Posted in Discover Your Purpose, Take Time to Reflect

Journaling to Grow and Thrive

It’s very strange, but the mere act of writing anything is a help .

Katherine Mansfield

As long as there has been something to write on, humans have been keeping journals. You could even say that the earliest cave drawings were journals—capturing the events of a hunt, drawing pictographs that related stories, creating images of the sacred.

A journal is a way of recording and reflecting on your inner life. It is a way of expressing yourself freely, trying out outrageous ideas, tapping into inner wisdom, clarifying thoughts and feelings, recording your dreams, venting emotions, tracking your personal growth, and delighting in unexpected “Ahas”!

A journal is a safe haven, a non-judgmental friend and a trusted confidante. Journal writing is good for our health; it relieves stress, can help boost our immune system, and improve our feeling of well-being.

There’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal. You don’t need expensive equipment. The tools are a notebook—whether a special blank book, a composition book from your local drugstore, or loose-leaf pages—and a pen you enjoy. You can use a computer, but writing by hand is more physical; it keeps you in touch with your breath and your heartbeat.

The only rule about journaling is “Allow!”

Guidelines for Journaling

Write as regularly as you can—at the same time of day, if you can. It is not necessary to write every day, but the more frequently you journal, the easier it will become and more productive you’ll be. If you can set aside twenty minutes or a half-hour every morning or evening, or during lunch break, and simply begin writing, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover.

The morning is an especially good time to write: your mind is fresh; your dreams are still alive. Practice writing your dreams down whenever you can.  Writing in the morning is a good way to start your day and helps you to focus.

Keep your hand moving. Write quickly and freely. Don’t stop to edit or re-read what you’ve written until you’ve completed the session. If you get stuck, write, “I don’t know what to write,” or “I’m stuck.” Repeat the same phrase or sentence, if necessary, until something else comes. Writing from wherever you are will move you to the next place.

Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. Don’t worry about it being “good,” or “right.” There’s simply no wrong way to do it.

Go deep. Writing about what matters the most to you will give the most benefit. The act of writing about complex issues can help you to see a path through or beyond the surface and get to the core.

Leave your censor outside the door.  This is free writing.  Simply allow the words to come and let yourself  be surprised. In the words of Julia Cameron, author of The Artists’ Way, “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” Have fun!

Suggestions for Getting Started

A pen you like to write with.  Pick a pen that is a pleasure to write with.  A roller ball pen is my favorite, smooth and flowing.  It sounds simple but try out some different pens at the craft store or office supply and find a pen that you really enjoy writing with.

Begin with a few chosen words. “Today I…,” “I feel…,” “I want…,” “I don’t know…” or “I remember….” Just follow your pen. It won’t take you further than you want to go. One of my favorite prompts is “What if”…

Favorite Quotes.  When I find quotes that I like I write them in my journal.  Some journals actually include quotes on some of their pages.  Quotes are good for writing prompts, allowing you a starting point for a personal mission statement or philosophical journal entry.

Be imaginative.  Write as if you are describing the world to someone that is blind or deaf. Describe the weather, your room, or the sounds you hear. Let it lead you somewhere. Remember this is a no judgement zone.

Explore the positive along with the negative. Celebrate yourself and your life as well as venting your emotions.  Venting your emotions on paper is a good way to purge your feelings and not let them build up to toxic levels.

Date your entry. This will keep you grounded in the present and help you reference entries you may want to find later.  It is as if you are recording your history and by putting the date you can recall all the things that happened.

Journaling as a Creative Tool

A journal is a great place to track ideas.  Our minds are constantly thinking and making connections.  Ideas can be fleeting and a journal is a good place to capture them.

Sketches:  You may not believe yourself to be an artist but practice making sketches to go with your journal entries. Maybe a sketch of your ideal personal studio, or library could be included in your journal.

Photos:  Now that we carry a camera with us every day in the form of a cell phone, why not include a photo?  I often take photos of patterns or fabric that I like.  I include them in my ‘idea journal’ so that I can go back to them when I have a project that needs something similar.

Journaling teaches us to both trust and nourish our inner lives.  It is a personal account of who we are without the judgement of others.  A journal is rewarding and insightful discovery of your true self.

Watch for our next article on Art Journaling and Travel Journaling.

Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications

Posted in Discover Your Purpose, Healthy Living, Take Time to Reflect

Out of Time: Rushing Through Life

Is time on your side?

Do you feel like this: too much to do, too many places to be, too little time to do it all?

On the job, in school, at home, even in retirement, we are increasingly imprisoned by the perception that time is a scarce and limited resource. We rush from one commitment or activity to another and believe that we haven’t a minute to spare. We yearn for more time, yet we often feel anxious and guilty when idle.

Until we change our relationship to time, our lives will continue to speed away from us—at enormous cost to our health and to direct experience of ourselves and the world around us. “There is no issue, no aspect of human life, that exceeds this in importance,” says Jacob Needleman, author of Time and the Soul. “The destruction of time is literally the destruction of life.”

When we learn to shift time, our relationships become more rewarding, our time spent alone is richer, our aging is more satisfying, our work is more fruitful and our stress and anxiety are less paralyzing, or even nonexistent. To allow time to “breathe” more in your life, try some or all of the following suggestions from Stephan Rechtschaffen, author of Timeshifting, as well as others. See if your reservoir of time starts to refill.

  • Pause. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Han suggests taking a deep breath before answering the phone. Other conscious pauses throughout the day—a moment of silence before each meal, sitting in the car a few minutes before entering the house after work—help us to “come home” to ourselves.
  • Carve out idle time alone. Greek philosopher Aristotle noted that “nature requires us not only to be able to work well but also to idle well.” Just because you’re not doing anything doesn’t mean that nothing’s getting done! Don’t be tempted to “fill” every moment with a task. When you find a moment try concentrating on taking deep breaths to let go of the anxiety of being ‘idle’.
  • Live as fully as possible in the present moment. When we leave behind thoughts of the past or future, we can experience time more peacefully, says Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now. Release the past and surrender that you cannot know the future, but you can live in the present.
  • Toss your schedule whenever you can. Even better, schedule spontaneous time and then surprise yourself. Have you driven by a park on the way to or from work? Why not stop and take a stroll around it?
  • Examine underlying reasons for your busyness. What emotions would you experience if you weren’t so busy? What emotions are you trying to run from? Emotional work is challenging but essential if we are to stop running from our hearts.
  • Play. Whether you sing, play the ukulele, paint, shake your bootie—whatever—play helps us to step outside of ordinary time. Try something you always wanted to do, play an instrument, buy a dance video and dance just for fun!
  • Create time retreats. Once a year or so, choose to do something for a week or more that allows you to shift into a different rhythm—something where you can just “be” without the need for doing anything. Don’t be that person that won’t take their vacation time, saving it until they were forced to use it as if it were a punishment. If you can’t take a week, try an art class, a museum visit, a lecture at the local university something that can expand your horizons and give you a new perspective.
  • Spend time in nature. We can’t help but slow down in nature’s unhurried pace. Watching a soaring bird or admiring a flower garden can seem to stretch a minute into an hour. Try carrying a sketchbook and take a few moments to sketch outdoors.

We can learn to experience time more purposefully and meaningfully—so that it’s not an enemy robbing us of the joy of life. We needn’t be at time’s mercy. When we change our awareness, we can actually experience the gifts of time.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

Posted in Healthy Living, Spa Experience at Home

5 Ways to Make an at Home Spa Experience

If you enjoy the feeling of going to a spa but don’t have time or the money, why not make a ‘spa experience’ at home? I have a few easy suggestions that make a spa experience at home. I thought about my spa experiences and discovered a few things I could do at home.

First, Schedule It!

Check your schedule and block out a time when you can devote an hour or more to pampering. When you book an appointment at a spa you have to schedule the time and drive to the location. Treat your at home spa experience as an appointment, schedule it!

2. Gather all your ‘Spa Luxuries’ in advance

Have a box or spot in the linen closet to store all you ‘spa items’ away from the everyday bathroom items. When it comes time for your ‘appointment’ you won’t spend time searching for them. When you pull out that spa bundle you will know its time for some pampering!

3. Spa Luxury – A Beautiful, All cotton, Spa Robe

As you are preparing for your experience and afterward, you will want a spa robe that is 100% cotton and beautiful too. The robe will make you feel beautiful and be comfortable for relaxing after your spa experience. At 3 Graces Design Studio we make kimono style spa robes that would be perfect for your spa experience but practical enough to wear everyday because our 100% cotton robes are machine washable. A luxury that you will enjoy for years.

4. Spa Luxury- A Handmade Soap or ‘Bath Bomb’

Find a nice handmade soap that has a wonderful scent and makes you feel like you’re in a spa. If your bath space is shared, you could keep it in your spa box just for you! Pick a soap that is natural without preservatives or additives. You want to make the experience healthful and nourishing to your skin. We feature Diamond Bird Soaps with our kimono style spa robes for their pure and simple ingredients. Add one to your kimono order under Spa Experience.

A plush bath towel will add to the spa feeling.

5. Spa Luxury- A plush bath towel

One of the things I have always found appealing about spa experiences is the towels! Thick and soft, the towels make it feel special. I realized the towels I was using, were old, I had them for years and although they were good quality, they lost their plush feel. I bought a bath sheet, a larger towel, in a plush almost velvet feel. This is my special spa towel. You only need the ‘one special’ spa towel, so splurge and get one that feels like a luxury.

These are just a few of the simple things that you can do to create a Spa Experience at Home. Of course you can add decorative touches like candles or rose petals to step up the spa feeling a notch. But these 5 suggestions will give you a starting point toward enjoying a spa experience without leaving home.

Sheila, Creative Grace at 3 Graces Design Studio.com

Posted in Healthy Living, Spa Experience at Home

Pure and Simple: Handcrafted Soaps

Hand-crafted soaps made with high quality plant based oils, herbs and botanical ingredients.

Clean living, its more than a catch phrase, its the entire purpose of Diamond Bird, LLC handcrafted soaps. I recently sat down with Tanisha Bruns, owner and maker of Diamond Bird soaps. We talked about caring for the most important and visible part of your body, your skin.  3 Graces Design Studio is offering Diamond Bird soaps in our Kimono Spa Robe gift bundles and  I wanted to learn more about the woman behind these handcrafted soaps

A ‘Rash’ of Discoveries

I asked Tanisha, “Why did you start making your handcrafted soap?” She explained that she had been loyal to a well known brand of commercially made soap but began to notice that her skin was dry, itchy and not healthy. She decided to look at the package to see what was actually in her favorite brand. What she read was a list of ingredients that she couldn’t pronounce, all kinds of chemical additives and preservatives. As a former Army nurse she understood that the soap was not helping her skin and that these products could be harming her. She decided that she needed to learn about soap making and was determined to make high quality soaps from plant-based oils, herbs and free from harmful chemicals and preservatives.

Military Service and Core Values

Tanisha explained that the leadership values of integrity and education that she followed during her military career are core concepts she incorporates into her handcrafted soap business. First and foremost, Tanisha is service oriented. She incorporates customer input on developing new product lines and scents. She is honest about the ingredients in her product. Tanisha prides herself on having 16 or less ingredients in her soaps. She has an Artisan product line that is fragrance soap with micas or lab created coloring, an All Natural line with only essential oil scents and clay or vegetable powder coloring. She also recently added a Vegan line the has no dairy products, honey or Tussah, a type of silk additive. She enjoys educating customers on what ingredients are good for skin and all her ingredients are there to serve a beneficial purpose. Diamond Bird’s products are the highest quality and her customer service values make her product an obvious choice for 3 Graces Design Studio to incorporate into our Spa Bundles.

We are proud to offer Diamond Bird handcrafted soaps in our new Kimono Spa Robe gift bundles. The addition of Diamond Bird to our kimono robes supports another small handcrafted business and provides our customers with a total spa package to make you feel beautiful!

Posted in Design Inspirations, Designing Graces, Kimono Designers

Fashion ‘Reality Check’ for Plus Sizes

Graphic of 3 Graces
Three Graces Design Studio

While most women’s clothing designer’s sizes top out at a size 12 and the average size for an American woman is a size 16 or larger, there is a need for a fashion reality check. The fashion designers are failing a large percentage of women. Is there hope for the plus size clothes shopper that wants something beautifully designed in their size?

Finding Your Fit

I have been in that uncomfortable position of not finding anything that fits my needs.  I needed a robe to wear after swimming at a posh sports club. I am an older lady, I need something modest but stylish.  It didn’t exist.  All I could find in my size were in polyester fabric and the robes in cotton that were my size looked like a housecoat my grandmother would have worn: wallpaper-like prints and a zipper up the front.  I know that the aggravation is real for all women of a certain size and to some extent, a certain age. This was not my first time being frustrated at not being able to find something that was stylish for a plus size. 

I know that I am not the only one to feel the burn of embarrassment when I go shopping and can’t find something to fit.  The question is, if the average American woman is plus size why do fashion designers ignore the plus size demographic?

Tim Gunn, fashion guru wrote in a Washington Post Article on the fashion industry’s failure to make clothes that fit American women.

“This is a design failure and not a customer issue. There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women. The key is the harmonious balance of silhouette, proportion and fit, regardless of size or shape. Designs need to be re-conceived, not just sized up; it’s a matter of adjusting proportions. The textile changes, every seam changes. Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, and we look worse than if we were naked.”

While fashion designers continue to design for smaller sizes, entrepreneurs like my sisters and I have recognized that women of all sizes want to look their best.  Our patterns are thoughtfully designed with larger sizes that are proportioned not just “sized up”.  There is hope for the plus sized shopper thanks to some web innovation.

Online shopping stylists, Online Plus Size Resale and A Good Tailor

Stitch Fix eliminates the search for clothing by sending you clothing options and allows you to ‘try before you buy’.  The $20 styling fee is credited to your first purchase.  This has a couple of benefits.  After answering some questions to determine your size and style their stylist sends you options based on your responses. The selections are sent to you. You try on the items in your own home, eliminating any public embarrassment over the lack of clothes in your size or not finding anything you like.  It’s a time saver and you can return any items you don’t want within 3 days in a prepaid shipper.   If you prefer a budget option, the online consignment website, Resell XL offers designer labels in women’s sizes.  However, this site doesn’t allow returns. Lastly, but most importantly, find a good tailor. Often a good tailor can alter an outfit to make it fit you.  Tailors can work wonders but, cannot work miracles. A tailor can make better alterations if the item is a little too big rather than two sizes too small.   Never underestimate the value of a good tailor.

There are more choices in plus size clothing. In addition to Lane Bryant, Torrid and Elloquii have expanded the plus size clothing market. There is hope for the plus sized shopper! We believe that when you wear something that fits you and looks beautiful it makes you feel beautiful.

Our Easy 5 Steps to a Custom Kimono Robe is a synthesis of a good tailor and proportional design.  If you’re a hard to fit size we can work with you on tailoring a kimono robe to fit you!

Posted in Discover Your Purpose, Do What You Love

Are you a risk-taker? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does every decision involve endless debates with the ‘committee’ inside your head?
  • Do you accept less than what you should because you’re afraid to speak up?
  • Do you have difficulty making emotional commitments to others? 
  • Do you think if I don’t commit I can’t be disappointed or disappoint others?
  • Do you make up excuses that stop you from taking advantage of opportunities for self-improvement?
  • Does fear of disapproval keep you from doing what you’d really like to do?

A “yes” answer to these questions indicates a reluctance to take risks, which may mean you tend to play it safe and reject change.

Consider this: to fulfill your potential, to discover your real self and live an authentic life, you must take control, don’t let your fear of change keep you trapped in a cage.  The cage is the absence of change and while it may appear to be security, it’s not personally rewarding if you feel trapped.  The only genuine security lies in stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk on change.

Learn how I overcame physical pain and changed my life to follow my passion for creating beautiful kimono robes!

Posted in Discover Your Purpose, Do What You Love, Take Time to Reflect

The Courage to be Authentic

What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane or climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a race car into a curve at the Indy 500?  While these examples are pulse raising and risk filled, what about life decisions that we face almost daily? For me it was quitting a secure, well-paying job to start a business, 3 Graces Design Studio.  For another person, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 18 years or reporting that the company they work for is endangering the environment or people’s lives.

At first glance, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than those of physical challenges. Yet these fundamental challenges that we face time and again are the essential sources of growth as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth or enhances our self-esteem or enriches our lives, we make the choice to stretch ourselves, knowing there are no guarantees and chancing possible failure.

Growth-producing risks generally fall into three categories.

Self-Improvement Risks

These are the risks you take when you want to get ahead, learn something new or make a distant dream a reality. You take on the venture with hopes of enriching your life. Maybe you want to change careers, or take ukulele lessons, or learn a language. On one side of the risk is the person you are and, on the other, the person you want to become.

Commitment Risks

Commitment risks have emotional stakes whether you pledge yourself to a person or a relationship or to a cause, a career, or a value. Joseph Ilardo, author of Risk-Taking for Personal Growth, advises that if you avoid making emotional commitments, you all but guarantee that personal emotional growth will be stunted.

Self-Disclosure Risks

Communication risks fall into the category of self-disclosure. Anytime you tell someone how you really feel you’re taking the chance of self-disclosure. When you open up to others and reveal who you really are, how you feel and what you want and need, you make yourself vulnerable. It is impossible to be assertive without doing so.

All risks carry with them the possibility of failure. Often you have to surrender being in your ‘comfort zone’ before any real benefits are realized.  Routines may have to change; the familiar may have to be released.  What are the benefits then, why take a risk? Challenging yourself is the key to personal growth and development.  It also allows you to let go of expectations or roles that don’t fit who you are or who you want to be. Tomorrow we will post a quiz for you to ask yourself some questions about your level of risk taking.


Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications