Category Archives: motivation

Being Mindful of Giving Thanks

As I’m making progress in my recovery from whatever was making me ill (at this point I’m pretty sure it was a combination of age-related hormone changes + a walloping case of anxiety about what was going on with my body), I’m mindful of wanting to give thanks for all the love and support I’ve received from family and friends.  When you’re anxious and scared, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone.  Even though there were times when I felt pretty awful over the past two months, I never felt alone…so a BIG THANK YOU for being there for me!

For those of you who might struggle with anxiety as well, or are just curious to know what’s helped me so far, I’m happy to share.  I see this recovery as an ongoing journey – one that will ultimately make me stronger, healthier, (and hopefully) wiser and more compassionate along the way.

In addition to my new ritual of daily meditation (I like to do my meditation just before breakfast), I’ve also done daily yoga sessions on Youtube with this wonderful teacher.  Getting outdoors for exercise in the sunshine and fresh air has also worked wonders.

Since our minds have an uncanny ability to sabotage our best intentions at times, I’ve also found it helpful to keep furthering my reading on meditation and mindfulness practice.   My book pile above currently includes the following titles:

How to Sit – Thich Nhat Hanh

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers, Ph.D

Timeless Truths for Modern Mindfulness – Arnie Koza, Ph.D

5-Minute Calm 

Breathe: The Well-Being Special

The Mindfulness Manual

(Not pictured, but also incredibly helpful have been the following two books: Minding the Body, Mending the Mind – Joan Borysenko, Ph.D, and, The Upward Spiral – Alex Korb, Ph.D)

XOX – Joana

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Filed under Cartoon Illustration, funny art, Humorous Illustration, Influences, inspiration, live in the moment, Live In The Now, Live In The Present, motivation, wisdom

My Favorite Things – The Healing Power of Being Outdoors

Ironically, as I’ve struggled over the past 6 weeks with health issues and anxiety, I’ve stopped doing some of the very things that make me the most happy and healthy.  Today I took an important step by, well…stepping outside.  And of course, I made sure to bring along my camera. (Note to self – stopping to take pictures of beautiful things is one of the best ways to be mindful and in the moment.)

Here’s what caught my eye…

Happy Thursday!

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Filed under live in the moment, Live In The Now, Live In The Present, motivation, My Favorite Things, nature, nature photography, New York, photography, wisdom

My Favorite Things – Making Variety the Spice of Life

 

Seven years ago when I left my job at the Milwaukee Symphony to follow my husband in his new job in New York City, I was full of anxiety.  Foremost in my thoughts was of course…

How will I make a living? 

And that thought was quickly followed by this one…

If I go back to musical freelancing after having played as a member of an orchestra for 10 years, I’ll feel like a failure.

Fortunately, life intervened.  Freelancing became the ONLY option, and I quickly learned that it was not only the best way for me to pay my share of the rent, but also exactly what I needed to be doing in order to feel challenged, stimulated AND happy!  Go figure. 

So while I’m not writing this post to suggest that you all take up the viola and move to New York City to join the musical freelance scene, I do want to suggest the following:

  • Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone.  You might find that the areas outside your comfort zone provide new perspective and tremendous opportunities for growth.
  • Pursue your outside interests.  Illustration and music might not seem like they have much in common, but my two passions feed each other and help to give me needed perspective when the going gets tough.
  • Volunteer your time.  There is nothing that will make you feel more worthwhile, plus you might discover even more interests in the process!  In the past four years, I have volunteered on 38 New York Cares projects around the city.  Those 74 hours have put me in contact with other dedicated volunteers and expanded my horizons.  Through volunteering, I’ve gotten to know many more neighborhoods in the city, and the interactions with the people I’ve helped have made the city seem like a lovely small town.

How about you?  What fears will you face today?

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Filed under Cartoon Illustration, Do What You Love, funny art, Funny Illustrations, Humorous Illustration, I Love What I Do, Joana Miranda Studio, motivation, My Favorite Things

Why I Love What I Do…

(Even though it’s a balancing act sometimes!)

As a musician and illustrator, I work very long hours.  When I’m not “on the clock” officially, I’m always busy trying to improve – whether that means putting in extra time sketching at my drafting table, or standing in front of my music stand practicing the viola.  The beauty of loving what you do is that you can lose yourself in a state of flow where time seems suspended and work doesn’t feel like work.  And the advantage of wearing two hats (in my case, as an illustrator and a musician), is that when the going gets tough in one arena- and there WILL always be difficult days – you can retain some sanity by focusing on how you will move forward in the other.  On the best days, both loves serve each other fueling focus, creativity and smart time management.

How did I develop my passion for both music and art?  In the music case, it was easy.  I grew up in a musical house where both parents were heavily involved in music.  Playing an instrument was a part of my upbringing.  Fortunately, I did love music, and I was even one of those rare kids who actually took lessons in piano and also music theory from both parents.

My love for visual art, drawing and illustration evolved more organically.  I always drew as a kid, but it wasn’t until I got engaged and designed my own engagement ring that I discovered how much I loved drawing, and, initially, designing jewelry.  Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning will remember the year where I posted a new jewelry design (rendering) a day.  If you’re new to this site, type “A Design a Day” into the search bar and you’ll see my jewelry designs…there’s 365 of ’em.  Enjoy!

I like to think of my path from jewelry designing to my current cartoon illustrations akin to the zig-zag pattern of how pilots pilot airplanes.  As the years have passed and I’ve put in my hours, I’m zeroing in on my illustration focus – or how best to say who I am and what’s important to me in my art.  Creating visually compelling art has always been a love.  These days, finding the humor in the everyday and adding that into the mix has taken my work a step further.  I figure if I make you smile or laugh, we’re both better off!

You can find my illustrations here.  And if you’re in the New York City area you can hear me playing this coming week at these locations:

New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center and New Jersey Symphony (Morristown and the NJPAC)

 

 

 

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Filed under Cartoon Illustration, Do What You Love, funny art, I Love What I Do, Joana Miranda Studio, motivation

From My Sketchbook – Six Degrees of Separation

In a city of 8 million people, it’s easy to think you won’t ever run into anyone you know.  And yet even in this vast city, strangers share a common destiny.

Waiting for the same train…

man-with-black-glove

Lost in thought…

man-with-tall-knit-cap

Surprised by the noise across the subway car…

bald-man-with-beard-and-glassesOr, immersed in reading the latest news.

girl-with-watch-cap-and-big-glasses

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Filed under Art, Cartoon Illustration, Drawing, drawing faces, funny art, Humorous Illustration, ink sketches, motivation, New York, practicing drawing, quick sketch, sketchbook, subway sketches, weekly sketch project

My Favorite Things – The Parisian Aesthetic Rubs Off On Me

Although I had to say goodbye to Paris early yesterday morning, I feel like a good dose of the Parisian aesthetic came home with me.  To clarify, I didn’t buy any souvenirs (aside from the food I ate, my only other purchases were two postcards!); however, the constant people watching and sight-seeing was like a crash course in good taste.

To begin with, Parisians seem to have a love affair with good food made from good quality ingredients.

Wouldn’t you be inspired to eat well if your supermarket veggie display looked like this?

Beautiful veggie display in the St. Germaine area

beautiful assortment of veggies

So when I arrived home yesterday afternoon, one of the first things I did was to head over to Whole Foods to purchase some zucchini, tomatoes and pesto for a healthy dinner of Pesto “Zoodles” with cherry tomatoes.   Eaten al fresco on our patio, I could almost pretend that I was back in Paris!

Today, I spent much of the day finding things in the apartment to give away.  Paring down seems somehow very Parisian.  My goal is not only to de-clutter (an ongoing task when you live in a New York apartment) but I’m also eager to make sure I’m surrounded by only pretty things.  And to that end, I went out and bought myself a bouquet of flowers for the bedroom.

Could this have been my inspiration?

Assorted roses in a flower shop display in Paris

Flower shop display in Paris

Bien sûr!

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Filed under inspiration, motivation, My Favorite Things, travel, travel photography

Friday’s Thought – On the Bright Side

New York skyline across the reservoir

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.”

(Lord Byron)

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Filed under Friday's Thought, inspiration, motivation, New York, photography, wisdom, wise quotes