End-of-Summer Adventures & Dreams

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It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over.  I’ve been in a bit of a dreamy place the last week or so, and in the midst of that, I put together two new moodboards that capture some of those thoughts and dreams.

The first one (above) is more end-of-summery, while the second one (below) is more in anticipation of fall and all that fall might bring.

Together they show a heart filled with plans for adventure, dreams  of making art, and taking risks for God.summersend

I could write quite a bit about each image and what it means to me right now, but I think I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

 

(Image sources found here, here, here; “Seek the Unfamiliar” from Sseeko Designs; Lucky Bean Coffee from their FB page)

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AN INSPIRED SEASON | The Joy of Everyday Adventures

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Tuesday, July 21st. // Write about one of the best adventures you’ve had so far in this season.

I have a whole category about adventuring on the blog. I love it. And originally, when I thought about answering today’s prompt, I I thought I would talk about a recent adventure, something super current in this season of mine — or maybe one of the more exciting adventures I’ve lived like my trip to California, or doing my internship in New York City.

But then I was reminded of one day and one small adventure that just may have been the start of my love of everyday adventures, of exploring right where I am, and living in the present moment fully.

And that’s when I decided that’s the story I wanted to tell.

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This story takes us all the way back to my college days. I can’t even remember what day of the week it was, but I do remember my journalism assignment was to go check out an art show opening and write about it.

So, I hopped in my car with my MapQuest directions (hello, pre-GPS days…), and I drove to a small town about 45 minutes to an hour away from my university. Some of the details of the day are fuzzy, so forgive me if I mix up their order, but I do remember finding the art show, wandering around the opening, and loving every second. I pored over the artwork and the descriptions of each,  took lots of notes, gathered inspiration, and began working out sentences in my head for the article I would later write. I remember being filled with energy (perhaps that is also when my love for  discovering art began…)

Instead of leaving after covering the art opening, I decided to explore the town. I remember wandering up and down the main street, ducking into an antique shop or two, eating at a local restaurant, while going over story notes, and then I think I may have even sampled the town’s local coffee shop. (I can’t imagine I’d have skipped out on that.) In fact, that may have happened on the way TO the opening. Who can be sure… ;)

It’s funny, because I had this adventure pre-iPhone, so I don’t have Instagram shots to capture the day. I can’t remember the name of the coffee shop, or the restaurant, or the antique shop. I can’t even remember clearly the art I saw that day, or who had created it.

I do remember how much that day inspired me, though, how it made me want to create more, explore more, experience more. It made me want to tell the stories of those experiences and discoveries, too. I couldn’t wait to share the stories of those artists, what had moved them to create and what those creations were sharing with me and with the world.

It’s funny to think now how little pieces of the woman I am today were being formed on that seemingly normal day back in college.

Looking back, I can also see how God has only furthered developed each of those pieces, and it’s pretty spectacular to think about. They may seem like tiny, insignificant details, but in God’s hands, they’ve become meaningful moments in the greater story, stepping stones in a creative journey.

I wish I knew where that story was and what I had written…maybe I can find it in my portfolio someday and revisit everything in more detail.

But for now, it’s enough remembering — even if it’s all a little fuzzy.

Even though so much time has passed, I’m still grateful I didn’t just do my assignment as quickly as possible. I’m grateful I lingered and explored and learned more about that little town. More than anything, though, I’m grateful I realized that day what a joy everyday adventures can be and how much there is to discover and appreciate right where we are, right where God’s placed us.

Because the truth is, even the little moments are leading us somewhere good.

::art source::

An Inspired Season | The Single Girl’s Bucket List

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Today, I’m bringing you the third installment of the #AnInspiredSeason collaboration with Bailey of Brave Love!

Today’s topic: BUCKET LISTS! :)

Over the years, I have written bucket lists of all kinds (birthday bucket lists, dream bucket lists, holiday and seasonal bucket lists etc.), but this is the first time I am actually writing a Single Girl’s Bucket list.

And I could not be more excited to share it with you!

An Inspired Season is all about embracing and celebrating life RIGHT where you are… And singleness? Well, that’s a pretty big part of where I am these days, so why not have a bucket list specifically dedicated to the opportunities such a season provides? :)

I had a blast brainstorming these ideas! Dreaming up some new adventures that don’t require waiting for future seasons really helped me look forward with hope and appreciate right where God has me.

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  • See an outdoor movie this summer
  • Sample the new vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream at Scoops
  • Try purchasing my weekly bread from a local bakery as recommended in 100 Days of Real Food
  • Eat brunch at Townhall (hello, sweet potato pancakes & crepe bar!!)
  • Start making connections at craft shows and begin collaborating with local creative makers to help them tell the stories of their products and businesses
  • Promote and share new collaboration idea above
  • Cook with more veggies! Follow Real Food guidelines as much as possible
  • Take a trip to Nashville this fall
  • Explore the local restaurant scene with my sister (there’s a pizza place we are especially excited to try!)
  • Attend a local mum festival this fall
  • Clean out my art supplies and donate what I don’t need
  • Attend the Cleveland Flea’s Sunday Market (what’s better than brunchy foods, crafty stuff, and antiques?!)
  • Purchase a retro swimsuit from Rey Swimwear
  • Invest in a large canvas or art print of this piece from Naptime Diaries
  • Read books that challenge, teach, and inspire me
  • Take a creative weekend of some kind — lots of creative and quiet time with Jesus
  • Sample more of the gourmet mini donuts at Peace, Love, and Little Donuts (next up on the list: chocolate chip pancake and maple bacon)
  • Paint my living room side tables with brightly colored chalk paint (coral + teal!)
  • Take an art or writing class to expand my skill set and get inspired
  • Spend a day at the beach
  • Have a picnic
  • Add to my Fiesta collection
  • Visit the adorable new shop called Vintage Love that I just discovered
  • Pick strawberries this summer and pumpkins/apples this fall

So, what’s on your bucket list these days?

(Don’t forget to hashtag #AnInspiredSeason when you share!!)

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Slowing Down & Celebrating Summer

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I’m going about summer a little differently this year.

Last summer was all about my book — writing, creating, producing. And it was good and fulfilling and challenging work that I was so thankful to be doing.

But in a few recent conversations and reflections, I’ve realized that I want this summer to be more about the living, rather than the creating. (And as most writers and artists know, it’s the living that produces the good writing and creating anyway.)

Part of my plan for this summer was inspired by this blog post from Braid Creative. I love the concept of capturing, shaping, and sharing and the way that simple sequence can inspire our art — and even our lives — in lots of ways. In a recent article I read, the author referred to writers as being sort of like professional rememberers. That’s a job description I can totally get behind, and my friends and family can attest that I love capturing moments and memories with my camera or phone whenever we are together. Those little snapshots later become opportunities for stories, blog posts, and even other creative pursuits. They also serve as sweet little reminders of what God’s doing in my life. Capturing, shaping, and sharing helps me more clearly see the work of God in my life.

So, my focus this summer isn’t to blog x number of times per week, or to create this or that. It’s to really focus on what I wrote my eBook about — living fully and creatively right where I am, right where He has me.

I’ll be reading books, shopping farmers markets, and walking and swimming in the sunshine. I’ll be creating memories with friends and family, and I’ll be abiding and resting in Him, making space for Him to recreate and renew me in preparation for the seasons to come.

While I most likely won’t be blogging every week, I’ll continue to capture my adventures on Instagram (follow me @aplacetodwell). And if you’d like to join me in celebrating this summer season and where God has us, use the hashtag #AnInspiredSummer.

(Pssst. I won’t be completely abandoning the blog, of course. I’ll be popping in here from time to time to share snippets and stories from the summer that are inspired by my Instagram updates.)

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So, will you join me?

Cheers to a summer of slowing down, being present, and living fully and creatively for Him!

Weekending: Crafty Mart’s Mom & Pop Shoppe

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Despite the unpredictable (and mostly windy/overcast weather), I spent my Saturday surrounded by color and inspiration — eating good food, drinking hot coffee, and wandering around Crafty Mart’s Spring Mom & Pop Shoppe.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I love the Crafty Mart events, because they bring together a unique group of local artists right in the heart of Akron. It’s such a joy to celebrate talent and creativity and support people’s passions.

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This is Ashley, the owner and creator of Truckshop. I fell in love with her creatively curated mobile fashion boutique (check out all of the bright color, sparkle, and polka dots!!). She was so much fun to meet and talk with, too. I loved hearing her business story, and talking with her further confirmed my dream to work with creators, makers, and dreamers to help them live and tell their inspired stories.

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So sad she didn’t have the polka-dotted number in my size. I was smitten!

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I did snag these sparkly earrings and fun black-and-white chevron scarf, though.

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Also, did I mention there were mini donuts?!

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I’m still regretting the fact that I passed up sampling some of these sweet treats from DonutLab. They smelled incredible! (And what’s a better pairing than coffee and donuts, I ask you!) ;)

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I also came home with this darling piece of art by Ivy Axe. It’s the perfect addition to my little gallery wall of art. Filling my home and life with beautiful art makes my heart very, very happy.

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It was a great day, and I think it was just what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle some new creative projects of my own!

Adventures in Art: Akron’s Crafty Mart

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I went to my first Crafty Mart show (and the very first Crafty Mart event!) about 4 and a half years ago, shortly after moving back to the Akron/Cleveland area. It was the start of a new season in my life, and I loved connecting with and supporting other local artists. It was a chance to rediscover the area, as well as explore a new dream of mine — selling my art locally.

Crafty Mart  offered me that opportunity, and since attending that first show, I’ve sold my collage art at three of their events.

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While I’ve since taken a little break from participating in craft shows, I’ve continued to be a regular at the Crafty Mart events, and I’m excited to announce that the next Crafty Mart is this weekend (Saturday, May 3 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.!).

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If you’ve never been, I recommend making an afternoon of it. Grab lunch at Urban Eats — and a coffee for dessert — (I love the caramel soy latte!), and take your time exploring the more than 50 vendors being showcased. Crafty Mart takes place at Musica, an awesome venue in the heart of Akron, and the urban atmosphere really adds to the event.

Oh, and don’t forget to snap a few photos in the photo booth — silliness is encouraged! :)

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Curious about the back story? Crafty Mart was established in 2009 (that first show I attended!) to feature uncommon, quality-made, local arts and crafts. In 2013, it was voted one of the “Best in the City” by Akron Magazine. (Yay, Crafty Mart!)

And bonus: This Saturday’s Mom and Pop Shoppe will also have two mobile fashion boutiques — a new addition to the event!

How cute does this boutique look?! I am in love with all of the colors and patterns. In fact, I’ve already spotted a polka-dot dress I can’t wait to get my hands on! (No pun intended!) ;)

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If you love to support local artisans and are looking for a colorful, inspiration-packed afternoon, this is an event you won’t want to miss. I hope to see you Saturday! :)

5 Ways to Live More Creatively

1. Discover

Discovering new things — artists, writers, musicians, restaurants, farmers markets, shops, boutiques, etc. — is something that makes my life feel full and vibrant. To bring a sense of discovery to your everyday life, consider trying one of the following: Make a list of restaurants you’d like to try in your city, shops you’d like to visit, etc. Switch up your normal grocery shopping routine and try a specialty market, local shop, or farmers market instead. (I love to shop local, because it gives me a chance to make healthier choices and also meet the people who have grown and tended my food. It’s a pretty cool, inspiring experience.)

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2. Learn

I love to challenge myself to learn new things. (Right now, I’m learning all about hand lettering, and I’m excited to immerse myself in this new art form.) Is there something that’s piqued your curiosity? Check out your local library to see what books you can find on the subject. You can also find a lot of affordable classes online. Skillshare is a great resource on a vast array of creative topics, for example.

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3. Create

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Spending time dreaming and creating is super important to me. Think about what inspires you… Is it drawing? Painting? Gardening? Knitting? Writing? Cooking? Finding time for the things that make your heart happy is an important component of living creatively. And remember, you don’t need an entire day to devote to creating. Look for small ways to create every day. If cooking is your thing, can you try a new recipe? If you love writing, can you spend a few moments each morning or evening penning a few thoughts in your journal?

4. Add color

I am a big fan of living with LOTS of color. I find that when I surround myself with color and art and pattern, I feel happy, inspired, and creative. Even just wearing a colorful outfit can change and brighten my mood.

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5. Connect & Share

Life is so much sweeter when we share it, yes?  I love to plan adventuring dates with friends and loved ones — and sometimes just with the Lord — so we can share the experience of discovering fresh new joys together. Being in community and sharing our stories, our art, and our lives with people we appreciate and connect with on a deeper level is such a HUGE part of living fully and creatively.

:: I hope this post gets you thinking about some new ways you can bring joy, creativity, color, and inspiration to your everyday life. If you enjoyed reading about this topic, you can find more in my book An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season. ::

Happy Weekend!

Falling in Love with Your Life

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I’ve discovered that one of the secrets to living an inspired life of possibility is falling in love with your life on a regular basis.

I am constantly falling in love with new possibilities — a hobby, a book, a word, a recipe, a song, or even an old vintage sign spotted while out adventuring…

There is so much to discover.

I find that the more I get excited about the small things in life, the more joyful and inspired I feel.

When I live with curiosity and a desire to learn and grow, I feel as though anything is possible, and life is full of color and wonder.

Being mindful also helps keep me rooted in the goodness of right now and all God’s doing moment by moment.

Lately, I can’t get enough of hand lettering and typography. I want to look at lovely letters and learn about them. I want to collect and sketch them, know their shapes and their histories.

But truth be told, earlier this week, and even earlier today, I’ll admit I wasn’t living this way. I  wasn’t seeing the possibilities, I was seeing the to-do list, the worries, the doubts. I was feeling restless and cranky.

But when I shifted my focus to the joys to be discovered in my day, my mood shifted, too. I realized there was joy to be found even in the little things like an inspiring quote on my calendar page, an afternoon latte, and a list I’m making of local restaurants to explore.

My weekend holds new possibilities, too. Possibilities to write. To explore. To find quiet. To pray…

What joys and possibilities peppered your day today, my friends? And what is one thing your weekend holds that you can get excited about?

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the entirely imperfect right now

“Let’s not waste our lives searching for perfection tied up with a fairy tale bow. Let’s choose, right now, to grab hold of our real lives, our true selves and embrace every second of this challenging, gritty, beautiful, messy reality that we have instead.”Mary Carver

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Sometimes, Saturdays are for finding a sunny corner of a local coffee shop and just being present in our right now, forgetting the stuff that’s weighing us down and choosing to be, as Shauna Niequist wrote, “deeply present in the present, in the mess, in the waiting, in the entirely imperfect right now.”

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So, on Saturday, that’s exactly what I chose to do.

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I was present in the sunshine, in the laughter, and in the sampling of creamy soy lattes, buttery breakfast sandwiches, and maybe even a fudgy vegan chocolate crinkle cookie (because, really, how can you fully experience a new coffee shop without sampling the pastries?!). ;)

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Right now, this is life, my friends, this is the entirely imperfect right now, and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

29 Things Recap + 30 *New Things

Wow, it’s been a year.

While I didn’t check off every single thing on my 29 Things list, I did a LOT of what I had hoped to do, and God was so good and faithful to teach and stretch me through it all.

I traveled. I explored. I wrote a book. I sought inspiration and creativity, read good books, and even added TWO pairs of polka-dotted pants to my closet… ;)

I embraced my 29th year with as much hope and heart as I could.

And while there are still so many things I’m learning and figuring out, I know I’m truly starting to settle into myself, becoming the woman I know God created me to be, the woman He refines and prunes a little more each season (and really, a little more each day).

As I wrote  here, I’ve had mixed feelings about turning 30.

There’s some restlessness in my heart that I’m learning to sit with and surrender.

But I BELIEVE in the plan He’s writing for my life, and I want to keep seeking Him and going where He calls me —  with all the confidence and courage I can find.

As I head into a new season, I’m handing over a heart full of hopes, asking Him to weave them into something beautiful and new like only He can.

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30 Things for my 30th Year

1. Invest in creating life-giving community.

2. Look for ways to help others find their creative voices and share their stories.

3. Learn how to use the manual settings on my camera — and stop relying on automatic all the time.

4. Learn how to shoot and edit video for the blog. (I’m so inspired by adorable videos like this!)

5. Visit Nashville.

6. Find the perfect fedora.

7. Master the cat-eye make-up look.

8. Memorize more scripture.

9. Attend local art walks.

10. Go to more live music shows.

11. See Once on broadway.

12. Eat brunch at a local French cafe.

13. Further develop my brand: Create a media kit for my blog, and pursue some new partnerships/opportunities/collaborations.

14. Set up some kind of meet-up for local bloggers and creatives to inspire creativity, collaboration, and goal-setting/achieving.

15. Participate in a 5K like this one.

16. Take Kal Barteski’s Script Class.

17. Learn how to vectorize my handwriting in Illustrator.

18. Attend The Influence Conference again.

19.  Join a local gym.

20. Learn more about loose-leaf teas. (Because how yummy does this and this sound?)

21. Try the ombre look.

22. Get involved with Holy Yoga.

23. Organize my office and art supplies.

24. Live out this amazing truth about art spoken by Shauna Niequist: “The myth is scarcity, and the truth is abundance…as an artist, you want the world to be filled with more art.”

25.  Date intentionally — with wisdom, hope, and courage. (I sort of feel lame even including this, but let’s face it, it’s a major thing on my heart in this season of life, and I want the Lord to be guiding this and orchestrating it in my life.)

26. Continually speak His truth over myself and the people in my life.

27. Live fearlessly,  wild and free, and with big belief.

28. Keep dreaming and creating with Him.

29.  Find fresh new ways to celebrate my current season.

30. Break free from anything that’s holding me back from FULLY living the life I know He has for me.

*Some of these aren’t quite brand-new… ;) You’ll recognize a few from my 29 Things list.

::images — left to right, top to bottom — 1. 4. (images 2. and 3. are mine)::