The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

And the third to go … LifeInk List Maker Blog February 21, 2011

Filed under: Introduction,Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 12:44 pm
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For those of you who were wondering, yes, Erin is still alive. And yes, I am going to separate off onto my own blog as well.

So, here it is: LifeInk List Maker (

Follow the above link to learn more about why I decided to become the LifeInk List Maker.


More Than I Asked or Imagined September 29, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 12:54 pm
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It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was still searching for a job. It’s even harder to believe that three years ago, I returned home from college, resigned that I wasn’t one of those who found a job as soon as I received my degree.

As many of you know, I’m far from that now. I enjoy my job a lot. I have not only learned a lot from it (like having to give a presentation that scared the pants off me yesterday), but I’ve been challenged to better myself as well (for example, my professional appearance).

And that brings me to a few Sundays ago. That Sunday, someone from our church preached from the book of James. I must be honest that I was a bit distracted while sitting there looking at my Bible, mostly because of the notes I’d penned in the margins.

Almost exactly three years before, on September 30, 2007, I’d written next to James 4:15-17, “God has perfect timing.” That was shortly after my move back in with my parents’. I realized about that time that we don’t always get to plan what’s going to happen next. Now, I’m not saying we ought to sit by and let life happen to us, just that we don’t always get what we plan down the line. At that point, I’d expected to be moved out on my own (or with a roommate) to a job somewhere in the writing/editing field. I had none of that aside from some freelance work I’d been doing.

Completely distracted from the sermon at this point, I flipped through the pages of my Bible to glance through any other notes I’d scribbled on the pages. Sure enough, I found one from August of 2008, right about the time I’d returned from working at the Willow Creek Association for the summer. I was, once again, discouraged that I had to move back in with my parents, but the verses that caught my eye were 1 Corinthians 16:8-9. Next to it, I’d written, “Lord, show me the ‘in the meantime.'”

It’s amazing how God answered that tiny written prayer, by providing random odd jobs, friends who move in and out of town and a wonderful Sunday school class to help teach. That “in the meantime” really did become filled with some amazing blessings.

Last fall, I began temping in the area, and that led me to the job I currently have (and love). Can I continue to say how much I enjoy working at my job? I have caught myself saying on more than one occasion, “It’s more than I could’ve ever asked for or imagined.” Sound familiar? I know! I didn’t even realize what I’d been saying. It’s true though.

I never would have imagined that I get to write blogs, “play” on Facebook and tweet away on Twitter all day! I also recently organized an event for some bloggers and their children. How is that not fun? How can you not enjoy a job like that? Sure, there are days that I’m stressed out or have to work ridiculously long hours for the sake of the team, but to be able to work in an environment that is as quirky and fun-loving as I am or spend time with people who are crazier than I am (in a good way) is such a wonderful thing that I never could have asked for.

It’s funny how a couple scribbles in the margins had such an effect on me over the past three years. I’m amazed at looking back to see where I was when I wrote each of them, and how each one has impacted where I am now.


Balancing Accountability and Creativity July 15, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — michellehuegel @ 7:59 pm
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In my mind, the words “accountability” and “creativity” fall at opposite ends of the scale. Creativity is supposed to be spontaneous, carefree, spur-of-the-moment. Accountability evokes structure, to-do lists, calendars, and rigidity. So what’s the problem with being a “creative” person? Too often, nothing actually gets created. Maybe I don’t “feel” like it, or there’s no “mojo,” or time just slips away. Sometimes I wonder how I made it through college with a near-4.0 GPA, or succeeded at my various office jobs – and then I remember. College and work had deadlines, expectations, daily structure, and accountability.

I think my creativity often “falls down on the job” because there’s no one expecting me to turn in a new scrapbook layout or article. No consequences if I put off yet another blog post. No deadline to complete that album, finish some research, or organize those photos. I only have myself to disappoint, which is a vicious downward spiral of disappointment, guilt, and resultant total lack of motivation. I’ve written about this before, and tried a variety of tactics to motivate myself. Rewards (think Starbucks, a new book, watching a TV show, etc) sometimes work. For a little while. But with no accountability other than myself, every system eventually fails. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people simply require outside motivation, either all the time as part of their personality or maybe only during certain times of their lives. I’m under a lot of stress right now with a young toddler, new baby on the way soon, moving across country, and struggling financially to make it all work. I know theoretically that creative pursuits like writing and scrapbooking are crucial to my emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, but “in the moment” I’d often rather take a nap or just zone out. So I’ve finally decided (yes, I’m a little slow sometimes) to create accountability in my life – or more specifically, in my creative pursuits.

Getting down to business – I’m going to begin balancing creativity with accountability in my digital scrapbooking. I can’t focus on every area at once, and I’m still pondering ways to create accountability in my writing. But for now I’m going to focus on my scrapbooking. I’m going to stop making excuses like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t have time” or “I can’t create on command” and actually, FINALLY, apply for some creative team positions. Because really, those are pretty pathetic excuses. I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, I do have time, and I need that pressure right now to create.

By the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “creative team” works for a designer or scrapbook store to create layouts with new products. They help showcase a designer/store’s products and provide inspiration for projects created with those new products. That’s my definition in a nutshell, anyway! I’m being a little choosy about which designers/stores I apply at as they open up “CT calls,” because I want to make sure I’m a good fit for each one. And I’m extremely nervous about the whole process. I don’t have a gallery full of brilliant layouts (mostly because I’m terrible about remembering to post them!) or experience on other creative teams. I’m struggling with feeling “good enough.” But I’m doing it anyway, letting my “accountability” side triumph over my “creative” touchy-feely side because I know I need this, and I know I have something unique to offer these designers. I’m in the process now of applying to a couple, so hopefully soon I’ll have some good news to share!

Have I inspired you to balance your creativity with a little accountability? Or do you have a tried-and-true technique already for attaining this balance? Please share! I’d love to hear your ideas, and what you think of mine!


Facebook! July 7, 2010

Filed under: Introduction,Life in General,Writing — lifeink @ 12:59 pm
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Hey everyone, in case you didn’t already know, we have a Facebook fan page you can follow in order to keep up with our posts and to hear a little something extra from the three of us. Check it out at:

Also, expect some big changes coming soon to our blog. Keep reading to find out what they are!


Lists of Lists June 9, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 8:57 pm
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I love lists.

I know, that’s kind of an odd thing, but I find myself making them all the time! I have grocery lists, lists of what I need to do in Photoshop, lists of people I need to send cards to, lists of people I need to get stuff from, lists of people I just need to get back in touch with, lists of things I need to clean in our house, lists of where I could possibly move, lists of things I need to do by the end of the week, lists of places where I plan to go in the next month, lists of whatever comes to mind.

Once I even started making a list of “100 Things That Make Me Come Alive” on a challenge from a friend in college. I think I failed that one because I’ve only managed to get to maybe about 10 … because I wanted to write explanations for them all.

Seriously, I make too many lists. I think I write bullet lists in emails for work almost a dozen times a day. I have a list of all the different ideas for blog posts—just ask Ashley or Michelle! And look, here I am making a list of all the different kinds of lists I make. I’m out of control!

And now I have another list.

Yes, I know the idea of a bucket list has received a little bit of overkill since the movie came out three years ago, but it’s only recently that I’ve started having ideas of things “I want to do before I can’t”. I have so many places I want to visit, so many adventures I’d like to embark on, so many things I’d like to be a part of, but right now, they’re all just ideas floating around in my head. None of that’s ever going to happen when they’re only ideas.

That’s why I’ve decided to make a list of what I want to do.

Normally I’d ask for your opinions and suggestions for what to add to the list, but I’m not going to ask that. This list is a list of things that I personally need to create. I’m not sure how long of a list it will be or if I will ever stop adding to it.

All I know is I need to write things down in order to not allow these ideas to escape while I turn my back to work the extra half an hour at the end of a work day.


Writing Prompt: Write a poem about a hobby May 3, 2010

Hi everyone!

Some of you may know that it’s the beginning of garage sale season. I’m a particularly big fan of garage sales this year because I need things for my house, but I also need to eat and pay my electric bill. Already, I’ve found some great deals and I’ve seen some interesting items and people.

After returning home one day I realized that browsing garage sales is a very concrete sensory experience and so I though I’d try to capture some of those details in a poem. So here it is:

Browsing through Garage Sales on a Friday Morning

The sunlight glints off the asphalt

and people wearing sneakers and sunglasses,

some with plastic car seats at the crook of their elbow,

walk into the shaded garage, or stand in the driveway,

peering into plastic totes.

Some breathe heavily and push with their elbows,

but most make polite conversation and examine bowls and stuffed animals with a smile turning at the corners of their mouth.

So here’s your prompt: Write a poem about a hobby or any activity you do that has some concrete sensory details, especially if it’s an everyday activity like shopping, doing dishes, or yard work.

Then, if you feel inclined, share your work here!


Wedding Salutations April 28, 2010

This past weekend I was part of a wedding party. It’s always an honor, and this was especially exciting, as I introduced the bride and groom. (I made sure to brag about it, too!)

photo by Anne Harrigan

After having been in so many weddings (this was my sixth) and having been a guest at many more, I have yet to find a go-to wedding gift. I’d written earlier about finding the perfect go-to shower gift, but weddings are a whole different animal. Usually, I resort to something off of the registry.

But then there’s a new problem: what do you write on the card?

It doesn’t help when you leave to the last minute (even during the reception!) and you brain is so mushed you can’t think of much to say beyond something generic like, “Congratulations! God bless!” But when you’re at the wedding of a writer, that hardly seems to suffice.

So, I’ve tried to come up with some creative wedding salutations since then. Here’s what I have so far:

  • For those Dr. Who fans: “May your love be like a tardis, normal to the typical passersby, but unbounded by time and space by those who enter in.”
  • For those Creative Memories scrapbookers out there: “May all your memories together be creative.”
  • For all the Photoshop lovers out there: “May your love for one another be like Photoshop: able to turn a grey sky blue, a frown to a smile and change your focus to what matters most.”
  • For those supermodels who marry each other: “May you love looking at one another as much as you love looking at yourself.” (Okay, I don’t have any friends who are that vain, but I was trying to think of something out of the box.)

How about you? What creative wedding salutations can you come up with?