Browsing articles in "philosophizing"

Compared to some places in this state, Bozeman is not very windy. This week, however, it has been howling. It’s not very fun to be out in it, but between gusts I love exploring the newly sculpted landscape.

Despite the glacial palette, I imagine myself in the desert :

Or at sea :

Winter is a time for re-imaginings — a blank slate, a reinvented landscape, a time for introspection and change. Holiday celebrations are fun and stressful in equal measure, leaving little time for quiet thought. I hope you get a few moments this week to see your surroundings in a new way, to think about the year past and the year ahead, to give meaning to all your celebrations.

It’s the last week of the semester and it feels like some giant being has pushed a fast-forward button.
When my life feels upended and frantic, I turn to nature to bring me back to a reasonable perspective.

This video is a perfect example of the magic that happens right in front of us that we don’t (or can’t) see.
It makes me humble. It makes me breathe. It brings me back to center.

I hope your December is starting off a little more calmly than mine. Or if not, that this helps you pause and reset.


{video via Dooce}

‘Tis the Season

Well. Today officially begins the holiday shopping season: Are you ready? For the hype, the incessant commercials, the canned holiday music?

As a retailer, I look forward to this time of year — it’s frantic pace and the gratification of people choosing MY work to give to their loved ones. But the co-option of magic frustrates me. No matter what your beliefs, this season is about generosity. Sometimes that’s easily forgotten in all the rush.

I love that I’m able to share my art with a wide audience and I appreciate hearing what the art brings to your lives, but I wrestle with being an ecologist and selling disposable goods. And when everyone one is connected, all the time, to their digital calendars and email, why sell wall calendars and cards?

Stationery evokes an era before technology, when communication was tactile, an era of steam engines and elaborate formalities. Most of that life can be happily left in the past, but choosing cards with care, writing thank you notes, hanging a calendar that brings art into a room — these are traditions that should be cultivated amidst the bustle and glow of smartphones and inescapable connectedness. Stationery is a pause, a breath, an intent. Slow down. Enjoy the feel of pen against fine paper. Imagine the happiness of the recipient as you write. The bustle can wait.

At this time of year it’s especially important to hold on to the traditions that keep you grounded, that remind you what we celebrate, that bring you back to generosity.

I wish for all of you a season that is joyful, thoughtful and full of celebration.


Every year on my birthday I like to think about what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

Last year my big goals were to make an effort to visit friends and family and to have a solo art show. And I did both (yay!).

This year my goals are more solitary : to wrap up my doctorate, to train for open water swimming (a long-time dream of mine), to play the uke and do one handed push-ups.

To help keep track of my goals and to stay motivated in these solitary pursuits I’ve joined Go Mighty – it’s like Pinterest for action.

I’ve never liked to let people peek behind the curtain at my works-in-progress — I always want to unveil the perfect, finished end result. The trouble is, if I lose motivation there is no exterior accountability to help me accomplish my goals. I’m learning to like the discomfort of letting people see me in progress : it forces me to acknowledge that I’m not immediately awesome at everything and I have to let go of my ego and it’s harpy-like noises and just focus on the process.

I think getting too comfortable in our lives allows us to forget about our place within humanity and within nature. We become myopic and stagnant. A little bit of discomfort is educational and humbling. Being vulnerable and uncertain allows room for others to enter, to test your limits and to grow.  Ultimately, that’s my goal for this year — to force myself to be a little bit uncomfortable and see what I learn in the process.


~ David Whyte

Something to keep in mind for the weeks ahead …

{hand lettering by me}

Take Action

{Lettering by me}

I’ve long struggled between choosing to do work that benefits many or work that benefits me. I’m reclusive, I love autonomy and variety, creating and investigating and setting my own deadlines. My solo entrepreneurial ideas make me hum with energy — a blinking neon sign that I’m on the right path. But I’m smart and capable and there is so much that needs to be done in the world, even though often that work makes me feel tired and uninspired. I can’t always see a path that allows both and I feel torn between duty and joy.

The current political opposition towards women’s equality makes me viscerally angry. I know what I contribute to this nation, what my colleagues and friends and relatives contribute. I know that I am – that we all are – FULLY capable of making choices that are absolutely correct for our unique lifestyles. I know that I am fortunate to have had resources and support available when I’ve needed them — for mentoring, counseling, healthcare, and friendship — and I know how those resources have contributed to my successes.

The thought of a future without those resources, of living in a nation that does not respect my contributions and abilities, of future generations of women having to fight all. over. again. for even a semblance of equality and freedom of choice makes me swing between rage and despair.

What can I do?

I wouldn’t be effective in Washington. I don’t work at that pace, and I can’t ignore the blinking neon sign that continues to lead me towards a life I am madly in love with. But I CAN support those who are effective on the front lines.

And so, starting today, 10% of all my sales will be donated to organizations advocating for women’s health and equality around the world. I’ll be switching up organizations once or twice a year — I’ll let you know when I do and the snazzy decal in sidebar will keep you up to date with the current recipient.

Recipient Number One is the Trust Women Fund , providing advocacy and support for family planning services in under-served areas of the U.S. especially the midwest and south, as well as a political voice on behalf of ALL U.S. women.

Women’s reproductive rights is an emotionally charged topic, but when it comes down to it, the restrictive legislature being proposed recently  is as much about trust and respect as it is about medical procedures. We need to have these conversations, but we need to have them openly, collectively and with respect.


On Wealth

What does wealth mean to you? Does Scrooge McDuck come to mind, lounging on his mountain of gold? Or do the faces of your family and friends pop into your head?

Wealth is the capacity for change.

~ C.S. Holling

This is my favorite definition. One that seems especially meaningful now, in light of the changes occurring in the economy.
I love turning the notion of “wealth = stuff” on its head. Change is tough with lots of stuff. It acts like tethers and slows your movement.

I like to play with this idea by imagining what I would take with me if I were to load up the car and drive away: some artwork, and art supplies, a few books, maybe a rock or two from an awesome adventure. A rug, a chair, my grandmother’s cast iron pan and my other grandmother’s wooden spoon. My pillow. My dog. Maybe a plant or some seeds.
It’s fun to think about where I would go if hit the road, and then I step out of my back door, into the long Montana summer evening, and I am totally content just where I am.

Tell me, where would you go if you just picked up and left? What would you take with you? What makes you feel the most wealthy?

Flashback Friday : Lessons I’ve learned from my dog

I was re-reading old posts and came across this from last year. It’s a good reminder for the start of summer — the longer days and relaxed schedule allows for more time to practice new habits. Habits that I learn from my dog.

+ Find joy in what is around you in the moment

+ Anything can be a toy

+ Take advantage of a sunny spot and take a nap

+ Make new friends, but don’t let them keep you from where you want to go

+ Always be able to entertain yourself

+ Never stay on the path

+ Chase every opportunity

+ Be picky about who you love, but generous with those you’ve chosen

Process is one of my favorite words

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “practice makes perfect”. I think the first time it was said to me was during tennis lessons as a kid and it kind of irritated me.

But now, that’s how I see my life — it’s all practice: trial, observation, modification, repeat.

* * *

It is too easy to rail against the parts of our life we dislike without ever doing anything to change them. If you get stuck thinking you can’t change your situation, your entire life becomes prickly.
If, however, you’re of the perspective that everything can be temporary, the pieces you dislike become profoundly educational.

* * *

One of the benefits of being a student is that my life is ruled by semesters — my schedule changes every 4 months.
Everything is temporary and everything is a learning experience. In the last six months I’ve learned that it is imperative to my sanity to have two things every day:

++ Time spent outside; feeling simultaneously small and part of something greater

++ Time to sit and be contemplative; still and silent. Even if it is just long enough for me to sip my coffee in an unrushed manner each morning.

I can certainly function for a time without either, but my best work occurs and my best self comes out when I make room for both in my life.

* * *

What are your feelings on process and practice?

If you’d like to read more on the importance of silence in your life, check out THIS post.

Circuitous pondering for a Tuesday morning

I didn’t mean to take last week off from blogging. A week of house-guests and deadlines and some how it all got away from me. It happens.

During the week I thought a bit about intention — where we put it, how it shapes our lives. It’s easy to notice when others let go of their intention or allow other demands to take precedent. It’s not as easy to notice in one’s self.

I made a quiet “resolution” this year to put more energy into my relationships:  to make more times for my friends and family. I didn’t really mention it to anyone, just made a mental note. As a result I have a standing early morning walking date with a pal and our dogs. I have trips planned to see friends and family around the country over the next few months. I’ve rekindled a few friendships that have fizzled from disuse over the years.

And I notice that I’m letting others things go. At least for the time being.

It illustrates for me that you can’t do it all, all the time. That cycles are natural. I’m learning that when you put energy into one aspect of your life, it allows the fallow portions to rejuvenate. Significant disuse can lead to atrophy, but in moderation it can lead to fertility.

This is something I’m still chewing on. I like the idea of putting emphasis and intention into ALL the pieces of my life, just not at the same time. Does that make sense? Does it seem like a cop-out?

Serendipitously, I read this THIS post this weekend. Zan is one of my favorite writers on the web. She’s smart and eloquent and her observations makes me envious and therefore push me to be sharper in my own observations.

It’s worth a read, over a cup of tea. With time to think about how our choices direct our lives and how seemingly tiny decisions can have a big effect on our lives or those of others. There’s power there. Power to be used with intention.

Where are you putting your energy these days? How is 2012 shaking out as we begin the third month, already?




Welcome to Paper Route Designs and a glimpse into my life, my inspiration and my creative process.
I hope you enjoy.

Contact me :
karin {AT} paperroutedesigns {DOT} com


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