An Advent Angel just for you (free download)

Yesterday we celebrated St. Nicholas’ day. Do you celebrate that day?

(If you don’t know about that day at all, you can read a very short description of it in this blogpost.)

I love that day and the story about St. Nicholas alot. And eversince we added the tradition of putting cookies and milk out for St. Nicholas and his horse – I love it even more. ;-) I’d actually prefer tea to milk, but oh well …

And you know what – St. Nicholas left a little present FOR YOU with me. Look! A little angel! Just for you!

calm-wonderful-advent-ursula-markgraf

To download right-click HERE and choose “save as”.

The little angel wants to remind you that during Advent- and Christmas time you should take good care of yourself. If even angels need to meditate in order to stay sane during Christmas season – why should we think that we can do it without “help”?

No, you don’t have to meditate, if that isn’t your thing. Even though I would highly recommend to anyone to try it. ;-) But you should definitely take time for yourself.

Time to figure out what is really important to you during Christmas.

Time to listen to yourself. How are you doing?

Time to decide what you wanna say “Yes” to and what you would rather say “No” to.

Time for selfcare.

Time to just enjoy the moment. Read a few lines in a good book, take a hot bath, have a good cup of tea …

A few minutes a day can make such a difference and can help to break free from all the rush that Advent time often brings. And that’s what this angel wants to remind you of.

calm-wonderful-christmas-ursula-markgraf

To download right-click HERE and choose “save as”

You can print out your angel and put it in your wallet, calendar or on your mirror. So every time you see it you are reminded to take a bit time for yourself.

Or you can also send it via email or on your social networks to your friends to wish them a wonderful Advent- or Christmastime. Just as you like.

And if you’d rather send “real” angel postcards or cards – there are still a few in the SHOP. ;-)

So, do you have a St. Nicholas tradition?

 
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Rituals for a new year

How do you feel about the start of a new year? Do you get excited?

As you probably know – I LOVE new beginnings. And therefore I’m always pretty excited when a new year starts. However, I don’t really celebrate the year with a big party. I rather like to start it quietly, taking time for myself and for reflecting.

I thought that I will share my little rituals that I did for the new year 2016. Just a little warning – I didn’t do all of this on New Year’s Eve. I kinda spread it out over a few days … Just so you know. :-)

A workbook for the new year

One of the things that I love to do is to reflect on the last year and on the year to come with a workbook. I created my own in German – and if you happen to be German or read German, feel free to check it out HERE. But there are many English resources out there. I list just three here for you to get started. If you have other favourite resources, feel free to tell me about them in the comment section. Here are three wonderful resources:

New Year’s revolution kit by Do what you love

Unraveling the year by Susannah Conway

Create your shining year by Leonie Dawson

Word of the year

I also decided on my word of the year – as I do every year. If you’re not familiar with the “word of the year” – in short it’s a word that you choose for yourself that will guide you through the year. If you think – which word could it be? It’s usually the one that comes to mind first. ;-)
For 2016 my word of the year will be FLY. And I even created a visual reminder for myself. Hey, last year I created my art piece to remind me of my word of the year in September. So this is a BIG achievement! :-)

anatomy-of-taking-flight-ursula-markgraf-274

I got the idea for this piece from a workshop I took more than a year ago. It was an online-course by the lovely artist Danielle Donaldson. Now I just gotta frame it so I can hang and enjoy it.

Visioncards

haven-visioncard-ursula-markgraf

If you happen to have read my blogpost on New Year’s rituals last year, then you know, that I also always create a vision board. However, this year I felt like trying something new. I really wanted to incorporate all the things that are important to me this year into my visionboard. So that would include … three personal goals, three career goals and three feelings. That’s ALOT for one visionboard. So after quite a bit of thinking I decided to make visioncards instead.

So, what’s a visioncard?

Well, basically it’s a tiny visionboard for just one topic or theme, in my case one goal or one feeling. Or, that’s what I decided a visioncard would be. I  have no idea if there is an actual definition for visioncards. ;-) I just wanted to create tiny visionboards that are smaller and just for one theme … and called them visioncards.

I figured this way I can display the visioncard that is most important to me at the moment or even display several, if I feel like it. Honestly, I don’t know if this is gonna work as well or better than a visionboard, but I figured … I’m just gonna try it. And if you wanna try it, too, all you need is:

-cardboard as a background for your visioncard – cerealboxes or something alike should work great
-cut outs from magazines – pics and words that resonate with you – I actually sorted mine into different sleeves according to my goals, feelings, so it would be easier for me once I start arranging and glueing
-glue – decoupage glue works great – something like mod podge, but you can also use a regular glue stick
-optional: acrylic paints, brushes, marker, pencils …
-candle, tea, nice music – and a piece of chocolate also doesn’t hurt ;-)

Here you can see how I created my first visioncard – which is for a career goal that I have, to host my first show with my art work:

And here I’m creating my second visioncard, for a personal goal of mine, to create my own little haven:

I hope you enjoyed watching. Just for inspiration … I also made these visioncards:

explore-ursula-markgraf-277

 

abundance-ursula-markgraf-275

Now I’m curious – how did you celebrate the beginning of a new year? Do you have small – or big – rituals?

 
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Christmas card writing as calming ritual – with 5 tips and my Christmas card collection

I love Christmas. And I love writing Christmas cards. The first one has always been that way. The latter … not.

Eversince I was a child I loved to write. Letters, cards, diary, everything. Still, there have been a few years when I did not write any Christmas cards at all. Why? Cause it was additional stress in an already stressful time of year.

A few years ago I started to say NO alot more often during Christmas time. No, I won’t bake 20 different kinds of cookies. No, I won’t attend every Christmas party. No, I won’t go to every Christmas market or fun sounding activity with my kids.

calm-christmas_MG_2451

Christmas card “Calm Christmas” – available HERE

Interestingly at about the same time I started saying YES to writing Christmas cards again. :-) Why?

Cause it turned into a little ritual that helped me to be more calm during Christmas time. Slowing down. Enjoying the moment. Fountain pen in my hand, steaming tea in front of me, cuddled up in a blanket, candle burning … A few minutes just for me and the recipient of a card in a busy time. :-)

angel_MG_2468

Christmas card “Angel hug” – available HERE

Even though I don’t write a huge number of cards, I still never write all cards in one sitting. I take my time. And each time I sit down to write a few cards, I get more into the Christmas spirit.

hug_MG_2465

Christmas card “Christmas hug” – available HERE

If you wanna create a little calming ritual with your Christmas card writing for yourself – here are a few suggestions:

1.Start early to get everything to gether that you’ll need – cards, stamps, address labels, favourite pens, stickers or other embellishments, tea, cookies, chocolate … ;-)

2.Only use things that you truly deeply enjoy. Use your favourite mug for your tea. And have a cup of that special tea, you’re saving for special days. Light a candle. Use cards that you enjoy – the picture and the feel of them. Write with a pen you love.

3.Have everything you need for your little Christmas card writing break in one place. Nothing disturbes the mood like having to search for that one pen, the stamps or the ink … while your tea is getting cold.

4.If you like involve your family and create a little family tradition. I personally like to have the writing time just for myself. But my kids love to help sticking stamps and address labels onto the envelopes.

5.Take your time. There are probably only few people that enjoy the prospect of writing 30 cards at once. No matter how much tea is involved. ;-) So, only do as many cards as you truly enjoy. I for example tend to write around three cards in one sitting. If you’re rushing it, it’s no fun – and definitely not calming – anymore.

christmastree_MG_2411

Christmas card “ChristmasTREE” – available HERE

Addtional idea:

You can try to find something that will make your Christmas card writing time extra-special for YOU. Maybe you’ve been meaning to learn handlettering or calligraphy? Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to do so? You’d definitely have lots of opportunity to practise. Do you enjoy being creative with others? Check if you can join a workshop in your town on making your own Christmas cards. Do you like to paint, draw, take photos … all those things you can bring into your Christmas card writing. They will not only add a wonderful extra-personal touch to your cards, but will also make the time even more enjoyable for you.

And if you try all these things and you still can’t stand writing Christmas cards?

Then I hereby give you permission to not write any. The world won’t stop turning – I promise. ;-) It’s your life and your time. You are the only one who decides how you wanna spend it.

But if you are in the mood for some Christmas card writing and could use some special cards, I have a special offer for you in my shop this week:

Christmascards-Ursula-Markgraf

If you buy FOUR sets of Christmas cards (each contains 5 folded cards that you can pick) – then I will gift you a fifth set. All you gotta do to take me up on that offer is order 4 sets until the 22nd of November, 2015 and pick the cards you want. (While ordering you just tell me how many of which cards in the comment field.)

Now I’m curious, do you write Christmas cards? Do you enjoy it – or is it a dreaded must?

Do you have any additional ideas for me and my readers how one can make Christmas card writing a calming ritual?

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Celebrate life everyday – mixed media step-by-step photo tutorial

Today I have a mini-photo-tutorial for you on how to make a mixed-media postcard. I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Quite some time ago I participated in a postcard swap which I really enjoyed. The theme for the swap was “Celebrate”. As I loved creating my card back then so much I decided to create a similar card and share the process of making it. This is the finished card:

finished-MG_2533 Kopie

As you see, this time with a tea cup. I LOVE tea. And to me a good cup of tea is a perfect way to celebrate my life. Every day. :-) Wanna make your own? This is what you need:

ursula-markgraf-step1_MG_2526 Kopie Kopie

Of course you can use any other art supplies you have around. And you certainly do not have to use everything I put in the picture. This is an awesome project for playing with what you have and like. Anything goes. :-) When you have all your supplies ready, you create a background. (I created two. I love creating backgrounds.)

For the backgrounds I just added some collage bits, used water color crayons, my chalks some white acrylic paint, some distress ink and some spray tint. When you have your backgrounds ready you need to print out some words. (Or write them down with a permanent pen.) I printed the words “Celebrate life every day”.
You will also need a cutout of a cup. You can either use paper scraps or old book pages – which I LOVE. You could also paint one onto some thick paper and cut that out. If you make several cups, play around until you find the one that you like best on your background.

ursula-markgraf-mixed-media-step2_MG_2527 Kopie Kopie

Then arrange your words and your cup on your background and – glue them down.

ursula-markgraf-mixed-media-step3_MG_2531 Kopie Kopie

In the next step color your word paper strips with some water color crayons or chalks. Outline them to make them stand out more. Also outline your cup and add a shadow around your cup.

step4_MG_2533 KopieLast step is to add some steam – if you like – and maybe some fun embellishments. I added a tiny little polymer clay heart to my cup. Cause I LOOOOOOVE my tea. :-)

ursula-markgraf-mixed-media-step5_MG_2536 Kopie KopieHave fun making your own “Celebrate” card!

And if you show off your card, comment and leave a link to it in the comments. I’d love to stop by and take a peek.

P.S. I’m planning to post more mixed-media tutorials in the future, so if you enjoy them, hop on the list for my lovely emails so you don’t miss any:

 
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What is success for you?

Success. Such a strange concept.
We all strive for it, don’t we. Often we work our ass off to get it. But once “there” we often realize – “Hey, this does not really feel as awesome as I thought.”
Ever had this happen to you?

To me that used to happen ALOT until I started my own business. At that point I figured that I must have my defintion of success wrong.

Yes, you get to define what success means to you.
There is no one-size-fits-all defintion! (Even though some people want you to believe just that.)

Working for myself made me really think about what success means to me. Very hard.
And even though I think that in a way I always knew what matters to me most, for the first time I really put it into clear words. For myself. And it was incredible how much that helped and changed my perspective on things.

I live my dream - affirmation - Ursula Markgraf

You can download this image and more as free affirmation cards HERE.

Cause once I had put it into words, I realized that I actually AM living my dream in many ways already.
Which is kinda hard to realize if you are busy comparing yourself to others and measuring yourself on their definition of success. ;-)
And it also helped me get alot more clear on what to do and what not to do in my life and in my business.

To me success means that I can live my life my way.

It means I can work WHERE I want to, WHEN I want to and of course I also choose WHAT work I want to do.

To me success means that I can live my life according to my priorities.
That I can put those things first that mean the most to me (my kids!).
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my work! But I still want to plan my work around my life – not my life around my work!

Success also means to me that I can make a difference. For one person at a time!
When someone tells me that what I do made a difference to them – best feeling ever.

So, what does success mean to you? Let me know in the comments!

 
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Free affirmation cards for you! (free pdf-download)

Affirmations about selfcare - free to download - by Ursula Markgraf

So, I finally have a new goodie for you. How is that?

I created a new sheet of affirmation cards around the topic of self-care.

You can download them for free HERE.

(Just right-click on the sentence or on the image below and use save-as.) Then you can print the pdf and use it.

Affirmations about selfcare - free to download - by Ursula Markgraf

And if you are new to my site and love the free affirmation printable, you can download another one HERE.

Like them? Please consider sharing! You would make the day of an artist SO much brighter! No kidding. To make it easier you can use this tweet(Just click on it, change the text if you like and tweet.)

Or just use the share buttons below or on the side of this post. THANKS so much! *big hug*

Wishing you a wonderful day and hope these affirmation cards are helpful to you.

Let me know in the comments!

 
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What you definitely should do TODAY!

Mixed-media postcard tutorial video with Ursula Markgraf

This is a little reminder to up your selfcare. :-)

Over the last weeks I was working on a project where I had to think about selfcare ALOT.

I just published a little booklet in German that’s all about selfcare. If you do read German or are just curious, you can take a peek HERE

selbstachtsamkeit-ursula-markgraf_cover

But the thing is, as the deadline drew closer and there was still so much to be done … what did I drop first? Even though I was reading, writing and thinking about it all the time? Of course. My selfcare. And what happened?
I did not feel good, I got even a bit sick, and my mood was of course nowhere near where it should be. I did not enjoy life, bitched at my husband and kids, and simply did not feel like my usual self. (I really hate that feeling.)

“Tree” – available as postcard HERE :-) 

Lesson?

There is no right time for selfcare. It is ALWAYS time for selfcare. Selfcare is not the luxury you add on top of a good day.

Selfcare is the underlying foundation of everything else.

Yes, I know. I probably will have to re-learn this lesson over and over and over again. Cause even though I know by now how important selfcare is for me, my well-being and ultimatley everyone around me – I still forget.

I still work too much or too late. Or both.

I still eat in a rush cause I want to finish something for work and did not take the time for lunch that I should.

I still skip my yoga or meditation when I think I’m short on time.

I still try to “push through” when there is alot to do.

Yesterday I stopped. Even though I had a gazillion things to do – I took a break – or rather – I slowed down. I meditated first thing in the morning, I ate my lunch outside in the yard on the swing, I read a chapter in my fav book on my way to pick up my son instead of doing work on the train … and you know what? Yes, I did not get everything done that I wanted to.

BUT – noone died! Everything is still fine. AND when I went to bed in the evening I actually felt good. Not completely exhausted and edgy and irritable. But good.

So, this is my gentle reminder for you to take better care of yourself today. TODAY!

What will you do? Tell me in the comments?

Will you drink an extra glass of water? Sit for 10 minutes in the sun? Or just stop working early? Can not wait to read your comments!

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“Play time” every day? That’s how I do it.

First of all, what IS play time.

It is rather simple as the name suggests it is all about PLAY. Your only goal is PLAYING. Nothing else. The product or result should not be important. You should just enjoy the process!

Do you have "play time" every day?

I believe play time is important for everyone, even – or especially – creative professionals. Spending all day producing creative things can leave you kinda pumped out. You do need to recharge your creativity and just play. Also, it simply is a very good way to care for yourself and make yourself feel good.

I actually developed a list of different things that I do for play time and depending on how much time I have that day I choose one of these. More than a year ago I wrote a guestpost for April from Blacksburg Belle where I shared that list. I totally intended to share it here as well … but I forgot. :-( During the last weeks I was working on a project about selfcare which reminded me of the importance of play time AND … my guestpost. So, if you wanna see what my play time looks like – here it is *tadaaa*:

Why you need play time and ideas how to fill it

Leave April a nice comment while you over there. And once you are back here …

I’d love to know what are your favourite ways to fill your play time?

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Have a wonderful year 2015 (plus ressources)

A new year started …. and I am a lover of new beginnings. I love the feeling of endless possibilities, that nothing is set yet, all open. Explains probably why I love Mondays, moving and new notebooks. ;-)

And even though most people do not share my Monday-love, most of you probably agree that the beginning of a new year has some sort of magic to it. Many people start a new year with resolutions. Unfortunately that has never worked for me. I always ended up not feeling good about myself and about what I had achieved cause usually I would find my list with resolutions sometime mid-year and realize that I had worked on none of them. :-( A tad frustrating.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Steve JobsAt some point I simply gave up and ditched resolutions for good. But by now I  have found some awesome alterantives – rituals that work for me and that help me to create a wonderful year:

1. Word of the year

Two years ago I tried something new. I decided on a “word of the year” which stayed with me the whole year. Last year I wrote a blogpost about it. For me this works really great as it is alot easier to implement than resolutions. And it is alot easier to remember, too. :-)
My “word of the year” for 2015 will be EASE. What is your word of the year?

Mixed media "Brave" by Ursula Markgraf

2. A workbook or planner for the new year

Last year I tried something else that was new for me. From a friend I got a wonderful workbook which helped me to plan out goals, to write down ideas, wishes, dreams. I loved this idea so much. I also used the wonderful free New Years Revolution kit by Do what you love. You can find this year’s version HERE. Go download it and try it out.

3. A visionboard for 2015

Last year I also created a vision board for 2014. You can see it below. I LOVE creating visionboards. You can make them big or small. I even created one in a notebook. You can create them for the whole year or for a project. They are so much fun to make and such a strong and powerful visual reminder. I hung my visionboard in my bedroom, so I can see my dreams each time I wake up or I fall asleep. :-)

Visionboard von Ursula Markgraf

If you would like a bit more instruction on how to create a visionboard you can check out this offer by the lovely artist Desiree East – she will lead an online-workshop on how to create your own visionboard January 11th.

So, now you have three ritual- ideas that you can use to jump-start your new year – having a “word of the year”, working in a planner for the new year and creating a visionboard. Which ritual do you like best?

Or do you have another ritual that you use to make certain that 2015 will be YOUR year?

 
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