Self-Care: slowing down & practicing gratitude

March can be an exciting month, a time where Spring is just on the horizon and things begin to awaken with new life. As exciting as this month can be, it can become easy to fall into the trap of "whats next." As entrepreneurs and creatives I think this is especially difficult. We are always thinking about the next project or collaboration. As much as I  hear people talk about embracing the "Hustle," I'm going to be honest with you.

The "hustle" mindset doesn't work for me. 

I tried this mindset of go-go-go and all it gave me was a face full of stress zits and sleepless nights. So at the start of the year I vowed to take back those sleepless nights and begin practicing a little self-care. I looked back at the previous year and realized I had a lot of great ideas, but most of them got lost in the "hustle." Instead I promised myself that this year would be different and I'm excited to say that as March is already passing quickly,  I have maintained the practices that I began at the beginning of the year. I want to tell you I have noticed such a difference in myself and the people I have been able to share my story with, that I knew I needed to share them with you too. 

Self-Care: Taking time to slow down & practice gratitude + a FREE Workbook!  | Kendra Castillo
Self-Care: Taking time to slow down & practice gratitude + a FREE Workbook!  | Kendra Castillo

Sometimes I think the little lie of believing that if we slow down the rest of our plans will crumble or that someone else will beat us to that perfect project, is the beginning of our demise. The irony is that when we actually slow down and practice a little self-love we begin to produce better work, we are able to think clearly and those awful stress zits slowly go away! 

For me it started with taking a little "me" time in the morning. Getting out my journal and slowing down before the day even got underway. To me it was the action step that I needed to take. I needed to break my bad habit of immediately waking up and scrolling instagram, checking my emails and already feeling behind from the "to-do" list I made yesterday. 

Tell me I'm not alone in this bad habit?? 

The best part was that I knew I didn't have to feel like this forever. This feeling of constantly being one step behind. I began with a few tiny changes. The first was waking up at the same time every weekday (even thought I am NOT a morning person). I then poured myself a cup of coffee, grabbed my journal and settled into the couch. I began taking time every morning to practice a little self-love. I allowed myself to pause, to leave my phone far away and keep the distractions of the day at bay for 10-30 mins. 

At first it was a little painful, the habit of checking my phone was worse then I thought. But after even one week I began craving those uninterrupted moments. I started to have more focus, more joy, more confidence. That may sound funny, but the truth is, when we take time to reflect we are able to see areas in our life that we may need to adjust in order to become the best YOU, you can be. So here's my lesson...

It is important to take time to self-reflect.

To pause during the busyness of life and evaluate who we are becoming and who we want to be. It can be oh so easy to let the days, months and years slip by without accomplishing the goals that we had in mind. It’s one thing to dream big dreams, but it is another thing to be able to put action to those dreams. Putting action to the dream allows it to actually become a reality.

What is more beautiful than seeing a dream become a reality, becoming part of your story!

So this month I want to encourage you to take some time for yourself  and write down a few things in each of the three categories I have provided. I have found that when I take time to slow down and document my gratitude, write my goals and acknowledge my accomplishments I feel more motivated and inspire to keep dreaming big!

I suggest that you try to sit down at the beginning of the month and write some of your goals for the upcoming weeks. Then each week steal a few moments from the busyness to get quiet. I promise you that taking time to practice a little self-care will help you become the best version of yourself.

Use these pages or your journal as a place to reflect on your accomplishments, gratitude and goals!

I’d love to share this journey with you! Share your observations, self-reflection or anything that is inspiring you during this month over on instagram by tagging #growinggratitude.

Artist Advice on Starting a Sketchbook

Guest Post by Taylor Adams

The extraordinary thing about art is there are so many different ways to create. There is no one way or right way to paint, draw, or bring the visuals in your mind to life, and this certainly holds true in the practice of keeping a sketchbook. 

How to Start an Artist Sketchbook | www.KendraCastillo.com

Like many artists, I carry a sketchbook with me almost anywhere I go. I have a collection of different sizes and types, and whether it’s a mini book homemade with cereal box covers or my Canson lay flat, spending time with a sketchbook feels like a necessary part of my day. 

But I didn’t always feel this way. I used to feel a certain pressure that came along with a fresh page in a sketchbook, like each page had to be a little masterpiece. But that’s not realistic, nor is it the point of a sketchbook. I had to let go of that desire for perfection and the feeling that I had to achieve something great each time I worked within its pages. I let go of a fear of making mistakes, and gave myself permission to explore, make messes, and simply follow my interests, letting my media take control. 

My sketchbooks are filled with splashes, drips, scribbles and scratch outs. With the word “sketch” in its name, it can be a little misleading, but a sketchbook doesn’t have to be confined to pencil. I love to draw, but when it comes to painting, sketching with paper and pencil doesn’t do much to inspire this process for me. So I seek out other ways to pull media into my sketchbooks, in a manner that feels true to my practice. 

How to Start an Artist Sketchbook | www.KendraCastillo.com

One of my favorite things to do when I’m searching for inspiration is visit the used book section of thrift stores. Among aisles packed with an assortment of old books, I’ve stumbled across topics ranging from Japanese textiles to nature photography. I encourage you to hunt through the shelves the next time you’re thrifting, you’ll be surprised at the gems you can find! These books hold a beautiful assortment of textures and color that make the perfect content to spark creativity. I’ll tear out pages that stir an idea and tape them into my sketchbook, using them as color studies or sources of inspiration when I’m feeling stuck. Sometimes I’ll even use the book itself as a sketchbook, applying a little gesso and wet media straight to the pages, using them as a surface to explore. I find that interacting with the pre-existing content of the page and seeing how it can transform can be a fun and rewarding exercise.  

Your sketchbook should be just that - a fun and rewarding exercise. 

Recently, I’ve gotten into the habit of laying sheets of paper beneath whatever I’m currently painting. Not only does this help control the unavoidable mess, but something interesting happens. As I’m working, the sheets collect all my drips, splatters, and spills, and in this way I am gathering information through the act of painting. I’ll find little compositions, unexpected color combinations or interesting marks, and add them to my sketchbook as a resource to inform my future pieces.  

How to Start an Artist Sketchbook | www.KendraCastillo.com
How to Start an Artist Sketchbook | www.KendraCastillo.com

I like to think of a sketchbook as a catalogue of information, storing my visual interests, dreams, and inspirations. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, in fact, the pages don’t even have to have visuals. Many pages in my sketchbooks are simply filled with nothing but writing - list after list of words, fragments of ideas, and bits of poetry or a line from a book. Let your sketchbook be a diary for your process, a home to store your dreams and goals, and fill those pages with whatever makes your soul sing.

There are many ways to keep a sketchbook - the trick is finding what works best for you and your practice. The best method to capture your ideas, keep you inspired, and ultimately, bring an added source of joy to your creative process. There’s really no rules - I would say the most important part is just spending time with it. Carve out 20 minutes of your day to explore and get to know the pages. Be honest, be messy. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes, the beautiful thing is - that’s when the discoveries happen.


More about Taylor:

Taylor Adams is a Florida based artist exploring the world of abstraction with thread and ink in hand. Fueled by a love of the outdoors, she is largely inspired by beauty found in nature. See more of Taylor’s work at tayloradamsart.com and follow along on Instagram/Twitter @tayloradamsart to get a closer look at her process, current work, and daily explorations.