Reflecting on Scissors – My Mom’s Number One Tool


Everyone says their Mom is the best. I tend to believe it. Every Mom is different in their own way and therefore loved as the best. It’s hard to refute these claims.

I have known many Moms.

I have been lucky and fortunate in my 37 years to call many women “mom.” This is not out of disrespect toward my mom, but instead out of respect for the women who have welcomed me in their homes, fed me, allowed me to rest, and nourished my soul at times when I was separate from my mom. I have friends who call my Mom their mom, too. It’s a loving endearment, and one that I am glad to be part of – this circle of women.

I am not a mom. I am an awesome aunt, if I do say so myself. But I’ve been a babysitter and caretaker of many children since the ripe age of 14. I have watched those moms care for their children and have helped care for them too. I don’t think I would be so good with children if I had never experienced the love of women who have cared for me as family and as friends.

Every Mother’s Day, I honor all of us who help nurture children – teachers, doctors, babysitters, and yes, Moms. The women who carry us and raise us and allow us to go out into this world as strong and courageous individuals. At least that’s how my mom raised me.

Which leads me to scissors. As a culture, we discuss scissors as something we use to cut things out – to remove people from our lives, as one popular meme that gets shared on Instagram regularly declares – but scissors in my family are not meant to cut things out as a final act. Scissors are a step in the process of creating – of bringing something new into life.

In my mom’s hands, scissors cut out patterns and fabrics that became dresses and outfits I wore throughout my youth and young adult years. My mom still makes me clothing by the way, most recently an outfit I wore to a good friend’s wedding on New Years Eve 2017. Scissors have always been a tool my mom used to wield her creative genius – her fashion passion – her ability to take a textile and bring to life clothing someone would want to wear, and in many cases be asked where you bought the outfit.

In my youth, I had no regard for my mother’s scissors. I didn’t understand why she had so many pairs and inevitably took every single pair and cut paper with them. I would hear my mom scream from the basement of kitchen, “who touched my scissors?!” Of course she knew it was me; I was the only one in the house competing for creative action – she sewed and I played with paper, or cooked things like pizza from scratch, or attempted to sew and failed miserably. Yet, I didn’t stop. I would see a pair of scissors new to my eyes and grab them and work them until dull and no longer usable to my mom.

It is now, as a 37-year-old, that I understand my mother’s absolute need for scissors that are not dull and work for her art. As a stationery maker and paper artist, I have many pairs of scissors, but only one of them I use to cut out lushly textured handmade papers from around the world. That pair has a ribbon tied to it for easy finding, but also with ladybugs, a symbol of my deceased paternal grandmother.

Wielding my scissors, I’m out to create as well – to make something beautiful from what was cut – to become part of a new memory; a new piece to delight and share. I learned this from my mom and it may be one of the best lessons she’s taught me – do not just cut, cut and create.

Every time I pick up my scissors, I think about my mom. I chuckle because I remember the battle of scissors and how difficult it must have been to have had me as a child at times.

I love my mom so much. I think of her as the best. (If you ate her food, you might too!) She’s incredibly warm and kind. She’s really the best thing from Honduras. And she’s my mom, but I share her with my two brothers and all the people who meet her and love her. I’m thankful every day that she has been part of my journey for 37 years and that she taught me so much about the creative process, as well as the importance of a good pair of sharp scissors.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!


The Black Snake – A Dream and Symbolism

Last week, I had an ah-mazing dream. I haven’t been able to get the dream out of my head, which testifies I think to just how ah-mazing the dream was, but more than that, and after a dear cousin helped me analyze the dream, I can see the truth in it.

A week ago, to be exact, I woke up from the following: I was standing tall up in a tree. My hands were up straight, almost as if reaching for something, yet, I wasn’t touching anything. I don’t remember branches in my hands, or hanging on to anything for support. It was just me standing on a sturdy branch with my arms straight up.  As I surveyed my surroundings, a small and cute lizard/gecko started to crawl down my arm. I didn’t think anything of it even though it was ticking me as it moved. It disappeared below my left shoulder, just beyond that point where you can peer over.  Not thinking, or expecting anything, I kept look straight ahead with my hands above me.  After a minute or two, I felt my left hand and arm begin to go numb quickly. In shock, I looked over my left shoulder and staring me straight in the eye was a black snake.  It had bitten me (not sure if black snakes are known to bite humans) and something about that bite was causing a numbness.  As I stared at the snake in shock that it had bitten me and confusion as to where it came from, I then fell out of the tree and was tumbling down a wooden circular staircase, except I wasn’t me, I was the actress/comedian Anna Faris.

Weird, right?

My cousin and I only analyzed the lizard/gecko and black snake element because  I was me in that part of the dream.  While I am just as curious about Anna Faris, as me, falling down a wooden circular staircase bit, but only because seeing both a snake and a spiral staircase in a dream means growth, change, transition.  Upon initial research I got everything from Freud’s fallacy meaning for snake dreams, to change and transition. Falling down stairs, spiral stairs, can be growth and transition, by delving into past feelings and experience, but also fears attached with what I am experiencing.

My cousin’s analysis seemed spot on. She talked to me about an issue I’ve been facing and how the lizard/gecko and snake represent the “something” bothering me, and me believing the good in that something but that it is undergoing a transformation. According to her, the snake doesn’t necessarily represent anything bad, or me, but instead represents the other side of the something.  Or as she put it, “we have this tendency to believe that snakes are bad, but they are the only animal that sheds its skin- which is a symbol of transformation and growth, so believe in your connection and your growth and the connection and growth of the something.”

I am being a lot vague in this article because this over-sharer has learned to be quiet, a bit. Not too much, but a bit much and because as much as I believe my cousin was spot-on in her assessment, I also believe two more things about the “something.”

While I traveled around Japan, toward the end of my trip in January, a friend and I went to Kamakura and walked around. We ate, hiked, prayed, talked, bought souvenirs, snapped pictures, and enjoyed each others company.  As we meandered along taking in everything we could, we walked along this trail to a popular shrine, Zeniarai Benten Shrine,  where legend says if you wash your money with water from the spring located there, you will double the amount washed that year.

I’ve never been one for money wishing. I’ve never wished to win the lottery, although I do love scratch off tickets, but upon meeting the tunnel entrance to this shrine, I read on a plaque that “the Shrine was constructed after a god appeared in a dream to Minamoto Yoritomo, founder of the Kamakura government, and recommended him to build the shrine to bring peace to the country.  Because the dream occurred on the day of the snake, in the month of the snake of the year of the snake, the shrine was later dedicated to Benten, a Buddhist goddess associated with snakes.”  I loved the history, naturally, but what made me a further believer in this particular shrine was that my friend and I visited Kamakura on January 4th, which was during the week of the New Year 2013, which also happens to be the year of the snake. To be honest, I couldn’t believe my luck!



The Japanese take their New Year seriously in the sense that they visit Shrines and pray for good health, well being, good fortune, and happiness for the entire year throughout the week.  At the point of our visit, I had already visited Meiji Shrine in Tokyo on New Year’s Day and had prayed plenty for myself and my loved ones at various Shrines, (to many, this may seem like overkill, but when you need help and are seeking, prayer is a miraculous action!), asking for strength as I wandered through the next few months of uncertainty.

Fast forward to now- last Tuesday night’s dream about a black snake that came from a gecko/lizard, I believe even more in the year of the snake, and the fact that my visit to Zeniarai Benten Shrine in Kamakura, Japan on January 4th is part of the larger picture of my year.  It also allows me to see that I have been standing in a tree, I’ve been standing with my arms up in a wild place. A place of uncertainty, although strong, and while that snake bite shocked me and made me feel numb, I believe he bit me to remind me to feel, to keep feeling all that I feel, but also to remember that even in this wild place I’ve found myself, life is amazing and though many things in my sphere and in the lives of my loved ones are changing, transformation is a beautiful thing. It’s why the snake started me straight in the eyes as I peered back at him in confusion.

That confusion and wild state is not just from having landed in New Jersey, but to my stationery business as well. As I’ve sat here adjusting to this new state and terrain I find myself in, I have not pushed myself as much as I should business wise. I’ve often times thought, “do I want this bad enough?” ,”Why am I allowing myself to not design?”  With each question, I’ve realized that I am working, I’m also just exhausted. I still want this, badly, but right now, I have to step back and survey the land before jumping right back into things. It is okay to stop every once in a while.  As an entrepreneur that is not the message I should be sharing, nor is it the common message you hear from entrepreneurs growing businesses and trying to attain success, but the fact remains, if you don’t stop every once in a while, you’re going to miss everything.

The black snake from my dreams represents the two things I want the most out there reminding me to live and believe; the tree- stability, strength, and the ability to balance; my arms in the air – my flexibility and openness; the gecko/lizard – something that I trust and should continue to trust; the falling down the stairs – my need to still keep resting my body and soul, while learning from hurt, pain, and anything else I’ve attempted to not delve into.

In other words, I have it all together, I just need some more time, but it will be all okay. I mean, hey, if I can stand in a tree, high up in the sky without hanging on to anything, I must be doing something right.

Listen to/with Your Heart

Back in the thick of November, in the cold mountains of Echizen, I was dealing with emotional baggage (I know I’ve mentioned the amount of baggage I loaded in my suitcase along with my clothes many times, before.) that I finally started to mull over thanks to a good friend.

I had a moment of spazzing and I reached out to a good friend who wrote me the most candid and honest email I’ve ever received about one of my emotional situations. To say that I was shocked is an understatement. While I definitely believe I needed to hear her words, I was hurt. And so I cried. And I cried. And I talked to another good friend about the email and then something happened; a change inside of me took place.

I went back to the home I was staying in and prepared dinner. As I thought about my reaction and feelings to both of my friend’s words, I listened to the Disney Pocahontas soundtrack and felt a sense of calm that I had yet to feel before.  The songs, “Just Around the Riverbend,” “Steady as the Beating Drum,” and “Listen to your Heart Parts 1 and 2” were the ones that really got to the heart of the matter, but even still the entire soundtrack helped quell my erratic beating heart and brain.

I then wrote back to my friend an email that was direct and sounded like the Sara that has been missing for the past few months.  The reason I could write this email was because I decided to go back to “believing” in the root of Sara.  To find in my heartbreak and my emotional waves the belief that things will be well and are well and will continue to be well as long as I move in a forward motion and keep believing.

Now, many don’t understand this. Hell, I didn’t understand this. When I left for Istanbul, Turkey, on the afternoon of October 1st, I left with tears in my eyes and a feeling in my gut that said everything is wrong, and all that you thought you knew is over.  And yet, I knew I had to get on that plane. I knew it had to happen and so I went. And I met a guy named Mami who called me his American girlfriend and who walked me to the train every night and kissed my hand. He was cute and made me smile and laugh and feel pretty; he restored my faith in mankind even though he wasn’t the man I wanted.

Those first few weeks were the hardest. I was at my lowest point. I needed as much love the Universe was willing to throw my way. And the Universe did throw it my way. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel love in myself, nor from the amazing network of friends and family cheering for me on the sidelines, but that love wasn’t what I needed. I needed to feel love, I needed to be taken care of, I needed to wallow and feel everything I was feeling and cry and wake up sobbing and then know that someone, I didn’t know could still make me smile and feel warm inside. It was brutal and yet some of the best tonic.

I am a highly independent person. Always have been. Maybe it’s from the teasing, the racism, being the fat girl in school, etc, but in all of that, I was the Student Council President, I played Field Hockey, I made friends, I learned my value, I learned to love my crazy curly hair and the fact that I’ve always been a bit more than I should in weight, and I’ve always followed my dreams. I knew when I walked onto the campus of The George Washington University that fateful summer day in 1997 that it was where I was going to go (and it was, I graduated in 2o02). I knew I didn’t want to leave my first job, so I accepted their counter offer, but then left a year later. I knew when I moved to NYC and saw my apartment in Astoria that it was the apartment for me. I also felt in my soul that I was supposed to know my one roommate, Dan. I felt the same way when I moved into my apartment in Manhattan after Dan and I moved out of the Astoria apartment. Or one of my favorites, when I dreamt about my business and then had a few signs along the way pointing me to that path. My point is that I’ve always just known in my gut when things work and when they don’t work. I have some examples of when my gut has told me to stay, far, far away. What is more, I have examples of where my gut said, “stay far away” and I went ahead and didn’t listen. Needless to say, I’ve learned from each situation.

On my journey I had no expectations for self-discovery. Okay, wait, that’s a lie. I knew I was going to find out something about myself, but I didn’t expect it would be my inner core. I never once realized in my slow downward spiral last year that I had lost the core of Sara in the mix and that Japan would be the ticket to finding her and rebuilding.  I knew that Japan would bring a world of change, I just didn’t know the extent. I also had no idea that I’d be in the position I found myself.

So back to why Japan inspired such findings. Well, what I realized that night as I cooked and sang along to “Listen to Your Heart” was that I had stopped listening to my heart and instead started listening to friends. Don’t get me wrong here, listening to friends was helpful and several friends, I’m not sure I could have done without during that time, but listening to them and asking them for their opinions only weakened my own decisions.  I did do things my way, and I did keep things from certain friends because I didn’t want to hear their opinions or thoughts and because at those moments, I knew I was firmly acting with intention and I stood behind them. Well, there was one moment where I still question my action, but whatever, it happened. When I’m sitting in a rocking chair at 80, my best friends and I will laugh about that crazy moment, I’m sure.

See, the night before my Pocahontas listening party, I walked to the house in the rain, crying, and climbed the steps of the Shrine for the Paper Goddess and prayed while sobbing for help, guidance, and peace. I asked her to help me because I was so lost and because I believed that she had brought me to Echizen (I didn’t know Echizen had a Paper Goddess until I arrived–so much for research ahead of time!) and she could help me out of this mess. I thanked her for bringing me to where I was and for all the advances I had made in learning Japanese Washi, but that I needed more of her help. I needed her to help me break through this. I prayed for my father’s spirit watching over me to also help me. I asked for so much help in the cold, dark, rainy night.

What the Goddess gave me, I believe, was hope. That next night, cutting vegetables and signing songs, I realized that I not only had lost who I was, I had lost my inner system of belief. The reason I felt so lost was because I had in fact stop believing. I have asked other people to believe in me and in magic and yet, I was not believing myself. When you have no belief, you have nothing.  In that moment, or rather the span of an hour, I felt in my core that it was time to believe again, to figure out what I want in life, what I wanted to feel, understand why I was feeling what I was feeling, and then believe. The next morning, I woke up feeling lighter than I had felt in a long time.

It does help that when visiting Japan, you end up visiting tons of Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines making it easy to pray and practice believing, but as I went from Shrine and Temple to Shrine and Temple, I started to believe. However, it wasn’t just the Temples and Shrines, no, it was the signs along the way. I’ll post more about signs at a later date because the signs were aplenty and there every step of the way, and always appeared when I began to doubt my belief, but again more on that later.

That one decision. That one action to believe changed the course of my path. Or rather, made the path a bit more clear. I’m not sure how the path will continue and if what all I want will be what I get, but I know that I have to keep believing. If I stop believing, then I stop being because so much of my life has been on belief. Belief in my instincts, my often irrational passions, and more importantly, belief that in all of my craziness, I am living and breathing and changing the world.

This all reminded me of a guy I vaguely know through my cousin. He’s a good friend of hers and comes from a past full of darkness. You can tell of his struggles and inner pain because he carries them on his body and face. He’s a nice guy, but if you saw him on the street, you might think differently; you might almost consider crossing the street to avoid him. On my last night in Brooklyn before leaving for my trip, he was at my cousin’s apartment. As we parted ways, I turned to him and said, “I believe in you. You are loved, don’t doubt it, just know that no matter what, you are loved and people believe in you.” I went on to tell him that I had just gotten in from a farewell party where friends from different parts in my life appeared, including one that came in all the way from Chicago (that’s far!) to send me off. Needless to say, I was (and am) surrounded by love and support and I know how easy it is to believe when you’re surrounded by that, when you know that you are limitless because you have those two things. Some people may never have many people that support and love them, but just knowing that they have one person can be, and sometimes is, enough.

I bring all of this up again today because I’ve felt two things about my experiences and my beliefs: 1. that I shouldn’t share them for fear that nobody will understand, or because they will attempt to tell me that my beliefs are in my head; and 2. because thanks to the internet there is so much floating around already of other people’s experiences that they become these random quotes and beliefs that people take for true meaning rather than just a personal experience.

As you can see, I am sharing bits of this story and my beliefs with the world at large, but that’s because I’ve decided to stop actively caring about whether someone believes me or doesn’t believe me. As I explained to a friend the other day, I know what I know, or rather what I chose to believe in and that’s really all that matters. It does help that I’ve had a few people also tell me that they believe in my belief as well, which is always nice to hear, and definitely stopped me from asking myself, “are you freaking crazy?” (which the answer is yes) on several occasions, but as I learned that night of vegetables and Pocahontas, to stop believing is to discredit and question myself.

Now please let me explain one more thing there. My belief is simply that all will be well. Or in that famous quote by Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” By the way, I purchased a card from an Etsy seller many months ago, just before the end of my internship, and the seller sent me a handful of freebies with my order that included a card with that quote.

Card by Colette on Etsy
Card by Colette on Etsy

Not really thinking about the card, I packed it as a bookmark in one of the books I took with me on my trip. And in moments where I found myself thinking too much, questioning my belief (before the signs started appearing), I grabbed this postcard and repeated the quote. At the end of the day, belief allows us to believe exactly what this quote says, “All shall be well…” which oddly enough is what a good friend said to me in an email about my situation. She wrote, “Sara, things will work out for all of us.”

It is so easy in our current socially “connected” world to listen to others, to push down our own instinct so far that we lose touch with what matters and what is important, and to stop believing, or rather to believe in the things that don’t really matter, that don’t help us in any way shape or form. I gave into this back in August and even before then, but it wasn’t until November that a provoking email from a friend and the cold mountains and running brooks of water in Echizen provided me with the blanket of solace and the strength I needed to really tackle the real loss of it all, myself.

I’m not here to tell you to stop being socially connected, to stop asking for advice from friends and family, or to start praying and believing. We all reach certain conclusions as we face issues and challenges and they bring us not just to our knees, but to what we need. I am telling you that you need to start taking yourself more seriously. You know more about yourself than anyone else. You know exactly what you need and want better than any marketing researcher, or advertiser. You know what your soul and heart are telling you, you just have to listen.

You are more than what you project to the world. What you project to the world should be what you are deep down inside. Your actions, thoughts, and feelings should be a result of what’s truly inside of you. Some will disagree with me on this and say they should be more controlled, but as a recovering control addict, I don’t believe you should push down anything for the sake of others. I believe you should always be you and stand by you. I always stand by everything I do and put out here (and there) whether it is agreed or not.

One of the hardest jobs we have in this world now is listening to ourselves and our beliefs and our heart. We often times become cynical and close our hearts because of past experiences, but that’s not going to fix anything. It took me getting away from everything I know and love to finding it, to regaining my heart and my beliefs and now, I’m not going to give them up for anything, nor am I going to allow anyone to tell me that this was all in my head. It isn’t and it never was. This belief is as logical anything that seems just as real to another person. More importantly, this belief in my heart is my North star guiding me forward.

Or as I told my good friend last night, believing is having faith in an unknown. It’s a risk. One that many are afraid to take. But you know what? I took a huge risk in going to Japan to study papermaking and it seems to have paid off in more ways than I knew. I owe it to myself to keep taking risks and to keep believing things will work out and be well regardless of the outcome.

Thanks Grandmother Willow, Paper Goddess, Universe, and a few other spirits who have been along this journey. I believe.

Cold Shower, Anybody? Or Managing Expectations and Reality

***Disclaimer- I am not trying to be a negative Nancy in this post, swear. ***

This morning I learned that the stationery shop in Frederick, MD that I have been in contact with since 2010 is closing.  The reason being that business has been slow and financially the owner can no longer keep the shop running. She intends to still do stationery and invitations, just not have a shop with inventory and overhead.

Now, I’m ecstatic that she is going to continue to do invitations and stationery sales, but I’m sad that her shop will cease to exist after April. I’m even more sad because she was the shop I was intending to send my invitation look book to as my way into the realm of not-so-custom, but different and easy to assemble invitations that shops could carry, wouldn’t cost a ton and would hopefully generate steady business.

Knowing that she will remain in the stationery business is great and I am happy to hear that, but I was bummed to hear about her shop. It is cute and small and inspirational to designers like me.

When I first heard the news, I was immediately sad. I mean, if shops like her’s close, then what are the chances that someone like me, or any other stationer for that matter, stand a chance in getting our products out there to the writers and stationery lovers that are in need?

I love the window that the internet and Etsy have opened for vendors and artists to sell online at a minimal cost and without serious overhead, but part of the appeal of shopping is picking things up and touching them. I’ve had several customers tell me they like seeing my products in person before buying. Okay. Maybe I need to take better pictures, but honestly when it comes to paper crafted items, real touch wins out always.

What hit me the hardest was realizing my high expectations. Never in the almost two years since I met her, did I think her store would close. In my little head, I thought oh, no worries, her store will be around and she’ll be a great contact for me as I grow. Now, however, reality has hit.

As I stood in my room this morning, I looked at my look book and all the pieces I have in various places around my room and wondered if what I am doing is in vain?

Yes, there are people who still use paper and who love my work, but isn’t that just going to stop one day? I just read an article a few weeks ago about how handwritten signatures don’t even matter any more, it’s the pin number you select that does.  By the way, I am not against technology or advancements in it, but I am against people not using their brain or losing a sense of who they are as individuals.

I know you’re going to say, but Sara, you’re following your dream and you’re creating things people like and you want to save the world. And while, yes, these are all true and following my dream is the biggest aspect of this all, what if I’m following it to only follow it. What if I end up homeless living under the Brooklyn Bridge, like my Mother used to threaten us with as children?

I truly believe that paper is the way for me. Actually, I have no doubt of this. Communication is my calling and providing the means to communicate is the solution, BUT if I can’t sell the products that make me happy, if there’s barely a market for them, then why am I so adamant about doing this?

Normally, when I don’t like something, but I’ve accepted the reality of the situation, I move on. In order to move on, I often times just stop giving the person/thing/issue any attention. Once that happens, I’m free to move in any direction, and I won’t be angry with the fact that the person/thing/issue doesn’t meet my expectations or desires.  To some this may not be the healthiest way to handle my feelings, but it has worked and it has helped me out quite a bit. The only thing here is that this is not a person/thing/issue, it is my passion, belief, and calling. It is as much of me as my hair and my glasses and my heart.

I’ve learned that I have high expectations of every one and even situations and that ultimately they are unfair to me because I end up angry and hurt and upset when the person/thing doesn’t meet them. On the other hand, the person/thing isn’t aware that they were expected to meet a standard to begin with and often times they don’t (or never did) have it in them to meet those standards. Yes, they may suffer, too, when I decide that I can’t deal with them, or want to be friends with them, or leave, but in the end, I’m the one who ends up dealing with the stress and the frustration while the other person goes on unaware.

And that is what I realized, I need to manage my expectations better not just of others and situations, but for myself.  I am still going to push through with my look book (as a matter of fact, I had some friends suggest places to send the look book to) in the time line I created for myself. For the sake of creativity, sanity, and business development, I must, but I also have to look at the business model I am developing and look at the longer term picture.

In other words, how am I and the expectations I have for myself going to change to grow this business differently? So that in the face of disappointment, I pick myself up, dust my leggings off, and keep moving?

Much like I have realized that I either like things, or I don’t and it is okay to have these feelings and to adjust my expectations appropriately, I have to adjust my expectations of our technology driven world and the fact that I never decided to go into stationery to amass a small fortune, but enough to live comfortably through my living years.

I’m sure I’ve discussed this at length before today, but I was faced with looking in the mirror when I read the news about this shop. Please know that I am not quitting or stopping myself from following my dream and passion, I just sort of need to get my plan tweaked and ready to go.  I can’t thank the stationery shop for teaching me this extremely important lesson.

Is This Worth More Than…?

Let me give you some context here. I’m HORRIBLE with money management. I think it’s the one trait I picked up from my dad really well. You know what I mean. Some people are just great at not spending a dime and other people are amazing at spending lots of dimes. I’d have to say I’m in the middle, but if spending lots of dimes is to the right side of the bar, I’m a bit closer right than perfect middle ground.

Needless to say, I’ve spent a good portion of my 20’s racking up credit card debt. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes you have to face the problem in order to fix it. So there that goes. On my personal blog, I’ve talked a bit about debt, or rather made a promise each year that this will be the year I pay off debt. I have paid some debt down. But I have also racked up some more in the process. It’s a fine see-saw motion, people!

Either way, this year, I’ve created the mantra, “Is this worth more than X?” Now, the “X” in my case is part of my BIG adventure that’s coming up in a few months,  but for you, it may be something else. Maybe a car?  A home? A vacation? A new pair of shoes? A shirt, skirt or dress you’ve been eying? It could be anything really. In my case, it’s the chance to hone a skill.

Yesterday, after a productive day at the Hill taking photos, responding to emails, finishing up some designs, I decided to work on my February budget. I wrote down what I received, what I will receive in the coming weeks and then deducted my givens–credit card payments, rent, phone bill. I proceeded to write down in three columns, things I owed money on–doctor’s bill from the month before; things I need – bath and home products such as laundry detergent, conditioner, soap; and finally, things I want – albums off of itunes, to see a movie, etc. Clearly I had to tackle the stuff owed and the needs first. Those are the most important. Then I had to tackle, what of the things I want, do I absolutely must have.

Let me tell you, this is hard and for someone who lacks control when it comes to needing/wanting, it was tough. I can justify music as a need. I can do the same thing with books and movies. Hello, I’m expanding my horizon here! But I wrote these things down and decided what I needed and what I want and I’m not allowed to budge on this. Although, I should add that I did download the three albums that I wanted off of itunes. It’s gonna be a bit of a struggle this year and tunes will always brighten my life.

The important thing here is that I learned a lesson, I probably should have learned many moons ago. Need and want is different. I WANT “X” more than anything else. More than a different and exciting meal during restaurant week. Not so much more than new music, but definitely more than a new shirt. With that in mind, this morning, I wrote on several sticky notes “Is this work more than X? NO!!” I wrote one for each of my two bank accounts – personal and business- including debit cards and check books and I wrote one for all of my credit cards. Of course, it was a bit difficult when I went to use the MTA machine this afternoon–I had to take the sticky note off the card in order to use it, but that’s the point…each time I want to use my card, I want it to be a nuisance to remove the post-it. I want to be reminded that I’m probably not acting in the best interest of myself and my future. Most importantly, I want to teach myself that I do have self-control.

As that wonderful movie “Field of Dreams” stated, ‘If you build it, they will come.” If I build it, I will come.”  Here is a photo of my notes…

Notes to Self!

Fun, eh? I hope whatever your “X” is, you have a way of building up for it. If you have any inspiring or fun ways to help save for your goal, share it. I’d love to know I’m not the only one with kooky thoughts on saving for a dream. Oh and if you need a bit more inspiration, or help, check out Daily Worth…such a great site of money management advice and tips. You can sign up and get daily tips. They’re extremely helpful.

A Guy Named Chris and the Word Dream

Last year, I landed upon the most magical blog ever created: The Art of Non-Conformity. I’ve discussed this blog several times here, I know.

I was at the peak of a depression. I hate the word depression, but the reality is that I was depressed. Majorly depressed. I couldn’t see the clearing in the clouds at all. Everyday seemed to start the same way–no excitement for the day, no enthusiasm for going to work, or seeing friends, etc. I just wanted to wallow.

Just for the record, I am not a wallower. I dislike wallowers immensely, so I started to dislike myself a lot. Needless to say, I got help and started to get things back on track, but one of the things that really helped me was a guy named Chris Guillebeau. Again, I’ve talked about him before, but his website came to me through an Etsy article.

That one suggested reading article, led me to a world where I felt I truly belonged. I started reading EVERYTHING he wrote. I went back in time to see where he started. I commented on a few posts. And I started sharing his thoughts with friends.

Back in September I had the fantastic opportunity to meet Chris at a Borders while on his book tour for the book quite appropriately titled, “The Art of Non-Conformity.” I wrote a blog on my other (personal blog) about meeting him and then a week or two later a blog reviewing his book. You can read both of the postings on my other blog, “Strides With a Smile.” As a matter of fact, my book review is the last posting I’ve done in a while. (I don’t suggest having more than one blog, By-the-way, it’s tough work, especially when you’re making invitations, designing cards and working a full-time gig.)

While at the book reading, Chris discussed the book and why he wrote it and then opened the floor to questions. Many, like me, knew Chris and loved his work, and many had just wandered in and were curious. One of the people in the crowd, who I got the impression knew of Chris, was looking for direction, for more help and so she started rambling on about the things she likes to do and how could she figure out what she’s supposed to do in life. A very large question to ask, not to mention, to ask of someone who doesn’t know you, but Chris offered some advice and then simply stated “if you dream about it, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.”

I share this with you today, not just to give continued props and adulation to Chris, but because this morning, I woke up restless around 5. I was up and out of bed by 5:30. This is a rarity, even in my post-depression state. I just don’t like waking up early! But I got up because in my head, I was visualizing all the things I wanted to get done stationery wise. In my restlessness, I had developed an idea for a Valentine’s Day Card (I have romance on the brain, people!) and I was trying to figure out how the hell I would put two cards together and include a heart. Don’t ask (I’ll share more once I get it figured out) and so I simply could NOT stay sleeping.

I should have you know that this morning already included painting a vineyard theme on an invitation, cutting card stock out and trying to figure out the final touches for these cards invitations I’ve been sample designing.

What I’m saying is, if you EVER, EVER, EVER, wake up from a sleep with a dream very clearly in your head, explore it. Don’t let it get away. Even if what you dreamt about is an idea that seems obtuse, or no longer relevant in the world (paper? Who needs paper?!) follow it and see where it takes you.

Special thanks to the Universe, my father’s spirit, and Chris Guillebeau for all being part of my morning already.