Monday, April 13, 2015

{5 ways to curb anxiety}

Something I don't talk much about on the blog, but is a huge part of my identity, is anxiety. I've struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in many different forms from as early as junior high and have experienced a variety of symptoms and tried lots of different things to treat it. If you suffer from anxiety issues you know what I mean when I say it can rule your life and make it very difficult to go about normal daily activities. 

Today was a horribly bad anxiety day for of the worst in recent memory when I honestly felt trapped in my own mind. It is a scary and hopeless feeling. And so I turned to some of my loyal anxiety remedies, which got me thinking what others with similar problems do when their anxiety flares up.

First let me say that this post is about simple things you can do to help alleviate mild anxiety. I'm no doctor friends, and in many cases, medication and therapy are needed to get it under control. 

These are simply activities that I've found to help me shut off or at least turn down my anxiety. Sometimes clearing your mind and focusing on something else can work wonders. Here are five of my go-to anxiety helpers...

1. Doodling

Of course this is my #1. The best part about doodling is anyone can do it. All you need is a pen and paper. And it is such a great way to relieve stress. I find repetitive shapes or patterns like the one above can be very calming. My focus goes entirely into the doodle and after a few minutes I find myself quite a bit calmer. I've also found it helpful to relieve a tension headache.

2. Knitting 

This one isn't for everyone, but knitting for me was a hobby that truly saved my sanity during a really difficult time. I took up loom knitting a few years ago, which is super simple to learn, and I found the repetitive motion super calming. I've heard crochet and other needle crafts are similarly relaxing. 

3. Journaling

Writing down your fears, worries and anxieties is a wonderful way to get them off of your mind. It legitimizes them and is also a tangible way of letting them go. If it helps, write on loose paper and rip it up and throw it away afterward as a way of saying...OK...I'm done with that now, on to happier things! Art journaling is also a fabulous way to de-stress, using magazine clippings, paint, washi tape and other pretties along with writing. 

4. Deep breathing & meditation

I'm a novice to this whole realm, but I've listened to a few calming meditations when I'm having panic attacks, as well as practicing simple deep breathing, both of which have helped calm my mind. Liz Lamoreux has some good meditations. And here is a deep breathing exercise to try

5. Nature

This isn't always something easily accessible, but if you are able to get outside into the fresh air, do it! It is amazing what a few deep breaths of sweet, clean air can do for your soul. Exercise is also tremendously helpful, so double your benefit and take a walk! Add some calming music and you are so set. Right now I have the Greg Laswell station on Pandora playing on repeat. 

So there you go! 5 of my go-to ways to curb anxiety. Remember friends...these aren't cures but can certainly help when you are getting overwhelmed. Do you have any tips for keeping anxiety in check? 


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

{hello HomeGoods!}

I'm over the moon excited to share some photos of my first This Girl's Doodles sightings in HomeGoods stores! 

{thanks to my friend Alyson in Wisconsin for these photos!}

Ahhh! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see my art for sale like this. But boy is it happening!

I was a bit thrown off at first by how HomeGoods changed my original pieces. {I've known this for a few months.} All of them are printed in gold foil instead of my original color palettes and they also removed & moved around some bits of the illustrations. I know they are following retail trends but in all honesty some of the changes were a tough pill for my artist's ego to swallow.

Here are the original pieces for comparison...
The "shine" piece works wonderfully with the gold foil though! You can see that piece below in the upper right thanks to an Instagram photo I spotted...

Being new to art licensing, this is a lesson learned for future collaborations with retail stores. I'm still immensely grateful that my first shot at this was HomeGoods of all places, so grateful. 

If you spot one of my pieces in your local HomeGoods, tag me on instagram with @mandy_ford or Twitter with @TGL_mandyford and #thisgirlsdoodles!
Looking forward to what may come next!


Sunday, April 05, 2015


On a day when many are celebrating hope and new life and forgiveness, I'd like to add kindness to the list. 

My home state of Indiana has been in the news for some not-so-wonderful things lately, and it has left me feeling sad about the ugliness it has brought out in so many. I have stayed out of the conversation online for the most part because it was bringing out so much division and hurtful behavior.

But still I wanted to contribute something hopeful. Last week while playing frisbee in the yard with my boys the term "kindiana" came to me, and I came up with this doodle...

Not too long after, a local shop owner asked me to turn it into a larger custom piece for her shop...

And now it is available as a print in my Etsy shop...

Because being kind doesn't discriminate. #kindiana

And Happy Easter friends!



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

{in my sketchbook}

I've been experimenting  in my sketchbook with a new style of handlettering and lots of little houses...

My boys came home talking about idioms they had learned at school, including saying something is "my cup of tea," which was the inspiration for the doodle above. 

One of the best things about home is you can be as weird as you want between those four walls, am I right? 

Having fun with this new lettering style...what do you think of it?


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{life lessons from Lego Movie}

So you may not have seen Lego Movie, but I think all of us can relate to the quote above, credited to the ever-happy Uni-Kitty...

Yep...a unicorn/cat. Can you think of anything happier?

My son Landon's favorite book right now is based on the movie, and is called "Emmet's Guide to Being Awesome".  It is equal parts funny and inspiring, teaching kids that they are unique and awesome just how they are.

Pretty much one of the best lessons to teach children, and one we need to be reminded of as adults as well, right?

YOU are awesome, my friend. And in order to share our best awesome-ness with the world, we need to cling to our good ideas and thoughts.

Any idea is a good idea, except the not-happy ones. Tweet this 

For example:

I'm a good mother. <<< good idea.
It is selfish of me to want time to myself. <<< not-happy idea
I should go get myself a coffee. <<< good idea
I look fat in these pants. <<< not-happy idea

You get the point.

Of course we're going to have not-happy days, but we can still do our best to fill them with good and happy ideas.

So thanks Lego Movie for this life lesson, and here's to lots and lots of good ideas!


Friday, March 13, 2015

{in my sketchbook}

Hello friends! Happy Friday!

Are you enjoing these weekly-ish "in my sketchbook" posts? I hope so, because here's another one!

A mix of springy flowers and graphic shapes this week...

I'm finding an almost daily practice of drawing in my sketchbook is slowly helping me find my personal style. It is also a great way to experiment with new techniques and tools. And on top of that it is good therapy...something about the feel of the pen gliding across the paper and creating pleasing shapes releases the tension from my soul. 

It is giving me reason to seek out inspiration for new doodles. For example, the shapes inside the flowers were inspired by a knob on our TV cabinet.

Inspiration is everywhere friends. 

Hope you have a fantastically inspired weekend!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

{just go with it}

Are you an over-thinker?

I ask because I don't want to be the only one in the room with my hand raised.

We can certainly be our own worst enemies...sabotaging ourselves before we give the good stuff a chance to settle in and make itself at home. 

99.9% of work day mornings, when my alarm goes off, my immediate reaction upon hearing that horrible buzzing noise is "nooooo!" met with anxiety the minute my feet touch the floor, if not sooner.

This morning, however, was that .01% of mornings. This time when the dreaded alarm sounded, I was greeted by a foreign feeling of OK-ness that was so lovely, and caught me so off guard, that my mind instantly wanted to return to my well-worn friend, anxiety. Like turning down a cozy fleece blanket for an itchy piece of wool. 

Before I could get there, though, this phrase was spoken to me... 

Just go with it. {Tweet this }

Stop over-thinking and just be grateful for this unprecedented 180 degree turn. 

And so I did.

Because who knows what tomorrow morning will bring.

Maybe you need to just go with it today too?

Turn off that default switch in your brain of anxiety, worry, judgment, fear or I'm-not-good-enough-ness.

If your mind suddenly decides to do a 180 like mine did this morning, embrace the heck out of it!



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