Home/Tag: joy

Art In Progress: Choose Happiness

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

This piece was a looonnnng time coming because I had this background in my closet for at least a year before I put a girl on it.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to keep it as is or if I wanted to layer on top of it.  I fell in love with the colors as I was creating it and I just never wanted to cover it up, until recently.  I firmly believe that works evolve over time to what they’re meant to be!  This one needed a little more resting time before I was ready to change it.

Here was the background I started with, it was just a fun experiment of colors and boldness:

Work in Progress: Choose Happiness

It was a fun colorful piece that I loved to look at so you can understand my hesitance in changing it (or messing it up!)  But one of the things I’ve learned about growing as an artist is not to get too attached to anything I create.  If I hold too tightly to particular pieces or elements of my work, it stops me from expanding my skills and growing.  And actually that’s pretty good advice for me to follow in my life too!  I always think I’m just painting, but being creative always teaches me about life as well.

Anyway, since I loved the colors I used so much, I knew the sentiment “Choose Happiness” would go perfectly with this background.  I started the transformation by putting a girl on top and I gave her a dress pattern to compliment the colors.  I like to name each of my girls too, so she’s appropriately named: Joy.

choose happiness

Then I stamped the sentiment in, as well as added some more details.  The little pieces are my favorite–my art teacher always tells me not to get too lost in the minutiae, but I feel like the details are part of what make my paintings special to me.  I love looking up close and seeing what is hidden, in both my work and other people’s creations.

choose happiness

And here’s the final image below.  I feel like it was worth it to wait for this to emerge!  I’m so happy with how she came out–vibrant but simple.  I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

Choose happiness

Buy Choose Happiness (Joy) on Etsy Here

Love, Steph


Art In Progress: Choose Happiness2019-01-14T20:25:43-05:00

New Art: Joy To The World

I wanted to create a new piece for the holidays; something simple and happy that spoke to the heart of the season.  I really feel like joy is the underlying reason for most of the things we do.  And this is especially true around the holidays–all of the parties, gatherings + celebrations are about joy.  How can we get more?  How can we feel that unbridled joy?

But I’ve been trying to look at it differently this year: How can I give more joy?

How can I be more present and emotionally available to those I love?  Feeling joyful gets me there.  How can I truly feel the essence of this peaceful + holy time of year and share it with others?  Wishing joy for others is a good start.

I always find myself in a deep, reflective mood during this season, and it helps me focus on what is important–sharing moments, being still + feeling the love around me.  Along with the holidays comes the winter solstice, which I love too.  It reminds me it’s a time of deep renewal for my heart + mind.  It reminds me to keep seeking my true path.

Joy to the world

(new art available here)

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.”
– Aristotle

And even though happiness + joy are a major part of the season, I notice the feeling of experiencing different levels of joy at different times.   I’m trying not to give in to the expectations of hitting that ecstatic crescendo everyone seeks during this time, but I try to enjoy more of the little moments; stringing these moments together are what add up to a special overall feeling for me. Remembering that the everyday joy has a magical quality.  And cherishing those quiet moments of inner peace and solitude that fill my heart.

I’m wishing you + your beloveds joy this holiday season.

Joy to the world, truly.



New Art: Joy To The World2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

How Will You Wrap Up Your Year? {Some Tips To Make It Through The Holidays.}

Christmas Tree

There’s so much hustle + bustle out there, this time of year. Can you feel it?  I know I can.

Worrying about getting the right present or the perfect outfit to wear doesn’t interest me. Inviting in more peace + joy does.  I want to feel the wonder of a year coming to an end, and reflect on how amazing it has been! And this takes some serious intentional action.

The pressure of the holidays is real, friends, so I’m giving you a few tips on how to handle it.  We can all use some encouragement, yes? These are some of my favorite blog posts from the archives, to help you deal with this high-paced season without losing your cool:

I have to say, I’m looking forward to the clean slate a new year brings–the opportunities are endless. (Not to mention, I’m getting married!) But in the meantime, I’m going to focus on having fun + being dazzled by the excitement of the season, I hope you can too.


How Will You Wrap Up Your Year? {Some Tips To Make It Through The Holidays.}2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

How To Invite Inspiration In.

Do you know what inspires you? Or how to be ready when it shows up in your life? Click through for 7 ways to invite inspiration in.


I was lying in bed talking to a friend after a long day of deadlines, appointments + meetings.  I got a little giddy as I said goodbye to her, knowing it was bed time.  I loooooove sleeping– and girlfriend, I was ready to hunker down.

But as I was just about to fall asleep, I had a new idea pop up for one of my art pieces–I think it was a result of seeing something on Instagram earlier (I love that community).  The idea was a new style I wanted to play around with, so I jolted back to being fully awake + thinking about how I can incorporate this into my work.

I was kind of annoyed to get this inspiration so late at night–I was tired and not in the mood to be inspired!  But it got me thinking about how inspiration flows in my life.  

I realized this good-idea-before-sleep scenario is pretty common for me; the shower is another hot spot for budding break-throughs.   It’s when I’m completely relaxed that these new ideas come floating up effortlessly, simply because I’m letting them.  Can you relate?

And inspiration usually comes when I least expect it; I’m chilling out, enjoying the moment and letting my mind wander, then….wham!  The new idea/thought/feeling becomes crystal clear.  For me, it’s just about being open + allowing the energy to flow through.

Inspiration can come in many forms–it can be a new recipe, a different color for a painting, a great piece of furniture for the bedroom, a course that expands my world view, a specific taste that satisfies a deep craving or a song that calms me down.

Inspiration is our subconscious affirming to us what our soul is yearning for. It’s our way of attracting what truly nourishes us.

The word “inspiration” literally means,”in” + spirare “to breathe”.  When we are inspired, we are taking in our unique breath of life--whatever that breath or stimulus may be.

So how do you invite inspiration in? 

  • Be open to it.  Inspiration is a personal thing–what inspires you may not inspire someone else, so do not be judgey about what shows up for you.  Being open to it is the most important part of it–actually recognizing it showing up.
  • Be prepared.  Keep a notepad by your bed or use the recording option on your phone when you have a great idea; some people (aka: me) even try to make an mnemonic device so that they remember the thought later.
  • Get clear about your joy.  When you know what makes you happy, you will feel more motivated to act on the inspiration you get from it.
  • Strike while the iron is hot.  Inspiration is the gateway to action.  When you are looking to be inspired, surround yourself with the thoughts, people + things that get your heart pumping.  When your muse shows up, grab a chair and listen intently (even when you’re about to fall asleep).
  • Keep expanding. Being inspired comes in many forms so keep your eyes open for opportunities to grow + learn + try new things.  An open heart will help you expand in many directions along the way.
  • Welcome the act of being inspired, no matter what you’re doing.  Inspiration is part of your natural state, but sometimes it can feel a little inconvenient because it shows up at random times.  So when you are relaxed and feeling joyful, most likely you will receive some messages from your higher calling.  Know that the more inspired you are, the more inspired you will become, so just go with it!
  • Trust.  This is a biggie–trust that feeling inspired is divine intervention showing up in your life.  In some way, you called it forth and it is being answered. Hooray!

Inspiration is a personal preference–what gets me excited may do nothing for you; the important part is to figure out what makes your heart soar, and keep pursuing THAT.  If you surround yourself with what usually gives you butterflies, it will just be a matter of time + space before you’re feeling your next jolt of excitement.





PS.  Have some thoughts on this topic?  Tell me about it over on facebook!

How To Invite Inspiration In.2018-03-29T20:23:14-04:00

Busy Does Not Mean Better

In the spirit of being adventurous and open-hearted, I’ve gotten into the habit of saying yes to a lot of things in my life.  In the beginning, it was an exercise in faith and trusting the universe, that what I needed would come my way.  It opened me up to new experiences and expanded my heart and mind–mission accomplished.

Purpose of life

But lately I’m just feeling really busy.  Do you know what I’m talking about?  When you spend time doing things that aren’t necessarily adding value to your life, but you do it just because you said you would?  Yuck.

So as a result, I’m making it a point to being more intentional these days with my time + energy.  I’m trying to set boundaries and create a framework that allows me to enjoy what I’m doing when I’m doing it.  Imagine that. And instead of feeling selfish about it, I’m looking at it as self-care.

I want to be intentional about my life and not let it just happen to me.

For example: I recently admitted to myself that I don’t love going out at night after work, during the week.  Once in a while is fine, but I’m trying to make it a habit not to schedule social activities at night during the week unless it’s something that I really want to do.

And being a social person, this can be hard–my actions conflict with my feelings.  I want to be that fun person who’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.  But….I’m realizing, I’m just not.  I need time to decompress at the end of each day.  And if I go out, I don’t get to unwind and it does something funky to my psyche.  I become irritated and tired Steph.  She’s no fun.

In this adventure of un-busying my life, I’m getting to know myself better and listening to my heart.  It feels really good to tune in to what I want, and just say no.  I acknowledge that trying to do it all doesn’t work for me.  And the more that concept sinks in, the lovelier it feels to let myself off the hook.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself to re-calibrate how I’m spending my time, maybe they’ll help you too:

  • What do I enjoy doing?  It’s such a simple question but sometimes we get bogged down in life by obligations.  Remembering my joy triggers each day are such a necessity–Reading, watching a movie, painting, spending quality time with Chris–and I want to do that as much as possible.
  • How do I want to feel? How I want to feel is the driver of all things in my life.  It is the fuel to my fire: content, calm and inspired.  These core feelings help me make decisions throughout my day.
  • What are my limits?  Knowing my limits allows me to set healthy boundaries.  I know I need no less than 8 hours of sleep a night, so I plan accordingly.  I also love weird, healthy food (I’m one of those) and need to sweat out my stress regularly to stay sane.
  • What do I want to accomplish?  Having a basic plan helps me organize my thoughts and actions throughout the day.  Whether it’s a new blog post or starting a new painting, I have mini goals that motivate me and keep me on track.

Being busy doesn’t mean getting a lot done.  It just means we don’t have time to deeply examine our choices.  Sometimes what we stop doing is just as important as what we start doing; how can you become less busy today and more in tune with yourself?





Busy Does Not Mean Better2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00

Why We Must Ride The Waves Of Life.

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you know it’s been an exciting time around here lately.  I’m going through some really amazing changes that I’m open to with my whole heart, even though I’m secretly freaking out a little bit.  I recently got engaged and just moved into a dream house with my love–we’re working diligently on turning the house into a home, and it’s a lot of fun + scary all at the same time.

You've seen my descentAs I’m going through all of these highs, I’m still feeling the waves of everyday life.  Two days after getting engaged, I broke my toe.  What bad timing!  And a few days later as I was enjoying the amazing sunny weather during my lunch hour,  I locked my keys in my car.  Talk about learning to ride the waves of life.

Even though these minor events sprinkled some frustrations around my joy, it was a good reminder to me that life is a mix of highs and lows;  it is always changing and moving.  I think it’s natural to want to lock things down and set cruise control on the “happy” setting each day, but there’s more in store for us than that one-dimensional life.

And the neutrality that comes with no emotional fluctuations only ends up stifling the spirit.  Wanting happiness 24/7 is just a result of trying to avoid any sort of pain or discomfort–but experiencing happiness all the time would burn us out in a different way.

Because even though we crave happiness most of the time, feeling the highs and lows give us perspective to appreciate the varying degrees of life; they create depth of character.  How would we know pure bliss unless we’ve experienced a deep low?  Without the peaks and valleys, we lose perspective and soon feel trapped in that tightly cocooned safety net.  We are meant to change and grow, not stay stagnant.

As I reflected on the the events of the good-and-not-so-good events happening at the same time, I realized it’s part of the beauty of life–the balance of the yin and yang.  I try to remind myself of this natural law as I go through the roller coaster of emotions that change can often bring.  I know that eventually, things settle.

It reminds me that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and messily so. We have to ride the waves of joy + sorrow and grow from it, in order to become the person we want to be. That includes screwing up, feeling bad and bouncing back, too. Without that, we lead a life of emotional mediocrity and stifled curiosity.  Our spirit blooms when we feel the full range of emotions because we gain confidence as we get to know ourselves better.

Riding the waves of life with courage allows us to expand into something we may not have imagined–but always wanted to be.  The trick is getting beyond the fear long enough to embrace the changes as a good thing.  Because they usually are.





Why We Must Ride The Waves Of Life.2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00
Go to Top