b*daily :: yeah, so… come on in

Today marks a definite “first” for me. For some reason, I was thinking that it would be fun to record a video and share it here with you. I have no experience with video, whatsoever. Filming, editing or uploading–really, no clue what I’m doing. But my dad got this cool Flip video camera, and I have it for the time being. So I thought I’d use it to create a sort of a behind-the-scenes type thing. Put a voice to the blogger. Or something. It only took about five takes to sound remotely normal (have you ever noticed how weird your voice sounds on video??), and I realize that I still come off as a complete dork. Case in point… I showed this to my husband, and he literally burst out laughing uncontrollably. But! In case you want five minutes of entertainment on this Wednesday morning, I’m going to go ahead and show you the video anyways.

This is what a Wednesday morning at b*spoke looks like:

If you happen to be at work and can’t watch this tasty little trifle… let me highlight a few of the details here:

- We are listening to Mat Kearney. We love him.
- By “we”, I mean Laura and I. She’s here today. Yay!
- It is snowing today. Yuck!
- My orchid is still alive so far.
- Did I mention that it is snowing today? YUCK.
- I’m starting a new blog project today. It’s gonna be good.

b*home :: the beginning of a collection

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So I am not very good with plants. As in, most of them die under my care. A few do seem to flourish, however. I think they might be the type that thrive on neglect. Anyways, a couple years ago my husband bought me an orchid. A gorgeous, blooming orchid. It flowered for a few months, and then I was left with a few rubbery leaves in a clay pot. I kept the plant because, frankly, it was green and seemed to stay green even when I forgot to water it for a few weeks. On a recent occasion, when I remembered to hydrate my drought-ridden plants, I noticed that the orchid leaves had some little shoots poking out of them. I did some research and learned that my precious orchid plant might very well bloom again. The very thought of which took me by surprise. I mean, really?! I not only kept an orchid alive–I actually, possibly, even might get it to flower a second time!? This possibility started a mild obsession with orchids. I spent at least half of Saturday reading about them, figuring out how to care for them, and watching endless YouTube videos about them. I might have even added something to my bucket list having to do with them:

cultivate a collection of orchids

Yeah, about that bucket list. I promise to share it soon. In the meantime, I’ll be babying my orchids.

My collection currently contains the original plant with the naked shoots poking out of it, and this beauty, which I purchased from Home Depot last night. It’s a mini Phalaenopsis orchid. And it lives in my studio. Now let’s just hope I can keep it alive.

b*ponders :: contentment

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One night last week, I lay awake in bed, fretting. I couldn’t even tell you now what I was worrying about, but something was keeping me awake. Or maybe it was more like several things, clamoring for my attention and filling me with anxiety. I tend to live in my head allot. As a creative, my mind is always whirling with ideas, projects, dreams, goals, plans, and tasks. So it’s not unusual for me to fall asleep solving problems. On this particular night, however, I couldn’t fall asleep. I tossed and turned as the noise in my mind became a deafening roar. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not not too much. At 2:30 a.m., I finally got out of bed and padded to the bathroom with my bible. I sat down on the floor and thumbed through in search of something to quiet my mind. I found myself in Philippians, chapter 4. Verse 8 contains the famous list of things worthy to set our minds on–whatever things are pure, noble, just, lovely, etc. It seemed like a promising passage to meditate on. I kept reading. The second half of verse 11 stopped me.

for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content

Content. In whatever state. I thought about it for a second. I tasted that word on my tongue… content. I let it fill my mind… content. How often that I described myself as content? In whatever state. I realized that the noise in my mind was a sure indicator of my discontent. My worry and striving were signs that I was unsettled–to the point of sleeplessness. Slowly, the noise quieted, and I made my way back to bed, drifting off to thoughts and questions about contentment.

This week, I’ve been pondering the question… what does it look like to be content, in whatever state? It’s no secret that I am a goal-oriented person, always chasing the next horizon. So how can someone like me, always looking at the next mountain to climb, be content in the foothills of life? Because let’s just be honest here, not every day is a dream. There are mundane tasks we all must do, and no matter how much any one of us loves our job, there are still days (or weeks) where it is just that–a job. Working as a freelancer, I get to experience some pretty awesome stuff… like making my own schedule, working with other creatives, and getting to BE creative on a daily basis. But I also have to deal with inconveniences like business admin and an unpredictable income. Some months are tight, I won’t lie. And when things are tight, I start to get pretty discontent, thinking “if only we had more money, we could afford to save more, or go on that vacation, or buy new furniture or go out to eat.” It’s easy to go down that path, and I’m certain that most of us have done so, many times over. But it’s not just money that we can be discontent about. I know that I’ve personally felt discontent about the relationships in my life, where I live, what I look like, my job, my schedule, my responsibilities–you name it, I’ve probably been unhappy with it at some point. This type of thinking is normal, right? I mean, life isn’t always lemonade, and are we really expected to smile when we have a plate full of lemons before us? How can Paul know contentment in the face of lemons and lemonade (Phil 4:12)?? How can his level of contentment be a solid steady line, through all the peaks and valleys of life? The answer, of course, is in verse 13.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Now, you’ve probably heard that verse before. I know I have. It can sort of sound pretty cliche to me, honestly. It’s one of those verses that I learned as a child, and I’m not sure if the full meaning of it has ever settled in my soul. But this week, I’ve been letting it sink in. Because I think that knowing and trusting in Christ and His plan for my life brings a certain amount of peace. Yesterday I was sitting on the couch with my husband, relaxing and scratching down notes in a journal. Suddenly, I stopped what I was doing and I looked my husband and I said, “I’m content.” The sense of certainty in that statement filled me from head to toe. I thought about all the things that could worry me at that very moment… finances, deadlines, tasks, questions of “will I succeed at this? or will I fail at that? and will I ever fulfill this dream?” None of those things seemed important. Because right there, in that very moment, I had a roof over my head, and food in the kitchen, a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch with my husband, and most importantly, a Heavenly Father who has all the details figured out. He’s got the plan for my life written already. All I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, breathing in and breathing out–the very act of which can only be done by His grace. My dependence on Him has become increasingly evident lately. And in that dependence, I find freedom from worry and I find… contentment.

So how can someone like me, always looking at the next mountain to climb, be content in the foothills of life? I think the answer is to realize that the mountaintops won’t bring fulfillment. The highs and the glasses of lemonade won’t be an instant fix of happiness. Nor will the foothills, the lows and the lemons destroy you. The worrying and discontent will accomplish nothing. All we can do is put our hope in Christ, and live right now. We can have the dreams and goals, but we can’t put our hope in them. Because if we do, we will never, ever be able to say…

for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content

b*designs :: emmy lu design studio for sale (yes, really)

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Hi friends, and happy Friday! Today I have a big announcement to make. I have decided to sell one portion of my brand–Emmy Lu Design Studio. If you’re shocked, pick your jaw up off the floor and let me explain. Over the course of the past several months, it’s become clear to me who I am as a designer, and also who I am not. I am most passionate about working with small business owners in the creative industry (bloggers, photographers, artists, crafters, etc), and specifically, I am crazy about branding and blog design. I’ve found my niche, and it’s made me realize that stationery design isn’t what I want to spend my time doing. A couple months ago, I made the decision to stop offering custom invitation design services. While I was in Sedona during March, my dad and I were talking business. He asked me why don’t I sell Emmy Lu. At first the thought seemed preposterous. I was thinking that I would either just keep a small collection of printable designs for sale there, or put the company to rest entirely. But knowing that I am not passionate about stationery design, it just didn’t make sense for me to keep going in a direction that doesn’t line up with my end goal. And letting the company cease to exist would be a complete shame.

After all the self-examination, goal-setting and soul-searching of late, I’ve come to the conclusion that selling Emmy Lu is the right move. It makes sense to me, and I feel a measure of freedom letting go of this portion of my business that I haven’t been entirely passionate about. Plus I am completely thrilled to give someone who IS passionate about stationery design the opportunity to take over the Emmy Lu brand and make it into something great.

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The truth is, Emmy Lu is ripe for the picking. It was established in fall of 2008, and has great brand recognition and a strong following in the stationery circle. For someone who wants to get into invitation design, or sell their own collection of stationery, buying the Emmy Lu brand would be a fantastic head-start. Essentially, I’m giving them the opportunity to buy the identity of the company–the name, logo, branding, website, mailing list, existing ads, collateral designs and a well-established reputation. Getting a brand established takes a large amount of time, effort and investment. Purchasing Emmy Lu would give someone an excellent opportunity to skip these steps, and immediately begin offering design services and stationery for sale. The logo is done, the website is built. They could take the company in the direction of custom stationery design, or continue to pursue the printables. Or both! I’m selling the brand for a steal… much, much less than the cost of a logo design, website, and hours and hours of work on marketing, ad placement, brand building, etc. So, if you or someone you know might be interested in buying a great little brand, email me directly at bethany(at)emmylu.com, and I’ll provide more details!

Have a great weekend, my dears! Be back Monday…

b*daily :: read on

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Where to start? For those who responded to my last post–thank you. I was taken aback., thrilled and excited that others out there could identify. Saying what I said, and reading what you wrote made me feel incredibly free. I am excited to write from this new place. It’s as if a curtain has been torn away and now I can let you all in on what’s been hiding behind it. Not that I’ve never been real or authentic with you before, and not that I might not continue to post about house projects or design… the content itself might not differ vastly, but what has really changed is my mindset. I feel as if I have my priorities in line now, and I’ve let you all in on them. We’re on the same page now, and if you’re still hanging in there with me, I am honored!

Today I want to tell you what I’ve been reading lately. I’ve been thinking of sharing some of these resources for awhile, and it’s finally time I did so. This stuff is too good not to share. When I soak in information, I tend to gravitate towards the topics of faith, creativity or health/fitness. Below is the list of my latest and greatest reads, including books and blog posts.

Crazy Love :: We just started this book with our small group, and I can already sense that it will be life-changing. It’s full of simple, but profound truths about the (crazy) love of God for you. This video by the book author, Francis Chan, is quite simply amazing. Watch it. You will be challenged and made to think, one way or another.

The 13th Edition Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines :: If the title of this book was any longer, it would be ridiculous, I know. But the contents are pure gold. My design professor told us about this book sometime during my senior year of college. I think he said that it was a must-read and that it was an invaluable resource for every designer. I promptly forgot about it. But it must have been buried in the recesses of my mind, because when I was in the process of writing my design contract, I vaguely remembered this book that could possibly be a lifesaver. I purchased it off Amazon for $25, and I think it was one of the best buys I’ve ever made. If you are a designer, or even thinking about being a designer–buy this book. Today. Do not wait. It is full of great information. I find myself referencing it multiple times on any given day, and I promise that you will too.

Creative, Inc. :: Ok, in the interest of full-disclosure, I have not read this book yet. I just ordered it a couple days ago, actually. But I know it’s going to be great. A few months ago, I had an RX consulting session with Joy (of Oh Joy!), and I can tell you that this woman knows what she’s talking about. Some of the advice that she gave me literally changed the direction of my business. She’s an icon in the creative industry, and a pro when it comes to running a freelance business. Which is why I can’t wait to dive into this book!

Ultimate Metabolism :: Before you click on the link to the left, let me just tell you that it is going to seem really spammy and lame. This book is the so-called “Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss”. Right, I know. But let me tell you, it’s good. I am not one to like fad diets, whatsoever. But I am a strong believer in eating good, nutritious, natural foods. I believe that if God made it, it’s probably pretty good for us, and I strongly believe that most of our health issues can be traced to the food we are eating. Stuff that is processed and pumped full of chemicals can’t possibly be healthy. This book is a great guide to eating clean. It outlines the basics of why certain things negatively impact our health, and gives a prescription for cleaning up your eating habits.

a few good posts :: I follow a lot of blogs. There are 122 subscriptions in my reader, to be exact. Now, I only really read about 20 of them, if that. But I like to keep the others on my radar. Anyways, every once in awhile there is a post that I read which really sticks with me. It makes me think, and it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other, so to speak. Here are a few of my favorite posts of late:

So You Want To Be A Professional and There’s Nothing Wrong With Being An Amateur from Chase Jarvis :: Made me stop and think about what (if anything) I can say I am or want to be a professional at. Really made me think about how being a professional means facing the fear of failing. Made me wonder what things in my life I am okay with being an amateur at, and what things I am so passionate about, I can’t stop myself from trying to go pro.

10 Lessons for Young Designers from John C. Jay via swissmiss :: Simple advice. There is nothing complicated or fancy about what this guy says, but its motivating and profound at the same time.

What Would Jesus Do? from R.W. Glenn :: Our pastor is one of those guys you want to be friends with. I don’t really know him personally, but he is passionate about his faith and passionate about life. Plus he’s a foodie so he scores extra points in my book. Anyways, he just started a blog. Many of his posts have made me stop and think. This one especially. It’s a great reminder of the power of the gospel of Christ in our lives. Love this quote from the post, “If you were to sum up the Christian faith, it would not be, “What would Jesus do?” It would be: “What has Jesus done?” This, then, would drive our obedience and passion for being like Jesus.”

Ok, that’s all for now! I’m curious though… is there anything that you’ve been reading lately worth sharing? I need a couple new books to start, so I’m open to suggestions!!

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