Archive for Life

On | Maintaining Your Sense of Worth as a Creative

In the Studio of Squirrelly Minds - Maintaining your self worth | Squirrelly Minds
I know I said on Tuesday that this week was going to be all about ice cream, and in fact I was all set up to shoot and post my ice cream sandwiches today, but something happened that I couldn’t ignore and just had to write about. I have to warn you, this post is text heavy and does come from a place of negativity and insecurity, which is something I deeply try to hide here (I’m all sunshine and rainbows!). But I’ve been here before and feel the need to open up to you all, get this conversation going and ask how you get through similar situations. Because if you’re a creator, and especially if you’re online, I’m sure you’ve felt what I feel.

Remember when I made this announcement to open a print shop featuring my watercolour gems? And remember how I was super excited but also nervous at the same time? Part of my nerves was a fear that someone would beat me to it, and sure enough someone did.

My friend sent me a blog post featuring an artists’ gorgeous work of watercolour gems. Yes, gorgeous work, and I am so elated that others are also inspired by these beautiful works of nature. I mean really, gems and minerals are mind boggingly stunning and the perfect specimen to be captured by paint and brush. But I can’t lie, my heart sank a little, because seeing work published before I got a chance to do so made me feel unoriginal.

I know I’m not the only one to go through this. I’ve had similar experiences with DIY’s in the past, and I cut the project completely. In a different creative realm, my sister was in the middle of writing a screenplay when a movie, featuring the same historical figure in a similar format she was writing, was released. Heart broken, she axed the project.

In the Studio of Squirrelly Minds - Maintaining your self worth | Squirrelly Minds
It’s true, I feel that urge to stop – because how can I create something that is already being created? My work is no longer original, so why should I bother? That’s my heart talking, and my brain is telling my heart to shut up.

I would tell anyone who listened, that when it comes to creations and art specifically, everyone brings a unique perspective to their work and, therefore, has something different to offer. And I wholeheartedly believe this, regardless of what my heart is saying. So thankfully, my brain steps in with this reminder, and my passion encourages me to persevere. I just have to tell my heart to be quiet every now and then and remind myself that everyone brings a special something to their work. Yes, even little ‘ol me.

Now I’m not here bearing the inner workings of my soul to ask for pity or encouragement. Rather I feel this is an important discussion to have, and I want to better myself through learning from others (you!) who have gone through similar situations. And so, I ask you this:

What do you do when you face similar situations? Do you ignore the rest of the world and persevere on? Do you stop entirely? Or do you mope a bit like me and get back to it?
When you treasure an idea or creation of yours, then see it made into reality by someone else,

how do you maintain your sense of worth?

Blog | Summer Alt Summit Recap

Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds - Photo by Brooke Dennis
I don’t really know where to begin with an alt recap to be honest. I could talk about what I did each day but if you follow alt attendees you know about the food trucks and croquet. Instead I could tell you what my 5 takeaways are, but I’d just regurgitate what other attendees have already so eloquently said, because it’s all so true.
So instead, I’m going to post pictures (all by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis unless otherwise noted) and share tid bits here and there about my journey through blogging and what alt means to me.
Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds - Photo by Brooke DennisI started blogging in 1999/2000 with Blue Glass and then White Nenya. I coded my blog in notepad and ran several personal websites just for the heck of it. But life got hectic, so in 2007 I stopped – right around when Joy and all those other big bloggers got their start. At this realization an embarrassing thought ran through my head – “Tan! You could be where they are today if you stuck with it you no good quitter!”

…yeah….I like to dream. And belittle myself apparently.

Here’s the thing: even if I stuck with it, there’s no way I’d be a fraction near our-holy-mother-of-blogging Joy Cho. Why? Because she has inhumane perseverance. She didn’t wait for anyone to find her and ask to work together, she put herself out there every single time. That takes a lot of courage, something I hope to gain more of as time goes on rather than hide down my cozy, dark rabbit hole.

Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds - Photo by Bing

Photo by Bing. L – R: Me, Ruth, Kristan, Celine, Sara

As much as I love it, Alt freaks me out. I may hug everyone, hoot and holler loudly and go up to strangers and say hi, but in all honest truth constantly putting myself out there being around so many people kind of makes me want to curl into a ball. There were certainly times I felt like I was back in high school, completely out of my comfort zone and not knowing what to do with myself, so I’m beyond thankful to have met some truly amazing welcoming and friendly girls I could go up to and chat with and know I’d have a genuinely good time. These four are just a handful of the ladies I’m so pleased to have gotten to know and look forward to chatting with more in the future <3

Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds - Photo by Justin Hackworth

(p.s. my resting face is “mega be-otch”, I’m not actually angry in this photo).

Speaking on a panel was such an incredible experience and privilege. I’m not going to lie, my hands were mega sweaty and my stomach was turning knots that a sailor couldn’t untie, but I felt so elated to be up there with 4 incredible other ladies sharing my experiences in growing a small blog. This certainly was a pivotal moment for me, and I truly hope I get to do it again.
Oh, if you’re looking for that PDF, don’t worry! It’s coming!
Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds - Photo by Justin Hackworth
Blogging can be a pretty darn lonely venture. You’re at home by yourself all day with no one to talk to but your cat (sorry Lucy, you keep good company). I was asked on our last evening if I would attend Alt again, and truthfully I wasn’t sure. It’s a lot of money to spend, and being a teacher I have to take personal unpaid leave – more chaching down the drain! But Alt gives something that I couldn’t get easily elsewhere – a recharge. Attending Alt electrifies my inspiration, making me want to work harder, smarter, and better. It surrounds me with likeminded people and revives my love of blogging. I don’t know that I’d go in January again because I’m a total wimp when it comes to ice and snow (the number of people I shocked when I said I was from Canada and we don’t get snow). I loved the smaller, more laid back feel of this June Alt, and I truly hope they host it again because you know what? I do hope I’ll come back and relive the experience all over again.
Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds - Photo by Brooke Dennis

Summer Alt Summit Recap | Squirrelly Minds

Kristen of When at Home / Laura of S.S. Heart / Christina of Just Call Me Chris / Bethany of Twenty Something Plus / Gilit of Shoes Off Please

Don’t worry I didn’t forget about the Friday Five! Check our 5 other fantastic Alt recaps. Wishing you all a beautiful weekend!

And don’t forget, today is your last chance to enter to win a $150 Gift Card from Wayfair ! Hurry Hurry!!

Blog/Life | Alt Summit Bound

Alt Summit Bound | Squirrelly Minds
Photo by Justin Hackworth
If you had told this girl, at this precise moment one year ago, that she would be speaking at Alt Summit in June the following year, she would have said “I don’t like liars…get out of my face!”

…okay, I would have been much much nicer than that, but I still wouldn’t have believed you.

Yet here I am, the day before I jet off early in the morning, heading to Salt Lake City to breathe in the mountain air, chat with some inspiring bloggers and brands, and yes, even speak on a panel.

The last month has been a flurry of prepping the panel with my girls Ciera, PJ, Mariah, and Melissa. Now all our hard work is finally coming to the test, and I can’t wait! However, I’ve spent so much time preparing for the panel and my business cards (which will include a gem print freebie, hooray!) that I haven’t had a chance to organize my wardrobe, or, sadly, line up posts for the week.

And so I will be taking this week off to fully enjoy my time at Alt. If I can I may post a photo or two on here for fun, but if you want to find me chatting away about the conference, you can find me on instagram and twitter.

I’ll miss y’all. Be good while I’m gone and I’ll see you next week!

…I feel like your mother saying be good…was that weird?


Life | On Dental Routines and Oil Pulling

On dental routines and oil pulling | Squirrelly Minds
Dentists/hygienists and I have a complicated relationship. At age 15 I got a root canal (most painful experience to date) which has since by other dentists been deemed unnecessary (aka my childhood dentist stole over a $1000 from my parents). Lately I get my teeth cleaned every 4 months rather than the normal 6 because “I need it”. Most embarrassingly, a dental hygienist made me cry in the office, berating me for the lack of care I put into my teeth and gums.
I avoided her thereafter.
But here’s the thing, I do take care of my teeth, and I do a lot more than average. But no matter how thorough I am I always get a condescending “you’re lying to me” look when I tell the hygienists I floss daily. No matter how well I take care of my teeth, I am doomed to professionals thinking I brush my teeth with coca cola.

Then I read this post on oil pulling by Gabrielle on Design Mom. I was intrigued and thought “sure, let’s give it a go”.

I did a fair bit of reading first and remain a skeptic on claims that oil pulling freshens breath, whitens teeth, clears up cavities, and detoxifies the body. But I do believe, if nothing else, that oil pulling gets rid of food and grit from between and on your teeth. Cause here’s the thing, when you’re swishing any liquid in your mouth for 20 minutes every day, you’re creating friction for an extended period of time, and that’s bound to do something.
So, I increased my dental routine:

On dental routines and oil pulling | Squirrelly Minds
Morning: Swish 1 tablespoon coconut oil for 20 minutes. Spit out then floss, making sure to hug around the tooth and go up and down three times on each side. Eat breakfast then brush teeth with high fluoride toothpaste (purchased only at the dental office) using methods taught by previous hygienists. Do not rinse. No drinking or eating for 30 minutes.
Mid-day: Chew gum after meals if brushing isn’t available.
Evening: Floss teeth (using above method), brush teeth with sensitive teeth toothpaste, then swish high fluoride mouthwash (again from dental office) for one minute before spitting it out. Nothing in mouth for 30 minutes, except for my night guard to prevent me from grinding my teeth (oh yeah, I have that going on too).

I did this for 2 and a half months with the sole purpose to see if it made any difference at my dental cleaning yesterday.
I saw a new hygienist (I’ve had many) and her first words were “well at first glance it looks like you have very little plaque on your teeth”. 1 point for Tan.
She proceeded to scrape and clean my teeth (cautiously asking why I had a root canal). At this point I didn’t tell her about the oil pulling, just that I floss 2x a day and brush 2-3x. Get this, she seemed impressed. 2 points for Tan.
At the end she told me I only had hard plaque, no soft plaque, on my teeth. That, she said, is due to my good brushing and flossing habits. I was shocked – was I getting praise for my dental routine???
I then told her about oil pulling. She said while she can’t scientifically claim it does any good, that she thinks it makes sense it would remove debris and, so long as I like it, to keep doing it because it’s working for me – my teeth look great and no, I don’t need to come every 4 months, 6 months is just fine.


Now I’ll be honest, I still have to go back next month for some dental work that they had their eye on (I couldn’t get away from the dentist office that easily). But, I had a positive experience at the dentist, and that’s huge!
I’m not saying it’s solely due to the oil pulling. Heck, it could be simply due to that extra floss in the morning. But I for one am going to stick with it, because it feels good. And hey, maybe my appointment 6 months from now will be just as positive.

What’s your dentist experience, what’s your dental routine,
and what’s your opinion of oil pulling?

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