The clash of thunder shook me from my slumber and triggered my fight or flight response. Throwing off the covers and bouncing out of bed, putting on my boots, to run outside and remove the seat cushions from our outdoor furniture. A totally natural reaction upon hearing a thunderstorm in the middle of the night – right? Our outdoor furniture has become very important to me this year.
Pandemic party planner wasn’t a skill I was expecting to learn in 2020, but here we are and I feel like Christmas was my graduation show. CDC guidelines pushed my inner host to think in new ways and a spacious suburban backyard made distancing logistics easier. Seriously, just feel incredibly lucky and grateful that my family unit/cohort of eight were able to gather safely during this time. I have two nieces and a nephew of varying ages under 12, and I know the pandemic is going to mark their psyches. Eventually, as they grow older, the childhood trauma will manifest in some weird way like needing to have a linen closet stuffed with toilet paper in order to feel a sense of calm…or maybe nothing at all. Anyways, I wanted to influence their memories of this weird year positively and thus I became a pandemic party planner.
Back in July, I wrote down “plan a perfect pandemic backyard Christmas” in my agenda as an action item. A few ideas scribbled under the bulleted task to set me in a direction. Most of those initial scribbles didn’t come into fruition, but what did materialize achieved the desired objective – make positive memories for my nieces and nephew.
Below is a before and after of the backyard’s transformation from drab to Christmas fab!
Make children have to complete a Survivor-style obstacle course in order to open their presents. For a festive flare call the obstacle course portion of the party, Reindeer Games.
Also, since 2020 will likely be the last year my husband and I live with my mom, I wanted to display all the decorations we had and make the season special. The hodgepodge of items creating our own little Christmas aesthetic – rooted in tradition, textiles, collections, and a bit of resourcefulness. A tour of our aesthetic can be found on IGTV, or maybe that’s why you’re here in the first place – well, if so, thank you for checking out my backyard transformation.
📷: November 1, 2020 & December 1, 2020 – Self Portrait
My end goal of every year is to come out of it a little wiser than I entered.
Roses & Thorns:
- Legit don’t remember and need to keep better track in 2021
Two big brown button eyes are staring up at me, and I keep being gently smacked in the face with a paw. Lou would like me to get out of bed and attend to her needs now. But like all good parents, I am teaching her a lesson in patience. She is awake too early, and as she doesn’t have a concept of time, it’s very difficult to communicate this point to her.
My portrait of this Snail Mail is a mix of November and December. The months have run together in a blur of end of year wrap up assignments, an attempt at a CDC guideline approved social life, and online shopping. Zoom brunches where I can. A backyard hangout distanced six feet apart. Relentless fourteen-hour workdays to prove my value and worth. Shopping to comfort the emotional burn out that is 2020. I did a little “one for you, one for me” action while taking advantage of Black Friday deals to populate presents under the Christmas tree.
I’ve had years where the Christmas spirit has felt absent. But I don’t feel that this year. Despite the fact we are in a global pandemic that has impacted the ability to safely gather for Christmas with all my loved ones ( a reasonable sacrifice given hospitals are being overrun with Covid-cases on top of the common physical ailments that impact our fragile human bodies in otherwise “normal times”) the other special nuances of the season seem to be turned up for me. Like when a person loses their sight, so their hearing becomes supersonic. Hot cocoa is extra cozy and decadent. Inflatable lawn décor is mini art installations embodying the feeling of joy during the holiday season, or for me – the joy of Christmas.
Mid-December, I optimistically barrel forward until I drag my tired bones over the threshold into “holiday” territory. A two-week respite where the collective understanding is that new day-job demands are reserved for FY21. I’m looking forward to half days, end of year organizing (although there isn’t much considering I’ve been doing it bit by bit every weekend this year), working on the painting that I only work on once a year, and a little healthy goal planning for the year ahead.
As for a quick November recap, well, after a year of struggling with my imposter syndrome, I had a few professional wins that serve as evidence for my brain to say, “Hey, you’re not a con-artist; you have earned your spot at this table.” First, I helped contribute strategic insight for a new business proposal, and I dusted off my stage training as I hosted my first official webinar. I love presenting, and it was a fun webinar to host. Afterward, I was given kudos and informed it was the best webinar that the audience had attended. Woot woot!
I’ve learned and grown a lot this year. My end goal of every year is to come out of it a little wiser than I entered. I think I’m tracking towards that
It’s a g*d-d*mn victorious amazing liberating f*kn fantastic day.
Trump was not re-elected.
And to celebrate, I’m cleaning my house.
Cause it’s a day of cleansing — we are cleaning out the White House of the hyperbolic leadership of the last four years, so I’d like to reflect that sentiment in my home as well.
p.s. Sending my gratitude out into the world for all the amazing people who created memes and Tik-Toks filled with funny, and inspired commentary on this past week. It legit got me through Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
p.p.s. Watched this documentary today and holy mf cannoli …
I’m not one to share or talk about politics so publicly. The conversations that involve political themes require more patience and nuance than is ever allotted on the internet. It demands more empathy, compassion, understanding, and willingness to withhold harsh judgment on those that are not aligned with your belief system. I choose to not engage. However, today, in the light of all the pain, heartache, death, and despair that 2020 has endured – I participate in this political conversation and celebrate.
📷: October 1, 2020 – Self Portrait
He advocates for my health and mental-wellbeing to the inner critic, and I’m beyond grateful for the warrior I married.
Roses & Thorns
- Spending more time reading than watching TV
- Road trip to Arizona and Nevada with my favorite human
- Stumbling across an incredible view at Bellrock in Sedona
- Working on day-job projects till 11 pm and on weekends
- My anxiety manifesting in new and intense ways
- Not skateboarding enough.
Earlier today, I found reasons to procrastinate on this post like “my nails are far too long to type a blog post, I need a DIY manicure first” or “let’s enjoy another biscuit with a warmed up cup of coffee, before playing catch up.”
My nails are freshly painted. I’ve eaten two and a half biscuits today. And I watched two episodes of the Netflix show “UnWell.” Now, Brene Brown: The Call to Courage is paused behind the word doc in which I’m drafting this letter. I can’t procrastinate any longer.
Here is what’s been going on with me…
📷 : September 1, 2020 – Self Portrait
Blanket Fort Adventures is like a software that is always open and running in the background.
Here I am again, writing my monthly Snail Mail, aka Editor’s Letter for Blanket Fort Adventures. I almost wasn’t going to write this letter reflecting on the past month. Not because the past month was exceptionally bad or boring. I just feel called to focus my energy-elsewhere, but I can’t shake this feeling that I’m not upholding my commitments. And I don’t want to be ok with accepting that feeling anymore. When it comes to committing to a personal goal or being consistent with something outside the realm of my career, I am terrible. I am the first one to let myself down. But I’ve been actively trying to break that this year, and even have a life coach developed mission statement that opens with, “my purpose is to honor myself through the commitments I keep.”Continue Reading
I came across the work of Maria Filar in June after seeing someone repost her work on Instagram. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with her bold use of color and fun illustrative style. She uses her talents for activism and to generally lift the vibration of this world to a more positive place. I’m all about supporting a light warrior like that! I’m so excited to bring this interview with Maria Filar to this corner of the internet and hope you enjoying finding out more about this talented creative voice.
p.s. Her Threadless shop is filled with adorable graphic tees and more! The shirts with slogans like Welcome to the Apocalypse, Here for the Snacks, and Progress Over Perfection are all “add to cart” favorites. Think I’ll make them a reward if I hit my September goals.
Name &/or Nickname: Maria
Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Favorite Color: Bright Coral, Yellow, Pink – can’t choose one!
Childhood Hero: A little later (like early high school) I discovered Amelie and she’s been my top inspiration/hero ever since.
How did you get your start in illustration? And what is your creative process like?
I was an “art kid” in high school and always knew I wanted to do something in art. I went to an art school in Detroit (College for Creative Studies) and studied fine arts for one semester before realizing I am NOT a fine artist. I switched to illustration and it was much more suited to my talents and interests. In school they really pushed the freelancer/editorial illustration career path and I didn’t even know much about commercial art and product design, which is where my career took me in the 11 years since graduating. I love making art that speaks to a lot of people and can be made accessible to a wide audience. My creative process is kind of all over the place. I take inspiration from a lot of different sources and it has slowly grown into my current style, but as far as process goes I’m not much of a planner. I just mess around with imagery and colors until I’m happy with the final piece.Continue Reading