Creating A Lovely Life: A Conclusion

I write this post with a heavy heart and bittersweet tears in my eyes. Trying to refrain from being too dramatic for the ole internet, yet my heart is truly feeling alllll the feels. This post marks the end of an era & the close to an important season that has shaped my heart. Today I shall conclude Creating A Lovely Life blog. (*cue all the tears-- happy & sad*)

As my high school career drew to a close, I learned (and still am) the importance of endings. I have felt a need to retire CLL for quite a while due to the lack of desire to post & an even larger desire for something new. We often embrace and praise beginnings, nevertheless endings are dreaded and often avoided. I do not want this space on the internet to feel like that. It is with joy and thanksgiving that I close this chapter!

Here's the thing: I have loved this blog. I love it because I can see true growth in the archives of my posts. Started in the eighth grade (age 13), content like "The Top Knot" and "My Favorite Spring Shoes" (cringe) was filled with trivial fashion or DIY posts (and overly-saturated photos-- talk about yikes). Not that those are not valid posts (as I had to begin somewhere, and that therefore produced growth), but I felt the urge for something more after a couple years. By ages 15 and 16 , I began writing posts with more emotion and heart (see "Don't Take Yourself So Seriously" and "Thoughts on Perfection"). I started to take ownership of my writing, and was eager to write my URL down for anyone who showed the least bit of interest. Yet, I think it was this past year that I am most proud of. With post like "In The Questions",  "Thoughts on Firsts, Lasts, and Progress", and "The Ten Encouraging Days Project", I felt vulnerable, genuine, and understood a glimpse of what it means to be truly creative. 

Like this blog's description states, I feel I have sincerely [shared] pieces my heart here & there. I do not know who read my content consistently or at all, but I hope this place has been one that has encouraged you, inspired you, or has made you think. I hope it has been a place that you have felt welcomed, understood, or been able to remark "I like cats that much, too!"

Yet, as they say (all cheesiness intended) "as one door closes*, another one opens". Therefore, this journey is not over just yet. As Creating A Lovely Life has been a place for me to share personal growth and pieces of my life, I feel the need to move on and grow up, of sorts. 

Therefore, I hope you will continue to follow me in my writing as I now pursue a degree in Journalism (yay!) to my next space on the web: Habit & Heart (click text for link!). This site will be one more specific in content, personal yet relatable, and one that I hope also influences and uplifts all those who encounter it. This next adventure has been created with a lot of thought and a lot of heart. Habit & Heart will "[celebrate] real lives through your inner creative"-- and I could not be more excited for this fresh start!

I cannot say thank you enough (so thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you) for following this silly adventure of mine. For supporting my writing,  for believing in my dreams, but most of all for simply reaching out to tell me that you read a post & were touched by it.

Slowly, slowly, slowly I am creating a lovely life for myself. One with beginnings and endings, and one with a whole lot of love. And boy oh boy, have I loved you, CLL.

Yours truly,

*Though this site will no longer be updated, I have chosen to still keep it up to invite you to peruse the archives.


Colorful Colorado (A Photo Diary).

If you know me, you know I love all things white & minimal & clean. Think your grandmother's restroom, but way more chic. Being in Colorado a few weeks back only inspired me more & more with its concise color scheme and bright whites. There is just something about travel and simply peering out your window that trumps Pinterest inspo any day. And let's talk about those mountains! Gah, steals my heart every time.

Colorful Colorado, you wear neutrals so well.

Yours truly,


Thankful For The Blooms.

There truly is something about spring and all its liveliness that brings my spirit alive, too. Maybe it is the white blossoms lining neighboring homes as I drive to my house, or the sweet seventy-five degree weather. Maybe it is the fact that light still shines through my window at 6:30 p.m. and patio seating at my favorite pizza place is bearable. Maybe it is just the pure changing of seasons and a turn of pace that brings a new energy to core of my being.

Either way, I'm pleased. Spring in all its beautiful glory prompts a smile on my face and cheer in my heart. It really is the small things that produce life & joy & hope.

All this, of sorts, is really just a whole lotta thankful

And boy, am I thankful.


Hope this spring fills you with a sense of hope & renewal. Yet, let's use this hope to drive bold conversations (hence Longfellow quote in photo), purposeful relationships, & the little pep in our step as we walk out our door and into the vast, blooming world.

As they say-- "The world is your oyster". And as I say-- darn right, it is.

Yours truly,


Small Ways To Be Creative Everyday.

via designlovefest.com
I have come to realize that the days & weeks & months that I feel down, or uninspired, are ones without creativity. I used to think that the phrase "I cannot live without art" was only for highly-creative, type-b, professional artists (none of which I am), yet time and time again I am realizing this to be a vital necessity for not just my well being, but joy in my life. 

However, on those days that I am not creative, it is often times because I feel I am too busy to do traditional artistic mediums (i.e. painting, writing, drawing, etc.). And, I often think: If this essential to my life, and many others, there must be an easier way to incorporate it regularly. And, good news-- there is!

Here are a few ways for my fellow creatives (which means, you, all of you) to add a little extra inspiration to your crazy, busy days.

1) Podcasts! I have wanted to get into podcasts for years, but could never find ones that I was eager to keep up consistently. However, times are a changing and my current favorites that I cannot get enough of are The Lively Show, After The Jump, and The Accidental Creative (all found on the podcast app on your IPhone). These are great because they can be easily incorporated to your daily life-- whether on your morning commute or as you are cooking dinner.

2) Write it down. Capture all the funny, wise, random bits of information (quotes, thoughts, conversations) that come to you throughout the day. Like I have stated before, I try to write everyday. Yet, this "writing" does not always mean pages on pages of solid content, but can consist of what I call "the little things". For me, I jot down a few sentences each day in the notes section on my phone. This way, when I later go back to write for real, I have a plethora of inspiration to choose from. Plus, remembering the small things in life is so beautiful. 

3) Opt out browsing social media for more uplifting and inspiring content. My all-time favorites are The Jealous Curator and Design Love Fest. Just a simple shift in fifteen minutes-- from perusing instagrammable-lives that can lead to jealously and discontentment to surrounding yourself with substance that makes you think-- can greatly impact your outlook and feed your creativity. 

4) Get a change in scenery. We often get caught up in our routines- same commute, same coffee shop, same breakfast. For a type-a gal like myself, shaking up the everyday can leave my mind in chaos; yet, I'm learning that if done correctly, a small change can get you out of the rut of routine. Whether it is driving a different route to school or work, going for a run around your neighborhood instead of the gym, or ordering the special instead of your regular meal at your go-to restaurant, these straightforward variations of your day take intentionality and frankly, an adventurous spirit. Because, being "adventurous" does not mean you have to go for a hike every weekend.

5) Unplug for one hour a day. This may be the most difficult for us millennials, but oh so necessary. It is easy to think that if we were to turn off our phones, computers, and TVs that we would be missing out or, for us irrationals, that our great aunt will need to go to the hospital and we are the only ones who can help. However, I think that is a risk we should be willing to take (unless the latter actually does become a reality). To go screen-free for just 60 minutes allows not just time to do other activities, but also grants your mind to slow down. And, slowing down is something that we should all practice a little more often, don't you think?

How do you add small spurts of creativity to your everyday?

Yours truly,


From Woman To Woman | 01.

One of my favorite things in the world is "girl talk". Those discussion between good friends that are often full of both laughter and tears, joy and grief, acceptance and advise. Those kinds of conversations leave me feeling so loved, so valued (and normally full coffee / tea). I have always wished to have conversations with certain women in history and to soak up all their wisdom-- and quite honestly, to have a little "girl talk".

So, from one woman to another,

"Women of God can never be like the women of the world.
the world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.
there are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.
 there are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.
 we have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.
 we have enough greed; we need more goodness.
we have enough vanity; we need more virtue.
 we have enough popularity; we need more purity."

 From the wise, Margaret Dyreng Nadauld.

Yours truly,


Playlist | 01.

One of my goals for the year, or just in general, is to be more consistent with content here on CLL. I am a perfectionist at heart, so it honestly can take me months to finally publish a post. I actually write quite a bit, trying to make myself write something everyday (even if it is "get your life together, gosh dangit" on a napkin between cupcake crumbs), so it's funny that I somehow do not have content to put out on a regular basis. Yet, I'm going to try to give myself a break every once in a while, and just post after only one edit (or five... baby steps, you guys).

So to shake it up around here, I thought I would share my current music playlist. On my Spotify (follow me!-- Cate Willis)  I call it "Don't Listen to Sad Songs in Winter", because this season can already be depressing enough with its short-lived days and biting cold, so let's not get ourselves down with overly-emotional music for now. Sorry, Adele.

Lost | Jack and White

Polarize | Twenty One Pilots (actually anything from their new-ish album)
#88 | Lo-Fang
Vagabond | Misterwives
I Will Be There | Odessa (eeep. this song. the chills.)
Cloudline | Joseph
Here | Alessia Cara (now deemed popular, but still such a good one)
When I Get Older | Wild Party
Fix My Eyes | KING & COUNTRY
Future People | Alabama Shakes

Not to mention the embarrassing amount of Bieber I have been listening to. No shame. Actually, a little shame-- because I'm definitely that girl in the car intensely (& poorly, I might add) dancing to "Love Yourself" at red lights.

Enjoy your week, friends! Let's eat some cake and give ourselves a break every now & then.

Yours truly,


in the questions // inspired by "If You Feel Too Much"

This weekend, I read Jamie Tworkowski's "If You Feel Too Much" in a span of 24 hours. It was that good. I honestly cannot remember a time I have read a book that after every chapter I say "dang *long dramatic pause* that was so *pause* freaking *pause* good" out loud. It probably got a little obnoxious to the onlookers at the coffee shop. Sorry, you guys.

In one of my favorite chapters ("To David"), Jamie recalls a story of a time he had to go to an event . He dreads it-- the small talk, the strangers, everything. I read this initially and laughed because I feel like this a lot of the time, too (introverts unite!). But, instead he was met with authentic people talking about things that matter. Afterwards he states:

"And it struck me that this moment had happened inside a gathering that I had feared might be a shallow celebration of folk with a lot of answers. Instead, the moment that meant the most was the one with no answers at all... I am less and less impressed by "impressive" things or people who are presented as having it figured out. I am impressed by people who are honest and kind. I am inspired by moments of vulnerability, moments of confession and compassion, moments where someone makes it clear that they are a person in need of other people and someone else makes it clear that the first person is not alone." (From page 86 in IYFTM)

This, and many other beautiful quotations from the novel (just read it), has consumed my mind the past few days. So, a lot of the following is a reflection of that, it seems.

*Note: this book will make you cry. I have cried many, many tears in response to Jamie's words. But I hope my own words are not from an emotional state, or of angst-y teenager, but from an honest & reflective mind.*

I often get caught up in giving advise to others. I always mean it in a genuine way, and want to help, but I don't think our advise is always needed. And, it is really hard to admit that because we feel like the hero when we give mediocre guidance to others-- it is as if we have saved them or made a change in the world. It's that "do good, feel good" attitude that we so often want to obtain. Yet, in these moments our focus should not be on ourselves, but on the person we are looking at across the table. So, instead of advise, I think love is needed. I think our presence is needed. I think moments of silence are needed. I think meeting someone in their questions & uncertainty is needed. Because, we don't have all the answers at times. And I am learning this to be so true in my life at the moment. Personally, this season of life has been asking far more questions than answers, and is filled to the brim with uncertainty. It is a season that is fleeting, and full of transition. That fact is encouraging to me, yet also fills me with confusion. How do we enjoy and be present in a time of life that is coming to an end? How do we hold on, but not too tight? And, in what ways can we actively pursue peace and hope in this moment?

Maybe you are feeling this today, too. I like to think I am not the only one. I hope, at least. I would be wrong to not completely believe that because I know others are hurting, confused, lost, or in pain. I know that. And I wish I had the answers-- to this season of life for me, and to this season of life for you, whatever that may be. So, I am not going to pretend to be your shrink when my mind is only filled with questions. But, I think there is beauty in that.  Better yet, I know so. There is a lot of beauty to be had in these moments because amazing things happen when we meet one another in questions. Walls are broken down. Hope is a possibility. Friendships happen. True love occurs. It is when we are not eager to give Pinterest-worthy advise, but ready to lend a listening ear or a hug when needed (and for a non-touchy-feely person like me, I'm working on the whole hug thing). Ready to tell those we care about that we care about them. With words and actions and a smile. To remind them that they are not alone. And to remind ourselves that we, also, are not alone in these trials. I'm a strong believer that everyone needs these reminders continually, no matter who you are or what stage of life you are in.

I write this because I want to meet you where you are, and I want you to meet me where I am. I write this because I want you to know that this time on earth is temporary, but oh so significant. I write this because I, too, need to hear these words. To believe these words. To live these words.

So, I invite you to do that with me today. To reach out, to listen, to remind yourself that you are special and worthy of love.
Because you so are.

Yours truly,



well said // fall writing inspiration.

via design love fest and created by gabriella sanchez
i am a strong believer in the idea of  to write well is to read well. there are times (aka, most days) that i have no idea what to write about, or what to say quite frankly. yet, these are days that i take that cue to put down my pen and read. and to read abundantly, and often, and deeply. to notice every phrase, not just in a novel, but in  news articles, on blog posts, and on the back of my shampoo bottle. (okay, that last one may be a stretch, but you get the idea.) because, there is a lot we can learn from others and loads of inspiration & those hummm moments to be had. so i say, let's have them!

here are seven pieces of writing i have been inspired by recently. ergo, please stop reading this post and read some of these people's talented work. ah, i love fellow creatives.

one // dear american christians, by abigail green.

two// self care by kelsey marie.

 in relationships via darling magazine 

four // my bedroom studio: a metallic story by jordan stokke

five // a fall feast: friendsgiving via anthropologie blog

six // about a girl: arden wray via urban outfitters blog

seven // hyper island talks to jen gotch via bando blog (a video!)

who or what are you inspired by on a regular basis? and, do you think there is a correlation between reading and writing?

yours truly,

p.s. i used the word "ergo" in a piece of my writing. can you say "winning"? or, maybe just trying too hard.


#10encouragingdaysproject // on stopping the glorification of negativity.

about two months ago (also known as: this post is long overdue), i created a project i decided to call the "ten encouraging days project". each day, for ten days, i posted an encouraging note on social media (instagram: @cate.marg) that was on my heart that day. i tried to also make them somewhat creative and not written just on normal mediums, making it fun to experiment with type on something other than a white sheet of paper. i used the hashtag #10ENCOURAGINGDAYSPROJECT on each post along with a short caption sharing a little more behind the few word phrase. 

i created this project because i have realized in the past year or so that we as a society glorify negativity. we complain just to fill silence and always find a way to pick one dislike out of a situation. "i can't even" and "literally cannot deal right now" surface a majority of the conversations i hear at school, as girls dwell on the one unfortunate aspect of a circumstance at hand. i think that people (myself included) complain for one of two reasons, one) just to hear yourself speak or two) to find a way to relate to those around you. if you find yourself under the first reason, then i'm sorry i cannot help you. learn to be at peace with silence every once in a while, sista friends. but, the latter is more common in our lives, i think. i find myself at times desiring to keep a conversation flowing by giving in to the temptation to talk about a common negative thing both me and my company are undergoing. "can you believe that mrs. so in so assigned us that paper and expects us to get it done by tuesday?! that's ridiculous", "ugh, this weather puts me in the worst mood", or "i wish there was more [fill in the blank] here", the list goes on. these are just a few of the ways i find myself focusing on negativity. yet, let us be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. not that it has to always go into the deep parts of our lives (though there is much beauty in those moments), but that it goes beyond the weather, beyond the gossip, and beyond the present complaints. because, let's be honest with ourselves: it is easy to gossip, complain, or talk about nothing (except for us introverts; small talk is pure pain). yet, what good are we doing (for ourselves, for others) if our words are only devaluing people? it makes our words cheap and undependable. let's challenge ourselves to take genuine interest in others and not default to what is easy to talk about, when we can instead relate to others in love and light and truth.

likewise, i simply wanted to use a platform as self-focused as instagram for something other than glorifying myself and my life. at times, i can get caught up in what my life appears like via the internet (which is so, so silly-- but maybe some of you can relate) instead of what really matters. so, i took an active step to not focus on myself, but others.

i will try to stop rambling here, and let my photos speak for themselves. below each is the instagram caption i added to the photographs when i posted. 

day 1 / September 22:
"often times, it is so easy for us to get bogged down in our inadequacy, failures,  even our mundane routines that we forget how amazing it is to just be alive. so, for the next ten days, i will be sharing a daily note-to-self (equally for you as it is for me) that hopefully renews our lives for life & others & ourselves. i will try to be more meaningful than "you go girl", but no promises. here's to what I'm going to call the #10ENCOURAGINGDAYSPROJECT !! (so, if you hate excessive encouragement, plz unfollow)"

day 2 / September 23 / first day of autumn:
"don't underestimate the beauty of new seasons & changes in life. (and, the literal changing of season-- aka happy FALL, you guys!)"

day 3 / September 24:
"it's true. You really are. (i on the other day, am capable of devouring 3+ cookies in 0.0983 seconds)"

day 4 / September 26 / after i took a day break:
"in the spirit of forgetting to post yesterday...: perfection only steals joy, beauty & creativity. (plus, being perf is SO last year anyways)"

^^ my second favorite of the ten ^^

day 5 / September 27:
"repeat this to yourself daily. (especially when doing statistics homework.)"

^^ my third favorite ^^

day 6 / September 28:
"a lyric from Sara Bareilles' new song, "She Used to Be Mine": "she is messy, but she's kind". thankful for friends to share the messy & authentic stuff with. because, in our flaws we are loved & cared about, and THAT is the most beautiful thing."

day 7 / September 29:
"the three magic words-- treat. yo. self. (you deserve it.)"

day 8 / September 30 / also, the day i got new shoes:
"mid week pick-me-up. (also, pun was definitely fully intended.)"

day 9 / October 1:
"late night encouragement/inspiration from my mag of choice-- Darling. because, while I'm a big advocate for expression through style, we are more than what we clothe ourselves with & overall more than what our "outward-self" deems us to be. and, to me, there's a lot of power in that."

day 10 / October 2 / also, my birthday:
"and to conclude, 10/10: CELEBRATE! celebrate the little victories, big accomplishments, the good days, the bad days, & everything in between. it makes life a lot more fun."

^^ this was my very favorite^^


i know most friends have already seen these photographs and read these captions due to their existence on instagram, but i decided i wanted to share it with more of the world. and honestly, i am quite proud of this project. i have always been impressed with those who can follow through with day-to-day projects, and though 10 days does not even compare to a full year project, got to start somewhere, right? anyways, this project was not only fun for my creative-self, but good for the soul. sometimes it is crucial to refocus our mind on the positive things, even amidst negative circumstances.

so, how have you been encouraged recently? and, who in your life needs encouragement in this season? let's overflow with optimism, friends.

yours truly,


write it down // on the art of journaling.

( side note: my absence on the ole blog has been partially due to what this entire post is about. )

growing up, i always kept a journal or diary writing down the really dire life circumstances: which boy in my class i thought was cute or how i would never wear yellow and red together. the latter was actually so important that it received a full page in my fourth grade journal, followed by the phrase "ugh, mcdonalds!". i am proud to say that i have only broken that vow once, and with the more sophisticated shades of mustard and maroon. yet, as the teenage years rolled around and schedules began to be filled, i rarely sat down to write just for the sake of writing. unless you count the notes app on my phone or a word document (darn you, technology). i blamed its absence on my busy routine or a lack of inspiration. yet, it was those times that i really wish i would have consistently journaled. will there ever be proof that i once wore polos and khakis on a regular basis? or that paper i somehow scored an A on? and, did that time i walked out of the bathroom as a high school freshman with toilet paper on my shoe really occur? who knows, i did not journal about it. though the embarrassment or excitement of these moments is ingrained in my mind, i feel as if there were plenty more where that came from that are forgotten due to not being documented in some way.

as august rolled around this year, i reviewed my new years resolutions and was reminded of my most specific goal-- journal. other goals included deep, vague concepts like "live simply" and "maybe get bangs" (which i've decided is one big heck no). my dear friend, Sophie, gave me a beautiful journal this summer during my time in North Carolina. it is covered with a vintage-esque map print and has what i like to call "proper paper thickness" (this is a priority for yours truly). so, i decided to write again, no matter how sporadic or messy my thoughts were. i reminded myself that this is for me, and me only. (and maybe my children later in life, when i find high school breakups and tripping up the stairs funny.) for just a few minutes a day, i tried to actively pursue the art of journaling-- with a real pen and real paper-- instead of scrolling continually on my computer, only seeing my words in perfect type.

like i said a few posts back, i am a rule-follower at heart. in the past, i have set up guidelines for myself  to form a habit, saying "cate, you will journal every single day." however, the thin margin of creativity left me only seeing my notebook as a chore rather than something to abide in. so my rule was simply this: just write and let it flow naturally. as i go on month four, i now write a few pages almost daily sincerely out of pure desire to document. i am no pro on the art of the journal, but here are a few reasons why i think it is so important for all of us to do so.

one. the therapeutic aspect. somehow getting thoughts from your head to paper, can not only lift a burden from your shoulders, but even help you to figure out situations more clearly after physically seeing your words (especially without a backspace button). plus, it's a big stress reliever. particularly for the person (ahem, me) who cannot get herself to the gym if her life depended on it. 

two. kills the perfectionist. when you begin to journal, you are hesitant at first as to how to go about it. i am pretty sure my first page in this year's journal went along the lines of "hey journal. is that how you journal? anyways...". yet, by page three, you are starting to write as you would think or talk to a friend. you learn that this is your space to fill with your words, no matter how ugly or jumbled they are at times. this is one of the only instances where i would stress to be selfish-- for your only audience is the personalized pages of your journal, so if you need to write about how great your hair looks today without the fear that you are "that girl", i say go for it. 

three. documents time. this is so important and so beautiful. though a photograph can say a thousand words, so can a thousand words! write down the eventful times and the mundane days. looking back in a month, year, or ten years can be so amazing-- you can see the growth that has happened since then and reflect on how the past has shaped present-you.


therefore, i say: hey, you. go pick up a journal from target (pro tip: if you want to appear as a hardcore journal-er, purchase a moleskin) and just write. write your worries, fears, hopes, prayers, and the day-to-day stuff that you think is not noteworthy. remember to get it all out and leave nothing stirring in your mind or heart. journaling is just one way to allow you to learn the wonderful lesson of being still (in a world that tells you to go, go, go) and letting go (as you are surrounded by people who praise gossip and grudges).

but, if you are a regular journal-er, how has getting your thoughts on paper aided to you well being?

yours truly,