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the beauty in making do and making the most of things

multi-media collage art piece by Linden Eller

There are seasons when making do becomes a necessity. When to do so feels wearisome and mandatory, and something you'd never have chosen considering the many worries and wishing and waiting attached. Making do may be necessitated by a variety of limitations (time, energy, ability, resources, freedom, safety), factoring in to how we live and hope and dream. These days may feel longer than the rest, and it is easy to grow disheartened or impatient and wistful, wondering a steady stream of "what if?" and "when will things return to the usual?," and wishing for things that we cannot have or do... at least for the time being.

In these midsts, making do is an attitude and perspective that we can choose to take on. Within its very core is the act of pouring bits of hope into bleakness, seeking out the positive and lovely, inspecting the skies for silver linings, or making them for ourselves and sharing them with loved ones when they can't be easily found. And in this way, making do becomes a thing of beauty, especially when making anything at all can feel like such an effort in and of itself.

Making do reminds me of the resilience of making something out of nothing, planting seeds for lovelier tomorrows, leaving symbolic chalk drawings on cracked pavement to brighten the way for those who trod after us, acting first and foremost in kindness, choosing to be generous even when there is little to offer. The practice of making do is nothing short of remarkable when we see it in striking contrast to its surroundings.

I'm beginning to believe that making do is one of the most meaningful things that we can make. I find myself repeatedly drawn to stories whose endearing, plucky characters demonstrate the beauty and value of making do. Pages filled with countless examples of how they continue to press on, striving with every ounce of their beings, looking ever onward despite the stressful present, and taking step after intentional step forward with the determination to create something good out of direness.

Closely linked is the concept of making the most of things, another lovely phrase and attitude. This might mean making the most of whatever time, resources, access, skills, or opportunities we do have in that given moment. To take in our immediate surroundings and see what bits of whimsy or possibility are within reach. Perhaps an unopened jar of spice that might be innovated into a new recipe, a plant on the windowsill that would benefit from a little extra tending, a dusty guitar or piano dormant in the corner longing to make music again, or a pile of unread books on the nightstand beckoning us to escape into their imaginative pages for a few hours.

Putting our natural talents, hard work, past experiences, and intentional choices to good use can be such a lovely way to make new moments that become fond memories, plant new seeds to grow lasting fruit, envisage and actualize ideas that have been percolating in the background, and build more fulfilling futures for the benefit of everyone in whatever way we can.

Feeling a sense of things shifting to a place outside our control is so often a time when overwhelm wells up. We may feel numb, frozen, uncertain, anxious, or afraid (or likely a myriad of emotions for we are human beings with the full range of human emotions to feel and experience in all their complexities). And in these moments, I am drawn back to community and connection, and often find that...

In the midst of things feeling more magnified, so too, does kindness and generosity seem to rise up to meet them. In the weeks since the virus collided with our everydays, I have witnessed countless examples of fellow humans demonstrating love and togetherness instead of divisive "us vs. them" mentalities. In every decision we make and action we take, life-giving things can ensue. Hope is sparked, smiles creep back into corners changing our countenance, and communities come together in the most remarkable ways.

While we take each day one breath at a time, making do the best we can amidst it all, let's be gentle with ourselves and remember that this is all new terrain. In the days to come, let's discard any sense of added pressure and rest in the knowledge that we will continue to create beautiful things when we have the energy to do so.

In the meantime, I've compiled some little pockets of joy to brighten the moments when we feel most depleted or disheartened. May they be a source of something good, remind us of happy things, and rekindle some of our curiosity...

From me to you:

  • Breathing Exercise Animation on IG {Free} // In the midst of that feeling of waiting with bated breath, I've made us a gentle little meditative animation to remind us to take things one breath at a time.

  • When In Need of Light Playlist on Spotify {Free} // For moments that could use a little more calm, peace, and hope.

  • At-Home Dance Party Playlist on Spotify {Free} // Get those restless wiggles out and your heart pumping with some cardiovascular exercise.

  • Access to My Enjoyments Library of Free Goodies {Free} // Subscribe to my Paper Trails newsletter to receive a free Enjoyment in your inbox once a month + access to all past downloads including game sheets, activities, and templates.

  • Indoor Doings Kid's Activity Printable Packet {$10} // 20 printable activities sheets, coloring book pages, interactive games, puzzles, creative activity prompts, and templates for crafty makings that foster creativity building and tapping into our imagination.

Free entertainment:

  • Geek Between the Lines Podcast // A playful weekly podcast providing a good dose of clever analysis and laughter while exploring compelling themes in one of five geeky series: Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, and The Last Airbender + Legend of Korra. Follow them @geekbetweenthelines on IG to further the conversation and tap into more geekery goodness.

  • IG Dance and Choreography Videos on by Christian Burse // Dancer Christian Burse shares the most inspiring videos of her graceful, yet powerful choreography and exceptional dance technique. Follow her @christian_burse on IG for beautiful movements.

  • Online Dance & Stretching Classes by MashUp Contemporary Dance Co. // My favorite contemporary dance company of all time is hosting free virtual classes through Zoom taught by company members. They also share the most striking choreography by co-founders Victoria Brown and Sarah Rodenhouse on their captivating @mashupdance IG feed. An inspiring place to rest your eyes and connect with the beauty of kinesthetic movement and creative self-expression.

Free makings & doings:

  • 15-Minute Magic Photography Challenge by Sara Tasker // Sara of Me & Orla is sharing a creative Instagram photography prompt each week to her subscribers. I've been participating in the challenge and having the loveliest time (see #15MinuteMagic on IG for everyone's contributions).

  • Free 1-Year Subscription to Balance App // A daily meditation app affiliated with the Elevate daily brain workout app.

  • Merlin Bird ID App // A free app for doing a bit of identifying while bird-watching out your loveliest window.

  • Cards Against Humanity Family Edition Downloadable Game // A new fill-in-the-blank comedy game that’s just like the original, but written for kids and adults to play together. Print and play!

  • Stay at Home Zine by Katherine Liu // A short downloadable zine that gently affirms the uncertainties and anxieties that come with a global pandemic, offers some tips on saying safe and ideas for ways to spend your time at home creatively while showing kindness to others.

  • Teahouse Welcome Kit by Mimochai // A DIY activity that can be downloaded and printed for free as a way to welcome you into the imaginative, whimsical world of Mimochai. Included: Teahouse Member Card, Pocket Guide Zine, and Mimochai Map.

  • Free Activity Pages for Grown-Ups by Adam JK // A collection of activity prompts from Adam's books: silly, introspective, and a little existential, but appropriate for all ages. Can be printed at home or you can import the the individual JPG files into drawing software like Procreate or Adobe Fresco.

Free resources for small business owners:

  • 15-Minute Magic Prompt Cards by Sara Tasker // Sara of Me & Orla is sharing her creative prompt cards as a free download (scroll down on the page to find the download) and see above for info on her IG hashtag photo challenge. She also runs a course as a paid offering by the same name, which runs every 3 months for added inspiration.

  • Grow with Soul Podcast // An affirming podcast hosted by Kayte Ferris for creative business owners and dreamers who want to grow soulfully, sustainably and slowly in their work and life.

  • Procreate Class: Making Art on the iPad by Lisa Bardot // Illustrator Lisa Bardot hosted a free live workshop on Instagram where she covered all the Procreate basics and demonstrated how to create an animation. She's made the workshop available on replay on her website.

  • Make Art that Sells MBA Online Course // Course-makers Lilla Rogers and Beth Kempton have opened up this course to makers for free in light of the coronavirus pandemic. They share their very best advice, tips, and assignments for career and financial success. This is a self-paced crash course in making money doing what you love and building a thriving business. This course will motivate and inspire you, give you actionable and concrete tips, and help you create your own formula for success.

Support artists and small businesses as they strive to support their community:


Pictured: Multi-media collage art piece by Linden Eller

Words + Photography: © Kimberly 國子Taylor-Pestell

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Welcome to the personal blog of of Kimberly Kuniko, a Nikkei American illustrator, collage artist, poet, and host of cozy, virtual guided creative retreats with a new theme each month.

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