Friday, October 25, 2013

The Gratitude Project 2013

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." - Melody Beattie

Fall is one of my favorite times of year - the colors, the change in weather, the abundance of gatherings with family and friends; what could be better?

With the seemingly overwhelming struggles and sadness we see everyday on the news, and in the lives around us, sometimes it's easy to take things for granted and forget just how beautiful life still is.

The Gratitude Project launches November 1st and invites us to notice, celebrate and honor the little things in life...we'll take photos of what we are grateful for for 30 days and share them on Facebook and label them "#thegratitudeproject2013."

I can't wait to see your pictures!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October Updates

Photo by Sarah
We are having one of the most beautiful autumns in Central Oregon this year! Warm 60 degree weather, blue skies and gorgeous colors! October feels like a blur - I got strep throat the end of September that lasted a good 10 days into the month, followed by a week of trying to catch up on things, before getting sick again for about 4 days. Needless to say, October kicked me on my butt which was a great reminder for self-care. There was lots of quiet reading and daydreaming this month...

Even with it being a month of only a few really "productive days" I hung a whimsical art show at Barnes & Noble for the month.

I made it to World Pulse's 10 year anniversary in Portland with my dear friend Padma.

I got to play in the leaves with Christina.

I taught a digital story portraits workshop at The Oregon Art Educators Conference in Sisters which was really fun!

And I was awarded a grant through World MUSE for a photography project I'm launching in 2014!

I just sent off the photos for my next photo exhibit that opens November 1st.

So for the 15 productive days of October around being sick, I'm realized that I actually got quite a bit of great stuff done! Whew!

Sometimes, just realizing that you got the big things done is enough to remind you that you don't have to push yourself to extremes to make some magic. :)

I hope October has been refreshing, creative and filled with soul-care for you too!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Gift of Life by Ana Campos

Life is sometimes amusingly serendipitous. As the season's started to change, with summer fading into fall, my life went through massive shifts. A lot happened in the last month: I turned 30, went apple picking for the first time, started drawing and painting again, and left my job. In my husband's words, I gifted myself a new life. I walked away from a traditional office job to become a full-time creative entrepreneur.

Phrased like this, it sounds like an easy, wonderful transition, but it was sincerely a very long, very difficult process, filled with tears and excruciating decisions. While it may seem like my entire life changed in the span of a month, this is something I first thought of a few years ago, and then spent a year and a half working hard towards.

Photo by Ana

We often hear people telling stories of leaving their day jobs to pursue a passion, of throwing caution to the wind and embracing the risk. They do sometimes speak of the struggles and difficulties of relying on a creative business for an income, but in this online world of Pinterest and carefully filtered blogs, I found myself wondering if some transparency was lacking. There are so many stories of women deciding to leave the workforce to happily sell their crafts while staying home with their children, but I feel like these stories paint an incomplete picture. They often don’t address the financial reality of making this transition.

The truth is I am absolutely broke, counting every dollar I spend, and I couldn't be happier. I left a job with a mediocre but stable paycheck, because it made me absolutely miserable. I did not make the decision to do so lightly, and I did not do it thinking I would make more money (or even match was I making). I chose to pursue my creative business because I reached a point where I could not be happy if I didn't - and that is when the risk became absolutely worth it. But running a full-time handmade business is full of challenges.

Photo by Ana

In a world with Walmart prices, it is difficult to compete with handmade goods. This is a fundamental truth of making a living from a creative enterprise. I went from knowing that I was getting paid for each day I went to work, to anxious wondering if I will make any sales in the coming day. I carefully watch all my expenses, and have made considerable adjustments to my budget. It is undeniably stressful to rely on an income that fluctuates so drastically.

For those of you considering taking a similar step, I offer a few suggestions. Write a business plan. Really, write a business plan. It’s intense and complicated and often feels at odds with the creative flow of what you want to do, but it’s so important to set goals and metrics for yourself. Really get to know your business and set up realistic expectations. If you need help, find the support you need. I signed up for Tara Swiger’s Starship, a support system for creative businesses, to get myself on track. Be honest with yourself through the whole process: about whether you really want to turn your passion into a business, about whether you can be disciplined enough to work for yourself, and about whether you’re willing to take the risk. And most importantly: believe in what you are doing.  

Ana is a pie-loving dream chaser. She owns a small creative business, Toil & Trouble, where she hand-dyes yarn and designs knitwear.  Currently, Ana is embarking on a new journey as a Studio Manager, working to develop a creative hub and empower artists to pursue their craft.  She was born in Brazil and traveled the world before settling in New England with her husband and two cats.' Read more about her on her blog:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Home by Charyn Gant

Photo by Sarah McMurray

These four simple letters can convey so many emotions. Home, seen in the most ideal light, is the center and the heart of our life. It represents OUR space, OUR sanctuary, the place we (hopefully) feel safe and secure. It is where we entertain, birth and raise families, comfort each other, tend to illness, and dream the future into now. Home is our connection to past, present and future.

However, when we lose the home we knew, there can be a great hole in our heart and spirit. Seven years ago and 2 years before my mom passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s, my sisters and I had to sell the house we had called home for 22 years. When mom was diagnosed, I didn’t realize at the time that it was the beginning of the end since I was the one still there with her, not wanting to leave her alone. Only when I had to move out did the reality hit me in a horribly hard way: the home I had known and the woman who had anchored it was no longer available to me. As with many others who experience this loss in varying ways, the outcome is the same: You can never again go home.

The place we called home, the aura, the scents, the objects, the people, holds a plethora of memories and experiences. Yet there comes the time when we must search, find and make our own homes. Where we consciously create sacred space for our selves and the life we envision in that place; where home becomes the very foundation to gather in celebration, in heartfelt community.

You are the center of your world and when you do not have a home to claim as your own, a deep sadness or depression may exist. Maybe you have a place where you reside but you don’t call it home. Maybe you have a new home but have not yet released the old one. Maybe you live alone and don’t always feel safe.

There is a Goddess I invite you to meet to help you seek and ensure that the place you eventually call home attracts good times, good love, good food and a good life. She came to me to introduce her so here she is!

Photo by Sarah McMurray
Hestia is the Greek Goddess of Home & Hearth. A quiet feminine figure, she tended to stay out of the drama of all the other Greek gods/goddesses, which is why we generally don’t hear about her so much. So if you’re the type of woman who wants a drama-free home, and I hope this goes for all of you, this is definitely the Goddess for you!

By invoking Hestia, she can help you find a home or to set the energy in place for one as it is she who presides over all domestics. She is the essence of community, family, food, cooking, feasts and fire of the hearth. She is a lovely protective Mother Goddess, which is especially helpful if you are a single woman living alone or in a questionable area of safety.

Hestia is a Goddess who chooses honors her heart and happiness by only doing those things that make her happy, a quality that could stand to be embodied deeply by every woman on the planet. If we all did this, we would probably have world peace by the end of the week! Hestia is the embodiment of peace, groundedness and centeredness. All of these qualities will anchor your home in light so that when you walk in the door at the end of the day, you gratefully leave the outside world and its dramas behind!

Ultimately, you are the creatrix and the gatekeeper of the aura in your home, including the energy and people you allow inside!

You have the freedom and right to limit or refuse entry to those whom you deem negative or unsupportive; those people can leave a residue behind that may compromise the loving energy of your home, including family and friends.

Choose every day, to fill your home with love, gratitude, joy and honesty and only those qualities and those who embody them, will enter.

Charyn Gant is the founder of the blog/site When We Listen to Trees: a platform to share information, stories and tolls of how we can improve our quality of life, especially our emotional health as it relates to our physical health. Charyn has been in the alternative healing arena for more than a decade. You can also find her on Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Like Walking on the Beach by Ana Campos

I sat down to write this post many times, and kept drawing a blank. My life is rushing by at warp speed right now. I'm in a huge moment of transition and change, and I'm juggling a LOT of things. This means that my always over-active mind is in over-drive right now and I had a very hard time getting it to quiet down enough to write something cohesive. 

After many false starts, I found myself thinking about my father. He is the slowest walker I know, which used to drive me nuts. No matter where he is walking, no matter how pressed for time he might be, he always walks at a glacial pace. This is where I should note that he doesn't do it because of any physical condition, he does it by choice. 

I am very accustomed to always being in a rush, and I find myself having to revisit my routines when my father visits. The ten minutes I factor in to walk to the train station have to double. The sight-seeing trip I know will take me about an hour will take at least twice as long with him. One day while walking in his neighborhood, I asked him: "Why do you always walk so slowly?" I was feeling irritated at having to slow down my usual pace.

Photo by Ana
He smiled and said, "I always walk as if I'm walking on a beach." He told me that life is always moving too quickly. We are always in a hurry to get where we are going, and don't take the time to enjoy the journey. So he makes a point of making every walk an event of its own. He pretends he is walking long the beaches of his childhood.

Photo by Ana
While I appreciated his perspective, I never internalized it until a few days ago. I was running an errand, and caught myself slowing down to enjoy the sunshine on my face. "Like walking on the beach," I found myself thinking. The lesson I learned is that living in the moment means trying to experience every moment, no matter how seemingly trivial. My goal had been to get to the hardware store, but the shift in perspective allowed the process of getting there to become something enjoyable. I had always thought of the time I spend getting to places as time lost, but now I know it doesn't have to be. Rather than agonizing over that time, I'm going to take more "walks on the beach."

Photo by Ana
(Photos from a trip to Antigua by the author.)

Ana is a pie-loving dream chaser. She owns a small creative business, Toil & Trouble, where she hand-dyes yarn and designs knitwear.  Currently, Ana is embarking on a new journey as a Studio Manager, working to develop a creative hub and empower artists to pursue their craft.  She was born in Brazil and traveled the world before settling in New England with her husband and two cats.' Read more about her on her blog:

Letter from the Editor & A Giveaway

Hello loves!

This month has been a crazy one of deep thoughts, transitions and learning. I've been reading about business, entrepreneurship, money and thinking through how I want to show up in the world. Change is on the horizon. As you'll notice, this blog is under transition...I'm playing with new branding for the blog, for my website.

Things are changing. This month in Pixie Campbell's class I was taking, I realized entrepreneurship isn't about working more necessarily, but working smarter - getting clear on what you really want. After coming down with strep throat and spending far too much money on a doctor's appointment for antibiotics after 3 days of toughing it out, I'm finally willing to admit some other things are's amazing how being in extreme pain can help you get really clear on what you want.

This has been a big decision...I'm letting "The Wild She-Tribe Project" quarterly e-books slide to the back burner until further notice because it's more work than I have time to give right now - but I'm going to revamp this blog into a space women's voices are heard, where community is built and where we become a family. I'm excited about it! The blog is already  a great start to that with the six incredible guest writers we have through January! They are truly a gift!

I'm getting really clear about what I want - community, creativity and a life that lets me do what I's coming! Be a part of it - there will be more opportunities for connection, for you to share your story and to be part of this adventure. Thank you for being a part of it!

As part of building more connections with readers, I'm giving away 6 spots for women to share their website, their blog, their Etsy shop right here on the blog! Winners will get a square spot (see the orange box example on the right side of the page) - a $25 value!

To enter, jump on over to my Facebook page, "like" the page if you haven't already, then share it and tag me! (Example: "Be sure to check our @Sarah McMurray Studios where creativity, pleasure and wanderlust meet!")

Winners will be selected based on sharing my page AND linking it to me so I see it and will enter you in the drawing on October 10th. Your promotion on the blog will last for one month starting October 15th! YAY! Who doesn't love supporting the She-Tribe?! :)

Get Involved:
I'm also looking for guest posts for the blog on abundance and community for the month of October. Learn more about submitting a guest post here.

Thank you so much for being part of this adventure, and I'm excited to share it with you as it unfolds and we create continue to create something truly beautiful together!