Tag Archives | Creative

The Reason I Write

The Reason I Write | kaileenelise.com

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
(Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear)

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. In journals. In letters. In essays and poems. In newsletters and blog posts. I started kaileenelise.com in 2009 as an escape from my day job. I wrote from coffee shops before going into work. On my lunch breaks I scrolled through Twitter and read the archives of my favorite sites. I connected with women from all over who were also seeking creativity, inspiration, and a little peace in our everyday.

Writing has always been there for me. I like how it transports me back in time to revisit memories through a new lens. How it propels me into my future hopes and dreams. How researching an idea feels like swimming far below the surface. How sharing what I’ve written can feel like coming up for air.

When my hands are on my keyboard, or my pen is pressed firmly onto the page, the chatter in my mind slows down. When I’m searching for the thoughts, the words, the details and feelings, I take deep breaths. The kind that lift my chest, expand my rib cage, and expose my heart.

I write because it’s cheap therapy. I write because I like to hear myself talk. I write because it feels good to start at zero and end up somewhere else. I write because of the rare occasion when the words magically spill out onto the page or screen and leave me feeling like they came from somewhere else. I write because whenever I take a break from writing, my mind gets soggy and my heart starts to harden.

All of these reasons are insignificant compared to the biggest reason of all. And it’s the one I always forget about, like when you’ve seen a movie a thousand times, but aren’t quite sure what happens at the end until you watch it once more.

I write because revisiting my words – weeks, months, or years later – grounds me, roots me, connects me to myself and the universe in a way nothing else ever has.

A few days ago I was cleaning up my files and sorting through a dozen half-written essays when I came upon this,

My sweet Baby O is seven weeks and two days old and our lives as a family of three have settled into an unpredictable rhythm. We can count on the sunsets and sunrises to mark time. There are coos, smiles, diaper changes, cries for help, endless feedings, and moments when I stop to wonder how we got so lucky. They say having a child will change you, and of course I knew that the very second the pregnancy test was positive, but it’s impossible to know how.

I am so new at this. I don’t know what I’m doing or what’s around the corner. But lately I’ve noticed a voice within that is calling me to be better. Ground, calm, gentle, nice. These aren’t traits at the top of my list of strengths, but now that I’m this baby’s mama, all I want to do is shed my rough edges and be soft.

This, my dear friends, is the reason I write.


Creative Weekend To-Do List

Creative Weekend To-Do List  | kaileenelise.com - image via Unsplash

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
(Harriet Tubman)

Hello, lovelies! How are you?  Do you have plans for Labor Day weekend? My Mister and I are staying close to home, which is actually really exciting. We have some travel plans to make, wedding things to do, and projects around the apartment. I’m also on day #14 of my Whole30… and more than okay with keeping a low profile.

The following creative weekend to-do list is intended to inspire. Consider this a friendly nudge to seek out little delights and exceptional joys in the days ahead.

decorate the kitchen or find some new art

clean out old computer files & update passwords

organize your closet, see if thredUP can sell what’s not working, and sign up for Stich Fix

go for a run, practice yoga, then treat yourself to a massage

shop for new workout clothes for added motivation

spend time reading a fiction & nonfiction book

journal, meditate, and ask yourself, “am I making life harder that it is?

get inspired about growing old with yourself

try to recreate this great travel hair routine

give one of these mani/pedi color combos a whirl

test out a new recipea new favorite, or both

No matter what you end up doing this weekend, remember to take a moment or two for yourself. Light your favorite candle (Bath & Body Works is having a Labor Day sale!), go for a long walk, or buy some flowers at the farmers’ market. Sending love & sparkle your way!

Image via Unsplash

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Creative Weekend To-Do List

Creative Weekend To-Do List - image via Death to the Stock Photo | kaileenelise.com

I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else.
I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.
(Ken Venturi)

Happy Saturday, friends!

Last night, my Mister and I had a date night. I surprised him by not being at the apartment when he came home from work. I hid away at a nearby coffee shop (to do blog things, naturally) so he could relax and watch his favorite sports show (Pardon the Interruption) in silence. I read about a similar idea on Cup of Jo and I’ve always wanted to try it. I planned the entire date night and didn’t give him any details beforehand. It was fun to surprise him and a great way to start the weekend!

It’s been two years since I posted a Creative Weekend To-Do List, but several of you have asked me to bring them back. So without further ado, I hope the following list inspires you to do something special, sparkly, and fun for yourself this weekend. No matter what’s on your to-do list, try to infuse a little creativity and joy!

  • go for a long run, then treat myself to mani/pedi
  • start a packing list for our trip to North Carolina + use a few of these travel ideas
  • create a meal plan for the next 5 days, then take a quick trip to the grocery store
  • update my desktop wallpaper with one of these beauties
  • work on a photo book for our trip to Japan and South Korea
  • look through my home decor Pinterest board + pin some inspiration for our bedroom
  • make returns from my J.Crew and Nordstrom sale shopping binges
  • have an easy Saturday evening so I can feel good at 9am yoga on Sunday
  • lounge by the pool with a good book

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click + purchase I will receive a small commission. Thank you for reading & supporting An Extraordinary Adventure!


New Series: Study Habits for Life

New Series: Study Habits - image via Unsplash | kaileenelise.com

There is no wealth like knowledge,
and no poverty like ignorance.

Now that I’m back to blogging, I have been thinking up ideas for posts and new series. I will keep sharing my monthly goals, and I’m planning to check-in quarterly on the progress of my thirty before thirty list. I might also breathe new life into my creative weekend to-do lists, and of course I’ll post playlists from time to time.

One idea that has surfaced through my brainstorming is the concept of studying… even though my school days are well behind me. In my latest post, I mentioned that Todd Henry’s interview with Ryan Holiday resonated with me. During that conversation, the two discussed Ryan’s approach to reading and his study habits. Digging through his archives got me thinking about how I could cultivate study habits for life.

I was a good student growing up, but my “all or nothing” mentality could make school challenging. I did great when I was confident in a subject, but skated by when I was less sure of my abilities. I remember falling asleep in Precalculus because it never made sense, but I would stay up all night doing extra work on English projects I liked. College was better since I had some choice in the classes I took, but there were still entire semesters where I did the bare minimum and others when I poured my heart into everything.

I have not given “studying” much thought since graduating from college. I pursued a career in sales, and eventually fell into HR and recruiting. I did not study much, but I practiced a lot. My approach to improving my sales pitch and recruiting were all about repetition. The more practice I had, the better I got. Now, I am building a new business and working to find happiness in my every day. There are many opportunities for practice, but I want to start studying again. Without it, I am missing opportunities to think and learn. I am not effectively building on what I understand or expanding what I know.

So, every so often I plan to write about this exploration of my study habits. I will share how I’m applying my grown-up study habits to everything from yoga and cooking, to travel, wedding planning, and blogging. I hope this exercise will help me let go of that “all or nothing” attitude, and give me the chance to focus on the process of learning.

Image via Unsplash


Two Words for 2012 – Comfortable Boldness

image :: Open your heart.

My whole life, I’ve wanted to feel comfortable in my skin.
It’s the most liberating thing in the world.
(Drew Barrymore)

Image :: Day 78 / Ready for take-off

Fortune befriends the bold.
(Emily Dickinson)

image :: 200.365

Comfortable: relaxed, secure, and in content…
It’s funny how even the word brings some comfort.
We’ve all experienced it.
It’s a safe feeling, pure happiness, or emptiness.
It’s hard to find the right medium & how long you can sustain
being uncomfortable. I am a firm believer though that
until you let yourself be truly uncomfortable,
you can’t reap the joys of being truly comfortable.
(Shayna Sandlan)

image :: laughing

Laugh at yourself,
but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself.
Be bold.
When you embark for strange places,
don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore.
Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.
(Alan Alda )

image :: westelm.capiz

A comfortable house is a great source of happiness.
It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.
(Sydney Smith)

There are many bloggers who name a word for their year. When I created my 12 Intentions for 2012, I was seeking something similar — a focus, a thread, a theme, to weave in and out and through my year.

In 2010, my word was nurture. It was serendipity in 2011. I found the words uplifting, but the overall idea didn’t stick. Maybe that’s why I struggled to find my word for 2012? As the new year approached, my mind went blank and I almost gave up on the idea altogether.

Then I started reading Style Statement by  Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte. As I worked through the stories and prompts, I came upon two words: my foundation and my creative edge. As the book explains, “Your foundation word represents your being. Your creative edge is how you express and distinguish your being.”

Determining my style statement was like recognizing an old friend. I began to see myself in a new light. Asking myself questions like, “does this represent comfortable? Am I embodying boldness?” helped reveal inner motivations and  began to shed light on why I do what I do.

My words are Comfortable Boldness, for this year and beyond. Using these words as my touchstone, I hope to make decisions and attract opportunities that align with my style statement —with my foundation and creative edge.

Style Statement defines Comfortable Boldness:

Comfortable is the consummate pleasure seeker… In their best form, Comfortable is easygoing, sincerely cheerful, and free from doubt. They can be highly sensitive, and when they feel something in their bones, they will operate with steady determination… Comfortable is body centered, so the priority with fashion and furnishing is comfort.

Boldness has a strong warrior spirit that can translate into risk-taking, maverick ideas, and lively adventures… Do it right, or don’t do it at all… They are quite comfortable with uncertainty because they know they can draw on their own daring and multiple resources to fully embrace any situation… They focus forward.

What Comfortable Boldness means to me:

Comfortable is the space between smooth sailing and working to my edge. Comfortable is leaning into my dreams while maintaining a sense of groundedness. Comfortable is carefree and cozy. Boldness is passionate, spicy. Boldness has the guts to follow through. Firm, steady and strong, Boldness leaps fearlessly and loves deeply.

My recommendation on Style Statement:

Read the book from cover to cover, or skip ahead to the exercises in the back. The stories and photos read like a magazine with journal prompts and excises mixed in throughout. This book is most enjoyable when read with a big mug of tea, cozy blankets and the Amelie soundtrack playing in the background.

Image Credits:
Open your heart. via lululemon athletica
Day 78 / Ready for take-off via Noukka Signe
200.365 – City Love via Jos Liba
laughing via lululemon athletica
westelm.capiz via coco+kelly

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Creative Weekend To-Do List

Image :: I like jumpers. via Bethan

I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that.
Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
(Pearl S. Buck)

Happy weekend to you, my lovely friends! How was your week? I hope you were able to enjoy some sunshine, sparkle and productivity amidst your busy days. My week went by quicker than I expected and I can’t believe the last days of January are upon us!

Since I started on January 1st, today is my last official day of the Whole Living Action Plan. I’m looking forward to sharing a recap of my experience in tomorrow’s Good Eats & Gratitude Post. More than that, I’m excited to celebrate tomorrow morning with my first coffee in 4 weeks! I have all sorts of fun things planned for tomorrow — including some serious spa time.

Do you have anything exciting planned? The following ideas and creative weekend to-dos are intended to inspire. Consider this a friendly reminder to seek out little delights and exceptional joys in the days ahead. Share your plans in the comments below!

listen to a new favorite podcast
run 3.5 miles & practice yoga
make snacks for next week
get a mani, pedi & massage!
window shop for new yoga gear
flip through February magazines
explore, play and pin on Pinterest
put together next week’s meal plan
read a book & sip on a soy latte
indulge in a decadent dessert

No matter what you end up doing this weekend, remember to take a moment or two for yourself. Light your favorite candle, wear fuzzy socks, go out dancing, or buy some treats at Trader Joe’s. Sending love & sparkle your way!

Image Credit: I like jumpers. via Bethan

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Sign up today to let the magic of Inbox Inspiration and Muse Memos begin.


Creative Weekend To-Do List

image :: 16-05-10 Last Of The Summer (Wine)

Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive,
I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself,
to expand my heart out to others;
to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
(Dalai Lama)

Happy Friday to you, my lovelies. Are you looking forward to the weekend? I try to mix fun to-dos with necessary chores to keep my weekends happy & productive.

This week I’m looking forward to spending time with my Mister, blogging & reading blogs, flipping through the big stack of February magazines on our coffee table, and grocery shopping for the Bonus! Week 4 of the Whole Living 2012 Action Plan.

Do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend ahead? The following list of ideas and creative weekend to-dos are intended to inspire. Consider this a friendly reminder to seek out little delights and exceptional joys in the days ahead. I invite you to share your plans in the comments below!

embrace these 10 real-talk blog tips
make new playlists for yoga & running
set up external hard drive for MacBook
sort through Google Reader & add a few new blogs
run 2 miles on Saturday, 3 on Sunday
finish reading Style Statement
watch an inspiring manifesto
download new podcasts

I hope that you find yourself happy and enjoying some time for yourself this weekend, however you end up spending it. See you here again on Sunday for another Good Eats & Gratitude post!

Image Credit: 16-05-10 Last Of The Summer (Wine) via Bethan

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12 Intentions for 2012

image :: my work desk

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while, waiting for you,
and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people
who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and
doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
(Joseph Campbell)

This fall, I will be celebrating my blog’s 3-year anniversary. Three years of showing up, sharing inspiration and connecting with more creative souls than I ever imagined possible.

The keys to a happy blogger? Make a plan, set realistic expectations, write as often as you can, and believe in a little magic. Then wait to see what happens next.

My intentions for this year and KaileenElise.com are one in the same. I plan to focus my energy on living a healthy, active life. I want to blog regularly, but without the pressure and pace of posting daily. I have a content map, plus a long-term strategy and short-term goals. I’m giddy about what’s next—eager to curate links, quotes and images that will inspire you.

I’m quite fond of outlines, lists and game plans. Knowing this, I identified 12 intentions for 2012. Guideposts for this journey, touchstones threaded through each month. Overall, this year is about focus and heart…with a touch of sparkle!

image :: 12 Intentions for 2012 - Kaileen Elise

Hat tip to Lifestylista Monica McCarthy for the wonderful idea of compiling a vision board of sorts for 2012 intentions. I love how mine turned out. It’s going straight to my desktop—and I plan to create mini versions for my iPhone each month.

Have you done something like this for your blog? I’ve never sat down and thought an entire year through like this, so I’d love to know more about your experience!

Image Credits: My Work Desk via DeaPeaJay
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Creative Weekend To-Do List

Image :: Untitled Balloons

There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything.
Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm.
Never. Ever. Never.
(Ryan Adams)

Hello & happy weekend!

This week has been filled with interesting shifts and wonderful surprises. The Twitter & blog circles I swim within are bubbling over with #reverb11 energy. I am so impressed with how the community as a whole has adapted to the change in circumstances. We happen to be quite the sparkly, resilient and supportive bunch — if I do say so myself.

Are you wondering, what the heck is a reverb? To find out, dive on in to Twitter with the #reverb11 hashtag … or read take on it here.

Are you thinking about joining #reverb11, but wondering if you are too late? The water’s a perfect temperature, and there are cups of hot chocolate in the cabin for those of you who prefer not to splash around in the winter.

Holiday vacation imagery aside, this weekend is a perfect time to get started with #reverb11. I hope to spend a few hours reading other people’s posts and connecting with new reverbers.

Do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend ahead? The following list of ideas, links, and creative weekend to-do’s are intended to inspire. Consider this a friendly reminder to seek out little delights and exceptional joys in the days ahead. I invite you to share your plans and creative to-do’s in the comments below!

mail a few sweet postcards
shop for craft supplies for DIY holiday gifts
discover a new place to find inspiration
laugh, think & have your emotions moved to tears
rise early on Sunday morning to enjoy moments of silence
clean house, do laundry & cook something colorfully delicious
celebrate a friend’s 28th birthday with drinks
recap this week’s #reverb11 mini muses
meet up with a friend for coffee
practice yoga with at lululemon

Image Credit: Untitled via SharkThe


Sparkle Swapped


If we look at the world with a love of life,
the world will reveal its beauty to us.
(Daisaku Ikeda)

Hello friends, happy Wednesday to you!

I hosted a Sparkle Swap in September, with the hopes of bringing cheer to fellow bloggers. 25 participants signed up to send 4 unique gifts — a bit of sparkle, a treat that soothes, something sweet, and a surprise.

After delays, international shipping issues and general pre-holiday mayhem, I am finally getting around to sharing a recap post. A handful of lovely bloggers wrote about the swap. Take a peek below at the gorgeous and thoughtful packages these ladies sent! Click on the photos to read their posts.

Elisse → Sharni

Elisee - Sharni

Sharni → Katie

Sharni - Katie

Erin → Carrie

Erin - Carrie

Kristin → Kathy

Kristin - Kathy

Sarah → Jamie

Sarah - Jamie

Jamie → Danielle

Jamie - Danielle

Danielle → Monique

Danielle - Monique

Monique  → Ashley

Monique - Ashley

Cassie → Leesh

Cassie - Leesh

Heather →  Micaela

Heather - Micaela

Micaela → Ginna

Micaela - Ginna

There were some people who never received their gifts, and others who ended up sending two because the first was lost in the mail. Some people really enjoyed the experience, and I have a sinking suspicion that a few were disappointed.

The truth about gift swaps is that you never know what will happen.

In America, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. It’s become one of my favorite holidays because of the focus on gratitude and love. I hope the Sparkle Swap brought cheer, gratitude, love and sparkle to those who participated!

Image Credit: Youth via Chris JL


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