Good morning sunshine! Today I will…

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There is much to be said of a good morning routine. And it seems, lately that there is, in fact, a lot being said.  As a flurry of books on Habits seem to have been released in the last year and likely twice as many on the power of routines and time management, I’ve certainly given developing my own solid morning and daily routines a LOT of thought.  Back in August I wrote a little bit about the morning routine I had developed throughout the summer.  I loved that routine.

Then guess what happened?!?!?!

MmmHmm.  Yup.  You guess it.  WINTER happened!  And, as we’re all acutely aware, it was a particularly brutal one at that. Winter swooped in, dimmed all the sunshine, fortified my home in snow, and caused me to go into a major hibernation mode.  Waking up early with the sunshine?  What sunshine?!  Kicking the blankets off, feeling the morning breeze through the window and smelling the summer scents it carries in with it? Not so much.  More like, black out curtains closed, wrapped like a cocoon within an inch of my life in down comforters and afgans made with love in front of fireplaces by grandmothers now passed.

In the winter…I want to stay in that place. I have no sense of what delights I may miss if I waste another moment away in bed….no.  Give me my book. Perhaps a warm cup of coffee, those are the only delights of my day.  Or so it feels like at 7:30am in the thick of Winter.

As quickly as the good habits slip away in Winter (for me), it’s rather surprising and impressive (if I may say so) how eager I am to resume the summer routines upon the first promise of Spring.

It was warm today. It was sunny today.  This is unusual. There was a blizzard only 3 days ago.  But, as it’s the first day of April and it was warm and sunny, I started to believe it, trust it.

I woke up early.  I meditated for 12 minutes with Ariana Huffington (not exactly with her per se, but check it out here!) I took Bucci for a 2 mile walk. I drank the juice of carrots, apples, ginger and spinach (and I finished my annual March juice cleanse a week ago! This juice wasn’t even mandated!!!).  I juiced, and I walked simply because they seemed the right things to do on a nice day.

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In anticipation of Spring officially being here and the hope that it’s arrival will become more obvious soon, I’ve put together a checklist to help ensure that I don’t forget any of the daily rituals and habits that I have hoped to add back into my life after this long cold Winter.

A note on creating habits:

When I read this book, one of the things that stuck with me the most was the idea that we only have a finite amount of discipline we can practice in any given day.  But, if you create a HABIT out of something that would otherwise require discipline then you’ve freed up that much discipline to apply elsewhere.

I don’t know about you….but turning as much as I can into a habit seems like the way to go to me!  I feel my discipline dissipate at some point throughout the day.  However, what I need to practice discipline with unfortunately exceeds my daily amount of given discipline.  So, I will try to turn as many of these items as I can in to habits instead.

While there are more than a couple dozen items I want to incorporate into my daily life, I felt like I needed to start more reasonably.  So, I created my own checklist of items that I think are reasonable to integrate into my life now and turn into habits.  The idea is that once these items have in fact turned into habits I can then, layer in some new checklist items.

I tried the iPhone app LIFT, last summer which is pretty much all about creating new habits and I have to admit that it was pretty helpful.  However, I am not using it this time around because I feel it conflicts with some recently instituted personal phone policies I’ve instituted (which generally keep a safe space and distance between my hand and my phone).The other reason I am not using a digital approach this time is because I am the type of person who feels very gratified by the act of checking the box.  Do you know what I mean?  I love paper, I love design, I love stationery, I love the act of writing (even though I have horrific handwriting) and simply, I love to make a slash mark through a list or to check a box. I find it all incredibly satisfying and makes me feel activated, signed-up, present, alive, involved…you name it!

Feel free to download a copy for yourself. I’ve left a some blank space for you to fill in your own habits or go ahead and even white out mine and fill in your own.  It’s just meant to get us started.

MY PLAN:

I plan to use it for the entire month of April (sorry I’m getting it to you a day late!) and just see how it goes. The idea is that this month I will honestly give every item on that list a serious effort and at the end of 30 days if looking back over my sheets I see that one of the items has only been crossed off 4-5 times or something, then I will ask myself what about that item wasn’t working for me.  What about my lifestyle as it was made that task so difficult?  Could I edit it a little?  Or, do I need to simply get rid of it altogether?  The beauty in this month long experiment is that is about the amount of time it takes for an activity to turn into a habit.

My birthday is MAY 1st.  So, I am really hoping that this year, my birthday present to myself will be that I have created a lot of great daily habits in my life and that I have freed up a whole lot of discipline to use elsewhere as I venture into my 37th year.

DOWNLOAD: todayIWILL

What do you want to habitualize (is this not a word?)?  what are your thoughts on daily routines and the power of Spring to implement them?  I’d love to hear from you.

xoxoxo

danielle

 

 

 

 

 

how much sharing is too much sharing?

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I haven’t posted on this blog, my personal blog, in quite sometime.  Since the holidays, in fact.  There was an actual reason I abandoned it and I considered spelling it all out in a blog post but ultimately didn’t feel like sharing. Instead, I chose to just stop posting.

I am back. Well, sorta.  This blog is a personal outlet for myself.  A space to explore. A space to practice. A space to consider and yes, I suppose, also a space to share. But, it’s that last part that became the issue for me last time I used this space with regularity.

Sharing.  How much does one need to share?  Better question though, is how much do I need to share?  Which leads to a whole slew of additional questions: Why do I need to share that?  What are the repercussions of sharing that? How much of that do I share? Who else is impacted by my sharing that? Should I share that?

Real questions. Real considerations.  Quite a modern conundrum.

A very large part of me doesn’t want to share anything. That part of me wants to be on my own journey figuring it all out on my own and in my own way, somewhere in the disconnected shadows. Feeling compelled to share/update/post etc. along with being exposed to everyone else’s sharing, I’ve come to realize does not make me feel good.  In fact, it often actually makes me feel bad.  All that sharing becomes another obligation, more jones’, more comparisons, a magnetic pull towards devices, a disconnection from things that used to matter more to me.  Car rides with my husband spent in my Instagram feed and not in conversation with him.

That is the part of me that has recently cut my facebook visits to 3 times per WEEK not day and certainly not, hour.  That is the same part of me, that checks and/or posts Instagram once daily (if that) and Pinterest a few times a week, not throughout the day.   (thankfully one can post blogs to FB and twitter without ever logging on to either, creepy as that may be it’s helpful here.)

Cutting back on ALL social media across the board is something new to me. Less than 2 weeks old in fact…but I feel a lot lighter. significantly lighter, in fact.

It’s 2014. I am no fool. I’m an entrepreneur. I need social media. It’s a totally useful (AND FREE!!!) tool towards sharing news of upcoming events, communicating your brand, and connecting with people etc. That is why I haven’t quit any of these modes of social media or have any intentions of doing so.  There is plenty to like about them and I am on my own journey here cutting down on them, no judgements.

But, FOR ME, I didn’t like that they were getting in the way of my creating (or maintaining) healthier habits and routines.  There was a level of anxiety I didn’t recognize in myself that disappeared when I slowed down. An anxiety that I didn’t even realize was there until the silence it’s absence provided allowed me a clarity of mind I was having trouble accessing previously.  These shifts were almost instantaneous. Try it. Give up your phone or facebook or all social media for just one day and see if it doesn’t create some much needed space in your mind (and heart).

So, back to this blog…

Last time around on this blog, I found that I couldn’t even really share my gratitude anymore.  Some things were just private to me. Some things I, like anyone, go through are private.  And sometimes those things, those private things, impact every single area of your life and it’s difficult to find your honest voice when you’re holding back so much.

So, I just stopped.

I haven’t found the solution to that problem. I have thought about it a lot and further, and didn’t really get too much farther.

My posts were made up of gratitude (which I used to do on Wednesdays), the scenic imagery from my runs, personal development, books I read and pics from fun weekends with my husband and friends.

Considering the normal-to-life negative things I was going through simultaneously that never made it to the blog, I started to feel like I was painting a dishonest picture.  Like I was bragging about my perfect life.  ‘look at all I have to be grateful for!’ ‘look how amazing my husband is!’ ‘look how healthy and athletic i am!’ ‘ look how much fun all my free time is’ ‘look how much fun my job is!’ ‘look how perfectly together my home, clothes, life, etc.. is!’….

All the things I posted were honest.  They happened. I was grateful. I did do those runs and drink those smoothies and have that date with my husband….but my life is much more multi-faceted than just those things.

But, I am not a debby-downer (or a danielle-downer, as it were) and have no interest in sharing the flip side, the negative stuff.  Not because I don’t want you to know my life isn’t perfect (because, duh!), but rather, I simply don’t like to post negative stuff ever, really. I can’t really find the point, for me anyhow.

This is not a diary for me.  It is a space to keep special memories, for myself. A space to inspire and motivate myself. A space to consider and explore topics of interest to myself and a space for me to practice graphic design and writing for my own self-improvement. It’s a space to find and/or hold onto my own happiness, not to analyze or indulge the opposite.

So, if it’s all for myself then WHY post it on an online blog and not create a scrapbook or diary instead?

Simply, I like this format. I am naturally a connector. I like connecting with other people.  Perhaps there are people who could find inspiration in some of these posts. If a post I share validates or inspires or motivates one person than, that is one more person than my private scrapbook or diary might. In short, I’m a sharer, but even sharer’s have their limits.

Speaking of limits, I’ve not set any rules for myself in terms of how much I will or won’t share about my personal life as I come back to utilizing this personal blog.  Just trust my gut.

I will use this space to ask questions and try to find their answers. I will use to celebrate special experiences.  I will still share some of what I am learning in terms of cooking/recipes/books/running/self improvement etc.. and some of that will be through the use of photos of my runs, my home, my adventures, my family, my life.  But, I want it to be known, to be stated, that this is an exploratory space. A space to accept that neither life, nor myself are perfect.  But, even though I accept imperfection,  I would like to be kinder to myself and others in the context of it.

Here are two quotes I’ve recently noted on Pinterest that feel relevant:

Comparison is the thief of joy.  In this age of technology, we have unlimited access to how other people are living their lives and what everyone else does with their time. And with the barrage of images both sought out and stumbled upon, it’s very easy to find yourself, an otherwise totally self-confident person, wondering what is ‘wrong’ with your life that you don’t have this or that.

But what I am finding is that, if I step back and really look at what I actually want. A lot of these other things fall off my radar. They don’t register as things that are genuinely important to me.  It’s just easy to get caught up and suddenly find yourself feeling less than or badly because of it all.  I’m looking to shovel away all the crap and find not what others want, but what I want.

Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. I know this one to be true, first hand. I don’t share all of me. Sometimes I don’t want to be pleasant to anyone. And sometimes…i’m not.  But, I can’t go around explaining to everyone around me why I wasn’t smiling that day or why I had to miss that meeting.

Sometimes you just have to accept being misunderstood.

Knowing that feeling, I try (operative word being “TRY”) my best, to consider this truth when I take too much personally. An attempt at remembering this helps. My hope is that remembering it often will help turn not taking things personally into a habit.

I know I am not alone in some of these thoughts. Maybe that is why I share?  To find validation.  Whatever the reason, it’s been an interesting journey so far. Thanks for joining me and please, stick around!

Comments are welcome here.

xoxoxo

mrs.harper

Merry Christmas

 

 

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While baking Christmas cookies with my mom last week, my dad was busy unpacking various Christmas memories, including this letter to santa I wrote when I was little.  “jeans and Ladies shoes”….I guess some things never change.

Merry Christmas everyone!  It seems we have a white Christmas after all!

xoxo

danielle

 

 

blogshop from home!

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About a year ago, I went to NYC for a weekend of learning some key Photoshop skills, including animated gifs and video editing among other basic graphic design skills.

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The class, known as BLOGSHOP was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. It is taught by Bri Emery of Designlovefest.com and Angela Koehler, an incredible LA Based photographer and director who is behind one of my most favorite stop motion gems ever: THIS video for A Fine Frenzy.

I’ve got a lot of graphic designer friends and I think they are so lucky to have that particular skill set.  It comes up in my work life on a daily basis and even nowadays in my personal life too (this blog, cards to friends and family etc.)  While I did not become a graphic designer in 48 hours, this class did empower me to take a lot of the small little design needs of my business into my own hands.  I utilize the skills I developed in that class on a DAILY BASIS.  No exaggeration.

I just read on Bri’s blog that they are now offering the class ONLINE! It’s only a fraction of the cost, but the bulk of the content appears to still be there.  It would seem this first one is sold out, but I couldn’t be more emphatic about how helpful I found this class to be, so keep an eye on it and be sure to sign up next round!

Click the image below to go straight to their website.  If you are curious about the class and wonder if its worth flying to another city to take it in person, feel free to message me with questions.

xoxo

d.

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GRATITUDE WEDNESDAY: Thanksgiving edition

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My late grandparents, Anita & John Cameron looking all kinds of glamorous!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, the holiday of gratitude everyone!

I have a lot to be grateful for, especially as it pertains to my family.  Earlier this week we lost my maternal grandmother, Anita. I am grateful for the time I have had with her. With her 9 kids and 27 grandchildren and the fact that she most often lived out of state, It may seem improbable, but I always felt genuinely loved by my grandmother.  And not in a generally sweeping “you’re my grandkid and therefore I love you” sort of way, but in a “you’re Danielle Laura, daughter of Mary Ann and Harold and I see your humor and silliness and sweetness and I love you for it” specific, and real sort of way. For that feeling, I will always be grateful.

As is common with a loss, one becomes more acutely aware of how lucky they are for their family.  In fact, how lucky I am, I’ve come to realize, simply to have a mother and father at all, let alone two who love me and are always there for me. Not to mention, just a brief car ride away. How lucky I am to have 2 brothers who have always been my best friends too and that one of them gave me a sister-in-law that always just felt more like a sister.

And how lucky I am to have found a husband who was endeared to even my most complex and unattractive qualities, enough to declare that he wanted to be with me forever, and how lucky am I that it so happened that he was also the one I wanted to be with forever?!  And how lucky am I that he come with a family with an amazing set of parents and sisters, but also a tremendously loving extended family too.

I’ve come to understand more clearly that family are the people who you can truly count on to be there for you, and perhaps even, the only ones you can really truly count on.

I am grateful because I know that I have that.  I know that, if I have a joy to share, or conversely, that I have a sorrow or pain to vent. If I have behaved badly or if I, or one of my brothers, is going through a tough time, I know that my family is going to be there, even if it makes life complicated, or tough, or even just annoying, we will be there. Truth is, you can’t really count on others as reliably.

More than that, no matter what we put each other through, I know I can count on my family to support each other and also, to ultimately leave judgement behind.

So, when considering what I am thankful for this holiday there is not doubt it is for my family: my father Harold, my mother Mary Ann, my husband Westleigh, my brothers HJ and Donald, sister in laws, Lisa, Val and Ky, mother in law Mary and father in law, Mickey and for all of our extended family, I am very grateful and thankful.

Also this year, I’ll be thinking about my aunt Rose on Thanksgiving. My aunt was born and raised in the Philippines and came over here upon meeting and marrying my uncle in the 60′s.  With the recent Typhoon, she lost some family members and the ones that were spared are enduring much devastation and tough times ahead and while I am grateful that she was here and spared, I know she must feel so sad not to be able to be with and care for her family and friends that she loves so dearly in her beloved hometown.

On this Thanksgiving, I do not want to take anything for granted.  The roof over my head, the food on our table and the family I get to share it with…(both my own and wes’s.)

….and of course the doggy who will be by my side for it all :-)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

What are you grateful/thankful for today?

xoxo

Danielle

Weekending in the Fall

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With Wes and I both working for ourselves, we do try to strategically carve out time to take ourselves out of the cycle of work and out of life’s necessary routines to just change our speed a little.

Being that it is Fall in Northeast Ohio, it’s one of the best times of year then to head East.  We spent some time out in Middlefield, Burton and at Punderson State Park for some hiking.  It was a beautiful day to be outside soaking in some fresh air, and perhaps the last remaining rays of sunshine we’ll see for the year.

Included in this post are images from our hike at Punderson. It was really quite beautiful there. I am so glad we got there before all the trees lost their leaves!daytoplayMrsHarper2staycation-6

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mrsharper8mrsharper7all photos ©Danielle DeBoe Harper

Weekending: Haunted Cleveland

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Last night, Mr. Harper and I participated in one of Haunted Cleveland’s “Ghost Tours”.  Our particular tour was at the Erie Street Cemetery.  We have certainly been through this cemetery before but it was pretty fun to be in it during the cover of night AND during the Halloween season.

While it was really more of a history tour (right up my alley anyhow) than a haunted tour, we had fun, and were really glad we went, even though we both had a tremendous amount of work to get done.

Our guide walked us through the cemetery, sharing it’s history and the history of it’s more notorious residents.  Also on hand was a coffin, replicating the style of coffin that would have been most common there (if there was even a coffin used at all, that is!) and everyone on the tour took a turn through the coffin with one tour guest actually getting shut into it and stayed in there, in the pitch dark for five minutes ( I would NEVER have done that, how claustrophobic i’d be!).

One thing that struck me as surprising was that there are conflicting reports but said to be anywhere from 8,000 to 18,000 bodies in that (relatively) small cemetery!  What was a little scary to me was that the ground, everywhere was SO SOFT that you just felt that it would give at any moment and open up and swallow me up!  I suspect it’s because everywhere you walk there are bodies under foot.

SPOOOOOOOOOOKY!!!

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Gratitude Wednesday

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image via here.

Good morning to you!  Rainy Wednesday here in Cleveland.  Lately I find myself trying to hold onto my precious early morning routine from summer.  Unfortunately  the increasing darkness of the Fall morning and the decreasing temperatures, make for the perfect temptation to stay in bed, wrapped up like a cocoon!

It makes me recall a book I read recently: The Power of Habit.  I have been wondering why it is that habit that has been active and consistent for 6 months would suddenly start to break down and reflecting back on this book, my theory is that the cue has changed.

The recipe of a habit is: CUE, ROUTINE, REWARD.  For me, my ROUTINE (read: habit) of rising early and my subsequent activities was CUED by the sunshine and warm spring, then summer breezes through my bedroom window.  Yes, it did start with an alarm, but after a short while, that hardly mattered because my body knew to wake at 7 each day (and so did Bucci!).

I have attempted the alarm again, but it has not quite been working. I mean, I get up, but very begrudgingly.  So, what I have surmised is that my CUE has changed.  There are no more Sunny, springy, fresh breeze filled mornings.  They are dark.  Like, nearly as black as night, and they are cold and the windows are closed so there are no fresh breezes.  It’s hard to find a new CUE when without the bright sunrise, what is the real difference between getting up at 7am or in the middle of the night?

So, I will ponder this thought and consider one of those Sharper Image type alarms which emulate sunshine or something too, but, in the meantime, I will ponder gratitude…what is it that I am feeling grateful for this week?

In the immediate, I can say, that I am grateful that my friend Shibani is so thoughtful and generous that months ago when Wes and I were leaving their house in the midst of a torrential rain, she lent us her gigantic golfer-sized umbrella.  I am grateful for that today as I used that very umbrella on the long rainy walk from my car to my office this morning.

I am feeling grateful for being born and raised (with a small hiatus) in the town (CLEVELAND!!) that I currently live in.  It occurred to me recently that while Cleveland is a much larger city than the small town my parents currently live in and I spent time living in: chagrin falls, there are some strong similarities in the way of life.  If you’ve lived here long or are a more outgoing type of person…you can know the names of the shop owners and restaurant owners you patronize, you can read the paper and know many of the names you see across it’s pages, if you’re a die hard renter like me you can move into places previously occupied or owned by people you know or have met through someone you know, you can jump in – get involved and feel your impact on your own community. You can take a public park and make it your own back yard, These are things that (to me anyhow) sounds like life in a small town.  Cleveland is my small town and for that I am grateful.

Today, I am also grateful that there are not only endless ‘destinations’ in life, but an infinite number of paths too.  I find it interesting to share and hear from others, stories about what we are learning about life, new approaches to goals, new goals, what works/what doesn’t work, and lessons learned along the way.  You know what I mean? You talk to coworkers about your cooking attempts, friends over wine about some of life’s bigger challenges and to your mom on the phone about this or that…It’s interesting to learn from others and for that, I am grateful.  But beyond this I am grateful that there is NOT ONE SINGULAR ROUTE we are all too take.  What works for you doesn’t always for me. It may another day but it’s ok if it’s not right now. We take different paths, we select different ‘destinations’.  There is no wrong way.  To me, anyhow, if it seems I am on the slow path towards something, if it seems like everyone around me is passing me by, it’s not that I am lesser, or that I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough, it’s that I am on a different journey. I am learning my own way OR it is something that is simply less a priority for me or not a priority at all.  We all have a habit of projecting our goals, our destinations onto everyone and anyone else.  I am grateful to know and understand that there are infinite approaches to life.

Ok, well, I am also grateful to all the new clients we signed in just the last 2 weeks alone, so grateful in fact, that I better get back to work and prove it!

Thanks for stopping by for the chat today. I always feel so good when I do these gratitude posts.  What are you feeling today?  Anything above resinate?  Ever question your journey relative to others?  well, stop.

xoxooxo

danielle

Weekending: fabulous nails, sports, vintage shopping and beer

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Since transitioning into the event/wedding industry full time, I have worked really hard to create sharp divisions between my work time and personal time.  I HUGE feat for me since I have long been blurring those lines.

As the Creative Director of my events, I am not always at each wedding my company has, or at least, not after their decor has been installed, which is my primary concern. I have amazing Coordinators, head up by the Director of Client Projects, Christen, who have the event day of coordination down to a science and I only get in the way!

So whether my weekends are the traditional days of the week or one’s I turn into my weekend, I have worked hard to turn the computer off, to give my focus to my husband, dog, friends and home.  It’s still a work in progress, old habits die hard, but weekend’s like this past one are a great endorsement for prioritizing personal time!

I met up with my friend Charity for some fancy pants nails this weekend.  You can see her post on it here.  Below, on the left, is the inspiration image I brought into the salon and the result is on the right.  Fantasy Nails on W.25th in Ohio City (sorta) brought my dream to life.  The only caveat being they couldn’t do the inverse French mani in metallic as I had hoped.  Having to choose a color, I went with hot pink.  In the image after,  you can see how that worked in my favor.

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Wes and I play on a football team on Saturday mornings and our team colors are black and neon pink, so we not only won our game but I declare myself a team spirit winner too!  I love how Wes insisted that his images be included in the image below so that it was clear that it was not HIS manicure being photographed with his shirt :-)w9

 

Lucky us, we know the right people and got a sneak peek (thank you Jennie at RS! )of the vintage gems for sale at this week’s Paprkia Vintage/RS Boutique Fall show.  The show is THursday so get it while the gettin’s good!vintage

 

Wes and I had dinner with both sets of parents at Bar Cento but then snuck in an additional drink over at Great Lakes Brewery, where we noticed the countdown clock to the release of Christmas Ale (omg!).w4w6

 

my parents being cute below.  They were actually all waving to my friend Beth, with whom I had been in the midst of texting with when we were sitting there.  Hi Beth!w3

I know that sometimes buying the right personalized gift can be a serious challenge. Well, one of our recent brides (and my now friend!) hit the nail on the head with her Paris-themed gift package for me as a “Thank you” for helping her design her wedding. How amazingly cute are these custom BUCCI bowls for my little baby, Bucci!?!?!  And then below is a Paris from above book Wes and I both loved.  So sweet, I tell ya!w7 w8

Sunday, Wes and I went to brunch and then swung into the Hingetown Market and ran into these two lovelies:w10 w11

 

We also saw CAPTAIN PHILLIPS this weekend and LOVED LOVED LOVED it!  I strongly recommend it, but of course, it’s not a terrific shocker that Tom Hanks did a great job in a film with a great script etc.  well, no less, it’s perfect.

Well into the work week again, I look forward to all the fall goodies Wes have planned for our upcoming weekend too.  Have a great week everyone and thank you for stopping by!

xoxoxo

danielle

 

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