Everyday Inspiration // Elise Joy

"Aren't we weird human beings?" read my text message, "Us and our 'celebrity' crushes on people who are just regular humans like us." It was the second time, in a single day, that my friends and I were gushing over people who inspire us. Coincidentally, I had challenged myself earlier in the day to reach out to people who had really affected my creative life, i.e. those exact same people I had been gushing over.
It's because of these two inner and external conversations that I'm starting a weekly-ish post where I feature people who inspire me every day. First up, Elise of elisejoy.com

I was "introduced" to Elise when I went looking for a blog design class in January of 2012, before Approaching Joy was even born.  Lucky for me, she was just about to begin a class and even though my roommates at the time told me that grad school was "not the best time to start learning HTML / Photoshop / a brand new blogging platform", I happily ignored them.

Since then, I've watched her document her story, start a family, and grow her business via her blog.  More than anything, I am impressed by her ability to combine her natural design / creativity with focused goal setting and making it happen via her casual yet direct business style.

This is obviously not Elise herself, however, in my mind, it sums her up fairly well: goals, family, lots of photos.  Photo credit is hers.

This is obviously not Elise herself, however, in my mind, it sums her up fairly well: goals, family, lots of photos.  Photo credit is hers.

Elise was lovely enough to answer the following questions for me.

  • Who are you now?
    • I am a mama, wife, business owner & blogger.
  • Who were you then? 
    • I was a single, college student, business major & blogger with big dreams.
  • Who are you in the future? 
    • I will be a mama, wife, business owner, blogger, speaker and author.
  • What is the mistake you're most grateful for? 
    • I am so grateful that I bombed every single interview my senior year of college and I had no choice but to take the "non-traditional" career path.
  • Who inspires you?
    • I am inspired by the movers and shakers. The people who stay true to themselves. The people who say the things that I wish I had the guts to say. The people who never write anything anonymously. The people who ask questions and really listen to the answers. I am inspired by the folks that take THE most gorgeous photos with their iPhones. 

I would like the world to know that I have already claimed the first spot in line to buy her first book.  
You can find Elise in the following places:

Check out my lovely friends and their new Fan Girl Friday features.


Here's to bombing your next job interview guys.  Happy Friday.

Three Things, Give Back

Three Things // Back to School

I was listening to a co-worker and friend list off a every supply that her 7 year old son needs to get started for the school year and I got chills. Has it really been that long since I had a school supply list? Answer: yes, it has.

It got me to thinking about how, as an adult sans child, I don't get to "celebrate" a new school year like other people do.  And while this is perfectly acceptable for some people, for others, like myself, who are nerds at heart, it's kind of sad.  So I'm dedicating this weeks three things to folks like me who want to get in on the back-to-school buzz.

Photo: Jake Hill via Unsplash

  1. Take a friend's kid school supply shopping.  
    You will give the mom a break, check something off her to-do list, and can even pony up your own money for that super cool Lisa Frank notebook that you were never able to afford as a child, all in the name of being helpful.
  2. Don't have an extra hours to go shopping?  Check out Art Feeds.  
    For $1 you can pay for one student to have an art / creativity lesson brought to them by one of the most inspiring arts organizations out there.
  3. Give away stickers / pencils / random office supply paraphernalia.  Getting a pencil as a reward was the peak experience of my childhood... well... if you didn't count book fair week.  Obviously.  
    Recreate some of that same magic by handing out "Great Job!" pencils for amazing co-worker / family / friend / barista behavior.

What are your spectacular back to school ideas?  

Quilting Process, Handmade Quilts, Updates

Handmade // Goals

Hello there!
Lots happened last week, and, as has been the case so many times, this blog and the people who read it have done their part (however tiny that may seem) to encourage and inspire.  Thank you for that.

This week's goal:

  • Figure out my post-workation goal. 
    The plan: Get three queen size quilts finished, photographed, and added to my (currently non-existent) Etsy shop by August 28th.  Mr. Approaching Joy and I did the math on this past week and conservatively estimated that this means I would / will have to work two hours a weekday and 10 hours on the weekend to make this happen. It's a lot. Especially considering my poor decision making ability (see below).

Hours worked this week


Biggest accomplishments: 

  • Realized how much my family plays into my story.
    I was looking down at the change above on Tuesday when I saw my own grandfather (and his habit of collecting state quarters) looking back at me.  It is small moments like that which remind me of my own beginnings.
  • Worked when I felt good to work and didn't when I didn't.  Learning to listen to my own body. mind is something that I am gradually, gradually getting better at.
  • Started following the hashtag: #nynow 
    Though I'm obviously not in the same league as these folks selling wholesale home goods it's a fascinating peek into the business and pretty spectacular craft booth inspiration for the future.

Biggest hurdles:

  • Making decisions on aesthetic things like fabric design / color.  This is where doubt and self-sabotage kill me and making planning a nightmare.
  • Pricing strategy - This is something that's been going around my head for a while.  How do I offer beautiful high quality quilts and compensate myself fairly?  It's easy to say I don't support underpaid child labor but it's also really easy to buy that shirt made in (insert name of third world country here) for $15, isn't it?

What I need:

  • Your input.  How do you "justify" the price of a product?  
    Is it the story? Is it the brand / logo? Is it your history with the product? Is it a recommendation? Is it a pin on Pinterest?
    At the end of the day I realize that it could be all of these factors and more. "More" being that gut feeling that says, "Go for it."  Regardless, I'd value your input.

What's next:

  • A fun blog collaboration coming on Friday.  Stayed tuned.
    A wonderful weekend getaway where six-ish women get away into the woods and write / make / or otherwise stay true to the "Take Care Of Your Own Shit" motto.  Third time to make this happen with this particular group of women and it's a special kind of amazing.
  • Apply for The Little Craft Show. 
    The plan: This is what motivated goal up top.
    However - I have to have a product to apply. Three is not an optimum number of products with which to apply, but it is more than zero. Also, I want to apply with beautiful high quality quilts that have an equally beautiful story and if three is all I have then three it will be.  While I would love for this handmade dream to come true, I'm much too practical to bet my hypothetical farm on it.
    What the heck that means:  I'm going to hit my first deadline.  I'm going to apply.  I'm going to not be defeated if they say "no".  If they say "yes", I will look forward to a steady three months of intense //after my real job// work.  If they say "no", I'm going to use that time to learn Etsy and become the best online seller I can be.  
  • Go on a second vacation to the Pacific Northwest in the same summer with my husband. We are ridiculously blessed to be able to do this - so. stinking. grateful.  Be sure to follow me on Instagram for all the PNW beauty.
  • Arkansas Women Bloggers University
    Dudes - I'm speaking at a conference.  A real live conference where, two years ago, a stumbled in a bit road sick from the dozen mountains between me and Mountain View, Arkansas.  I'll be talking about the beautiful weirdness that exists being an introvert at a conference and I am really excited about it.

Three Things

Three Things // Mental Health Resources

Yesterday, I wrote about my struggles with anxiety. Today: Three things that may be helpful for you or a friend are dealing with some of the same things. 


The suicide prevention lifeline


Lets get it out of the way - Suicide is the ultimate danger of mental heath. This is a wonderful resource. 

The Perfectly Hidden Depressed Person  

I actually know Dr Rutherford, the author of this article. She's the first to admit her own struggles and this article makes you realize it's that admitting part that's so important. 

Find a Therapist

Use this tool or one of the many tools available out there to find  someone to talk to.

Have another recommendation? Let us know in the comments below or let's chat on Twitter : @approaching_joy  


Things I'm ashamed to admit

I studied mental health in college, but, until recently I didn't believe in anxiety disorders. I thought anxiety was another way to say "I suck at time management ," or maybe "You don't handle stress well."


And maybe this is because I don't "do" anxiety like other people do anxiety. Instead of heart palpitations or shortness of breath or... I don't know... whatever else usually happens with an anxiety attack, I just let it sit and sit and sit and sit until all of a sudden my back is so knotted up from nerves the xray tech asks if I've been in a car wreck. Or I start getting nauseous once every six hours for three weeks straight: low blood sugar, pregnancy, acid reflux? No- "just" anxiety. Worry and fear and frustration and overwhelm so deep that, try as I may to push it away, my body simply can't ignore. 

It makes me feel hopeless. Hopeless. Without hope. 

Nothing I do will never be enough. I'm always jumping to something new. "Maybe this will be the thing that makes me feel like a competent human being."

The cure? I'm like the little dude on ice skates who is doing his thing. Skating skating skating. Slipping often but still mostly vertical. And then he stops to take a look around. To see how far he's come. And he quickly falls. And it hurts. 

In the same way my symptoms are also the balm.

Work, work work work work. Busy busy busy. Because if I stop to rest / to look around I will fall and it will hurt. 

And I know it sounds cliche and passé and all those other fancy sounding words that end in "ay" but it's my truth: Robin Williams death, rest his soul, made me realize this.

After days of reading of his own struggles with mental illness I found myself sitting in a room with CNN blaring in the background. I had wrapped up a meeting with a woman in a similar job as mine, and, though it was not her intention, it felt like all she did during our time was point out all my inadequacies on the job.

"Surely, I am not good enough. Surely not as good as she. Surely, my boss will find out soon enough and I will be fired. "Thank goodness and good riddance," will be what he will surely mumble as I'm left alone on the sidewalk."

And it was in the mumble of mental health analysison the screen in the background that I realized they weren't just bullshitting. They weren't making excuses. Anxiety isn't an attitude to be changed. It's a reality that, lived in long enough, becomes a miserable way of living. Living that, at times, doesn't seem worth the effort. 

So now I have to do something about it. I have to make that appointment with that counselor that I've been consistently putting off. I have to disgard the "blogging is cheap therapy" mindset and realize that blogging isn't therapy- it's just blogging. I have to write (and publish) this post so that other women out there to help them that see that anxiety is real. I want them to know that thoughts of  "Its just me being a perfectionist," or "I'm my own worst critic," or "Maybe one day I will be good enough," or "I just get overwhelmed too easily," aren't simply negative self talk, they are strongly held (incorrect) beliefs that are digging themselves deeper into your soul. 


6x6, Quilting Process

6x6 // Day 6

  • Hours worked: 8.81
  • Listened to: 
    • 99U
    • After the Jump
    • The One You Feed
    • The Silkworm
  • Surprises: 
    • An enlightening, slightly philosophical discussion on Twitter between choosing "hard" vs "easy as well as the difference in "easy" vs "simple".
    • Also - A real life color swatch package landed on my door.  I wasn't expecting it and it was glorious
  • Challenges: 
    • Going easy on myself once I realized that I wasn't going to come anywhere close to making my goal.
  • Accomplishments:
    • Not quitting.

This project was a success.  Not in the Olympic medals, fanfare, and screaming crowds kind of success, but a success nonetheless.  I was able to think and work and plan and rejuvenate my anxious mind.

My goal is to have a post up by Monday with a recap of the physical and electronic things I did to make this last few days go a bit smoother.  Hopefully this could help some of you have your own "workation" in the future so check back. 

6x6, Quilting Process

6x6 // Day 5

  • Hours worked: 9.95 (1.5 hours of that was driving to and back from an independent fabric shop 35-ish miles away)
  • Listened to: 
    • The Silkworm (JK Rowling / Robert Galbraith is my girl)
  • Surprises: The shop I mentioned above?  The cutest place in the world.  I also got some unexpected discounts (i.e. comparable / less than what I could have gotten at a chain store).   Plus, I learned about software that may be more helpful than AutoCAD.  And I met some really cool folks who happened to have a cute puppy.  
  • Challenges: I told the folks who follow me on Instagram, earlier in the day that I had a long winded post about the beauty of a "work-cation" (which is what I'm considering this experiment).  However, I'm exhausted so I'm going to have to postpone any and all long-windedness.
  • Accomplishments: I officially have two more quilts in production.  If I work my tail off tomorrow I may be able to finish them...  Maybe.