Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Power of Empathy

I came across this video on my Facebook feed yesterday and wanted to share. It's about the difference between empathy and sympathy, narrated by research professor Dr. Brené Brown and animated by Katy Davis. Simply put, Brown says that "empathy fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection." Empathy is about being vulnerable, putting yourself in the other person's place and really feeling what they're going through instead of patting them on the back and trying to put a bandaid on their pain.

"One of the things we do sometimes in the face of very difficult conversations is we try to make things better," Brown says. "Because the truth is rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection."

After my diagnosis, I was treated to all kinds of messages from people. There were those who wanted to help, who cried along with me or even without me, those who came along on appointments and radiation treatments, who wanted regular updates on my status. In the beginning I lumped them all together, sympathy and empathy, because I just wanted to be in people's minds, I wanted them to hope for the best for me, I wanted to feel loved when I was feeling rather crappy. But after the fog cleared, I realized what kinds of messages I was craving and noticed that the ones meant to shrink the situation left me feeling worse. While I understand that it was done to ease my mind, there's no need to tell me that the tumor is probably not that big and that I'll be just fine when I'm still very much terrified.

We do it so often, myself included. We want so much to make someone feel better, but sometimes there's no way out but through and you just have to be there to hold their hand and walk alongside them if you can. Sympathy is keeping your emotions at arms length and saying, "That sucks, I'll be here if you need me." Empathy is plopping yourself right there next to her and bringing her in for a hug for as long and as many times as she needs it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Madness

With A. moving into the new apartment this weekend (we got the keys today!), me preparing Porcupine Hugs for the holidays, and a new part-time job helping a law firm with their website launch, things have been pretty crazy on my end. My mind has been swirling with gift tag designs, attorney bios, and packing up two households that will soon merge into one.

But I'm so excited by all the positive changes that are going on in my life. Next week, I'll be selling at the annual Holiday Handmade Cavalcade December 14 + 15 at The Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from 10am - 5pm. Not only is there a current raffle going on through the Etsy NY Team's Facebook page, but the first 100 people will receive a complimentary gift bag on each of the two days, there will be prizes raffled off throughout the event, and Brooklyn Brewery is sponsoring a free happy hour on both afternoons. So swing by to shop small, local, and handmade for the holidays.

I've been looking forward to this event since September, but for some reason the crazed factor always turns up to 11 the closer a market date draws near. For many of us, the holidays are the busiest times of the year and I'm just hoping all this work pays off. Not only does Porcupine Hugs offer single greetings cards and boxed sets, but today I launched the 2014 Wall Calendar! I know I'm biased, but holy crap it's so cute. Take a peek at the hand-illustrated beauty right here.

There are also gift tags and a special gift box set of 16 greeting cards, a hand-painted pencil, stickers, and a tag that'll have anyone prepared for whatever occasions might come their way. It's a great gift for the snail mail lovers on your list - or to just hog for yourself. Just promise you'll try to part with a least some of the cards, won't you?

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? My family is doing the Secret Santa thing for the second year in a row and I can't wait to start buying my person some awesomeness. I'll be keeping an eye out at the cavalcade as there will be all kinds of fun vendors there and it's important to support my fellow creatives.

To RSVP for the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, click here and to enter the current raffle, click here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Next Chapter

Did you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving? I hope so! This year I found myself feeling very thankful for my friends, health and family, which sounds so cliché, but after seeing firsthand how suddenly you can lose each of those things over the course of this year, I'm grateful for the good I do have.

So remember the happy news I wanted to share with you before? Well a couple weeks ago A. and I signed the lease for our first apartment together! After the stress that was our first go at it earlier this year, it's crazy how easily things fell into place this time around. Back in April I checked out more than 20 apartments and we couldn't agree on a single one to live in and when we started arguing on what borough to move to, we decided that we should just scrap the idea for the time being. Well this time, we only suffered through a couple crappy apartment showings (I mean really, how on earth do people live in these holes?!) before finding The One. We spotted our apartment on PadMapper.com and immediately made an appointment to see it the following day. When we walked into the apartment, I just fell in love. "I want to live here!" I mouthed at A. while peeking into the bedroom. The space was big and bright, the finishes in the bathroom and kitchen were beautiful, and A., picky as he is, will get the dishwasher he'd been requesting.

Unfortunately, another applicant was also vying for the same apartment so for three days we were anxiously waiting to hear if we won out or not - and we did!

The nice part is that I'll be living near my family in Washington Heights again - and just a couple blocks from where I grew up. Granted, what I've always wanted was to leave the country altogether (I'll get you someday, Paris), but this will totally do. Especially since I'll get an office out of the situation! Squeee! As a freelancer who works from home I honestly think I'm most excited by that than anything else. Well, I guess moving in with my boyfriend of four years will be an awesome bonus, too. The end to these exhausting Bronx-Upper East Side commutes is near! No more picking out an outfit in one apartment only to realize the coordinating shoes are in the other borough. No more schlepping my laptop and supplies to get work done from his tiny studio. Now I'll have my entire life and the person I love under one roof.

While the things I will no longer be doing are extra nice, I'm also thrilled for the new routines we have to look forward to: greeting A. home from work each evening, having the space to make dinner together, going to sleep and waking up together each morning, kissing him off to work for the day, and getting the apartment all to myself for 10 glorious hours. Because now that I'll be living with someone who's yet to develop a taste for holiday music, you'd better believe I'll be taking full advantage of every moment alone.

Aside from being excited over this next big step, we're also having fun going to furniture stores, testing out couches, and envisioning what our rooms will look like once we're settled in. Not going to lie, it'd be way easier if A. just said, "You know what Dorkys? I completely trust your judgement and will let you choose whatever you'd like." But noooo, the man needs to have an opinion on things like dark shower curtains that trigger his never-mentioned-before-now claustrophobia and whether a couch "looks too much like a couch." (WTF?) Still, it's cute to see him get so into chaise lounges and dinner tables because it's never something I thought he cared much about and I want him to feel comfortable in our new space, too. So much that I'm willing to overlook the fact that he wants to install a bench press workout contraption in our supposed-to-be-serene bedroom and a big ass subwoofer for our living room's sound system. Maybe I can throw a blanket over that thing, top it with a vase and call it a side table.

We get our keys this week and start moving in next weekend, but in the meantime I've been bookmarking ideas online because I can't wait to start seeing our new home start to come together. What are some of your favorite places to shop for housewares?

1. Chalkboard Spice Jars | 2. Farmers Market Baskets | 3. Textured Dip Bowls | 4. Two Person Desk | 5. Loveseat and Chaise Sectional Sofa | 6. Aqua and Green Shower Curtain | 7. Entryway Bench | 8. Wood Dining Table | 9. Overarching Floor Lamp | 10. Workstation with Shelves