It’s coming up so fast and I’m so excited!

For each day during the month of October the challenge is to draw something in ink and share it with the world. The drawing can be anything you want, but there is an official prompt list as well.

I enjoyed sticking to last year’s prompts because it was fun to see how other people had interpreted the prompt and how my own contribution contributed to that body of creativity, so I’m going to try to do it again. For an additional challenge, some people layer in another constraint. Some people incorporate a secondary theme – all prompts as animals, all prompts fitting into an overall narrative, prompts drawn using their non-dominant hand. I’ve played with that idea, but it seems just too overwhelming. Just doing the drawings will be good enough  again this year.


Travel Writing – or Just Living?

Who would know better about what it takes to be an interesting and well-received travel writer than National Geographic? They put together a list of things that aspiring travel writers should consider during their travels. As I read it, I thought these were great tips for navigating your way through life on a daily basis.

#1 Assignment: Even if you aren’t on assignment for Nat Geo, you can give yourself a task or challenge to propel your journey. This puts you on a quest, and quests are excellent foundations for stories.

#2. Ask a million questions: Learn about the place you’re in. “It’s not necessarily expertise that separates a travel writer’s trip from your own. It’s urgency, an appetite for discovery, and an absolute necessity for answers.”

#3 Hire a Guide. They know the coolest places that you might not find on your own, and become an excellent resource for questions about the location. Even if you’re at home, there are parts of your town that others might know better. Find those people. Hang out with them.

#4. Find places where you can engage, and “go local”. Wander off the maps, step into locals pubs, take a class, or accomplish everyday tasks like getting a haircut or going to church. Isn’t this what we all do day to day in our own lives? It’s the attention to what is happening that is heightened when we travel.

#5. Walk. Travel slowly and eschew convenience for opportunities to stop and interact as much as possible.

#6. Get coffee. and while you’re there, try to strike up conversations. Apps and social sharing platforms like Traveling Spoon, Couch Surfing and Meetup can help open the doors to things that are going on in the region.

#7. Take Notes. Collect things. Take pictures. There is so much going on, collecting things you can sift through later in a quiet moment can inspire new ideas or suggest a shape to your experiences.

#8 Take a Break. Don’t forget to sit still for a while. It’s a good opportunity to be still and just absorb what is around you. If you really must plan every moment, consider finding a place for sunrise and sunset and being still while you watch.

#9. Embrace Change and feel free to scrap plans when something better/more interesting comes up. Have a plan to provide initial structure, but be flexible.

#10 Let go of your emotional baggage, and strive to be in the moment while traveling. As George Stone writes in the article, “Don’t compare, don’t anticipate, don’t vacillate, don’t cogitate. Simply embrace the present possibility of having an enlightening experience that reveals something you didn’t know about the world – or about yourself.”

Repair Cafe

The closest Repair Cafe to home is 4 hours away – so that isn’t going to work for me, but it’s encouraging to learn that people are getting together to learn how to fix things in this culture of planned obsolescence and a legal necessity for “right to repair legislation“.

For myself, the reminder that these things can/should be done is the most important thing. For example, I would love to know how to darn socks. And maybe I can’t make it to an in-person gathering, but I could probably learn how to do it on YouTube. So, thanks for bringing the idea into my attention, CityLab!




You’re Not Going to Believe – The Oatmeal


There’s part of me that thinks I should just leave it at that. This comic by The Oatmeal is worth the read, and wonderful on so many different levels.

There are things – mostly believable, if uncomfortable, things – to be learned, but more importantly for me, there were things to be felt. It was a small journey in self-awareness. Believe me, the few minutes it takes to scroll through the full comic are minutes well-spent.

HT to the wonderful chain of people on FB who conveyed this to me, Mark Ivan Cole, and Ben M. F. Rapson, and of course much gratitude to The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman whose work is always such a joy.

Get Up! Get Up!

Getting Up Early in Death Valley
Sunrise in Death Valley

Hello! It’s August! June blew by, and July was right on her heels, and I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of August before he hurries off too.

New months mean that I start a new section in my journal – the one I don’t share with anyone, and it’s always exciting to look ahead and dream in private about what I might accomplish with all the newness of a fresh month.

I celebrate new months, and new years of course. I celebrate revolutions around the sun, not necessarily with a big birthday bash, but at least a little to myself. I also celebrate the anniversary of getting a second chance after my big accident, the anniversary of getting married – my best and luckiest decision.

Isn’t it weird that I don’t celebrate every single new day?

One of my favorite John Muir quotes is one that you don’t hear very often. The mountains aren’t calling in this one, and nothing is attached to everything else. I’m not even sure it’s a real quote. Google can’t find it. T shared it with me one day, and I was so enamored that I wrote it down.

“Get up! Get up! Today is the first day of creation! It all begins anew!”

I’m not sure if I care if it’s a real John Muir quote. After all, today is the first day of creation! It all begins anew!

100 Words


I’m not sure what a 100 Grateful Words really looks like when its typed out onto a page, but I was inspired by the 100 Naked Words … is it called a publication?… on Medium, and I thought I’d give it a try. That’s part of the beauty of the internet, isn’t it? I’m so grateful to have such an easy way to connect with  interesting and creative people from all walks of life and to be inspired by the things that they write, draw, paint, photograph, do and think. Thanks especially to 100 Naked Words for this inspiration. I hope I’ll be able to keep it up.

Design and Life Lessons

A Medium page about design and life lessons by Marc Hemeon has been open in my tabs now for days. I’m clearly attached, and don’t want to completely lose track of it. Of the 70ish suggestions made in the list, here are my favorites.

  • Sketch with big markers — focus on the big idea and concept. Don’t get bogged down in the details.
  • Show more than images in your portfolio — explain your thinking and ideas behind your work by including copy with your images.
  • Icons with text are easier to understand — new apps should use text labels to help users understand navigation and features. You can drop the text labels when you hit 10 million users 😉
  • Design in black and white and add color later — if the design doesn’t work in black and white then adding color won’t help. Get the work right in black and white first.
  • Try it in German — too many times, when an app or design is internationalized the UI will break. Having more affordance and flexibility in your layouts will account for longer words when switching to other languages.
  • Say people, not users — “Users” sounds impersonal and clinical, try saying “People” or “Customers” instead, especially when sharing your design work with stakeholders.
  • Punch above your weight class — try what scares you, write that article or share that video tutorial or take that speaking opportunity. Try the uncomfortable.
  • Done is better than perfect — as designers we can have a tendency to overwork a design. Most of the time the design work we do will be iterated against later.
  • Cocoapotrace — Marc’s personal favorite live trace tool. Yes the site is a weird geocities site. But the software works great (and it’s free).
  • Saying NO is a strength — too many times we say yes when we really should say no. People respect no.
  • Spend time like money — guard your time, it’s your most precious resource.
  • Comparison kills — if you want to feel crappy about yourself then start comparing yourself to other people. You’re on your own journey and path.
  • Stop saying “Um”, “I think”, “I feel” and “So” — all of these phrases weaken your statement and make you sound less confident. Removing these words from your speech is difficult but very rewarding.
  • Contribute more, take less — whatever setting you find yourself in try to be the person giving the most to others, share your insights, your connections and your heart. You receive far more when you give.
  • Yes & — the classic tool of improv comedy. Saying “Yes and” will help you keep ideas flowing.
  • Market rate = the average of your 3 friends — use this formula if you have no idea what to charge on your hourly rate or what kind of salary to ask for.
  • Say thank you, how else can I help?
  • One big thing each day — focus on one task per day and get this task done. In fact, our friend Daniel Burka and his brother created an app to help with this called One Big Thing