Every Heard

Welcome to the heart of my creations, my work, & my volunteerism. Please use the menu to find what you are seeking ^^

Reboot: Project 333 Challenge

"Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months."

-Courtney Carver (Creator of Project 333, writer, photographer, and incidentally, individual living with Multiple Sclerosis)

Project 333 likely needs no introduction by now, having been covered by both Oprah and The Today Show.  I have not completed the challenge.  Instead, I adapted Carver's concept into a new challenge: Rather than limiting my wardrobe to 33 items, I began donating 33 items.

Since I had to give up having a home of my own in order to afford my new lifestyle as a travelling musician, my stuff ended up in my parents' basement.  Slowly but surely the piles of clothing are being whittled down to my most essential items using this variation on Carver's technique:

First, wash a big pile of laundry.  Whether items are kept or donated, they will have to be clean.  Items that have stains or holes that cannot be repaired are immediately thrown away.  As I fold and inspect items, I create three distinct piles.

1.  33 items i am Ready to donate now

2.  ANY items i Will donate within 3 months

3.  Any items I will give to a specific person

When I do this, I like to have non-transparent bags for piles #1, #2, and #3.  This way, the items are out of sight as soon as I make my decisions, and I do not have to relive each choice again later.  As Marie Kondo, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up says, “Discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.”  

I advise anyone trying this to fill up bag #1 first.  When I am sitting with my big pile of laundry, it is easiest to count up at least 33 items I am prepared to release immediately.  The remaining pile is still substantial enough to demonstrate I can truly afford to donate these 33 items to people in need.  Before I continue, I tie bag #1 shut and put it by the door, in the car, or whatever place that reminds me; These 33 items no longer belong to me.

Bag #2:  While it is wonderful to be able to let go immediately, I know- for me and the friends who I have helped use my method -the challenge of admitting I will never use an item again often stops the process before it has began.  For this reason, Bag #2 allows a gradual release.  As I pick up each item that screams maybe, I casually put it into this bag, knowing full-well that it will be retrievable over the next three months.  As soon as there are at least 33 items in this bag, I tie it up and put it out of sight, in the back of my closet.  I do not pressure myself to say goodbye now.  Items in Bag #2 are not all destined for donation*.

Bag #3:  We all have clothing that reminds us of a friend or family member.  Why is that?  Would it fit them?  Is it their style?  Does it say something about your relationship?  Perhaps you feel attached to an item in a way that prevents you from releasing it into the world beyond your sight, but you would entrust it to the care of someone you know.   Whatever the reason, these items are sitting in your closet, waiting to be shared.  I think of the joy they may bring to my loved ones, how the gift might present an opportunity to set an overdue lunch date or dinner.  Then suddenly, I feel excited about sharing my treasures.

Everything else goes back into my wardrobe.  I mindfully place items where I will see them and remember to wear them.  I am keeping them because they bring me joy!  I am reminded to make getting dressed a joyous occasion.  All these lovely choices and only one body to clothe each day!

*Over the next three months, be more mindful of whether you enjoyed the clothing you kept.  If you forgot about Bag #2, sitting in the back of your closet, then it is most definitely ready to be donated.  On the other hand, if you caught yourself digging into Bag #2 to retrieve items, did you try to maintain the 33 item count?  If you took something back, replace it with another item you would prefer to give away.  

My efforts to downsize my physical belongings continue slowly.  I would love to hear from you, if you try my Project 333 reboot.  Let me know how it works out!




Donation Pick Up Services List

This is my running list of donation pick up services with online scheduling. Feel free to add other FREE pick-up donation services in the comments, and I will add them to the list.  Please specify what state you are in, using this service.  Thank you ^^

Purple Heart --- http://www.purpleheartpickup.org/

Salvation Army --- https://satruck.org

Big Brother Big Sister --- www.bbbsfoundation.org

Donation Town --- http://donationtown.org/


DIY Favicon Creation

I love Squarespace, but I want my website to reflect my brand, not theirs. So I did a little digging and learned personalizing the little icon on the browser tab is quick and easy!

Favicons have to fit into a square. Images must be less than 2MB. (hint: KB < MB)

I used the website  http://www.favicongenerator.com/ to convert my cropped image into a 32 pixel graphic. The process is FREE, and they do not even bother you to enter any information.


This is the cropped image I uploaded. 


This was the 32 pixel result. 


Although it looks like a mess at full resolution, it is perfect for a personalized favicon!



On Squarespace, this feature is under Design --> Logo & Title --> Brower icon

To see the Squarespace video and tutorial CLICK HERE.


To see how I transformed a photograph into the image used for this favicon, CLICK HERE to see my DIY Stamp & Postcard Design post.

Enjoy personalizing all the little details of your website ^^

2016 Overview


Fairwell January... Already?  My favorite month goes so quickly!  Perhaps it is why I so frequently catch myself lingering in it well into February.  Well, at least unlike so many others, I love the winter!  I love nature telling everyone to SLOW DOWN, take your time... and be mindful of your step because it gets slick out there!

It would be difficult for anyone watching to believe I am striving to slow down.  When I meditate over my days in retrospect and see myself from an outside perspective, I already appear to be moving at a sloth's pace.  Nevertheless, to satisfy my intrinsic sense of accomplishment, I am endeavoring to resume blog-posting my monthly activities.

December 2016, I surrendered to the plan of last resort: I moved back to my parents' house.  By all right, I should have done so an entire year ago- But at that time, I could not bring myself to stay in their little farm community beyond Christmas 2015, into New Years.  Instead, I ran away to live with my fairy-fest parents; James and Julie.  

James Drury is my luthier.  He and his partner, Julie adopted me at Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2013 when I showed up at their booth, playing their handmade guitars and ukuleles all day.  Although they are by no means comparable to my biological parents, their home did happen to be close to Philadelphia, and at that time I was not ready to surrender.  I sold my first guitar for the rent money and moved in.

Over the following few months, I watched in dismay as everything unraveled.  Cohabitation with my fairy-fest parents and their artist roommate did not pan out.  My laptop died.  My bike was stolen.  My vehicle was totaled by another driver running a stop sign... and my heart broke.  2016 was the year which simplified life down to my heart's desire; The only thing that went right was music.

L-earning to Cover

Having only picked up a guitar a few years prior, my knowledge had been mostly limited to the original songs I composed.  Despite this, I had performed in numerous shows and music festivals alongside seasoned talents whom I truly admired.  Nevertheless, I felt like a failure for how little income music had generated, for how little I understood about the theory I had heard and read hundreds of times over.  I questioned whether I wasn't simply trying to be someone I wasn't.

However, music is magic this way; Just when I felt like giving up, something clicked!

In the midst of my low-swing, I thought about an old folk tune my lover's grandmother had sang for me.  "I Ride an Old Paint", which sounded like utter nonsense to me at the time, was the first cover I began to rehearse.  I listened to Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger perform it.  I copied down the lyrics, again and again; like studying for a spelling test.  Suddenly, the silly story spoke to me.  I could see variants of its narrative played out like a movie in my mind each time I sang it.  Dream ponies followed me in my sleep...

I began a separate journal specifically for cover songs and began filling its pages with lyrics and chords; "You are my Sunshine", "Walking After Midnight", "Leaving on a Jet-plane".  Each morning, as I prepared to leave for work, I would play through as many as I could, especially Dolly Parton's "9 to 5".  Throughout my days I repeated her words to myself like a mantra, "In the same boat as a lot of your friends, waiting for the day your ship'll come in. The tide is gonna turn, and it's all gonna roll your way!"

Sure enough, in the next few weeks, I received unexpected gigs, getting paid to perform at an SPCA fundraiser and a retirement community.  I took a leap of faith and purchased a small PA system on credit.  Finally, I could consider rehearsal time a financial investment. 

Of course, the process had never been a secret.  Every good Samaritan who knew a little more than me took me aside at open mics and outlined it in great detail.  However, seeing a route on a map is an altogether different experience than getting behind the wheel of a car or boarding a plane! At last I could make my own way! 

Music Theory Coloring Book in the making...

As my fingers found their way to the chord changes in time with the the tunes; so did my mind begin to absorb a modicum of the vast theory I had imbued into a color-coded chart of the guitar fretboard.

Creating this visual aid had been a sudden burst of inspiration in the winter of 2015, while I was working for the nonprofit, Music in the Park ATL.  During the 6 weeks I set aside to be their full time dedicated volunteer, I had the opportunity prioritize creativity and explore my graphic art talents.  However, memorizing the chart and applying it to my music theory studies would take another year...


 Just as a series of dominoes demystified the craft of covering songs in 2016, so too did a sequence of events help me understand theory.  While I was just beginning to rehearse "I Ride an Old Paint", I was recruited to volunteer for the children's literacy and writing nonprofit Mighty Writers.  Their students had expressed an interest in learning how to play guitar, and with my background in both childhood development and music, I was an ideal candidate.

A large component of my music workshop was built around the guitar fretboard chart.  I presented it to the children in black and white, then introduced them to the color-code as a color by notes (rather than numbers) exercise. Eight notes = Eight colors, plus five variations of the colors to represent the sharps and flats. This way I could present the children with familiar songs by letter or color, and they were able to find the corresponding notes on the guitar. 

Like this, but with my color code and a guitar ^^

Like this, but with my color code and a guitar ^^

But let me not digress... This concept will be explored in depth as this website expands.  For now, I will simply say, volunteering my time as a workshop leader with Mighty Writers helped me identify the concepts and details that are currently being turned into a Music Theory Coloring Book.  With each illustration I create, I come to a greater understanding of how the guitar works! 

New Year, New Career

The biggest lesson 2016 gave me is the one that requires the least words; Surrender.  Again, it is a skill I have actually invested several years' efforts into achieving, but 2016 was the year it clicked- Repeat the words and practices which you want to remember and improve. It sounds so simple, and yet- What is only implied in this statement is the real challenge.  How does one remember to let go of everything else? 



I have heard and read so many times that people who have achieved their impossible-seeming dreams do so because they put aside everything else.  Regardless of their origins, education, or obstacles; again and again, mankind continues to prove anything is possible.

The Return of the Prodigal Child

So, when I got all of my belongings moved back under my parents' roof, I took a long pause... I informed my parents of my intention to do as little as possible for the remainder of December, to clear my mind and prepare for a clean slate in 2017.  

To my surprise, they were happy I was staying.  They take great pleasure in resuming the same simple routines we carried out when I was a child.  My dad insists upon kissing me goodnight and goodmorning every day, like I am a little girl. My mother's greatest joy is in sharing food.  Whether we are grocery shopping, cooking, or eating; she is happiest when she knows I am well-nourished. 

After living away from them for over 15 years, it was enlightening to confront what had made me so anxious about living with them again.  I was ready because I had finally established my own boundaries.  As the weeks passed, I began to realize the behaviors that made me most reluctant to live with them were frequently patterns which reflected my own.    

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