Category: Jamie’s Creative Life

Studio Diaries: Schedules, Home & Cats

 

Studio Diary: Friday January 11, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

Cat in the Hood

Just when I thought I was scaling the mountains of busy-ness, it turned out I was a mountain to be scaled! In the midst of a very full and demanding week, this magical moment happened. I was out for a walk delivering some important letters to do with our reno when I met this sweet tabby. Just as I was kneeling down to get closer, he walked right up my back and settled in! It was as though he were thoroughly ready for me to take him for a ride! What a joy. This was truly one of the most memorable “cats in the hood” experiences ever!

The Studio Yearbook

It’s hard to believe but it’s already time to start working on the spring edition of the Studio Yearbook. Now that we’ve completed our first year’s cycle, we’re making some changes – not to the yearbook itself but to how we share it with the world.

Every season since its inception, we’ve chosen one growing edge to focus on with each yearbook. For example, in the fall season I learned how to print postage from the studio instead of having to take boxes and boxes to the post office in my granny cart. That was particularly good for the winter edition!

We’re always trying to improve and we’re always trying to grow. There are a million things on my list of possibilities for what we can do to nourish the yearbook and its community. It’s hard to not try to do it all at once! But one thing I’ve learned from plate-spinning is to get one thing going smoothly before you add the next.

The Reno

As we prepare for the reno and, like everyone else, as I binge watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I am focusing on the things that are truly near and dear to my heart, like Otis.

On one of our early anniversaries, Justin and I walked into a toy store and each bought one thing. He ended up with little red binoculars and I fell in love with a sweet bunny puppet I named Otis. He accompanied us on the rest of our date. He talked to kids on the streetcar and had his own seat at dinner. Now I even have a portrait painting of me and Otis. (Thanks, Shannon!)

He’s a little worse for the wear but he’s a keeper for sure.

And speaking of the reno, I am just so happy right now! We’re a few weeks away from the committee meeting which will determine whether we can go ahead with the reno in the way that we would like to. One thing that can impact our chances greatly is letters of support from neighbours – and we got one!  I hadn’t been too hopeful, honestly, but now I am beaming with gratitude. Thank you to our neighbours and to the Universe too – and maybe even to that little tabby who blessed my letter-delivery outing!

My Schedule

Ah… writing that makes me realize how often I use that strategy, including moving into the season. This week was my first full-time week in the Studio, including returning to the BTS. Next week, I start working with my coaching clients. The next week Mindful Mondays and Journal Club begin. The next week the Studio Yearbook should be available and Awakening begins. Throughout all of this, I am trying to work with a new schedule, one that puts my priorities in focus and makes sure I include my practices in the mix.

Already I see what’s most likely to get dropped (my writing) and what things are fairly established (basic home tending).  I also see how often I want to veer away from the schedule. Most times it’s simply habit that tries to pull my attention away.  I have some things built-in to the schedule that are helping. Let’s say I want to check my email or social media. I know I have two times during the day that are dedicated to that. It’s easy to say no when I’m really just saying, “Not yet.”

Even though I’m still experiencing the discomfort of trying to adhere to something new and rigorous, I am also feeling the benefits. I was very productive in the studio this week – plus I did get to my meditation, yoga and writing way more than I have in ages. I also managed to have a couple of lovely quiet nights, getting to bed early and even *gasp* having a bit of time to read.

It’s still an adjustment but all of these things seem to suggest I am on the right road.

Feel the Love

And nothing caps off a Friday better than cat videos and Sarpur Duman’s YouTube channel and/or Instagram feed is a rabbit hole that I am more than happy to explore.  The joy is never-ending!

Studio Diaries: The Day that Got Away

Studio Diary: Tuesday, January 8, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

The Funny Shape of Productivity

The overarching theme of today is getting bumped off track. This morning after filming the first BTS of the season, I discovered a technical problem with all of my domains and had to go down the well of tech support in order to get it resolved. Just like that, the rest of the morning was lost.

Then we got an email rejection letter from the city for our reno and were sent in a tizzy!! Luckily it turned out to be simply a revision of the original refusal letter but, just like that, my focus was lost!

Those bumps and bruises continued to arrive and by the end of the day, I felt a pummeled. It seemed that I had gotten nothing done. I have two practices that revealed to me that this was simply not true: daily check-ins with a friend and my “Day in the Life” file.

Every morning and evening I have a daily text check in with my dear friend Kim. We tell each other what we plan to get done in the day ahead and then share what we actually managed to do. We each give the other gold stars for every accomplishment.

I also keep a running file called “A Day in the Life” where I note all of my activities during the day. I originally called this practice “My Day at Work.” I set it up when I became an entrepreneur so that I could have some perspective on what the “right” amount of work was to get done in a day. It was instrumental in being able to declare my work day complete. With the upcoming reno and some other new priorities, I’ve decided not to limit it to work activities but to record life stuff too.

Today both the check-ins and the A Day in the Life practice helped me see that despite not accomplishing what I had set out to achieve, I did get a whole heck of a lot done.

Inspiration

Last night right before I went to bed I had two big thoughts, one about Studio Diaries and one about blogging.

Studio Diaries: I’ve been wanting to come back to Studio Diaries for years and make them a regular part of my practice. I’ve had all sorts of different ideas about how to approach this and many different reasons to be unsure of how to start. As I sit down to do this writing and sharing I realize once again, you can’t know what something wants to be until you start creating it! That moment of inspiration has just enough juice and info to get you started but not enough to provide a blueprint. You must start and try and experiment and listen and it will slowly but surely become what it is meant to be. You have to be willing to risk, to get messy and to be in process. As the creator, your job is to listen to the inspiration, get into action and step-by-step follow the path as it lies before you. I am here.

Blogging: Many times and with many people I have lamented the loss of the early days of blogging, the days when people were sharing from their heart not from their marketing strategy, when bloggers were actual people not influencers, where we could be a community of creatives finding one another around the world. Yesterday my perspective shifted from mourning to blessed when I realized how lucky I am that I found blogging when I did, that I was able to experience that unique moment in time, a time when blogging was raw, real and a lively frontier, where everyone was making it up as they went.

As with so many things, I’m realizing the key is to be filled with gratitude for the experience without trying to hold onto it or resenting its departure. Life moves on. Things grow and change. It’s natural and inevitable. Blogging (or anything else, for that matter) cannot remain stagnant – nor should it!  There are blessings in its new iterations too! Instead, what can serve as a constant, is the love we have of the qualities that made that time or that thing special – in the case of blogging: sharing from the heart, creative community, the realness and risk of being on the frontier. All of that magic can (and will) simply take new form.

Rainbows

So, in the midst of a wonky day, there was still insight and productivity. There was even an actual rainbow! Even better than that, I was able to yell downstairs to my sister Suzie that she should come up and share in this beautiful sight. It reminded me of when she was just a little girl and someone named “Mr Rainbow” phoned her and asked her to step outside and say hi to him, which she promptly did. I wonder who that might have been?

I guess there are some things that don’t change.

Suzie

Studio Diaries: Back in the Studio

Studio Diary: Monday, January 7, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

In the Studio

Today was my first full-time day back in the studio with the out-of-office message officially off.  It was a busy day but the beautiful thing was that at several points throughout the day there were affirmations about some core ideas I have moving forward. I always trust those synchronicities and let them guide the way. It’s great to come back and feel on-target and on-mission.

Planning

As I sat down to get clear on my priorities and plans for this week, I found myself pushing a little bit. I stopped and simply returned to our Mindful Mondays practices of starting with meditation and journaling, imagining the week that I want to create and then building my plans around that. Much better! I felt instantly more grounded and, in fact, that inspired my touchstone word of the week: grounded. That’s exactly what this week is about for me – getting grounded in the studio, my schedule and my practices so that I can build a beautiful and successful year on that!

Schedule

I’m continuing to work with a new daily schedule, trying to refine it until it feels just right.  Today I did not get my morning writing in and I felt its absence. This affirmed for me an earlier wake-up time is important. Holidays are over :)

But even though the holidays are over… I did have a gingerbread man to enjoy with my tea!

Food

And speaking of food, one of my goals this year is to establish a lovely set of nutrition-rich, tasty recipes that work for our household. Everyone’s needs and tastes are different but I hope to get a good roster happening and have been doing some experimenting. The best resource by far has been Pinch of Yum. Every recipe has been a hit, including tonight’s Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo.  It took about the estimated 45 minutes to prepare and was quite straightforward. Tempering the egg mixture was the only tricky bit but, honestly, it was just a matter of taking it slow and steady. The result was a delicious and creamy soup that would be a win for anyone who likes lemon-dill flavours.

Art

I am so excited by Carla Sonheim’s one-year course for 2019: Year of the Collage!! It’s being taught by Carla, Lynn Whipple and Ann Marie Grgich. I have studied with and learned so much from each of them. I can hardly wait to get started. Just one more sleep.

 

Studio Diary: Experiments & New Beginnings

Studio Diary: January 6, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

The Studio

I’m officially wrapping up holidays and ready to get back into the studio full-time. I’m excited about the season ahead and ready to return to my regular practices – starting the week with intention with Mindful Mondays, wrapping up the week with the wonderful women of Journal Club. I’ve also got a new project – a brand new class that’s all about dance: Awakening. It’s been awesome doing “research” by playing songs and moving and grooving around the house! I cannot wait to share this experience and hope that lots of people will sign up and welcome dance into their life this February!

A Clothing Challenge

Friday nights are sister time and this week Suzie, Shannon and I took on a clothing challenge. Could we go to Value Village and buy an entire outfit for just $20? I shared the experience live on Instagram Stories and am currently writing a post about the process – how we did and what we discovered. It was interesting to see how looking for an outfit changed our approach to shopping!

The Reno

This category is bound to start showing up more and more in the days ahead. On Saturday Justin and I went out to a local coffee shop with our notebooks and started exploring our plans for the house in much greater detail. Over coffee we plotted out our entire main floor from flooring to trim to lighting. Now we’re deep into researching banquettes and gas fireplaces!

We were also playing around with the idea of some additional walls (Yes, even though everyone loves open-concept, it’s not necessarily our thing) so I popped into Value Village again and bought a $4.50 King-size sheet that we could pin up as if it were a wall. It gave us a quick impression and helped us experience what it would feel like if that new wall was there. This experiment resulted in a “no” for one location and a “yes” for another. Progress!

We’re also experimenting with furniture layouts throughout the house so that we can plan based on what’s working for us. On Sunday we flipped the living room around entirely!! Couches, lighting, the television – everything was moved into a new location and lots of sweeping and dusting was done! At first the change felt awkward and I was thoroughly unconvinced but bit by bit, as we solved problems and came up with ideas, the room started to come together in a new formation.

With each layout there are wins and losses. In the new setup, we gain ease in the flow of traffic through the room (a priority for Justin), the seating is tucked away in a more private spot (I liked this a lot) and the one window we have becomes more of a focal point for everyone. On the other hand, we lose some seating (a concern for me) and too easy flow through the room might make it feel more like a hallway than a cozy welcoming space! We’ll keep it this way for a while and see how our opinions shake out. I certainly found myself liking it more than expected.

Justin has a real gift for setting up spaces and this change was all him. My contribution was honestly simply being open to the change! Now… I can’t say the cats feel the same!

Studio Diary: Winter Wardrobe

Studio Diary: January 3, 2018

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

Winter Wardrobe

One of my goals this holiday season was to get out and fill in the gaps of my current winter wardrobe and today was the day!  Over the past several years I have been changing my approach to fashion, inspired a bit by the concept of a capsule wardrobe.  I’ve also recently been blown away by stylist Christie Ressel‘s concept of the “module.” A module is a group of clothes that all mix and match. It includes an outer layer, 3 tops and 2 bottoms. Those 6 pieces will give you 12 outfits! You could create a “work” module and a “home” module. You could create an “artist’s” module, a “polished casual” module, whatever you like.

The main thing that both the capsule and module approach have taught me is to think in terms of outfits and to be sure that everything coordinates well. Instead of falling in love with a piece of clothing, I try to fall in love with my wardrobe as a whole! How will that piece contribute to the big picture? Will it add to it beautifully? Open up new possibilities? Sit all alone because it has no one to play with?

It helps to be clear on your colours. I know to stick with cool tones and focus on black, grey and white with a splash of metallics, sparkle, blue and pink. Each season I think about choosing a colour I’d like to focus on or add to the mix. Last winter it was teal. This season I’m just loving my greys.

I took some time to get clear on what was missing from my winter wardrobe: a pair of nice pants, a couple of sweaters and maybe a pair of rough-and-tumble short boots. A quick look at my Pinterest style board reminded me to stick with simple, clean and elegant styles – with a hint of drama (of course). I want to stay true to my style, to have clothes that fit and flatter and to be able to put together outfits for a variety of occasions with ease.

It never takes long to realize that it’s easier said than done! I tried on dozens of clothes that were a quick no (some that didn’t even make it all the way on) and some that were a “well, maybe.”  I was just about to resign myself to the latter when I found an outfit that I just loved.

It’s not that the pieces are tremendously exciting on their own; it’s that when I tried them on, I felt like me. I had that *zing* of looking in the mirror and thinking, “There I am!” I don’t mean that it felt familiar. It’s not a relaxed, leaning back feeling but a shiny, uplifted feeling. It’s what Marie Kondo calls “sparking joy”. This outfit definitely did it!

Not only did I buy the pants and the shirt but that *zing* made me reevaluate everything else I was considering. It allowed me to set a new standard. If my reaction had been, “Yeah that’s okay” or “I can make that work,” I let it go. I’ve been getting by with the clothes that I have so getting new pieces wasn’t urgent. I could take my time with the process. I learned the importance of wardrobe patience years ago when I worked with stylist Safina Khimani. She took it in stride that 98% of what we looked at wasn’t for me. Where we so often internalize that this is an indicator that there is something wrong with us, that we don’t ‘fit’ with the norm, she took it as a matter of course. We are one wildly unique diamond in the world; it makes sense that we’ll have to search for the just-right setting!

I left with five pieces, all in my colours: a cozy grey sweater, a sexy black top, a slightly dressy pair of plaid pants, a comfy pair of black jeans that fit and some flexible blue leggings. I felt so inspired by these pieces and the new standard I was aiming for that I cleared out my closet and put back only items that I loved, that fit and that I plan to wear this winter. We’ll see how it goes.

It’s all a part of taking January’s message in the Studio Yearbook to heart!

Studio Diary: Starting the Year with Focus

My Studio Diary: January 2, 2019

My Studio Diaries gather raw and real inspirations and insights of life in my studio. They are not finished pieces but works in progress intended to let you in to the world of this one creative heart.

It’s always exciting to step into the New Year, to start to feel the energy and character of the time ahead. Since celebrating this last Winter’s Solstice, something has felt different, like I have moved from one phase of my life into another. Instead of the resistance and agitation I have experienced with the changes over the past several years, now it simply feels right. What a relief!

Vision Cards & Focus Areas

This shift brought a particularly wonderful energy to my yearly tradition of creating Vision Cards between Christmas and New Year’s.  Each card is like a mini dreamboard for the Focus Areas of my life, the priorities I have actively chosen for the year ahead. My focus areas for 2019 are:

The Studio
Home
Self
Love
Art
Writing
Life
Connection
Well-Being
Enrichment
Beauty
Do Good

Most of these categories have been with me for years but for the first time in a long time there are some absolute newbies. Welcome, Enrichment and Beauty! I’m so glad you are here.

This year I also incorporated Vision Cards into the Winter Yearbook so that people could have a chance to explore their Focus Areas in this way and have a beautiful home for them too. I created mine on large index cards, as I always do, but then scanned and printed them so I could add them to my yearbook. I am already loving flipping through and revisiting these touchstones. It’s helping me feel wonderfully grounded as I build the year ahead.

My New Schedule

After all the work of Planning Day and Vision Cards, I feel very clear on 2019. I want to also be clear on how I can spend my time in a way that supports those plans and so I have been working on my schedule. I started by looking through all that I had written and pulling out the things I wanted to do on a daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly basis. Then I tried to figure out how I could make that happen. I started with the dailies. I assigned each task an estimated time and then assigned each one a time of day. I quickly noticed how full my days became and that gave me a clue that my plans might be unrealistic. I decided to work with the schedule for a week or two, adjusting as I go, until I can figure out how to get it to fit just right. Today was the first day and honestly, it was uncomfortable – and I’m not even back in the Studio full-time! The discomfort might mean my plans are overly ambitious and need to be adjusted or it might be the normal discomfort of change. I did manage to get a lot done!

Though I am not a huge fan of the word ‘balance,’ (I tend to like a little more verve and excitement than that word evokes) I do know that at the end of the day, when I put my head on my pillow, I feel best and sleep best when I managed three things: I got something done, I had time to relax and I was able to do something that I wanted to do.  For me this triad represents a balanced day of work, rest and play. I managed that today.

Constellation Cloche

Home

The biggest project in the year ahead is our total home renovation. It looks like we finally have a date for our plans to go to committee: January 23rd. If all goes well, we should be packing and moving in February-March and starting work on the house in April.  If this schedule plays out, we’ll be moving into this just as the Studio transitions to the spring-summer season. This should hopefully allow me to set a manageable schedule.

In the meantime, Justin and I are dreaming, researching, planning and hoping. Over the holidays I created a Mood Board and that really helped us make sure we are on the same page. Two people can easily say, “clean lines” and “comfortable” without meaning the same thing! I gathered several images from Pinterest and put them together in OneNote. When I showed it to Justin he said, “Yes, that’s it exactly.” Yes!

Our overarching desire is to create a sense of “home.” What that looks like is different for everyone and we are discovering what it means for us. We know that we want it to be simple and elegant and also to feel inviting and comfortable.

As we make plans and think about our home, our lives and our things, it’s just perfect that Netflix has added Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to their schedule. I’ve watched a couple of episodes and been primarily moved by what it means to honour what we have – and what we let go of. Marie’s approach inspired me to take a seat on our landing and connect to our home, to tell her how much we appreciate her and how she has sheltered us and our loved ones. I acknowledged the limits of our care and our hope to do better and introduced the plans for our renovation and how we deeply wanted to honour her identity as a 100-year-old house. (It’s her birthday this year.) It felt good and right and I look forward to continuing to build our relationship with this house as we discover more and more how to create a sense of home.

Movement

One of the core practices of my Well-Being Focus Area is moving my body. I’m a very kinesthetic person but the majority of my work involves sitting at a desk. It’s important that I work in activities to get myself moving and grooving.  Since my gym closed last year, I have had a hard time finding the next right thing but one thing that is a definite blessing in my life is a regular “Walk & Listen”. Getting out for a walk, no matter the weather, and listening to an audiobook has enriched my life so deeply. Not only is the physical activity great, but I am finally engaged in books again! I had virtually stopped reading because I just couldn’t find the time plus I didn’t want to add one more sedentary activity to my list!  Today not only did I get out and enjoy a book but also I experienced the beauty of new falling snow and the beauty of many, many lights and holiday decorations in the neighbourhood. This activity manages to check off many of my Focus Areas: well-being, enrichment, beauty and life!

Food

When I got back from my walk, it was time to make dinner. After the indulgences of the holiday season, it’s good to get back to focusing on healthier choices. Even though it feels like a summer meal, we made a recent family favourite: Greek Bowls with Meatballs over Couscous from Life Tastes Good. Justin was enthusiastic with the meatballs and so we had enough to freeze and enjoy another day.

That’s a Wrap

I finished my night with a hot cup of tea and some planning for what remains of the week. Though I am still officially on holidays, I am aware of how much is coming in the days ahead. I couldn’t sleep until I wrote down my core priorities: Awakenings, creating the spring Studio Yearbook and preparing for the reno hearing. Once I was clear that those were the projects that required my time and attention for the coming weeks, I felt more at ease and able to draw the day to a close.

Celebrating My Birthday

I had a truly wonderful birthday celebration this year and I want to remember every minute! Justin and I continued our regular tradition of taking our birthday’s off together and making a whole day of it. In fact, we start our celebrations the night before by going out for dinner.

This year we went to Woodlot, which is down in our old College Street neighbourhood. It’s a cozy place – dark, warm, welcoming – and has wonderful food. It’s just perfect for celebrating a winter’s birthday. I even tipped my hat to the season by ordering a cocktail called an Ice Dragon.

In the morning we headed down to the Beaches. It’s been our birthday tradition almost since we first moved out to the east end of the city and discovered that with a short bus ride or a long walk we can make it to this wonderful area of the city.

The cold has rarely held us back from our waterfront visit. In fact blustery snowy days have created some of our best memories! This year it was the dazzling sunlight on the lake. Spectacular!

Then we headed to Shannon’s for one of my favourite birthday celebrations ever. We booked a Pet Party with Pawsitively Pets. Though this event is generally for children, they were happy to celebrate with us. They bring a wide range of rescued exotic animals who enjoy being social for an interactive and educational hour of utter joy.

First we met Caesar, the Sengal Parrot you see on Shannon’s hand. He was a charmer, sitting on each of our shoulders! Parrots can live to be 75 years old and so are a very long-term commitment as a pet. They are smart, social and also particular. Just like people, they don’t take to everyone, though clearly we didn’t have that issue with this beauty!

Next we met Pearl, a miniature angora rabbit, who was gentle, sweet and so very soft.

photo by Shannon Ridler

Then we met Rosie the albino hedgehog, who seemed a bit nervous to see us. We were amazed by her and her protective spines. She can curl up into a ball to keep herself safe.

Have you ever heard of a sugar glider? We hadn’t until we met Peppermint. These marsupials are tiny and happy to be carried around in a cozy little pouch. They have a membrane that runs between their wrists and their ankles that allows them to stretch out and glide through the air! Amazing!

Then there was Kevin, the bearded dragon. Do you know that many lizards find they need new homes when they are about 8 years old? Parents often buy them as pets for their 10-year-old sons. Then those boys generally keep their lizard until it’s time to move out or head off to university – when they are about 18.  That’s what happened to Kevin.  We were so glad to meet him. He had such a lovely presence and his stillness created such a sense of calm in the room, giving me a new appreciation of lizards. Thanks, Kevin!

Many people have ferrets like Libby for pets. Apparently they behave a lot like cats – they can even use the litter! Though they will also crawl into any little nook or cranny in your home! They can get into just about anything. They also have a very distinctive smell. In fact, we each got to take a moment to smell the musky, earthy, slightly sweet scent of a ferret. How many people can say they did that for their birthday?!

Then there was Romeo. Honestly, what can I say about Romeo, the 40-pound python?! I almost didn’t put him down as an option for the party but I thought, when are you going to have an opportunity like this? I was sure to ask everyone if they felt comfortable with encountering a snake and I’m so glad we all said yes. Romeo opened my mind to the beauty of snakes. He was all grace and muscle. I honestly feel transformed by being able to hold this magnificent creature.

We ended our visit with the gregarious George, a double yellow headed Amazon parrot. What a beauty!! She was quite a talker throughout our entire visit but held back her big number until right at the end. Just as she was heading out the door she sang out the last line of This Little Piggie, “Wee wee wee wee all the way home.”

What a glorious celebration! I am so thankful for this experience. I will remember and treasure each moment forever.