the meaning of home

I’ve been away from San Francisco for exactly 11 days. Around day 4 or 5, I started to feel that yearning for the life I left behind while I jetted off to work on a dream project. My pets, my bed, my favorite park… even my favorite coffee stand. I’ve only been in San Francisco for about 6 or 7 months, but it’s strange to think how quickly it’s become ‘home’ to me. I didn’t move there with thought that it was a permanent move, but every time I leave, I ache for it. The strangest part is that I’ve always considered Seattle to be my true home. Yes, I only lived there for 2 years and, yes, I grew up in Maryland, but there has always been something that spoke to me about Seattle. For some fairly illogical and overly sensitive reasons (namely, a break up), I don’t feel like I can go back. At least, not yet. So I guess that partly plays into my surprise over how much I miss SF today. This leaves me wondering if there’s a sense of temporary home, sort of where you miss a place, but know it’s not the place. Or is it just that I miss my apartment, my things? I can’t really decide.

So tell me, what’s your meaning of home?

photography by Jojotastic

wake up feeling refreshed

While I’m not exactly chipper and cheerful in the AM, I can agree that what you do first thing in the morning is super important. What you do that first hour or so of your day defines the mood of your day. Here’s how I think of it: imagine waking up on the first day of vacation… now try to figure out a way to incorporate that into your daily routine.

I have a few tips and tricks that help me wake up feeling fresh and ready to take on the day. Here are a few:

  • Let the email sit: I used to immediately check my inbox as soon as my alarm woke me, but that just lead to feeling rushed and stressed out when I saw work-related emails. Now, instead of scouring through my inbox, I give my cat a good cuddle before I hop out of bed.
  • Take the dog for a walk: I like to start my day with a stroll around the neighborhood with my dog, Noodle. There’s something about getting all that fresh air first thing in the morning that energizes.
  • Have a routine: I’m a creature of habit and I tend to run late.Having a simple morning routine prevents me from feeling rushed and sets me up for staying on track for the rest of the day.
  • Get a glass of water: Chilled water (I like mine infused with mint leaves) is a great way to start your day feeling refreshed and invigorated.

morning ritualsmorning rituals
What are some things you do to embrace the day and start out on a fresh foot?

photography by Jojotastic

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Carefree and SheKnows. All opinions are my own, and I would never endorse something I didn’t completely love. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Jojotastic going.

thoughts about authenticity in blogging

Today I want to talk about post-vacation slump. It’s funny because, while I’m on vacation, I always journal about what feels like resolutions. New Years resolutions don’t really resonate with me. Instead, I prefer to brainstorm mine during key moments in my life. Maybe it’s because my life is so full of travel that I feel like the trips themselves are like milestones in my life. Remember when I went to Turks and Caicos and came back all inspired and amped up? That’s what I’m talking about.

My most recent trip has essentially confirmed an idea I’ve been fostering for a while: that this blog needs to be more personal, more of my aesthetic, more… well, authentic to me. I like to think that the only reason I have readers is because of my unique story. Plus, those posts are what excite and drive me the most. I am most excited about posts where I can spill my feelings, share personal stories, and ask for advise from you guys. That isn’t to say that you won’t see sponsored content pop up in this space. It’s more that I want to be proud of everything to which I attach my name. Buzzword that it is, ‘authenticity’ is the name of the game and I want this blog to reflect that more and more.

So, really, I just wanted to share my jumbled thoughts with you, almost as a hint of what’s to come. I’m planning more photoshoots (including more photos that I’ve taken myself!), more thoughtful content, and much, much more creativity. It’s a really exciting time and I am truly honored to share it with you.

PS – for more reading on authenticity in blogging, check out these incredible posts by Apartment 34 and Wit & Delight.

photography by Jojotastic

a good list // some inspiration over on

Are you a list maker? I totally am. Whenever I’m feeling anxious or blue or unmotivated or overwhelmed… or anything really, I find a scrap of paper and jot down a quick list. I’ve been known to cart around notebooks for this purpose alone. There’s just something so much more satisfying when it comes to physically writing instead of opening an app on my phone. These days it sort of feels like life is happening way too damn fast and I’m barely keeping my head above water. It’s scary. So again, I turned to my list making and wanted to share a few ‘tasks’ that I try to keep in mind to help maintain perspective.

It’s ok to take a day for yourself, but don’t get mired in the solitude. I’m one of those people who absolutely requires alone time every once in a while, but I have a tendency to stay put once I’m there. I have to remind myself to come up for air and reach out to people.

It is always worth it to wake up early. I suck at mornings, but think: sunrises over the grand canyon, being the first on the mountain, getting the good spot on the beach. That is the good stuff in life.

At the end of the day, you’re all you’ve got. I have some of the most incredible friends in the world, but these 29 years on this earth have taught me that I need to stand on my own two feet no matter what.

What’s on your list?

photography by Jojotastic

this weekend: gallivant with purpose

I can already hear the weekend calling… or maybe it’s the mountains and the beach? Either way, I’ve got a long weekend ahead of me and it’s all I can do to stay patient and wait for some much-needed time off. With the move from Philly to SF, I’ve been feeling a lot like I got my life back. I’m in a part of the world where it’s almost expected of me to do the things that keep me happy, grounded, alive. Pulled from Sibella Court’s newest book, Gypsy, I’ve taken to heart this sentiment: gallivant with purpose. It doesn’t matter when you’re doing, but I highly encourage you to do it with glee and joy and all excitement of a golden retriever puppy. That’s what I plan to do all weekend long. Happy Memorial Day, guys.

photo by Jojotastic on Instagram

my decision to go back to full-time employment //

Yesterday, Clementine Daily interviewed me and asked a very pointed question: How have you adjusted to the transition of living on the West Coast (again) and working full time in a office-like setting? So today, I felt like going deeper into why I made this leap. I feel like it’s really popular right now to proclaim ‘yay freelancing,’ but when it comes down to it, it’s not for everyone. I’m one of those people and I want to share my story.

The Hustle
I say this without hyperbole: freelancing is hard. It got to a point where I felt like I was hustling 24/7. I was always on, always chasing that next big opportunity whether it was a design client or a blog sponsor. I never felt like I could turn down a job because my mind was always wondering “What if you run out of money?” So I worked my butt off. I stayed up all night making pom poms. I learned how to fix plumbing when I clogged my drain with glitter at 3 am the night before a shoot. I also started to push back meetings later and later in the day so I could sleep in to catch up on all the sleeping I was missing. Now that was a vicious cycle. When I went on vacation in October, I realized that I was burning myself out and something needed to shift. I’d unwittingly created an environment that wasn’t healthy for myself at all.

Hello, is anyone there?
It gets downright lonely working solo, especially when your office is actually your kitchen table and your drawing surface is actually your sofa. Days would go by where I’d not get dressed, not wash my hair… you get the picture. I discovered also that I greatly value the feedback of others during my design process. When I worked in an office, it wasn’t uncommon for me to turn to my desk neighbor and ask, “Hey, what do you think of this?” You can’t do that when working from a cafe.

The Perks
I don’t know how to sugarcoat this: I missed a steady paycheck that I didn’t have to chase, health insurance, dental insurance… even 401(k) matching. So much of my time as a freelancer was also spent shopping for insurance plans and chasing invoices that it felt like I couldn’t even be creative during the day. Now that I’m back in an office environment, it is expected of me to be creative.

This probably goes against the grain, but I’m a creative who loves structure. I firmly believe that structure allows me to be creative. If I know all the superfluous stuff is being taken care of, I don’t have to worry about it… and therefore I can design some really rad stuff.

All of that being said, I am so unbelievably grateful for everything I learned while freelancing for 6 months. My biggest take away is that I now have more confidence in my skills, my voice, my talent than ever before. This wasn’t a decision that I entered into lightly and ultimately it came down to being offered a job that was so unbelievable that I just could not walk away. As I’m writing this, I feel like I could go on and on about how happy I am to have made the leap back into full-time employment, especially with the company I am so proud to be a part of now. While this may not be the “popular” decision among my peers, I am really proud of the decision I made.

photo by Jojotastic — that’s actually my desk!

stay at home club

Oof, Friday, what took you so long? This tee from the Stay At Home Club sums up my plans for the weekend perfectly. The truth is that I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. Between balancing a full-time job, this blog, and an ever-full social calendar, I’ve just not been taking care of myself. And, boy, am I feelin’ the repercussions this week. I’m exhausted. This weekend, I have one thing on my mind: hibernation domination. But what about the following week? It always feels like I can’t keep up, that I am eternally one step behind. The dishes pile up, the floor doesn’t get swept, and my laundry becomes a mountain. Something I’ve thought about doing lately is setting days that are to be treated as “date nights,” but for myself. These are sacred days, days when I will not make plans, but rather focus on the quiet time that I clearly need. I’m a person who requires frequent battery charging, so to speak. Because of this, my goal is to take Sunday and Wednesday for myself. I want these days to sit on the couch with my tiny zoo, clean the kitchen, change my sheets… things like that. I admit, I am one who finds peace in domesticity, so these ‘chores’ are vital to helping me feel more grounded.

So, I’d love to know… what helps you stay balanced and grounded?

image via Stay At Home Club

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