Friday, December 21, 2018

Holiday Permission

This is your permission.

Permission to be fully you during the holidays.

Permission to be sad about what isn't, while joyful about what is.

To not allow others' anxieties, hang-ups, and issues to become your anxieties, hang-ups and issues.

Permission to feel lost and yet found.

To be whole. To be rooted. To be free.

To feel grounded in the middle of everyone else's chaos.

You get to decide.

You are in charge. 

And isn't that a lovely thing?

Sending hugs, peace, and light to you,

Monday, December 10, 2018

One Little Word 2019

Hello there friend!

I hope December is treating you well so far. Is it flying for you like it is over here in our corner of the world? Goodness it will be Christmas like...tomorrow? And 2019 a week? It certainly feels that way.

I've been thinking about writing this post for a few days now. To talk about my OLW (one little word) for 2018 and what I've chosen for 2019. I've been choosing a word to guide my year for several years now, and most years my words have served me so well. Like in 2017 when my word was MAGIC

For 2018, I chose the word balance

This choice came after a chaotic and anything but balanced end of 2017, when I decided I had to pay better attention to self-care and focusing on the things that mattered in 2018. 

Little did I know what the coming year had in store for me. 

2018 was not balanced at all. Comically so. Like when I look at that cute acrylic word cut out up there, which I keep in our bedroom, it makes me giggle every time. 

It was the most painfully awkward and mentally draining year I've ever experienced. Counting down the days until 2019 over here. 

It caught me by surprise, knocked the air out of me, left me in a panic more times than I could have imagined, and forced me into painful experiences of growth I would not have chosen. 

Family illness, huge shifts in relationships, crazy big changes in my day job, my boys starting middle school, and all of the challenges that come with working an 8-5 while also working toward an art career at the same time.

I had lunch with a friend a few months ago, when I was in the thick of the hardest part of the year. Thank goodness for friends who'll let you confess that you are losing your shit while sharing a plate of BBQ nachos.  

She helped me realize that every significant area of my life was out of balance. Work, family, extended family, my art career. Nothing felt settled. No wonder I was a disaster. Ha! 

Now this is the part when I get really honest with you. For most of this year I have resented my day job in the worst way. I was in a terrible downward spiral. I wanted out. All of the change and upheaval at my job, while mostly positive, were too much for my slow-to-change soul to handle. 

One of the most challenging parts of this year? 2018 required me to use my voice in big, scary ways. You know that saying about speaking your truth, even if your voice shakes? Yep, this year had that covered for me, quite literally. 

I found myself in situations where I had to speak up about extremely difficult things. (Going back to that voice shaking thing here.) There were so many times when I wasn't sure if I should have said anything. And then after that hard experience or meeting, someone would come up to me and thank me for speaking up. And each time that happened, it became clearer to me that my voice mattered. 

The words I said actually made a difference...brought about change. Whoa. I had never experienced that before. 

And then in early November my body decided it was not having any more of this nonsense and totally went on strike during one of my biggest work event weekends of the year. I ended up in bed for three days straight after a massive panic attack. It was like my body and soul had a come to Jesus meeting and decided no way, no how, was Mandy going to spend two days being hostess to 80 people.

But that weekend was like a reset for me. I came out of it feeling relieved and ready to face whatever was ahead. And so very thankful I had come through the other side. 

I also realized that I've been trying so hard to keep areas of my life separate from each other. 

The Mandy who works 8-5 in higher ed AND the professional artist Mandy. 

The quiet, introvert Mandy AND the not afraid to speak her mind Mandy. *It was such a surprise to meet that version of me this year...I think I'll keep her.

The Mandy who is mourning change while simultaneously thanking God for new opportunities. 

The Mandy who is thankful for her current life while at the same time dreaming of more.

I want to remember in 2019 that I can be all of the things I am, all at the same time. 

I can be filled with anxiety while also using my voice and speaking my truth. I can work 8-5 in a seminary and then come home and draw illustrations for my art agent. I can be humble while also sharing my gifts and knowledge. 

It might seem a bit silly to even need to say these things because they are all a part of who I am, but for some reason I've fought letting them all live together. 

So when thinking about a word for 2019, I wasn't even sure if I was going to choose one. I mean, 2018's word fell totally flat on it's face. I knew that if I was going to choose one it needed to be exactly the right thing. I didn't want an unattainable goal, or a word that would put unneeded pressure on me after the dumpster fire of a year I had just gone through.

And then I figured it out. 

My word for 2019 is...AND.

More specifically, the ampersand (&) because it's just so darn cute. 

I want to embrace every single part of who I am this year, and not worry so much about making the wrong choices, saying the wrong thing, looking or acting differently than others might expect from me. 

I didn't realize how much I was doing this until everything I relied on got flipped on it's side this year. 

If you've made it through this entire post, bless your heart and thank you. I know I don't blog like I used to, but I have so many friends that have been with me since the beginning of this crazy little space, and I appreciate each and every one of you so very much.

I haven't decide on a talisman for 2019 to keep my word close to my mind and my heart, but with how much I love the ampersand I might just have to get a few different things. I've been pinning ideas here

Do you have a word for 2019? I'd love to hear more about it in the comments!

Here's to a new year of embracing every single little thing that makes you, you! 


Friday, October 26, 2018

Coffee Talk

If we were having coffee this morning, I would tell you that whatever you are struggling with, you may think you can't handle, but you are most certainly qualified.

I would tell you that you are growing and learning, and through this hard stuff you are becoming even more of the person you are meant to be.

I would tell you to keep moving forward, to remember to take deep breaths, and to not feel guilty for that extra dash of cream and sugar in your cup.

Wishing you an encouraging, cozy, and joy-filled Friday friends!


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Fairy Wing Mural

I'm super excited to share my most recent local project...

a fairy wing mural for our city's welcome center!

I've been wanting to create one of these interactive murals since I discovered this amazing one in Nashville, Tennessee...

It was such a fun and rewarding project, and I can't wait to see how visitors to the welcome center use them!

How fun are the baby wings?! I think they are my favorite part. 

You can visit them in person here

Sending creative vibes to you,


Tuesday, October 02, 2018


“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” - Anne Lamott

If you are going through hard things, in a tough season, feeling hopeless, raw, or exhausted, this is for you. 

You are not alone friend, and we're in this together.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New Class!

Hello friends!

How is your week going? I hope you've had some small, or even BIG victories to celebrate. There has been so much going on in our little corner of the world that my head has almost literally been spinning these past few weeks. 

My boys starting middle school (HOW did that happen?!), one of my busiest times of the year at work, and keeping up with usual life stuff like we all have. But in the midst of all of this craziness there is much to celebrate, including the launching of my fourth class with Big Picture Classes, Fantastic Digital Florals!

I can hardly believe this is my fourth class with BPC, and being asked to teach another iPad drawing class has been like a dream. I had no idea how the iPad would change everything for my drawing career, and now I want to share all of the fun tips and tricks I've learned this past year with you!

This class focuses on the basics of drawing floral shapes in Procreate, one of my favorite things to draw. Flowers can be challenging though, so I hope this class can take some of the anxiety out of the process. 

I'd love for you to join me

And if you want to dive into lettering in Procreate, be sure to also check out my Master Class, Mastering iPad Lettering!

Sending you all of the good Tuesday vibes!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Local Class

Hey there friends!

Who wants to come paint with me? On July 14th I'll be teaching a super fun mixed media art class at the Richmond Art Museum!

We'll create with paint and all sorts of other fun mixed media supplies to create one of a kind art pieces. 

Check out the class here

If you are local or nearby to Richmond, Indiana I'd love for you to join me!



Thursday, June 14, 2018

A bit of encouragement for all of us...

The creator’s journey is not for the faint of heart.

Once you figure out that thing you want to do with your life, you’ll do just about anything to make it happen. But the path is usually unclear. Sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever find it.

It comes with hurdles, speed bumps, closed doors, and doors you have to decide to open or not. It takes courage to accept the lot of it, allow yourself to wallow for a bit in disappointment, be okay with settling into discomfort, know that you will never do it perfectly, know that there will be times of genius and times of absolutely no inspiration to be found, know that there will always be competition, but also know that no one else can do it like you.

And the path you are paving is only creatable by you.

For all of us that are finding our way toward our creative destiny, we are not alone.

So keep going.

Don’t give up.

We were made for this.

Hanging in there with you,


Thursday, April 26, 2018

New Class!

Have you ever been given an opportunity that is so in line with your biggest goals and dreams that you start to doubt yourself?

Those annoying internal questions start chiming in, "Why did they choose me?" "Surely there is someone more talented to do this!"

(Helloooo imposter syndrome!)

You know what? Yes, there probably is someone more talented than you. There is always going to be someone ahead of you. 

And still, the opportunity belongs to YOU! 


End of story. 

So take it all in, throw all of the thank you's you can out into the universe, and rock the sh*t out of it.


If you want an example of my latest version of this story, head over to Big Picture Classes on May 1st to check out my newest class with them, Mastering iPad Lettering! Seriously...we are going to have SO much fun lettering on our iPads!

You can check out my teacher page here--->

Hope you have a fantastic Thursday! 


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Breaking Free

There have been two times in my life when I felt as if the universe was guiding my soul and circumstances in a way that was not under my control.

The first was five years ago when I came back to drawing.

The second is happening pretty much right now as I type this, and has been ruminating for almost all of 2018 so far.

Everything feels a bit like it is floating in a holding space, between the now and the what is going to be, and I'm just waiting for the second gate to open and let me through. 

Meanwhile God is sending me some stellar growth opportunities.

That last line was written with a bit of sarcasm, because GOODNESS. I'm spent.

Now is the time when I need to admit I had gotten myself to a very cranky place. And when I say cranky I mean bitter, annoyed, frustrated...all of those emotions we are taught to hold inside, mask with a smile, work through with a few encouraging images shared from Pinterest. I've been trying that last one and it does help a bit. 

Funny thing about God and the universe is that sometimes when you are begging for mercy, it comes in the exact opposite form you were expecting. 

For me, mercy has looked like two weeks full of challenging situations...using my voice, speaking up for myself and for others, facing hard truths, and stepping into my fullest potential. 

It has been EXHAUSTING and at the same time EMPOWERING.

You feel like you are facing it all alone. And at times you are. But I've also had friends stand up for me, take my hand and say, "I'm with you," thank me for having the courage to speak up. 

I even got a "That took guts!" which I have never, ever in my life been told. 

I have guts?! 

Surely they were mistaken.

But you know what? Turns out I do. They've been in there all along. 

The five-year-old who used to hide behind her mother's legs at church. 

The early twenty something who quit more than one job because she was terrified of failure. 

The girl who dropped an art class in college because she couldn't stand anyone watching her draw. (I know, right?!

She had guts. She didn't know how to use them yet, but they were already there. 

And the funny thing about using your guts is they multiply exponentially super fast with each use. Kind of like eating Grape Nuts cereal. You take one bite, and it's replaced with two more. 

The supply just keeps building, cheering you on from the conference room, the art table, the coworker's office, the email inbox. 

I was on the treadmill yesterday morning thinking about the past few weeks and shedding a few tears, (exercise is emotional you guys) and quickly typed up this list of instructions that helped get me through...

  • Speak up
    • Even when it is hard. Especially when it is. 
  • Lean in
    • Don't run away from the hard stuff. Know that it is helping you grow.
  • Hold on
    • Tight. To whatever you know is true and good in your life. The people, the feelings, the experiences.
  • Power down
    • Rest. Relax. Do what you need to do to regroup.
  • Zone out
    • Sometimes you have to escape from all of it, even for a few minutes. That's OK! Turn off your mind, take a nap, meditate, eat a pint of ice cream. Whatever works. 

*May I suggest 4 & 5 be done appropriately with your favorite Netflix show, your comfiest pants, and whatever comfort food fits your mood at the moment. 

Here is an illustration of me powering down, you know, for visual reference.

The lesson in all of this is I'm right where I need to be. And you are too. 

Life being hard and challenging doesn't have to mean you are stuck. 

Sometimes it is giving you the opportunity to break free. 

So a little recap for us all:

  • Use those guts God gave you
  • You are not stuck
  • You are right where you need to be
  • You are breaking free

You got this.



Wednesday, April 04, 2018

New Family Member

I'd like to introduce you to a new family member.

A new member of my fake plant family! 

Which one is new, you ask? 

I know. There are four in this photo. (I have a problem.)

That tall, white potted beauty up there. That's her. 

She came to live with us thanks to the nice folks over at Silk Plants Direct

When they offered to send me another plant to add to my ever-growing (and never dying!) collection, and I saw their awesome selection, I couldn't turn down their offer.

I'm even thinking about buying a plant stand. For my fake plants. Is that weird?

I really don't care. Because my available surfaces are getting full. And these puppies aren't going anywhere because, well, you know.  

Just call me the crazy fake plant lady. 

And if you want to join me in this fake plant craziness, you can get 10% off everything but custom orders by using code BLOGGER10! 

Brown thumbs unite!


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Photowall Product Review + Coupon!

Happy weekend friends!

I hope you are enjoying some time to rest and relax from the week behind us. I know today, for me, was deeply needed after a week full of extra work responsibilities.

My soul needed time to breathe today.

This morning I put together a lovely canvas sent to me from the folks over at Photowall. 

They offer lots of ready-made artwork, or you can upload your own for them to print, which I did for this canvas.

It was a super easy process to attach the wooden frame and screw it together.

And now I have this lovely piece of my original, hand drawn, digital artwork to display.

Thanks Photowall for this lovely piece of artwork! 

And if you would like one of your own, you can head over to their site and enjoy 20% off your purchase with code MandyFordCampaign2018

But hurry! The code is only good through April 30th! 

You can also grab this lettering piece as a print in my Etsy shop here!



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This Week in My Planner

Good morning friends! Happy Tuesday!

How is your week going so far? It is a busy one for me but I'm finding lots of reasons to be thankful, and my planner sure is one of them!

This week I decorated using printables from The Reset Girl

Goodness they are adorable! 

I was itching for some new stickers and since I didn't have somewhere to shop locally these were the best form of instant gratification!

I'm enjoying using the notes area to keep track of daily gratitudes!

SO ready for Friday! Spring break starts AND pizza night. Perfection.

I really love these little phrase strips. 

And I never forget to include my weekend morning coffee date with myself!

I didn't take the time this weekend to create a video of the process, but you can watch my first two over on my YouTube channel.

Hope you're having a fantastic week!



Saturday, March 10, 2018

New Happy Planner Video!

Hello friends! Happy Saturday!

I did another fun little video showing how I decorated in my classic size Happy Planner this past week. If you love adding stickers and other cute embellishments to yours as much as I do, I think you'll enjoy watching my process. I really love watching how others decorate theirs and getting new ideas.

If you head over to the video on my YouTube channel, I've left details for finding the stickers I used. 

Hope you have a great weekend!


Monday, February 26, 2018

In My Planner This Week

Happy Monday friends!

I hope you're having a great start to your week.

Mine has begun on a happier note because I set aside some time yesterday to prepare for the week in my Happy Planner! 

I have to say that since I started using a paper planner, it has really helped me focus and keep track of things. And it completely satisfies my craving for using cute stickers and washi tape, now that I don't scrapbook like I used to. I've been able to use stickers I had been hoarding for years, so I feel like I'm saving us money by not buying a ton of new ones. 

Always thinking about our budget! *wink* 

I thought it would be fun to do a video of how I decorated this week's spread, so you can check that out below!

Sending good vibes for a fantastic week!



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