Getting Lost and Being Found

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I’ve cleaning and organizing our studio because that’s often what I end up doing in times when I’m stuck at home (such as the ridiculous amount of time we’ve been snowed in lately). Our house and all of her cupboards, closets and drawers have slowly been organized and sorted since I’ve moved in but never so much as lately. I can’t get enough of discarding the old, jaded and faded and replenishing with all things good and sometimes new. In this spare time I’ve also found extra moments to spend sorting through packages, boxes and files filled with photos, letters, nostalgia and clippings. Things I had forgotten about and things I had chocked up as gone — casualties in the divorce, move and hard reset of my life.

Wendy & I at Midland Antiques

Wendy & I at Midland Antiques

I’ve realized that in finding these fossils of my past life I’ve also found a part of myself that was neglected to the inner and outer war that has been going on since around age 15. Losing yourself teaches you a lot about the hardships and the long journey you have ahead of you to try to find yourself again. It teaches you about the you you always hoped and planned to be, the yous that you left behind and want to find, the yous that you’d prefer to grow apart from for the extent of your waking hours.

In realizing these things exist you find you have changed, your life has changed and quite possibly you have found the person you know you will be. I believe this happens to each of us a bit with every new year, we reflect. However, in my experience, unless a grand change is made resolutions will be forgotten and old habits will resurface.

I lost myself once and I am still looking for myself. Who I wanted to be as a young girl, the things I wanted to do and see, the life I wanted to live. I’d gotten so closed in, I magnified certain aspects of my goals and forgot about others. For instance, I wanted to get married and have a daughter but I forgot I had wanted the most grand love there ever was. I forgot that I didn’t want to just be content, that I wanted to experience pure love for a beautiful man, to experience a love like we hear about in fairytales only more real and passionate. Someone I didn’t want to change but someone whose love changed my life. I didn’t just want to have a child but I wanted to bring a child into a love-filled family of magical wonder, a magnificent home life and many adventures lined neatly with security and stability. With parents who love one another more than anything else, with siblings that give, teach, take and give some more.

by David Cunningham

by David Cunningham

I saw that I wanted to write. I found many old memoir notes and pages of manga dialogue, articles, fairytales and more. I lost the motivation in trying to do anything other than to fix things that were far too broken and then zoning out completely when they appeared impossibly broken.

I saw that my art was a major focus in my life, other than true love and family, and designing everything I do. I saw my plans for paintings, illustrations and web sketches; designs that never made it off the paper and into illustrator because I lost the ambition and self-esteem needed to go.

Now that I am finding myself in so many ways, I figured there were others that have lost important pieces along their journeys as well. Others that might need a little push to gather those pieces strewn along the ground and trudge on through their own adventure of finding their true, superior self. The self they are, were and wanted to be. What have you lost and found along the way?

Happy New Year.

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I’ve Since Been Crowned by Flowers and Love

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to update and felt free enough to explain a little of what has been going on in my life and all of the changes and struggles I have encountered. I felt very disappointed that my work and my blog fell to the wayside in the midst of this but my life was in dire need of most of my effort, the rest was given to love and support my little girl and my boyfriend (Mister Educated).

Although I can’t be too specific because it’s not appropriate and feels gross to put other’s private lives on a public blog, I can say the basics. My marriage fell apart in June. It had been falling apart for quite a while prior to that but it reached it’s breaking point in June. I’m not hurt about it anymore as I was when it happened, I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had and most importantly for the beautiful little girl myself and my ex share. If you met her I have no doubt that you would instantly smile from ear to ear. She is the kind of special soul that leaves a positive imprint on everyone she meets and everywhere she goes. She’s always happy and saying something very clever for her age or something completely silly and comical. She reminds me so much of myself when I was little and enjoys playing with miniatures in her doll house with her Sylvania cream cats, love all animals, loves painting and loves to be outside. She can find fun in most situations and is a ball of cuteness and sweetness.

I also started talking to another very special person in mid-August. This is a person I had cherished having met and being a friend of mine. He taught me a lot of valuable skills and ways to see the world and I openly considered him a mentor. I met him in 2003 in college but remained friends with him after graduation via short occasional chats online about our families and work. We decided to hang out after we began talking again in August and the connection we had was still there but things had changed quite a lot. The connection was less of a friendship and inspiration connection and more of a romantic connection. The attraction was almost unbearable and we couldn’t get enough of just hanging out and talking or going to dinner and laughing, everything we did together was a very uplifting experience for both of us at the most painful time in my life. A month went by and things became gradually more serious until in late-September when I moved in because he offered that I needed a safe place to get my new life in order and get back on my feet. Since then we have became not just star-crossed lovers and soul mates united, but a family. We have a gaggle of smart and beautiful children that adore each other and hanging out with us and we are both happier than we have ever been before and so thankful we were united at last.

Our home is a big, old house. Over 100 years old to be exact and my Mister (as I lovingly call him because we will not be publicly open until after everything is resolved sometime next year) spent most of his past free time fixing and remodeling every room, nook and cranny until we got serious and I began helping as well. It feels like such a positive environment as soon as you walk in the door and you feel a lightness that is created from love, effort and a million memories left from a happy family. The floors, stairs and accents are lovely and original hardwood, there are 4-stories including a finished basement and loft studio and our sparkly mint and latte fireplace we just rehabbed and intricately tiled is the heart of the home. There is a large, fenced-in backyard with gardens of all kinds and a play set for the children. The front has gardens, stones and red hedges to welcome passersby. There are two balconies, one amazing one off our bedroom and another unfinished as well as a big front porch. It is a big change going from apartment life to a antique mansion but I’ve adjusted quite nicely and I adore living here. I haven’t felt I had a home since I was a child and I feel through and through that this is my home and my long lost beautiful family, my cute 15-year-old house cat Hobbes included.

I am happy now. I have found my higher power and I don’t take any medications for anxiety or depression anymore, I don’t ever drink even recreationally or socially and I work towards a more healthy self daily. I still have struggles such as doing extremely trying self work and moving on completely and I recently found I have pre-cancer which I have been getting treated but I never thought it was possible for me to have what I have. It has been an IMMENSE amount of work thus far and still is as I am still not where I want to be. I’m rebuilding myself online yet again and offline as well in my new community. I adore the opportunities that continue to pour in and I very much missed blogging and doing designs especially for you. I am home now and I am back. Thanks for hanging in there on this long and bumpy ride. You wont regret it!

Some exciting things coming in the future that were put on hold over a year ago: kid-friendly projects and activities, more reviews, interviews and features, his and hers articles, the world according to us articles, more tasty and easy recipes, positive energy projects, diy and craft projects, kawaii kitty care articles, art features, more products in our new shop (officially open again!), pretty photo shoots and daily life shoots. Stay tuned!

Get Organized and More Productive with Apps

So I’ve recently become even more addicted to my iPhone (if that’s even physically possible) and it’s array of apps that just happen to make my life so much easier and more organized! Which is just what this article is going to focus on, getting organized and raising your productivity by using the little gadget that most of us love so much. So so much. I know you’ve been wanting me to publish this one for awhile because of the many times you ask me how I appear to stay on task in the midst of chaos and since I gave you my daily staples for happiness I figured next up should be my staples for productivity and organization. Together we’re going to excel in 2013 like never before! Do you feel me?

Some of the most important applications I need to include in my work days (and weekends as well) are simple and easily locatable in the App Store BUT being an Apple fan I’m going to assume that you, much like myself, prefer the finer things in life. The well designed, well written and most useful of the group no matter the cost. So my basic must haves for any day are: brain wave hacks or meditation music, a journal or scrapbook, a gratitude journal, a mood journal, a calendar, a task list, a notebook, a sketchbook, a daily schedule planner and obviously a camera which comes standard in all iPhones. Enjoy my list of top dogs I’ve carefully selected after using many other sub-par creations.

Audio: BrainHack 2.0 and Spotify
Audio and music are probably not important to everyone but they are must-haves for me. Whether I’m stressed and need to calm myself or get inspired a bit with a brainhack or if I just need some relaxing tunes to meditate to audio is a staple to my every day. Plus if you’re all about increasing productivity even in down time you can learn some new things as you commute by subscribing to some awesome Podcasts and radio programs.

A Journal: Evernote and Evernote Food
Everyone needs their go-to journal that’s easily accessible anytime they need to write what they’re feeling or any number of other things. The good thing about Evernote, the journal application I prefer, is that you can access, create and edit all of your notes on your computer, your iPad, your iPhone and even your Kindle or other android device. Evernote has also created a few other useful apps such as Evernote Food that is useful for organizing recipes, favorite dishes and restaurants you enjoy most and we all know how important food is to productivity and to having an enjoyable day! With Evernote, which happens to also be very clean and nice to look at, you can create as many notebooks as you like, attach photos, visually format your notes and attach locations as well. It’s very simple to use and you’ll only continue to think of new ways to use it. I adore it.

Gratitude Journal: Gratitude Journal by Happy Tapper
Very important to those of us who want to become happier and more aware of the good things we have in our life. In practicing gratitude daily you learn to be more thankful for the gifts you have been given and to overlook the problems you may be going through. With this app you also get a daily inspiring quote, you can rate your days, format your entries and attach a picture. This was one of my first favorite apps and I’ve been enjoying it for a long time!

Mood Journal: iMoodJournal
I originally decided to find a mood journal when my boyfriend asked if I had one. We figured, as any therapist will tell you, by recording your moods you’ll become more aware of bad mood triggers and will be able to track how your moods change throughout the day, week, month and year. This app allows you to rate your day, add as many notes and tags as you like and to attach a picture of your face. It even inspires me cheer up when I’m down and look through my positive mood days and photos of what a happy me looks like.

Calendar
I think it’s best to use Apple’s own calendar for this app as it is also the calendar that is on Apple computers. Plus many apps you’ll download for productivity will be designed to sync with your Calendar for optimal organization.

Notebook: Notes
I also use the default notebook for quick notes as it syncs with my computer and is an official Apple product.

Task List: Any.DO
I decided to look for a more friendly task list manager after I only continued to add tasks to the default Apple task list app, Reminders, and felt very overwhelmed that the tasks were not really organized in any way at a glance which was very overwhelming to me. I often have many tasks per day that I need to do and I really enjoy getting to cross them out on Any.Do which has predictive task writing and can target friends online or by phone per task as well as share tasks with another. It has tons of simple yet useful functions that make it my favorite list manager.

Sketchbook: Skitch
Every artist and designer needs a sketchbook on hand just in case words wont do it and you need a quick visual. Since I got tired of carrying around my lot of tiny notebooks and sketchbooks and even my purse most days I decided to add Evernote’s sketchbook to my list of go-to applications. Very useful for annotating photographs and graphics as well when you’re working on the go!

Daily Schedule Planner: Daily Routine
I most recently found this application and I am already in love. It’s beautiful, extensive and although it’s been said (look at the reviews) to be too tough to figure out I prefer it over every other planner. The visuals, features and options it has top all other daily schedule planners and when you spend a few minutes to figure out how to arrange your daily schedules you’ll love it. It can remind you of each new scheduled event during the day and can set the same schedule for every work day and a separate for weekdays or absolutely any other way you can imagine. Try it! It’s worth the cost.

Fun
I’m often asked what my favorite apps are just for entertainment. A few fun apps I enjoy using when taking a break or the work day is over are usually horoscope and spirituality apps, design apps, social media apps and more. I’ll add another article with my favorite apps for the beginning of 2013 soon! Our past app list is probably a bit outdated so keep your eyes peeled for a new one coming soon!

Phone Cases
Looking for a new, cute and productive phone case to go with your new array of amazing applications? We have them coming to our store very soon so stay tuned. Our custom cases have gotten so much praise that we’re in the midst of developing some really special ones for you. Stay tuned!

What helps you stay organized and more productive on and off work days?

Your Journal is Your Friend

If I told you what has been going on the past few months (April – present) you probably wouldn’t even believe me. Life-shattering events, depression over both my health (and my shoddy management of it) and many things I may never be able to admit. Let’s just say I have a lot of new and interesting material for that novel I’ve been writing off and on for years. Emotional pain is a horrible inspirational tool but it does tend to give artists new ideas and possibly even better work.

It seems whenever a terrible situation happens I revert back to journaling. I like to journal devastating events and situations because I know one day I’ll look back at those entries and see I made it through them. One day I’ll be in a much better place and it will make me feel so accomplished what I actually made it through — something that at one time seemed impossible for me to do or to handle. I also feel it’s important for one to keep a journal just simply so they can get a glimpse at a past self. We’re always changing and learning — sometimes seeing that change by looking back can help you decide where you’re headed next. Or just show you where you’re never headed ever again. Not only that but when you journal you release your emotions in a healthy way. Remember that no one (therapists excluded), no matter how much they love you, will be willing to deal with your constant venting and/or crying. Everyone faces problems in their life and everyone tends to assume their problems are more serious. Your journal, however, is always ready to hear more.

If there is something going on in your life causing unbearable pain and uncertainty do not give up on yourself or on obtaining your goals in life. Instead use it as a time to grow inside and to eventually become stronger and more prepared. Sometimes we need a shove to become the person we knew we could always be. Grieve, cry, get it all out, but do not give up. The more positive thinking you do (it’s ok to fake it — you’ll retrain your brain to think positive things and to leave the negative ones behind) and the more healthy changes you make will get you that much closer to manifesting your desires.

Soon we’re going to have more journal activities in which you will actually learn interesting facts about yourself and find more manageable ways to change and become the person you want to be inside. I look forward to journaling with you again. Keep your head up!

Art Journaling: Let’s Get Started!

I really adore art journals, ATCs (artist trading cards) and decorated mail. Don’t you? I love the time and effort that goes into creating them and the mixed-media collaging that tends to take place. I’m kind of new to the scene, I have to admit, and I was never much of a scrapbooker so I figured a great creativity challenge for myself would be to start an art journal.

Why don’t you start one with me? (If you already have one start a new one, we’ll be doing more spreads in the future.)

First off, if you don’t have a journal (I needed a new one) you’ll need to get one. Composition notebooks work great and they’re inexpensive. I’m using a small Moleskin because I like to do things small-scale. If you have an old notebook lying around with some old notes that you don’t need anymore feel free to use it. You can always cover the notes with paint, marker, paper and decorations.

You’ll also need to prepare the pages beforehand with gesso, glue sticks or rubber cement and maybe some Mod Podge to paint the page with when you’re finished?

Let’s start the journal off with a self-portrait or representation of you, your name and 5 things you love (this is to inspire your decorations!). For this spread you’ll need to cut out photos of things you love either via magazines or your printer, to find patterns on scrapbook paper and fabric that you like and a colorful selection of paint/markers/pens.

first art journal attempt

My list of 5 things I love was coffee/tea, hearts, stars, unicorns and Japanese candy. I am represented as Rainbow Brite because my brother wanted to name me that when I was born. Also, my name is in Katakana because once upon a time I left my heart in Japan.

How did yours turn out? Please email it to us so I can post it here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Non-Digital Art Journaling there’s a great article to get you started here and an AMAZING ecourse I just found out about (and that I really must participate in) here — looks like a great class to get your inspiration juices flowing and to learn a lot about yourself!

Here are some gorgeous journal pages I found while surfing Flickr to get you inspired.

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Art journal happiness
journal 07 10 11
ICAD #22
Oslo Travel Journal_Day 3
Art Journal Page

Keeping Up is Hard to Do

Found this tiny cactus at the supermarket, repotted it, put it under a sunlamp and it bloomed, best dollar ever spent!

Every time I start to write a post lately I psych myself out of it. Like one single post is a huge, uncompletable task. My medication seems to make me feel calm and completely, utterly uninspired. I’m very close to konking myself on the head just to knock something loose from my pre-medicated, crazy and endlessly inspired days. I couldn’t be sure I was going to make it through the day but I sure did produce content like no one’s business.

However content can be anything really.. it can be a diary post, a tutorial, a recipe, images, a collection of links, an article, etc. What is your favorite type of content?

Making Things and Sticking to Resolutions



Have you been living a whimsical life? Turning your inspirations into new and wonderful creations? I’ve been making some things lately for our Etsy store and it relieves my stress so much! If you haven’t taken time out for crafting and diy lately now’s a great time to do it. Always improve your world. <3 I'm going to be making some new resolutions to follow. Things I know I can do if I just challenge myself to do them. Who says New Years Day is the only time we can create resolutions? 1. Take more photos and include many more photos/images in posts. 2. Start a few new features and maintain some old favorites. 3. Have more fun.
4. Create more.
5. Start journaling again.
6. Lose weight and get fit.
7. Create digital scrapbook pages by year for Colette.
8. Organize organize organize and do a major Spring Clean.

What are some resolutions you’d like to stick to?

Late Night Musings: Who Are You Changing For?

People don’t tend to realize this, but loneliness…It’s underrated. Severely so. We, as people, don’t like to be alone. Just the term itself can make some of us feel instantly depressed, just a little at the least.
But, the way I see it…The only reason anyone would dislike being alone is because they don’t like who they’re alone with.
Because then, there’s nothing to distract you from your own thoughts.
Your own fears.
Your own guilt.
Your secrets.
Your uncertainty.
And all the things that keep you up at night.
We truly are our own worst enemies.

Lately- and I suppose I use the term loosely- it’s felt like the whole world was falling apart, that hardly anything adds up to something steady and I… Well I’ve never really had a clue what to do. So I overcompensate with silly things. Acting obnoxious at any given social gathering, making bad jokes, diving into work projects (such as theater) -some of which I hadn’t shown any interest in before (such as mock trial)- and most of these remunerations involve being around other people.

Concisely, I really like myself alone. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a trait i have that is reverse of most people, because I still have to sit and solve all the same troubles I mentioned above, but not feeling the need to make restitution outweighs said anxieties by far.

I’ve noticed that all of my written works reflect an entirely different person then the ashli jade that most people are accustomed to and I guess that’s the most concrete proof of this concept.

Maybe that’s the case with a lot of people.

The question is: Why are we afraid to be our ‘alone’ self in a social gathering? What are we hiding behind, and more importantly… why?

Thankful for Monday: Feeling Wonky

Hello, candylanders! Fear not for I did not and could not forget you. *majorsensoryoverload* My time is much more precious with baby girl around, I feel she deserves every waking moment and I seem to have no problem at all giving them to her!

hair bun
I’ve started a new artist project and have been scanning my old sketch/inspiration book.

Changes

Life always changes.. and the past sometimes seems amazing when you try to reminiscence about it.. but in reality you had problems then too. When you’re thinking about how wonderful things used to be you’re probably only focusing on the negatives now.. what what about the positives? I have to say I love changes because although I think I hate them and would want to be a child of the 80s forever — they’re amazing. Life changes all the time and you just have to enjoy each and every part… You only live them once!

You're my Candy Bunny
A print I made for Colette before she was born.

Japanese Fashion Magazines

So I’ve been away from all of my goodies (aka: loot) for quite awhile now.. it’s all still boxed and labeled nicely in storage until we move. I miss it so much! I’m probably going to do an *obsessedwithjunk* post when we move and photo-shoot everything I always took for granted!

I again remember why I miss Japan and the life I had there.. so amazing and filled with health, good food and happiness. The magazines take me back to a time when I surrounded myself with everything adorable, bright and colorful so that I wouldn’t focus on the bad. I tried to focus on cute things that made me feel happy (my Hello Kitty and Sanrio goodies go back to 1981!) and squeal. Japan makes that world of cute lifestyle real to me, I feel so at peace and home when I’m sleeping there.

On a really materialistic note I miss the stores, clothes, magazines and food a lot, too. These magazines are like rainbow soup for my candy-lovers soul.

Sketching

I love sketching once more. When I started painting again recently for a show I found my sketching skills as shaky as ever and I decided to start perfecting them again for this artist feature I’m participating in. I cannot WAIT to show you because I have some great ideas!
😉 I’m doing a sort of a scrapbook in my notebooks as well.

Cotton Candy

I think that with a name like fairy floss this candy pretty much speaks for itself. It’s sweet and flavored (if you’re lucky) sugar melted and dried by a cooling fan. Usually it’s melt-on-your-fingers pink and lick-your-lips blue. I had to go to the local fair recently to snag a monster-sized bag, no questions asked!

FAMILY

The little family I have makes me happiest of all. If I didn’t have them I would be a lot crazier than I am now! 😉 Ben has always been amazing to me and Colette makes me smile more than I ever thought I could! Everyday with them is the best day.

psychedelicake
Old inspiration sketch.

Three Things That Aren’t Worth Crying About and Why

“Your To-Do List, is crying on there? If not then get busy.”
– Glamour Magazine

I truly cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve crumbled under the weight of all of the things I scribbled on my on-going ‘to-do list.’ It seemed like my life was run by a piece of scratch paper folded in my pocket. We know that it’s common, that it happens to all girls, but that doesn’t lighten the load in the slightest.

Well, not too long ago, someone mentioned something called a ‘Get To-Do List.’ Self explanatory, writing down all of the things that we get to do. And it definitely helps put your priorities in place and appreciate all of things that you get, and unknowingly take for granted.

clock

Get To-Do List

1. Go to the gym
Because: I have working legs and arms I get to work out.
Because: Nothing health-wise prevents me from working out. Some people don’t have limbs to run with or arms to lift weights with. I’m so glad I’ve been blessed with this opportunity.
2. Clean the house
Because: I’m fortunate enough to have a roof over my head, a house to clean and things to clean up.
3. Finish that term paper
Because: I’m fortunate enough to be able to get an education. Most of the people in the world don’t get to go to school and learn things. Even though it’s not always the most interesting way to spend my time, an education is such a precious privilege of mine.
4. Do laundry
Because: I have clothes and things to wash those clothes in. Some people wear rags. Or nothing.

See the difference between this and your regular list?

Boys (or Girls). Period.

We’ve all done it., sobbed into our pillow because a boy (or girl) broke our heart. Your chest literally hurts. And as cliché as it sounds, the truth is that it’s never ever worth it.

If he completely rejects you, then it’s probably for the best. Does it hurt to feel rejected? Certainly. But it hurts so much more to be in a one-sided relationship, or to be used. Besides, he’s obviously not worth it if he can’t even see what a wonderful pair you two would make like you do. That being said, there are most certainly cases where said boy is genuinely looking out for the best interest of everyone involved. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, the boy says so not because the attractions not there, but because he knows he’s not ready and it’s not fair to either of you to pursue a relationship. Point being, if he’s straightforward and honest, it may hurt, but it’s no reason to cry. Shake it off, it happens to everyone.

If he leaves you for another (yes, even your best friend)/cheated on you, definitely not worth the water works. Why would you cry over someone so immature and downright cruel? No one like that should have power over how you feel. And as for the girl, should she be someone close to you, she obviously doesn’t have concern for your feelings, and youmight want to reevaluate your friendship.

If you never got your chance with him, there’s probably a reason for that. While I do believe that there are ” ones who got away”, I also believe in fate, and that it will eventually bring you to whoever you belong with when you are both ready. So if you feel like you never had a shot, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe you should direct your focus elsewhere and wait for fate to take it’s course.

Spilled Milk

If you can’t fix it, there’s a reason for that. Move on and look toward the future.