The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Journal / 5 Year Diary by Shopsin’s General Store & The Ice Plant

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

This five year diary can be started on any day of any year. Just turn to the current date, fill in the year and write a few sentences about your day. When you get to the end of the year move down the page to the next section. As time goes by you will be able to read past entries as you write new ones.”

I am totally obsessed and in love with this journaling concept! I just learned about the 5 year diary through Rhea, the lovely lady behind @DevotedDiarist (she’s always doing all kinds of cool things)! She had completed her 5 year diary last year and talked about how interesting it was to see the patterns and cycles in her life. When I saw her post, I knew I had to get one!

While I am not always the best at being consistent (I have abandoned my gratitude journal half way through), I think jotting down a few sentences everyday is totally doable! As a teen I kept many diaries and journals and I hope to bring this way of record keeping back into my life. It just so happens that I found out about this diary a few days ago and mine arrived today in the mailbox–on my 32nd birthday! I am very excited to start this writing in it tonight and see where life takes me the next 5 years–and to be able to look back on it (which will be very helpful as I can’t even remember what happened yesterday these days)!

Here are a few more photos of the diary so you can see how the layout is like. The diary itself is covered in a cute pin stripe fabric and is about 6″ long and 4″ wide with 376 pages (there is a section in the back to write down books you have read). It’s a bit on the smaller size which I like, because you can easily take it with you when you are away from home or traveling. I also think it makes for a wonderful gift!

Have you ever kept a 5 year diary? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences! Leave a comment and let me know! For those of you who have not done this, I hope you will try it out with me!

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary


The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Adventurer & Explorer / Sarah Shotts of Love Letter To Adventure

Sarah Shotts

I virtually met Sarah two summers ago through the amazing #randomloveletters challenge she co-created and hosted! I really enjoyed her #randomloveletter posts as well as as the other things she was sharing on her Instagram–recent projects she was working on, a line from a book she was reading, a recipe she had tried, or peeks of nature and her beautiful surroundings when she was out and about. I noticed the hashtags she was using, #MicroVenture and #LoveLetterToAdventure, and went on her blog, Love Letter To Adventure, to learn more about what she does.

Sarah helps women reconnect to their inner adventurer through daily micro-adventures. How awesome is that?

There was a line I came across where Sarah says, “Taking where you live for granted is universal. Whether in Mexico, D.C. or Great Britain the locals went about their daily lives largely ignoring what made their homes extraordinary.” That really struck me because it is SO true it’s definitely something I am guilty of!  Tourists who come to visit definitely have seen more and know more about Los Angeles than I do–even though I have lived here my whole life!

Sarah has really inspired me to look at my own backyard with fresh eyes and helped me realize that adventure is everywhere! I’m really excited to be able to chat with her and have her share her story as well as some great advice for starting some adventures of your own!

Map via

 Photo courtesy of

What inspired you to start Love Letter To Adventure? When and why did you decide to start sharing your adventures with the world?

When I first started blogging I was trying to fit inside the box of what I thought a blogger should write about. That all changed during the summer of 2014, when I took a course from Mayi Carles and April Bowles-Olin, that really helped me connect with my vision and break out of that box. I blogged widely about topics I was passionate about and didn’t worry so much about what “type” of blogger I was. After exploring with that freedom I began to see a theme emerge… adventure. Whether it was exploring my hometown, planting a garden, trying a new creative process, or cooking a new recipe all of my blog posts centered around this idea of new experiences or micro-adventures. And so Love Letter to Adventure was born.

Your website is composed of three different sections: the blog, the Facebook group, and your Etsy shop. Can you tell me a little bit more about each part and what we can find in each one? 

Love Letter to Adventure (my blog) is the home for stories, adventure prompts, and free printables. It’s where I like to start conversations and did deep about how we can all have more adventure in our daily lives.

My Facebook group is called The Venturer’s Treehouse and its where my community hangs out. We support each other’s quest for adventure, dream big, and share photos and stories within the group. My Etsy shop is the newest addition.

I created Plan Your Adventure when I fell in love with the magic of sticker making (was anyone else obsessed with Lisa Frank growing up!?!). I sell physical and printable stickers to help you plan your adventures and decorate your planner with adventurous watercolor designs.

Camping Planner Stickers by Sarah Shotts

 Yes! I loved Lisa Frank! :) How cute are these camping planner stickers by Sarah?

What has been one of your favorite adventure excursions? Why? 

My favorite adventure so far was the year I spent living abroad and earning my Masters degree in London, England. There was so much to explore! I remember once I had set foot in three different countries in a single day because they are so close together. You don’t have to travel far to experience a new culture in Europe. I also loved walking London on foot and visiting markets and parks and historical sites. I was surprised to hear from many of the locals that they had never been to the places that I was visiting. Many of my new Londoner friends were finding themselves inspired to explore their own city after hearing about my adventures. And that’s when I realized that absolutely everyone takes where they live for granted (even if they live in one of the most amazing places in the world.) That experience sparked my passion for exploring our hometowns and making adventure wherever we happen to find ourselves.

Sarah at Shakespeare's birthplace!

 Sarah visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace! Photo courtesy of

For someone who may have limited time and / or funds–or just doesn’t know where to start–what are 3 easy ways for them to incorporate adventure and exploring into their lives?

First, it’s important to reframe your idea of adventure. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of world travel or expensive experiences and lose sight of the opportunity for adventure all around you. For me adventure is whatever is daring and exciting for you. That makes it something different for everyone. Start thinking on the micro level about how you can bring new experiences into your life.

Here are three microventure prompts to get you going…

1. Take a different way home. We all get into our routines and pass the same places every day. Taking a different route as you travel home from work or school will expose you to a different area. Keep an eye out for someplace new that you want to explore.

2. Walk on foot. We Americans drive a lot. What I learned living in London is that its much easier to discover the uniqueness of a place if you’re traveling on foot. Find an area of town that you can walk around and explore. (If you already live in a big city you probably already do this so challenge yourself to explore an area you’ve never visited.)

3. Try something new. Expand your experiences by trying something you’ve never done before… this could be using a different art supply, taking a dance class, planting a garden, making a new recipe, or trying a yoga routine from Youtube. The key is to open yourself up to new possibilities.

Image by @SarahdShotts

One of my favorite things Sarah shares on her Instagram are scenes from her walks and around her neighborhood–isn’t this photo gorgeous? Photo courtesy of @SarahdShotts.

What are your favorite resources when planning an outing or trip?

I love how the internet puts everything at our fingertips! I always do a search on Google and Pinterest before a trip to find exciting places to visit. I’m also starting to explore Instagram for this. My last trip to Kansas City involved a special stop at #ThatKCStarWall just for an Instagram photo-op.

How has being an avid adventurer affected you and your life? Has it had an impact on your husband, friends, and family?

Having a passion for adventure means that you’re never bored! There’s always someplace new to visit, something new to try, or some new project to work on. There’s definitely something special about forming these memories with the people you love.

If there is one thing you’d like readers to take away from Love Letter To Adventure, what would it be?

Adventure is all around you. Just reach out and grab it.

Bird's Nest by @SarahDShotts

You can even find adventure literally in your own backyard! Sarah discovered this beautiful little bird’s nest in

her yard! Photo courtesy of @SarahDShotts.

I’d love to know a little bit more about you! Here are a few fill in the blank questions:

When I am not blogging and embarking on new adventures, you can find me: curled up with a cup of tea and a good book.

I am passionate about: slowing down and learning family heirloom recipes… our generation is so busy that we’re letting these important stories slip past.

A project, tv show, podcast, IG/Twitter account etc. I think you should check out is: Right now I’m really into the podcast A Playful Day where Kate explores the idea of putting a playful moment in every day. Listening to those episodes on my morning walk are such a great way to start the day. :)

Recipe photo via @SarahDShotts

 Photo courtesy of @SarahDShotts.

Where can we find you and connect with you?



Venturer’s Treehouse (FB Group):


Who else is really excited to embark on a new adventure now?? I know I am! Thank you Sarah for taking the time to share your story, some great tips, and inspiring us to embrace our inner adventurer!


The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite 366 Day Challenge & Artist / Wednesday Swell Design by Kim Haskell

Wednesday Swell Design - Pencil - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

The one word that always comes to mind when I see Kim Haskell of @wednesdayswelldesign‘s work is thoughtful. From the detail in her artwork to the captions sharing a story to her comments on other people’s work–I can tell a lot of thought and care goes into everything that she does. On top of that, all her pieces are extremely creative, beautiful, and inspiring!

Kim has been sharing her work through her Instagram account, @wednesdayswelldesign, where she has embarked on a 366 days of hand lettering in 2016 challenge! Born with a pencil in her hand, as her mom says, Kim has always been drawing or writing. Although she kept up with creative hobbies throughout her life, she somehow lost touch with the pen-to-paper connection. In her journey post, Kim explains how about a year ago, a trifecta of hand lettering influences came into her life: Lindsey of @thepostmansknock, seeing pointed pen calligraphy everywhere, and having a Copperplate instructor come teach a workshop in her city. After taking that workshop, her love of pen on paper was reignited and on January 1st of this year, @wednesdayswelldesign was born!

Wednesday Swell Design - Journey - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

I always look forward to seeing what Kim creates everyday and wanted to learn more about her, her process, and this amazing challenge she has taken on! I am very excited to share with you her wonderful story, advice on the creative process, and more below!

Please tell me a little bit more about the name Wednesday Swell Design–what is the story behind it?

The task of choosing a name to represent yourself can certainly be a daunting one. When I was contemplating what to name my creative venture, I started to reminisce about my early childhood experiences with creativity. From the moment my hands could hold a pencil, I was a child who derived pure joy from writing and drawing. Because these activities came so naturally to me, my mom often commented about me that I was “born with a pencil in my hand” and I always found that sentiment endearing. I was born on a Wednesday. Over the last few years I simply wasn’t making time to put pen to paper and I felt as though I was in a creative slump. I needed a project to get me over the hump and reignite my creative spark so the day known as “hump day” seemed perfectly appropriate. Wednesday therefore has a twofold significance in that it represents where I started in life as well as where I started in my hand lettering journey. The term swell is a tip of the hat to my ocean-loving roots. I have lived near the ocean my entire life and some of my happiest memories are set against the soundtrack of rolling waves. Since I am so fond of ocean swells, I was delighted to find out that downstrokes in pointed pen calligraphy can also be referred to as swells. Swell, then, binds together the idea of a lifelong love of the ocean with a newfound love of calligraphy while also implying a sense of rhythm that I strive to achieve in my lettering.

It’s always so fun to see your posts because each one is very unique and you have shown us such a wide variety of techniques! Where do you find inspiration / what gives you the idea for each post? Do you have any favorite tools and / or resources?

As of right now, my lettering journey can be described as learning through experimentation. I have dedicated my lettering time for the entire year to simply learning the craft of lettering at my own pace. As a result, I’ve given myself the freedom to try every style and every material that I possibly can, which explains the variation throughout my feed. As a learner, this makes the most sense to me because it allows me to find the tools and styles that I like the best, while also highlighting what I may need to work on for improvement. When it comes to inspiration, the number one resource for me is to simply look through the amazing work of others on Instagram. The lettering community there is incredibly generous with sharing tips and techniques and I absolutely love to participate in the lettering challenges that are hosted there. I follow up to a dozen challenges each month and when I’m trying to decide what to letter, I will usually read the given prompt of the day from each challenge and there is almost always one that resonates with me. By having a pool of options to choose from, I rarely get stuck for ideas. Outside of challenges, as a huge music junkie I will often turn to song lyrics for inspiration and you should never underestimate the power of a good motivational quote as lettering material. As for tools, I do find myself most often reaching for an oblique pen fitted with a Hunt 101 nib as I am working on my copperplate script technique. I most often write with sumi ink and am especially fond of vermillion sumi for its pop of colour. My other favourite tool currently is watercolour. I have been finding that the organic and flowy nature of watercolour provides a fun contrast to the exacting standards of traditional copperplate style script. For anyone interested in either pointed pen or watercolour techniques, The Postman’s Knock is a phenomenal site. Maintained by Lindsey Bugbee, it is an absolute goldmine of information and tutorials and in addition to the large amount of free materials available, she offers lettering worksheets and courses for very reasonable prices.

Wednesday Swell Design - Sigmund Freud - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

I am so impressed by your dedication to this project and your consistent posting. How do you find time to make sure you create and post everyday? Do you have any advice for someone who is taking on a year long challenge of their own and struggling to keep up?

I have to admit that keeping up with a 365 (or in my case 366 project since 2016 is a leap year) project can certainly pose its challenges. I work a 40 hour week at my day job so lettering is an evening activity for me. If I know I have a particularly busy evening and think that my lettering time might be short, I do my best to prepare throughout the day. I select the piece I’m going to write while on my lunch break and maybe even make a quick sketch of my idea and make a mental note of the tools I plan to use. Preparation is definitely very helpful. Sometimes at the end of a month as I’m looking for challenge prompts for the next month, I’ll make a note of the prompts that really stand out to me so that I can have a rough schedule in place and don’t have to spend time deciding on an idea day by day. Also, on days that I’m busiest I also try to use tools that I am comfortable with that won’t require a lot of trial and error. For example, I find that Tombow fudenosuke pens are great on busy days because they are portable enough to toss in a bag when I can’t letter at home and they pose a much lower risk of smearing than tools like a dip pen and ink. Ruining a piece and having to redo it when the day is already stressful is a risk I certainly try to minimize. The most important factor in successfully completing a 365 project, though, really comes down to your own gumption. In the Joyous Health Cookbook by Joy McCarthy, I recall reading a quote that was attributed to Marie Forleo that says discipline is remembering what you want. I think that’s such a poignant phrase. For me personally, I want to become a better letterer, and a better artist. I want to explore my creativity and I want to connect with others who are interested in the same things. I’d someday like to be able to use the skills that I am learning to help support my family while being able to spend less time working away from home. These are the things that I know I can achieve if I put in the time every day to work toward them. Remembering these things is what provides me with the discipline to make sure I’m creating and sharing every day. I love lettering and creating so 95% of the time, it’s not at all a chore to spend time working on it, but it’s that 5% of time when it is most important to remember.

There are so many pieces I love from your challenge–which one is your favorite and why?

With over 200 lettering projects created this year, it is always a challenge to highlight a single piece. One that does come to mind, however, is the watercolour galaxy banner that I’d done on the last day of June. I had never before seen a galaxy painted in the shape of a banner so I was excited to try an idea that was a new concept to me. The piece incorporated a lot of different aspects that I really enjoyed from drawing the banner to painting the watercolour galaxy to spattering on stars and then adding the lettering. I was pleased with the result, but the response it received made it even more special. While I always appreciate any supportive comments from people who have taken the time to visit my feed and offer kind words, the real distinction with this piece was that there were people asking for information on how they could recreate it. I have learned so very much from other letterers that to suddenly have people look to me as a source of inspiration and tutelage was an incredible honour. I went on to create a video of the process for that piece and several letterers who tried the technique shared their work with me. I was so thrilled to feel that I was giving back to the lettering community that I had learned so much from. This piece marked a strengthening in my resolve to keep trying new things and it allowed me to connect to so many more artists and letterers in our community.

Wednesday Swell Design - Galaxy Banner - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

What do you hope your audience takes away from your posts and this challenge?

To be honest, my challenge started as an entirely selfish mission. I wanted to improve my skills and learn lettering. In order to be accountable to doing a piece daily, I felt I should post it publicly to Instagram. I was a brand new letterer with no formal training in art so I had no expectations other than that I would have 366 completed pieces at the end of the year. As the weeks passed, this quickly changed and I began to realize just how large the community of people that have a passion for hand lettering is. I had no idea that there would be so many artists and letterers from all over the world that would see my work and I was even more astonished that anyone would like it and downright flabbergasted that they would want to follow me. It’s not that I have a negative view of the work I was putting out in the early days, it’s just that I had a perception that the internet at large was not a place that you necessarily see the best in people. I didn’t expect to get the support of strangers so I was joyously surprised when I learned that letterers are some of the most wonderful people you will ever encounter. I have received nothing but kindness and am so happy to say that my project has connected me with so many new friends. For anyone who has graciously decided to follow along with my experiments in lettering, I hope the resounding message in all of my posts is the idea that you can do this too. For people who assert “I can’t draw” or “my handwriting is awful” I want them to realize that drawing and painting and lettering are all skills that can be learned if you’re willing to put some practice into them. Sure, some people might have natural aptitude for artistic endeavours but for everyone else, the power of practice is enormous. I have learned by doing, and you can too. I always list the materials I use and I post video demos of more involved processes because I want others to be able to try the things that I enjoy so much. It’s always scary to start something new but I’m a great example of how you don’t have to be a professional to put yourself out there and find yourself among a great community of like minded people who are all rooting for one other.

Wednesday Swell Design - Rr - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

What are your plans for this challenge once you have completed the 366th days?

I hope that 2017 will bring the opportunity for plenty of new lettering projects. I will most certainly still be lettering but don’t intend to do a 365 again next year. This means that I will likely be investing my time in some larger or more detailed multi-day pieces that will continue to expand on what I’ve already learned. Next year I also have a goal of learning about the business of hand lettering so that I might begin providing some of my work for sale. I have had some inquiries about whether I run an etsy shop, so that may be an option I will explore further. I’d also look forward to expanding into teaching. I certainly know I still have plenty to learn, but I get so much joy from passing along the tips and tricks I know to new letterers and getting more people involved in being creative. To that end, I would love to put together some learning materials, whether it be through a platform like Skillshare or launching a blog or YouTube channel.

I’d love to learn a little bit more about you! Here are a few fill in the blank questions:

When I am not creating for the 365 day challenge, you can find me:

Playing with my French Bulldogs Libby and Theo or walking the beach with my fiancé Jeff.

I am passionate about:

Travelling, naps and proper grammar.

A project, tv show, podcast, IG/Twitter account, etc. I think you should check out is:

More Love Letters. This is a fantastic project where letterers can use their skills while providing a little love to someone who can use a lift, all while engaging in the age old art of snail mail.

Besides @wednesdayswelldesign is there anywhere else we can find you?

For the remainder of 2016, I plan to keep all of my creative endeavours exclusively on Instagram via @wednesdayswelldesign. After that I’ll definitely be looking forward to exploring other platforms.

Thank you so much Kim for your thoughtful answers, great tips and advice, and time! Please go check out and follow @wednesdayswelldesign on Instagram to see Kim’s lovely work and get inspired!

Wednesday Swell Design - Dog Mom - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign–how cute is this one?! :)

Wednesday Swell Design - Print - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign


The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Documentary Series/ Chef’s Table

I have been absolutely mesmorized this past week by the incredible Netflix documentary series, Chef’s Table. Each episode of Chef’s Table tells the story of a world renowned chef–it’s amazing to be able to dive into the minds and lives of these extremely talented individuals.

Chef's Table Season 2 Poster

I actually watched parts of season 1 awhile back and recently rediscovered it because of this post by Sophia Bush (I’m such a huge fan of Chicago PD and the whole Chicago series but that’s a whole other conversation) about Chef Niki Nakayama. She mentions her Chef’s Table episode and I decided to check it out. I normally can’t help looking at my phone and going on Pinterest while I watch TV but I did not think about it–not even once–while Chef’s Table was on. I don’t think it’s possible to watch one these episodes without giving it your full undivided attention–the stories are inspiring, the cinematography is breath taking, and the food is incredible!

I truly think that anyone who creates can connect, be inspired, and appreciate each of these chefs and what they are doing with food. It’s so much more than cooking! It’s innovating, it’s experimenting, it’s exploring, it’s learning, it’s sharing.

There are 2 seasons currently available with 6 episodes each. I recommend all of them but my favorites are:

  • Season 1, Episode 4 – Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 1 – Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, and The Aviary in Chicago, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 3 – Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 5 – Ana Ros (Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia)
  • Season 2, Episode 6 – Gaggan Anand (Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand) *I watched this one twice

Chef's Table

All images are courtesy of Netflix Chef’s Table 

Season 3 is coming out in late 2016 and Season 4 in 2017–I cannot wait!

If you have already been watching Chef’s Table, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which episodes were you favorite! If you are going to check it out, I hope you find this docu-series as magical as I have!

You can find Chef’s Table over on Netflix and on Instagram.


The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Ted Talk /10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

I wrote this post earlier in the week but in light of recent events, I feel like this Ted Talk is more relevant than ever. Without communication, understanding is replaced by fear, intolerance, and ignorance. There’s a part in this talk that stands out to me–Celeste says that she has had great conversations with people whose values and beliefs differ greatly from her own. It sounds like that is something we need to do now. Regardless of where we stand on politics, gun control, the police, or racism, it seems like it would be a good idea to listen to one another to come up with a solution so that we don’t need to continue waking up to news of another violent shooting or another senseless death. I think we can all agree we don’t want to live in a world where this is a daily occurrence. While there are major changes that need to happen, I think if we have better conversations in our daily lives and within our communities, we will be taking a step in the right direction.

I have found that when I feel stuck, uninspired, or blah, a great way to get out of that funk is to listen to an episode of Ted Talks on YouTube. I recently came across Celeste Headlee’s Ted Talk “10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation”. It caught my eye because who wouldn’t want to have a better conversation? I want to feel this way with people I interact with and I also want people to walk away from a conversation with me feeling connected and having enjoyed speaking with me.

Celeste Headlee has a lot of experience with communicating with people–she is a radio journalist, reporter, host, correspondent, writer, and professional opera singer.  She is currently the host of “On Second Thought”, a radio talk show on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Celeste has co-hosted the national morning news show “The Takeaway”, was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR’s “Day to Day”, and was the host of a weekly show on Detroit Public Radio. She also holds multiple degrees in music and is a classically trained soprano who performs quite often.

As she says in the beginning of her talk, this is not the usual “look into the other person’s eyes” or “nod to show you are engaged” pieces of advice we have probably already heard a billion times. And while you may hear some of the points and think they are pretty common sense, it seems many of us have forgotten these things in our busy day to day lives.

I ended up listening to this twice–after I finished it the first time I realized I wanted to write these 10 things down on paper so I wouldn’t forget them! I know I am guilty of many of the things on the list and I am looking forward to changing these bad habits immediately and adopt the new ones I have just learned. I truly enjoyed this talk and think Celeste is sharing such great knowledge and advice from her experiences.

Here is the Ted Talk and below are my notes on each point Celeste covers.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here’s to better conversations!

10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee – Ted Talks

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be present in that moment. Be 100% there.
  2. Don’t pontificate. The definition of pontificate is, “express one’s opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.” Set aside personal opinions. Assume you have something to learn.
  3. Use open ended questions. Ask who/what/when/where/why/how.  Instead of asking, “Were you afraid?” let them tell you how they felt by asking, “How did you feel?” or “What was that like?”
  4. Go with the flow. Let thoughts go in and out of your mind. Don’t hold onto a thought or story which takes you out of the moment and makes you stop listening (you end up thinking, “I got to remember to tell this story!” instead of listening to the other person).
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Don’t pretend like you know something if you don’t.
  6. Don’t equate your experiences with theirs. All experiences are individual. It’s not about you. It’s not a promotional opportunity.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself.
  8. Leave out the details. Nobody cares about the exact date or time or place. They care about you, how the two of you connect.
  9.  LISTEN! Pay attention. Listen with the intent of understanding, not the intent of responding.
  10. Be brief.
  11. Go into a conversation interested in the other person and be prepared to be amazed by them!


The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Instagram Project & Storyteller / Dear Daughter by Christina Tran

Dear Daughter, I want to tell you
Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

I first came across @dear_daughter_ while browsing through the #write_on hashtag back in April. The post I saw had a vintage looking photograph of a young woman and a hand written note below the photo: “Dear Daughter, I want to tell you about your grandmother. I want you to know her stories.” I instantly connected and fell in love with this post– it felt very intimate and reminded me of my own mother and grandmother.

Every post by @dear_daughter has touched me in one way or another–some have made me smile, others have made my eyes well up with tears, and they have all made me think. They have reminded me of my family–my own parents and their struggles, stories, and wisdom. There is something so beautiful and thoughtful about Dear Daughter and how each piece in the series manages to evoke such strong emotions with just a single photo and a handful of words.

Dear Daughter, I am already proud of you

Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

Christina Tran is the talented storyteller behind Dear Daughter. As a big fan of this project and her work, it’s a wonderful privilege to be able to learn more about both!

Dear Daughter is such a beautiful and impactful series of photographs and letters. Where did you get the idea to start Dear Daughter? What was your inspiration? 

I started playing with the idea of writing letters to my future daughter as part of a larger comics project about our culture’s toxic beauty industries and how those messages affect our societal conceptions of self-worth, which influence our perceptions of ourselves. I had this idea that I was going to write these letters “on the world” (as graffiti, in magazines, on our skin, in the sky…) so I started the Instagram account to be able to document experiments in form.

On a last-minute whim this past April, I decided to participate in the Write On campaign during National Letterwriting Month. I really like creative challenges that get me doing small acts of art making at a steady pace for a set amount of time, so I loved the idea of 30 letters in 30 days. I had this old photo album of my mom, so I just started writing tiny letters to my future daughter alongside old photos I had of her.

I love the photos and the nostalgia that comes with them–they look so much like photos my parents have of themselves when they were young. Are these photos from your personal collection / can you tell us more about the people in them?

My parents passed away when I was an undergrad in college, and most of our family photos are back at my brother’s home in Texas. I move around a fair amount myself, so I’m picky about what I bring with me. I have one box of photos, which are a mix of childhood photos, high school pictures, and this one album of my mom from when she was a young lady in Vietnam. I’ve always been intrigued by these photos both because they feel really familiar to me (my high school friends and I would sometimes run around and do photoshoots ourselves) and also because they’re a complete mystery (I don’t know who the other people are, I don’t know where the photos were taken, I never knew this youthful fashion-savvy version of my mom).

I didn’t know I had an analogous album of my dad in his youth until I was rummaging around in my boxes looking for paintbrushes a few weeks ago. I found the dad photos only a few days before the anniversary of his death and right before Father’s Day, so it felt like a sign. I felt I sort of had to do another series of “30 letters in 30 days” using his photos this time.

Dear Dad
Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

Every letter I have read has made me emotional–many bring tears to my eyes. I can relate to what is being said / hear my own parents saying these things to me / or they are words I wish have been said. Are these letters words that have been said to you or are they messages you are creating from scratch for your future daughter?

There’s a funny thing that happens in art and in life — if you juxtapose any two things, people will ascribe meaning whether and beyond whatever was initially intended by the creator of the thing. The most fulfilling projects are the ones in which the end results surprise even me. I didn’t anticipate the emotional and healing journey that the series has taken me on, but I am so grateful for it. I started the series as if I were writing to my future daughter, but through the alchemy of art…who can say whether I am sending messages into the future for my children, or whether they are messages sent backwards in time to a younger version of my mom when she was a daughter herself, or whether these are channeled through my maternal ancestors so that they can send me the messages which I yearn for in my present day to day…

If there’s one thing you’d like your audience to take away from Dear Daughter, what would it be?

I think each reader will take away something different; different letters resonate with different people for different reasons. But overall, I am trying to convey a message of faith in yourself and your own personal wisdom. It seems like we’re all seeking and searching and questioning, and we’re always turning outward — to blogposts and media, to other people’s opinions, to tarot cards and societal expectations — for answers. But I’ve found that if I’m quiet enough and if I’m attentive enough, I oftentimes already have all the answers I need.

Dear Daughter, Even after I am gone
Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

What are your plans for Dear Daughter going forward? 

It’s funny because I haven’t thought that far ahead for this project because this was always meant to be a space to play and experiment. I’ll definitely keep writing letters; the letter writing challenges have rekindled my love for real-life letter writing this year, and I’ve been sending more random letters and postcards to people I care about. Thinking bigger picture, I already made a little postcard pack of some of the mom photos, and I’d love to someday publish the series in some kind of book format.

I really enjoyed reading your creatively written bio ( and wanted to learn some more about you! Please fill in the blanks…

When I am not working on Dear Daughter, you can find me:

Reading books, making comics, or climbing things

I am passionate about:

Feminism, social justice, and creating more inclusive quiet safe spaces in the world for people to just be.

A project, TV show, podcast, IG/Twitter account, etc. I think you should check out is: 

I recently watched a really inspiring documentary about the Ovarian Psychos, an all-women of color bicycle brigade in LA whose “political views are feminist ideas with indigent understanding and an urban/hood mentality.” I really love the work they’re doing in the community, and how they embody their values and ideals.

Check out the trailer:

Besides @dear_daugter_, where can we find and connect with you?

If you like the Dear Daughter series, please check out my comics at I tell more stories about my relationship with my family, the loss of my parents, and what it means to love and care for ourselves and for others. You can also sign up for my newsletter for updates. I love writing these letters to my subscribers about what’s going on with my work!

Dear Daughter, I always wonder

Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

Thank you Christina for your thoughtful answers and time! Please go check out @dear_daughter along with Christina’s other projects–I hope you fall in love with them as I have.