons at a community center. I’ve finally convinced some of my musically curious friends to sign up for a class! The point is not to chase some pipe dream of becoming a professional musician, but to force myself to step away from the screen, learn something new, and awaken my musical senses. If you find that adding that little bit of creativity on your own is something you can’t commit to, then sign up for that guitar or ceramics class you’ve always wanted to try! Find a community center, many of them have sliding scale prices; you’d be surprised what your public library offers- plus you get the benefit of building your creative community.

Creativity is our super human power!

We are a creative species, it is our super human power and you should find ways to inspire yourself to create every single day. When we create, we are changing the structure of our brains, creating new connections in our neural pathways, lighting up different parts of the brain (Scientific American, 2007). Think about it this way – your brain is a muscle and therefore, you should exercise it like one. Don’t let your brain become a couch potato.