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Expressive Self Portraits

Quite possibly one of my favorite lesson plans that I do all year. When students hear that I am making them do ANOTHER self portraits, after we just finished up a realistic one, they ask WHY. Once we start working on these, their attitudes typically change and they are a lot more excited.

I like giving the students the option to explore symbolism a little bit further and consider what imagery they can use to show the world more about themselves, rather than just their appearances. The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found here,

I can thank the wonders of Pinterest for many of those photo examples, but I also chose to incorporate Frida Kahlo into this lesson. Frida has so many amazing examples of symbolism and she is truly such an inspiring artist and person, that I wanted my students to learn more about her. We had discussions about The Two Fridas, and also about one of her self portraits. We discussed the symbolism and imagery in her artwork and how it reflects her personality and mood.

Students found this to be very interesting. We also discussed more in depth realism, abstract, and non objective. I told students to consider how realistic they wanted this to be. They had the option to be more symbolism and do a silhouette rather than a realistic approach that would require them to do eyes, nose, mouth, etc. This allowed my students of all different skill levels to choose a way that would be successful for them.

I also gave them an option in what art mediums they wanted to use. They had the options of graphite, colored pencil, pastel, watercolor, or mixed media. After the presentation, I had students write 5-10 things about themselves in their sketchbooks. These could be interests, personality, mood, appearance, home life, friends, etc. We then broke those down and considered how to interpret them into a symbol or some sort of imagery.

Students brainstormed with the others at their tables and came up with some ideas. When they had enough ideas, they began a sketch of what their portrait would look like. I offered suggestions to make sure that students were challenging themselves enough, and were not doing things too hard. I told students that if they chose not to draw a realistic face, that they needed to put extra details somewhere else, to ensure that all students were still working the same amount.

I graded these using four main components. Subject Matter & Creativity, Use of Symbolism and Details, Craftsmanship, and Effort.

I was SO happy with how these turned out. Here are some of the great examples from my classes!


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What It Means to Love Someone in the Way That They Need

A constant thought has been on my mind for the majority of today. It began this morning, when I got into an argument with my boyfriend. It sounded simple to me- All I asked was if we could put our relationship back on Facebook. I was tired of random guys from high school reaching out to me, I wanted it public that I have a boyfriend.

In the same respect, I wanted other girls to know that my boyfriend was taken. I enjoyed that sense of ease knowing that our status is publicly displayed. So began the  arguing…

And on another note, I asked, “We haven’t posted pictures of each other on instagram in so long.” Because I miss it. I miss when he would post pictures of me, telling the world and all his friends how much I meant to him, how much he loved me. I never wanted to be that couple that posts obnoxiously long paragraphs out into the public, but I love sweet gestures that show he cares about me, that he wants to show me off.

So our argument ended and I left. I spent the majority of my morning feeling stupid as shit. For one, I am not the type of person who posts everything on social media. I actually hate that. My Facebook is mostly youtube videos of music that I like, and occasionally I upload my pictures. I’m not one to type huge paragraphs about what people mean to me, I don’t tell people what I’m eating for dinner, I don’t announce when I am exercising, etc.

But yeah, it would be nice to publicly have it said that yes, my boyfriend and I are in fact, together. It would be sweet for him to post a picture of me or a picture of us and show me off to his friends.

And as I’m sitting here thinking and feeling so bad and so guilty for such a silly argument, I’m realizing that I shouldn’t feel that way at all.

Because consider, that not all people appreciate love and feel loved in the same way. Some people need to feel love in different ways, and I believe that my boyfriend and I feel love in different ways.

What I mean by this is, so many people give those that they love, the love that they would feel good receiving. 

For example, if my boyfriend feels loved when I show him physical signs that I love him (holding his hand, kissing him, etc), then he is most likely going to assume that by kissing me, I will feel loved. (And don’t get me wrong, I do!) Through dating him, I have also noticed that he feels loved when we are able to give each other space to work on ourselves. (He feels great when he can work all day and hang out with his friends without me getting upset or making a big deal out of his absence). So in that respect, it is no wonder why if I don’t hear from him for most of the day, I assume something is wrong, whereas he feels like things are great.

As mentioned, I feel loved when my boyfriend posts a picture of us together. When he sends me a sweet text throughout the day, or posts something funny on my wall that I would appreciate. I love the little small things, the little gestures that mean the most.

So rather than feeling like a needy, high maintenance girlfriend, I am just learning to accept that my guy and I don’t need the same things to feel love. While one of us loves small, sometimes public acts of affection, another one prefers space and having the ability for each other to have time to themselves.

With this new mindset to consider, I think it’s really important to make sure that I am loving him how he needs to be, and also to make sure that he is meeting me halfway. If I am doing the things that make him feel loved, then that feeling should be reciprocated, even if it is in a different way.

Please tell me your thoughts!


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10 Reasons Why Nashville Tennessee is Such a Magical Place

Already, I have lived in Nashville Tennessee two different times in my life. I am 26, and I plan on going back to Nashville many more times. The first time, I was a college student interning at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Later, I moved to Nashville from New Jersey (where I live). I taught down there for a year while I was waiting for a job to open up near me.

Let me just say- as someone who kind of sometimes doesn’t enjoy cities that much, Nashville stole my heart. Here are 12 reasons why I feel like Nashville is such a magical place. Feel free to add your reasons in the comments!

1. The Art and Music Scene 

So maybe my opinion is a little biased (I teach art and I am a huge music lover) but I know that many people will agree! Nashville has so much music to offer… duh, Music City USA! But on top of that, as a teacher, there were SO many great opportunities for community involvement within the city itself. I had work on display at the Factory in Franklin, and student’s work was in the Frist Center for Visual Arts in downtown Nashville. is still to this day one of my go to sites (even though I’m now 14 hours away). It is definitely refreshing to find a city and place that is so involved, so current with all of these great events and opportunities for artists.

Roy Laws Art is a pretty cool artist I came to discover in Nashville area. His art is unique and very very impressive. His work can be found at

Jim Sherridan Exhibit at Hatch Show Print
Jim Sheridan Exhibit at Hatch Show Print


Roy Laws Art at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin TN
Roy Laws Art at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin TN


So when I lived in Nashville for 3 months during my internship, I gained 8 pounds. YEP, 8. And do I regret it? Nope! How could I not take advantage of living across from Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant? How could I not take advantage of the BBQ, pulled pork, fried food, and desserts? (Sidenote, I don’t drink. So the 8 pounds I gained was 100% Nashville food goodness). One of my favorite instagrams that I follow is This girl lives the life. And when I’m back in New Jersey missing some of the great food Nashville has to offer, I take full advantage of her food porn. What restaurants do you love in Nashville??

Puckett's Restaurant, Nashville & Franklin TN
Puckett’s Restaurant, Nashville & Franklin TN
Boulevard Burger
Boulevard Burger

3. The People

As someone who I would consider “selectively social”, I really enjoy all of the diverse people that Nashville has to offer. When I lived there in 2013, I met a lot of people from Nashville, yet when I lived there in 2015-2016, I met about 10 people who moved from somewhere outside of Nashville for everyone 1 person I met who actually lived in Nashville. And I get why! As a teacher, the majority of my friends that I worked with lived from somewhere else- New Jersey, Ohio, Delaware, California, Arizona, Illinois, wherever. The people that Nashville attracts all share the same love for the city and I feel like that in itself is enough to completely bond over. I loved going out and meeting new people, and learning about them, where they are from, why they came to Nashville, etc.

Nicest Girls from Texas, we met when we were all fills ins at the CMA Awards
Nicest Girls from Texas, we met when we were all fills ins at the CMA Awards
Musicians Walking in Nashville
Musicians Walking in Nashville

4. The Landscapes

In 2013, my favorite spot was sitting at the edge of Riverfront Park, overlooking the Cumberland River and now, Nissian Stadium. I brought my sketchbook. When I attended CMA Fest, I was amazed at the skyline view that I saw when I looked from the stadium, across the river, to downtown. I literally remember just stopping in that moment and staring at the skyline and just genuinely appreciating the beauty and how fortunate I was to be living there. Not to mention all the beautiful hills and mountains that I got to see whenever I drove around. A perfect mix of hills, rivers, mountains, parks, trees, lakes, so damn beautiful!

Nashville Riverfront
Nashville Riverfront
View from Nissian Stadium
View from Nissian Stadium
Drives Home
Drives Home

5. The Hiking

As a girl who lived here with her dog, we took full advantage of all the great hiking! Radnor Lake, Percy Priest, Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks. Being from good ol’ flat New Jersey, these hikes really kicked my butt! Outside of Nashville, we went down the Natchez Trace Parkway, to Fall Creek Falls, Burgess Falls, Cummin Falls, just to name a few. If you follow me on my instagram,, you will most likely find a lot of adventure pictures of me and my dog, Bridget. (Along with a crap ton of art lesson plans and sunset pictures).

Cummin Falls State Park
Cummin Falls State Park
Natchez Trace Parkway
Natchez Trace Parkway

6. Music Festival Goodness!

So in the 3 months I worked in Nashville, I attended CMA Music Festival. This is something that everyone should experience (in my opinion). I saw a shit ton of bands downtown. I saw Bob Dylan at Riverfront Park. (This was before they built Ascend Amphitheater). When teaching in 2015-2016, I went to Pilgrimage Festival. It was the first year they started it. I was front row for Weezer in the pouring rain (best experience ever!!), Iron and Wine, Band of Horses, Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler, etc!

Pilgrimage Festival, Franklin TN
Pilgrimage Festival, Franklin TN
Pilgrimage Festival, Franklin TN
Pilgrimage Festival, Franklin TN

I also attended Bonnaroo three times! 2011, 2012, and 2013! I didn’t go the past two years and that was simply because I just wasn’t feelin’ the lineup as much as I have felt it in earlier years!

Bonnaroo 2011
Bonnaroo 2011
Bonnaroo 2012
Bonnaroo 2012

7. The History!

I must admit this is one thing that makes me a bit sad- With all of the big buildings, condos, apartments, businesses joining Nashville, I’m noticing they are eliminating some of the smaller, more historical buildings. This is one of my favorite parts of Nashville- all the beautiful old brick buildings! The history, the old warehouses. Seeing where Elvis Presley played, where some of my favorite country singers lived, ah I love all of that! Mike Wolfe, one of my favorite TV show guys, actually works on restoration projects in Nashville. I follow his instagram, because I am so interested in seeing how he is preserving this wonderful city! What are some of your favorite old or historical buildings?

Old Buildings along the Cumberland River
Old Buildings along the Cumberland River
Elvis' Piano, Historic Studio B
Elvis’ Piano, Historic Studio B
Sweet Johnny and June Message from The Johnny Cash Museum
Sweet Johnny and June Message from The Johnny Cash Museum
Marathon Building
Marathon Building

8. The Celebrities 

I must admit, I fangirl pretty hard. For example, in 2011, my dad and I attended the CMA Awards. While walking on lower Broadway, we ran into Zac Brown. I froze up and acted awkward AF! Meanwhile, my dad shook his hand and talked to him about his performance for that night. Cool Dad.

But besides that, I taught in a town where Jason Aldean attended the school volleyball games. I was in the same town as Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Mike Wolfe , etc. My cousin came down to visit me and ended up at Luke Bryan’s farm… what?! Yep, that happened.

Meeting American Pickers
Meeting American Pickers

9. Small Towns

Outside of Nashville, there are some pretty dang cute small towns. I taught in Leiper’s Fork, located up in the hills (my ears popped for the few few months that I drove to work), it has some adorable little shops, restaurants, some live music, etc. Two of my favorites are Franklin TN and Leiper’s Fork TN!

Leiper's Fork Christmas Parade
Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade

10. The Education

Nerd alert- I love learning. And Nashville has so much to offer when it comes to that. I took classes at Vanderbilt University (adult education classes) where I learned Printmaking Techniques. I attended events and street festivals where I learned how to silkscreen scarves. I went to craft fairs where I saw demonstrations to learn new techniques in printing, small businesses, etc. I felt like there were so many opportunities in this city, no matter what you are interested in, to always continue learning and finding new things to be excited about.

Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University


So clearly there is SO MUCH that Nashville has to offer. This city is near and dear to my heart. It is no wonder that so many people are continuing to move here.  I’d love to hear other reasons why this city is so wonderful, in the comment section! 🙂

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10 Words of Wisdom for a 20 Something Woman, from Other Women

  1. Emma Watson- Telling us that beauty doesn’t have a certain face or a particular look.


2. Melissa McCarthy- Saying that if you stay true to yourself, good things will come your way. The people who appreciate you will naturally gravitate towards you.

Melissa McCarthy Body Positive Quote • Curvy Quote • Inspirational Plus Size Celebrity:

3. Anna Hathaway- Reminding us to take breaks from what perfection looks like, how social media portrays us, and instead to consider what can we do that FEELS good.

50+ Celebrities Who Have Almost Died:

4. Blake Lively- Reminding us to not settle for less than we deserve, and to not just stay with someone because of loneliness.

If I'm not with somebody who really excites or inspires me, then I'd rather be by myself. - Blake Lively:

5. Barbara Streisand- Taking down the expectation that women’s lives should revolve around men.

Barbara Streisand <3:

6. Mindy Kaling- Reminding us that people are intimidated by successful people, and we shouldn’t take it personally or let someone bring us down.

25 Life Lessons from Our Favorite Celebrities | Mindy Kaling on bravery.:

7. Pink- Talking about the importance of self respect and knowing our self worth.

Self respect:

8. Dolly Parton- Reminding us that when things get tough, don’t turn your heart cold. Just be careful, watch yourself, but don’t let the world make you cold.

"I'll never harden my heart, but I've toughened the muscles around it." Dolly Parton #inspiration

9. Miranda Lambert- Because 99% of her songs are great advice for young girls and women.

Things to learn from Miranda Lambert... 12 is my favorite :):

10. Elle Woods- Because we can’t let one shitty situation or bad relationship define us.

Elle sought out the advice and support of other women.

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14 Day Anxiety Challenge

Hey Y’all!

So I wanted to post a fourteen day anxiety challenge that I created and did… which really worked well! I created it while keeping in mind that many people still have busy schedules and a lot happening in their lives. These are just some small changes to do, one a day, to help focus and maintain mindfulness in whatever situation you may find yourself in.

Please comment if you are doing this challenge, or let me know how it is working for you!

Day 1: Create art that makes you feel good. Whether it’s painting, drawing, collage, diy, find something that you can get excited about. Extra points if it’s something that resonates personally to you (about me collage, personality painting, things I love about myself, things I struggle with, etc).

Day 2: Try a yoga video! There are so many cool youtubers that share cool yoga videos… they even offer full classes! The best part is you can choose what you want to focus on (yoga for mindfulness, anxiety, arms, legs, backbends, digestion, breathing, etc).

Day 3: Take a bath. Proven to help stress. It also gives you time to focus on yourself when you normally wouldn’t. I know sometimes for me, showering can feel like a chore, but turning it into a relaxing bath can really turn it into something more enjoyable. There are so many cool bath bombs and diffusers that you can use to really enhance the experience!

Day 4: Practice breathing exercises! Side note: When I am out with my mom and experience anxiety, the first thing she asks me is, “Are you breathing properly?” Most times I find that I am not! I am scared, worrying, and it is affecting how I’m breathing. My breathes are short, I feel like it’s hard to breath, my chest feels heavy. If I take a few minutes to focus my breathing, it makes a lot more sense to me and calms me down very well.

Day 5: Go Outside! Whether you choose to walk, run, bike, jog, hike, go to a dog park, a state park, whatever. Being outside is proven to make people naturally happier. Even if it’s raining, I am always reminded of when I was younger and it was fun to go out and dance in the rain. Why should we ever give that up? Who says there is an age limit to dancing in rain and just letting go of what is considered responsible or normal?

Day 6: Create a list of goals or aspirations that you have. Have a happy mix of both short term goals that are easily attainable, and also some long term goals that you will need to work towards. This can really help steer you in a direction that you want to go in, and it can also help you to feel more organized and sure of yourself! I love making lists and organizing, not only because I am somewhat forgetful, but for what it does to help me feel more structured!

Day 7: After a week of this challenge, Day 7 challenges you to go out and do something out of your comfort zone. For all of us that means something different. For some, it may mean going to the grocery store and successfully shopping without having a panic attack. For others, it could be going out with some friends and allowing yourself to let go and have fun. It could be going to a new class at the gym, taking an art class, learning something new. It could be going to a new place that you typically wouldn’t go to. The important thing to note on this day, is that no matter how successful you were, track your progress! Go home and write down how you felt. Were you proud of accomplishing that task? Did you forget to practice breathing?

Day 8: Consider things that help you stay focused, remain less anxious, and feel better. These could be very small things. For example, I almost always carry a bottle of water with me. If my throat feels dry, or I begin to get anxiety, drinking water is something that helps me. Knowing I have water with me makes me feel safe. I also always carrying lavender oil with me. I apply it to my wrists and the scent of it helps me stay calm. There are also apps for your phone that help you if you are having a panic attack. Feel free to post if there is something that you find works too!

Day 9: Volunteer! Every Sunday, my mom, my aunt and I go to volunteer at a cat shelter near our house. It gets us out of the house: we go to lunch together, and then we spend an hour in a room full of kittens and cats. Not only is it completely therapeutic and fun, but it also makes me feel really good to go in there and play with cats. Many of them are antisocial and by playing with them each week, they become more friendly, which can help them get adopted! There are plenty of other opportunities at shelters, with dogs, food kitchens, nursing homes, etc.

Day 10: Treat Yourself! You’re doing such a great job at this point, and you need to do something great for yourself. Whether you go out for ice cream, buy yourself some new shoes, have a movie night in with friends, whatever it is, do something to celebrate you and all of your progress. So often we tend to get so caught up in the busyness of everyday life, but stop and think that life is something that is meant to be ENJOYED! So enjoy it!

Day 11: Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. Catch up, either in person, through Skype, or over the phone. Catching up and telling someone your thoughts out loud can be extremely helpful. A lot of times we don’t really consider something or how greatly it affects us until we say it out late. I know that I recently went over to a friend’s house and had a heart to heart with her sister, who I actually have a ton in common with! Talking to her made me feel a lot better and made me realize I’m not so crazy after all.

Day 12: Look up a new recipe to make! I say recipe because it could either be a new dinner, snack, dessert, anything you have been wanting to try to make but haven’t had time to make. I love going to Pinterest for ideas. I have one board for food and desserts (this is my regular food board, filled with awesome filling dinners, yummy desserts, etc). I also have a clean eating blog (when I’m trying to be healthy. Side note, as much as I’d like to say I use this board more, I don’t). Try out a new recipe! If successful, it can become a new favorite that you use on a regular basis. Here are the links to my two boards, feel free to follow!

Please feel free to follow my boards! Also, if you tried a recipe that I pinned, let me know how you liked it!

Day 13: Book Therapy! I am an avid reader, and a lot of times I like to pick out books that are relatable to things I am dealing with. Do some research and choose a couple books that you feel would help you. I usually go to Amazon and check reviews.

Day 14: Plan a future endeavor! If you have a long weekend or a break coming up, plan something! Whether you get on a plane, or just drive somewhere for a day or two, plan something fun. Include family or friends, or make it a solo adventure! Planning things in advance helps us to step outside of our comfort zone and to continue doing things for ourselves.

Good luck to you all! Let me know how this challenge works for you! 🙂


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Chakras Explained

I don’t consider myself to be an especially spiritual person. However, dealing with anxiety and having negative thoughts really take a toll on a person after awhile. Keeping that in mind, I do believe in positive mental actions, and I feel that the Chakras are a really important and interesting concept to keep in mind.

It’s a sure fire way to pin point exactly what is going on inside your mind. It helps you understand why you are feeling a certain way, and it makes it even easier for you to figure out how to fix things.


For me, purple is one of my biggest problems. I am frequently anxious about upcoming dates, plans, and events. It causes me to force myself into loneliness sometimes, and that begins to turn my mind into a downward spiral, creating depressing thoughts. Once that chakra becomes balanced, I am at peace. I am aware that I do not have control over everything, and that often I just need to let it be. Trust that all that is meant to be, will be.

Another place I often struggle is with low self esteem and low energy, the red chakra. As mentioned in previous blog posts, I have often struggled with how people treat me, and taking it personally. As if something I did made them treat me badly. As if me being me was simply not good enough. What I need to remember though is my own confidence. I need to focus on the traits I have that make me, me. I need to accept myself just as I would accept any other person.

I often keep this chakra visual in a place where I can look over it frequently. It gives me a clear visual of what is bothering me, and how I am able to fix it. If you struggle with even just one of these, I recommend doing the same. It’s a small thing to do but referring back to this and understanding your feelings, and how to fix them, is a HUGE step towards a more positive and successful mentality!

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I’m in search of more blogs to follow and subscribe to!

These are things I will often post about and would love to follow some similar blogs. Please comment and introduce yourself if you are interested!

  • Mental Healthcare
  • Yoga and Exercise
  • Travel and Adventure
  • Art Education/Art Therapy
  • Creative Thoughts

Don’t be a stranger!


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Allow Yourself to Feel

Happy Wednesday!

I wanted to share with you all a quote that is very meaningful to me. Sometimes people get you down, make you feel small, or make you feel like you are in the wrong because of how they treat you. In a previous post, I discussed how sometimes people will not treat you how you may want them to, but that it is not a reflection on you.

So this is a reminder that it’s okay to let your guard down. To let people in even after you’ve been hurt. To feel. It’s okay to be so sad that you can’t stop crying; acknowledge those feelings and understand why you are feeling them. On the same topic, you can also feel so happy that you feel like you can literally do anything.

One of my biggest problems in the past has been not acknowledging for accepting my feelings. Trying to be happy, when I have so many reasons to feel sad. Instead, I should have been aware of all those things, and understanding why I was sad.

I’d rather always put myself out there and expose myself to new people and things rather than let one or two bad people affect me for the rest of my life. This isn’t to say that I prefer to be walked over, but I just am understanding my feelings and understanding that how someone treats me is not always a reflection on me.

Keep this quote in mind for today, or everyday. Store it in the back of your mind and remember it when you are feeling discouraged, or when you feel like you are holding back your feelings, trying to fake how you are, and not being true to yourself.