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I took a month off! Here's how it happened.

 The Hermit illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

The Hermit illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

Hello love,

I’m just coming back to the online world after a full month off. I had a couple of minor but very needed procedures on one of my eyes in early June, and I feel so blessed that I was able to carve out that time needed to fully heal, to rest, to be present with myself, and to integrate some inner explorations that I’ve been working through since late last year.

Taking a swath of time off in this way is not something that comes easily to me. I love the work that I do and I can find it difficult to step away. I know that a part of this is from a true joy in my craft - my whole being lights up playing with design, teaching, and Tarot.

But I also know that some of this is internalized from my past, my family, my lineage, and society. 

Both as a self-employed individual and as someone who held multiple jobs, I’ve gone months and months without a full day off.


My family members who have held multiple jobs and worked upwards of 70 hours a week have instilled in me that over-work is something of which to be proud. Many of my ancestors come from an area in Italy known as “Terra di Lavoro,” which translates to “Land of Work.” While the word here “Lavoro” is actually in reference to the name of ancient peoples who once inhabited this land, the energetics of labor is present nevertheless.

Here in the States, there is this essence of wearing a badge of honor for hours worked. In corporations, people take pride in arriving first or leaving last - or perhaps they feel pressured to do so on account of societal expectations. Just yesterday while I was on a walk to get some tea, I overheard two programmers talking about how soul-crushing their strenuous 60-hour work week was, but yet, they felt pressured to participate in that system.

I fully honor that, as a fault of our society, sometimes it is necessary for an individual to work multiple jobs and many hours in order to secure housing and food or to pay to medical bills. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about how health insurance is tied to certain kinds of jobs, and then to think about what happens when one becomes ill and loses that job.

I realize that sometimes, we need to do certain things in order for our own wellbeing or for the wellbeing of our loved ones.

But I notice within myself and within other entrepreneurs a certain addiction to work. We feel that we need to do it all. We feel like it’s expected of us to answer an email straight away, no matter the hour. It’s expected that we will respond to a comment on social media, or we feel obligated to bend our boundaries in order to feel like we are doing good work for our clients.

With this programming, it can be especially difficult to take time off - whether on vacation, as a sabbatical, to go on a spiritual pilgrimage, or to nourish one’s body, mind, or heart. There’s also taking time off on the weekends, holidays, or on planned days to just enjoy life outside of the work that you do. Your work may be your passion (I’m so lucky that mine is!) but a scheduled break is necessary for creative flow and energy.

I knew that one of my pieces of inner exploration during this time off would be to really allow myself to fully lean into a feeling of surrender.To trust that my clients would be okay, that my systems would run smoothly, and that people wouldn’t forget about my upcoming offerings. To know that my business manager would be there if anything came up. I may have been forced into that a bit with the fact that I couldn’t see very well and reading small print was difficult - but this space was so crucial for my own healing.

During this time off, I was also able to be more present for my fur-child when he wasn’t feeling well, and to have more connection time with my husband. When his family came to visit, even with my eyes healing, I was able to spend more time with them than in past years.

At first, I felt guilty for taking this time off. I know this space for healing isn’t something that everyone has access too. I feel very fortunate and grateful that it worked out in this way. I witness that this is a privilege.

I also believe that everyone has a right to boundaries and rest within their work day. I wish that was accessible to everyone.

If you are an entrepreneur thinking of taking some time off ...

...maybe a scheduled Friday Fun Day for yourself (I try to take at least half a day off from doing client work on Fridays, usually a full day)
...a weekend of not checking your email
...a week of being off the grid
...or a full month of luscious self care and play

I've got some ways to support everything in falling into place so that you can really rest + restore and be present for your time-off adventures or healing.
 

1. SET UP AN AUTO-RESPONDER.

This is something that I feel both sets my mind at ease and sets energetic boundaries between myself and anyone who may be saying hello in my inbox. In fact, I used to have an auto-responder set up for the weekends in order to let people know that I would be looking forward to replying to their email on Monday, but after a while I felt like I didn't need it any more.  

I set up an auto-responder for my month off. It included:
+ a little bit about what was going on
+ when I would be back
+ information about my business manager, who may respond for me (more about this in a minute!)
+ details about what I'd be offering once I was back

If you're wanting help with creating a clear + helpful auto-responder, check out this set of templates from Alexandra Franzen.
 

2. FIND SUPPORT.

If you're able to...I highly recommend hiring a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager, even if just for the time that you have carved out to be away if it's for an extended period in time. In this way, your VA or OBM can respond to any inquiries or important messages in your inbox + social media for you while you're away.

If you don't have a VA at this time, one way to support yourself is to take Alexandra's suggestion above for auto-responders and provide answers to any questions that are general but that you would deem important. For example, I may share details on my upcoming design schedule, or direct people to an intake form to get started in the process for my mentoring work.


3. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO SNEAK BACK INTO WORK-MODE.

Have you heard of the notion of "work creep"? It's what happens when it's 8pm you are settling in to watch Queer Eye on Netflix and then you notice that your gmail tab shows an unread message. "What exciting news could that be?" you ask yourself, clicking over to that tab. Then before you know it, you're diving into a project that probably could have waited until tomorrow.

If you're able, really give yourself that time off. Whether it's an afternoon or a weekend, a week or a month - know that the space you create for yourself is supporting you in fully showing up when you are scheduled to return.


4. SHARE YOUR PLAN WITH AS MANY OF YOUR CLIENTS AS POSSIBLE.

While the need for unexpected time off can't be helped, if you know that you'll be taking time off, share that with your clients. For example, if you desire to take every Monday off, bring that up in on-boarding conversations and write it into contracts. If you have a week-long vacation coming up, share what you'll be up to with clients who will be working with you during that time frame. For my month off, I tried to let my design retainer clients know as far in advance as possible, and I did some re-scheduling in advance for my 1:1 mentoring clients and my group offerings.

I felt *so* supported by my community when I shared my plans and everyone knew what to expect.


5. BLOCK OUT YOUR CALENDAR AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE.

Again, sometimes things just come up and you aren't able to block off time in your calendar. But, if you are planning something in advance, blocking off time on your calendar supports you in multiple ways. For examples, for my Fun Fridays, in order to ensure that I dion't have any 1:1 calls or Tarot Readings on that day, I have it blocked off in my calendar as "Busy." But also, when I see that notification coming up on my phone or calendar that it's Fun Friday - my whole energetic system remembers that it's a day for me to play!

SO YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING:: WHAT AM I UP TO, NOW THAT I'M BACK?


During this time off, I haven't been able to see well and I've been *itching* to do some design and coding. I'll be starting off my time back in Drawing Within by doing some personal creative projects with logos and coding, and plan on carving out "play" time blocks within my work week.  

I'm also gearing up for the upcoming round of Squarespace Sovereignty, which starts in August! There are just 2 spots available for those who would like full logo design, and 3 spots for those who already have their own logo. If you're interested, click on the link above and we can set up a time to connect on a call to talk more about your website vision!

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Celebrating the mystical and the technical

create your own site in Squarespace

When I designed my first website in 1997 or worked with my very own first tarot deck in 2006 - I never would have guessed that these two passions of mine would have intersected in the way that they do today.

Creating a personal website was my first art form. A couple of years after I created my first website, I designed my first "professional" website - it was geared towards educating people about environmental issues. I set up a super low-tech newsletter (there was no Mailchimp then!), and I was delighted when my website was used for an educational program at a university in California.

That experience showed me the potential of digital design, marketing, + images - and the reach that your work can have when it is in virtual form.

In college I started working with other forms of art - poetry, painting, and photography. I designed a portfolio for myself using HTML entirely in notepad - which was so fun and rewarding for me. The experience of coding in that way felt just as magical as moving paint around on canvas - it lit me up. 

In college I also started exploring spirituality and my intuition in a more focused way. I was drawn to work with the Tarot with the deepest sense of inner attraction. As I met the archetype within each card, it felt like meeting a new friend - and also, meeting a different part of myself. 
Now, with my work, I feel as though all of my passions: creativity, teaching, and spirituality combine in the perfect way here. It delights me that these components of myself can play together to fully.

Ultimately, I believe that the essence of your business should be reflected in the visual imprint of your online home.

Design and clarity leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

When I combine my eye for design with my intuition, a certain sort of alchemy happens. Your brand's energy transforms, and your audience is able to ground into your important work. 

I have officially opened the doors for Squarespace Sovereignty - a journey towards creating your own website with confidence with heaps of support and mentoring from me. See my Instagram stories highlights to learn more - we begin online in Aug. or join me live in PDX in Nov.!

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Where I've been dwelling

This is where my heart has been since Samhain, when I received a clear call from my ancestors to listen.

I have been combing through decades of century’s old Italian script, in a quest to find the thread of birth, union, and death, to find the names of those who came before me, to fill in the blanks of the stories that I have held dear since childhood.

I have been walking the streets of villages that my DNA has dwelled in for centuries though the cosmic powers of Google Maps, learning the names of the streets dedicated to roses and saints, to Goddesses and Hazelnuts, to the bodies of water, to the towering mountains. 

I have been learning their language, studying verb tenses and singing their songs, allowing their words to pour over my tongue like an elixir, leaning on my love of Spanish like a temple pillar.

I’ve been finding patterns in the naming - my ancestors honored Saint’s Days, the names of the village churches, remembered those who came before them, adored the great Mother. 

I feel privileged to know more names, to find neighbors, to celebrate, to mourn the losses of the loved ones of my loved one’s loved ones. I know not everyone is able to access this information. 

I remember being about 8 or so, sitting on my swing set, and asking my parents to name their ancestors for me, as far back as they could go. Making a map of aunts and uncles, great grand-parents and maiden names, cousins and speculations on where each part of the family was from.

I remember going to the Historical Society as a teenager, looking through dusty old books, finding addresses where my people had dwelled before they lived where I knew them to be.

And over the past 5 years or so, I’ve had the power of internet databases by my side. I’ve been piecing the mystery together. Finding naturalisation records, birthdates and village names. 

But there were pieces missing within my family tree. Until last month - I have found out so many names last month, my whole being is illuminated with joy. I recite these names like a prayer.

On Mother's Day, I visited a sacred place in Portland dedicated to Mary. As I’ve been connecting with my ancestors, I asked them what they would want me to do to honor the women who came before me on this day and that’s where they directed me to go. While I was there, I purchased Saint's Medals for each of my great-grandmothers names to honor them on this day. 
On that same day, when I got home, I found the birth certificates of 4 of my Great-Grandparents - even one who I had no hope of finding more information about. What's amazing about that is that I had the wrong birth year for her and happened to click on the records in a random spot in the year prior and there she was…

What's wild is that I had been looking for this information for about 5 years, & in a really focused way for about 9 months. But after buying these saint's medals, the information just sort of appeared in the same places I had been looking for it for a while.

So I’ve been time traveling, going back to the 1800’s, translating documents, witnessing the cycles, and digitally walking through the neighbourhoods of those who came before me, looking at the land from their perspective. I’ve been thinking about what has been passed down to me - my nose, my thighs, my jawline, my shoulders. How it’s all been passed down, little hints and glimmers of those who I don’t have photos for, but of those who’s names I now know.

Feeling them so much right now. It hasn’t all been comfortable. It hasn’t all been clear. But as I’ve been unpacking what is mine and what isn’t within my own personal practice, this is what is true for me, in this moment. 

I have never been to Italy, but when I studied abroad in Southern Spain, I felt so oddly at home and at peace there, in the Mediterranean, with the curved red tile roofs and the smell of warm olive oil drifting through the streets.

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Diving into the Waters of Reflection

quincy-alivio-28668-unsplash.jpg

Hello dear one,

I've been thinking a lot lately about the element of Water.

I've been thinking about the Water of those who came before me. The Water within my blood. The way their impression is in my spit, raw and hydrating at the same time. {Gratitude to Marybeth Bonfiglio for supporting an exploration of my lineage}

The way that not everyone has access to clean and potable drinking Water to nourish their bodies.

The way that Water cycles - it gathers in puddles, in streams and lakes and oceans and seas. It moves. It ebbs and flows, evaporates and gathers in the puffs of clouds, and then pours down upon us in gentle sprinkles or in sudden torrents.

The way that Water flows forward when it has found its way to rivers and streams, the way it makes rough stones smooth with its caresses, the way that it winds itself around any obstacle in its path to get to its intended destination.

The way that Water informs a landscape, offers sustenance to the environment, the way that Water was named by those who first found those Waters and the way that the names change as settlers mark their territory.

The way that on a molecular level, Water is sticky - it seeks connection, it desires to bond, it is looking for company. 

The openness in which water invites us to dive in - to not just to gaze at our reflection on the surface but to dive deep.  To explore its mysteries.

The way that this Earth is mostly Water, the way that humans are mostly Water, the way that our food is comprised of Water.

Water is pretty friggin' amazing. And ever-present. And precious.

I've been in this place of deep reflection, daydreaming, visioning, and heart-connection lately. I've been working with pouring the element of Water into the mix, allowing the Earth to serve as a supportive vessel through which Water can flow or be held, with open-hearted love. I’ve been especially in communion with Water by working with the Suit of Cups in the Tarot. 

(warning: lots of intended water puns ahead)

Much of the deep dives that I’ve been journeying through with water pour back and forth between my personal spiritual practice and the work that I do, and I’m noticing the way that water supports me not only in reflection, but in accessing my creative flow as well.

One of the reasons why I love the Tarot so much is that it offers so much insight, support, and clarity for me within both my personal practice and also in the work that I do.

As I’ve been in this place since Samhain (here in the northern hemisphere) last year, I’ve noticed so many insights, connections, and components of awareness have come forward from working with the Suit of Cups. I have found the wisdom of these cards in particular to serve as portals into reflection within my work. And the way that it offers inherent opportunity and support for expansion. 

The suit of Cups asks us to drink in our own wisdom and to pour our hearts into our work. It is from this place that we create our magic.

As a creative entrepreneur (and I feel like most entrepreneurs are inherently creatives!), the suit of Cups is sweet elixir for my energetic system and for the work that I do.

You see, the suit of Cups is known for being connected to reflection, the heartspace, intuition, creativity, nourishment, and being in a place of flow with the work that we do. I’ve also been having a lot of fun with noticing how other elements inform and support the element of Water. I mentioned earlier the Earth (much like a Cup itself) can show up to embrace Water. Additionally, the element of Fire reminds me of the passion and momentum that can be found in Water, and when we invite the element of Air into Water, we can witness our creative expression coming forth through our voice and mindspace.

In this way, as entrepreneurs, we can draw the essence of Water found in the Suit of Cups into the chalice of our work...and remain elementally balanced at the same time.

As we nourish ourselves with this elements, we can pour our whole hearts into the work that we do.

That is why I have created Vessels of Vision: An Intuitive Exploration of the Suit of Cups within your Business

I invite you to join me on a journey through each card within the suit of Cups...guided by inquiry, reflection, and action.

In this series, you will receive emails on this Suit with:

OPTION 1:

  • Informative videos, each exploring a specific card within the suit of Cups 
  • A reflection question so that you can dive into communion with each card and weave the wisdom you receive into your business

OPTION 2:

I’ve been working in a focused way with supporting entrepreneurs in learning design skills and techniques to inform creating offerings for their work. In this option, we’ll be pairing Cups with Canva, a online design program. You’ll receive the above, plus a daily tutorial on an element of Canva.

*I am in no way affiliated with Canva nor do they endorse this course in anyway. My goal for those who enroll in that option is to support a sense of fluency and fluidity within a basic design program to empower individuals within their online work.

A portion of your tuition will be donated to
Charity:Water and the Flint Water Fund

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Singing the story of the work you do through imagery

I am writing to you surrounded by what I like to call an “inspired mess” on my desk -

tarot decks, scraps of paper with doodles and notes, a few open notebooks, some of my favorite crystal companions, and a freshly finished cup of tea.

The reason this mess doesn’t bother me but yet inspires me is because I am currently wrapping up one of my favorite components to the Imbolc round of Squarespace Sovereignty - logo creation!

I see the logo design journey as a true co-creation - a delightful intuitive play between the entrepreneur I am lucky enough to be working with and myself.

Here's a sneak-peak of a couple of logos that have been completed already...

When I design a logo for an individual or a brand, my intention is to have the image serve as something that matches the essence of the work that my client does. In this way, a logo {and the remaining branding that corresponds to it} sings the song that matches the pitch, frequency, and melody of the work that my clients do. It's definitely an energetic connection.

During this process, one of the things that I explore with my clients is the personal symbols that they hold dear to themselves.

For example, my clients my be drawn to a particular geometric shape, color palette, plant, crystal pattern, element, animal, or phase of the moon.

One of the magical things that has happened over the years is that my clients (including myself!) have actually had their logos tattooed onto their skin! Like, forever! Which totally boggles my mind and feels like it really highlights and showcases just how important these visual depictions of one's work can be.


owl icon mauve 2.png

As I have been exploring the personal visual aspects of my clients' work, I got to thinking about my own logo, which I hold very dear to my heart - my little mauve owl.

Why did I choose the owl for my logo when I re-branded a couple of years ago?

Because I absolutely love owls and what they symbolize to me. Like, my heart leaps for them. They are creatures that totally fascinate me - dwelling in air and shadow, holding wisdom and intuition, supporting insight and those who are seekers of knowledge. I am inspired by how owls can see things far away in the dark so clearly, and how with this they also speak of inner sight.

In the Wild Unknown Tarot, artist Kim Krans chose the owl as the symbol for the suit of Swords, which is the suit I see myself in and learn from the most. 

For me, the Swords correspond to the element of air, and speak of the realms of the mind and voice. This suit asks us to speak wisely and in a way that honors our truth, and supports those who consider themselves to be communicators + teachers. The Swords also explores the full gamut of the mind - from anxiety to intuition, deep wisdom to the process of learning something for the first time. 

As someone with an abundance of Mercury in my chart (this planet of Swordsy communication rules my sun, moon, AND rising sign), I especially feel a kinship with the Daughter of Swords, who holds a Gemini-like curiosity and is on a never-ending quest for knowledge.

The Latin name for the Little Owl is Athene noctua, pointing to the connection between the goddess Athena, and her companion animal of the owl. The owl is also connected to Athena's Roman counterpart, Minerva. Athena, who stands for wisdom and justice, is sometimes known by the poetical name glaukopis, which means "owl-eyed" (source) - and Minerva is also described as having eyes like an owl as well. 

I have felt a kinship with Athena and Minerva since I started studying mythology and my connection to these Goddesses is something I have been turning to more deeply lately as I have been immersed in connecting to my own Mediterreanan lineage and its stories.

In working with my own personal symbology and exploring the visual essence of my brand...

and in supporting my design clients with their own visual identity...

I find more and more that when we weave in what is deeply true and meaningful to us, what is symbolic of the important work we do, what speaks to our own unique energy...that is the most lush and rich way to celebrate ourselves as we create and maintain our virtual sacred spaces online.

Whether you are an emerging entrepreneur who is stepping into the beginning stages of exploring your visual language and branding, or an established entrepreneur looking to create a shift in your visual identity - most likely, you can find the inspiration for your logo within yourself. Whether your logo is symbolic or literal - allow it to be a reflection of you.

Thank you for connecting with me here today.

P.S. If you're looking to create your own online space for the work that you do, doors are officially open for the upcoming virtual session of Squarespace Sovereignty. We begin in just about a month! I am also visioning around holding an in-person retreat for this offering in November in Portland. Contact me if you're interested in either offering and say hello! The previous two rounds of this program have reached maximum capacity pretty quickly, and I am so delighted to be offering it again!

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