getting by in isolation

getting by in isolation

Life doesn’t come with a handbook. There’s no blueprint. There’s no manual. Even when things are normal, life can throw some great challenges at you that have you feeling like a little kid on the first day of school all over again. So how are any of us supposed to feel when life throws something like this our way?

I don’t know about you, but the first 14 days in self-isolation were an enormous challenge for me emotionally, mentally, and physically. I went through the rollercoaster of panic, anger, over-thinking, boredom, restlessness, and plenty of emotions I probably couldn’t name at the time before I finally landed in acceptance. There were days with no news and days with the news on 24/7. There were days of immense productivity and days with eight hours of Animal Crossing. Days with FaceTime calls and days with solitary walks outside.

It was around day 10 or 11 that I started feeling like I was full to the brim with these chaotic feelings and craving relief. Life has taught me by now, that mindless escape is only so helpful before it causes more damage than the thing I’m trying to escape. So I turned to the one tool that has always delivered in my times of need: service work. When I stop and ask myself, How can I best be of service to my family? my friends? my community?, the all-consuming panic quickly becomes irrelevant, less than secondary to the greater need of those around me. I can jump into action.


In one of my early nights of panic, whilst in a deep Instagram and Reddit wormhole, I came across an actress’ page who was sharing on recently finding a mask pattern that would work for health care workers. Her stories showcased her working tirelessly to make as many masks as she could, from material she had in her house, with the help of her son. It touched me, and I filed it away in my mind as something I might try to do myself, but I kept on in my wormhole. 

So fast-forward to a more level-headed Mabel, considering how she might serve her community–I remembered the post and thought, This is it. You have a sewing machine, you can do this. Get to work.


I bounced ideas with a friend and landed on a few patterns I felt comfortable trying. I pulled out my old sewing machine and made my very first mask. 

It was a new flood of emotions: relief, pride, excitement. I put all of my focus on creating something that could actually help someone else in a tangible, physical way, and in my hands I held the product. It felt so wonderful, and I knew that this was what I was being called to do.

I sent my first batch to a local nursing home housing senior COVID-19 patients and when I saw the gratitude and relief they felt upon receiving them, it was all the confirmation I needed to go on. 

Soon after, I decided to start selling so that I could expand my ability to help even more people. With money from sales, I could purchase more material to make even more masks.


I share this with you for several reasons. The first, is that I wouldn’t have been moved to do this, had it not been for Hilarie Burton’s posts and stories on her endeavors. If you have a machine, you can do this too–for yourself, your loved ones, or a place you know is in need. Another reason is that I want to share another resource for you to be able to purchase masks, or request a donation batch for a place you know is in need right now. 

But perhaps the most important reason, is to remind you that now is the time we are all being asked to step up. I know from personal experience that a global pandemic isn’t exactly the best thing for someone who suffers from depression and anxiety. It’s been hard on all of us for so many different reasons. But the best thing you can do, is help someone else. Maybe you can’t sew a stitch to save your life, but you can bake a batch of cookies and bring to a friend you know is struggling. You can donate money. You can make meals and deliver to an elderly or sick person. You can create a beautiful piece of artwork and share it with the world. Find your light, and let it shine. Because we are all counting on one another.


Written by Mabel Rodriguez

Writer. Photographer. Creator.

Previous Blogs

3 Things Every Solopreneur Website Needs

3 Things Every Solopreneur Website Needs


Enough with the overwhelm and stress. Let’s break it down to the most important components your website has to have if you’re to be taken seriously in this game we call business.


Let’s get real. It’s 2019 and we can all tell the templates from the customs. Fads come and go with the blink of an eye and everything has a new update all the time. Logos seem to be easier to access and this is making it all the more of a challenge to stand out above the crowd. Sure, you can just slap the name of your business at the top of your site in a nice font, or create your own for free on a site like Canva, but if it’s that easy to do, how many others are doing the same thing?

Stop messing around, take yourself and your business seriously and invest in a custom logo that properly reflects you and your business.

Here are a couple of my favorite designs from earlier this year. ⇒


I’m going to be brutally honest, a stock image or phone photo has NO business on a professional website. When we’re starting out, and we have limited resources, we do the best we can. I get it. I’ve been there. But once the ball is rolling, and we are considering making bigger investments into our business, professional branding photography is a must. A picture is worth a thousand words, and you want to make those words count every time a potential client lands on your virtual real estate.

So, own it with some badass images of you working your magic.


This one is a bit broad but let’s break it down into two prongs: layout design and copywriting. For layout, if you’re self-hosting and working from a template, keep it simple. Work with the same colors and fonts throughout your site. If you have a custom logo design, let that be the foundation layer for the general aesthetic. Your photos should all weave into the layout nicely, matching the color scheme and general message of your site. If your expertise does not lie in design or the arts, this can definitely be overwhelming and confusing. Ask those who do have an eye for these things to give your site a good look, or hire an expert to perform an audit that will include a look at the design.

The other thing that an expert is more qualified to observe is your copywriting, the second prong to this component. I see this mistake often when clients first come to me–the copy is all over the place. First person here, third person there, “I” here, “we” there. Some pieces sound more conversational, and others look like they came straight from a template. Yikes. Just as, if not more, important as your design is your writing. This is your voice, this is how your client is meeting you for the first time if they are landing on your website. You want them to know you when they read your Home and About pages. So speak with a steady voice throughout. Find out what kind of tone they will receive best, and stick to it.

Hernandez Family Session

Hernandez Family Session

Gallery Feature: Hernandez Family Session

About a week ago, I had the great pleasure of capturing this sweet, sweet family. It was such a privilege to shoot this session for the Hernandez family, as it was their first time sitting for family portraits! This was honestly one of my favorite sessions to date because their love for one another is so genuine and it really shows. We talked and giggled and admired the beautiful Lost Pines of Bastrop State Park all the while I clicked away to get some really lovely candid moments. 

If you are as touched as I am by these shots, don’t hesitate at the opportunity to have your very own! I’m shooting mini sessions this upcoming weekend at a local Austin park, with all the cozy fall decor–including blankets, throw pillows, pumpkins, and gourds galore! This isn’t something I do very often, so make sure you reserve your slot before it’s gone.


If you’re ready to have your own gallery of beautiful images with you and your loved one(s), don’t miss out on this opportunity for a mini session with me THIS WEEKEND ONLY! Reserve your slot today.

Elephant Mountain Sanctuary

Elephant Mountain Sanctuary

Elephant Mountain Sanctuary

Our trip to Thailand was one for the books, no doubt. We ate delicious gai yang and papaya salad and mango sticky rice. We hiked up mountains and walked through ancient temples and rode around on a vespa scooter. While we did our best to see as much of the country through a less tourist-y perspective, we did commit to a few of the stereotypical tourist must-sees, as well. And there was no way in hell we would miss a chance to hike up a mountain, bathe in mud, and swim in a watering hole with the elephants. So, I think I’ll just let the images do the talking for me here…


Brand Feature: Inkdrop Lit

Brand Feature: Inkdrop Lit

Web Design

Brand Feature

Inkdrop Lit


Alright, it’s time to start sharing more of my branding work with you guys. This project is one I hold near and dear to my heart for a myriad of reasons. I mean, where do I begin?!

For starters, I’ll tell you that Sarah Welch is an absolute gem of a human being, and when she reached out to me to help with a full rebrand for her business late last year, I was thrilled. Sarah had been working full time for a couple of years as a freelance writer, editor, and coach when she decided it was time to level up. She had the name picked out, all she needed was the brand to come to life! 

Here’s what we created: 

  • full brand strategy
  • brand new logo design
  • brand new Squarespace website
  • a full branding photography session
  • new business card design

I’ll add that while, yes, I own my own WordPress site, we went with Squarespace because I never push my clients to do anything they are not comfortable with. Squarespace is what she was already using before, so it was an easy transition to build a new site within the same host/builder. Why not I host it? For one, I’m not a coder. There, I said it. I’m not. My specialty lies in design. For another, I believe it’s crucial for us solopreneurs to be able to have control over our sites and be hands-on whenever we need to. I know that’s what I want for myself, and I know that’s how my clients feel too.


Creative Process

Those pictures are cute, huh? Well, I often hear people asking what makes branding photography so different. Let me tell you, it’s pretty simple and can be summed up in a single word: s t r a t e g y.


When Sarah and I began working on this project, I had one goal in mind: to fully understand every aspect of the Inkdrop Lit brand. I wanted to get to know what Sarah’s drive was to build it, the way she interacted with her clients, what they had to say about her (obvi, nothing but the best), and her goals for its future. Why? Because I wanted to create a visual story that could communicate all the glory of Inkdrop Lit to her ideal clients.

Color Scheme

One of the first things we think of when we think of branding is color. The decision regarding what colors will represent the brand is a big one and requires a full investment from both the artist and the client. Sarah’s aesthetic is professional, classic, and whimsical. We easily found the range to suit this mood, as a lot of it was already in her office and wardrobe.


My vision for the shoot is always to, first and foremost, be genuine. Sarah often works from home or at a coffee shop. Her adorable office was the perfect place for us to begin our session, and even better, came with guest appearances from her furry assistant, Barney. From there, I looked for different poses that could showcase Sarah’s warm, friendly, and professional approach to her business. Having Barney in some of the shots helped us find even more natural expressions and poses.

The logo

When we were planning Sarah’s photoshoot, I knew we needed to incorporate my vintage typewriter. So when it came time to brainstorm the logo design, the vision came almost immediately. Using typewriter font, and playing with the circle placement, I wanted something that could be both playful, clean, and reminiscent of that classic vibe a typewriter can bring. We played with different variations of the color scheme, until we landed on this design and we both fell in love with it.


When we sat down for coffee to first discuss this project, it was so easy for Sarah and I to connect. As a passionate writer myself (as some of you know, literature is near and dear to my corazón), it was clear from the start that we had a lot in common, and our visions quickly aligned. There was a mutual respect for each others’ work.


Throughout the two month duration of the entire project, we kept in steady communication via e-mail and a few scheduled in-person strategy sessions to stay on track.

A Foundation For the Future

Because I understand what it is like to run your own business about which I am incredibly passionate and proud of, I wanted Sarah to feel in control of her business every step of the way. I wanted her to feel confident moving forward when I was finished and she was ready to launch, so when I was done building her Squarespace site, we made sure to go over any major features she would be needing to update regularly and that I could walk her through the how-tos and logistics before we were done. This ensured that Sarah could always be in control of her site, and not have to rely on me for any small add-ons or changes.

← before →


So there you have it, folks! If you’re looking for any help regarding your writing or publishing needs, please reach out to Sarah and go see the website for yourself here. Learn more about all the magic she creates, and in particular, the magic she is creating right now with her new bookAustin Brown Dogs: The Shelter Dogs Who Rescue Us! If you do, you might even find a short story in there about a dog named Scarlett… 😉

A Fairy Tale Island Escape

A Fairy Tale Island Escape

Weekend Getaway in Toronto

One weekend in early July 2019, we were invited to the city of Toronto to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding celebration. While we were more than excited to spend a couple of days visiting with old friends and eating some spectacular food (shout out to Donna’s and Grey Gardens for the most delicious meals), we were also excited to spend the little free time we had exploring parts of the city we’d always wanted to see. It was a quick trip, so I didn’t have my camera on me the whole time, but I made sure to take it with me on our ferry ride to Ward’s Island. This is the smaller of the three islands (known as Toronto Islands) and to be honest we visited it because it was the shortest ferry line. But once we arrived, I was in awe of it’s charming beauty. See for yourself in the gallery below. And next time you’re in Toronto, don’t skip Ward’s just because it’s the smaller of the three. It is the stuff of fairy tales.

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” – E. B. White