Discover more from studio processing
my five favorite tools
and jack's toolbox origin story
Last summer, we packed up the car and drove North for hours, finally landing in Liberty, a tiny town tucked in the Maine countryside. We were on a journey to find my partner’s dream shop: an old house bursting with rusty vintage tools. Jack spent hours poring over chisels and planes and screwdrivers, axes and saws and scissors and wrenches. He chose a big handmade wooden box with rusted hinges and filled it to the brim with his new old tools.
I think about those tools often, partly because many of them are displayed on the wall in our shared home studio, but also because I have a toolbox of my own. Even with all their similarities, my toolbox is vastly different, mostly because it doesn’t actually exist.
I first started consciously filling my imaginary toolbox in graduate school, where we were taught to help others build their own toolboxes with techniques and implementations to improve their lives and functionality in the world. The more tools I learned, the more intrigued I became, and I began building my very own. It’s not as beautiful as Jack’s handmade wooden box, but it’s brought an empowering peace to my days. I’ve shared a few tools in this space in the past, and today I thought I’d indulge you with five I use every day. They may seem simplistic, but in practicing them daily they’ve become well toned muscles I can turn to with ease when a day feels wobbly.
Whenever I need a little calming, this does the trick. It’s simple and always in reach. The more I practice, even when I’m feeling at my best, the easier it is to grab for when I’m in need.
How it works: Take a breath in, counting to four. Hold, counting to four. Let your breath slowly out, counting to four. Hold, counting to four. Continue for as long as you’d like.
Also known as the law of increment, I’ve written about this in relation to my winding career path before. Lucky for us all, this works for any goal, big or small. Getting out of bed is the first step to making it through your day. Buying a swimsuit and a combination lock is the first step to swimming laps. Putting on your shoes is the first step to taking a walk. And one walk today is the first step to walking daily. It all starts with a tiny step, and builds from there.
Every morning, as often as I’m able, I free write for three pages. Sometimes writing about the rainy weather and sometimes writing about my greatest hopes and sometimes writing about an troubling situation I’m processing. Sometimes I write about what I’m going to write about here, in this space. No matter what flows out of me, it always feels good to purge it from my physical body and bring it into the world, even if it’s never to be read again. I’ll often find beautiful connections I would have never seen had I kept it all in.
What started out as an attempt at a daily moment of gratitude has become second nature to me. I truly believe my gratitude practice has shifted my view of the world and there’s science to prove it. Start small: as you’re tucking into bed, think of one thing that happened during the day that you’re grateful for, no matter how tiny it feels. Repeat each evening, and it’ll grow from there (see: tiny little actions, above).
I’m indebted to my pup for teaching me the glorious benefits of walking. Whenever I’m stuck or frustrated or at an impasse, it usually means I simply need a walk. Even in the balmy heat of summer, I come back with fresh ideas and a calmer demeanor.
Last summer, that old tool shop in the humid Maine countryside reminded me I can always restore my own tools with love when they’ve gone rusty and left me feeling encouraged to share them in abundance.
May your toolbox be overflowing, and may your most precious tools always be within arms reach.
If you want your very own pickleball mug (they also make great gifts, I speak from experience), you can preorder here! I added a download of my thinking of you card, so you can print and send to someone you care about. I’m somehow already planning out my fall and dreaming of another winter in the desert, which makes me homesick for the arid earthy scents - would a southwest fragrance curb my longing? My brother has been eating cottage cheese right out of the tub for a while and my household is finally catching on, along with everyone else it seems.
also - I’M HOSTING A WORKSHOP NEXT WEEKEND!! it’ll be a very small and intimate group in a beautiful private studio at 36 waverly avenue in brooklyn. grab tickets here!
Thank you so much for being here xoxox