a day in HER life - Melissa

Hello! My name is Melissa, and I'm the calligrapher behind Olive Branch and Co, my little calligraphy and design studio! I moved to Montreal from Toronto with my husband, Donald, right after we got married two and a half years ago.


I'm still pretty new to this owning my own business/working from home scenario, so my schedule feels pretty different day to day. I'm also working on different projects depending on what comes up/what season it is, so part of me still feels like I'm ironing out for myself what my schedule even looks like!

My days typically start out the same - Donald and I get up around 8:30, and he rushes off to work. I like to take my mornings slow, which is a huge perk of working at home! I used to work in a school, and I remember those early mornings and having to be ready to teach in the morning was so, so tough. The first thing I do after brushing my teeth and getting dressed is to boil water for my coffee. I'm a pretty avid coffee drinker (Donald says I'm a ghost of myself before I've had my coffee... which is true) - so that morning cup is Very Important.


My breakfast this morning is a hot dog bun from a Chinese bakery, which only happened because we were in Chinatown over the weekend for Chinese New Year, but typically it's eggs or toast or yogurt + berries.

I spend some time reading the Bible and journaling while having breakfast. Sometimes this ends with me busting out my guitar and singing a song which might come out of the time spent with God or from the time in the Word. I really treasure this time in the mornings, and feel like it's such a luxury to have a period of long and uninterrupted time to be able to do this! I feel like there may be seasons of my life where I won't be able to have this completely undisturbed alone time, so I really savour it now.


When I'm done, I'll hit the computer for emails. Because I'm doing this on a Monday, I have a bunch of emails from the weekend. I try really hard not to respond to emails on the weekend, just to give myself even a semblance of work life balance. The balance piece has been tough for me, perhaps because I work from home and my living room IS my office and studio and warehouse and packaging space and everything. I want to serve my clients/potential clients really well right from the start, so I recognize that responding to emails kindly and graciously is a big part of communicating well! Because I do a lot of custom work for people, it's important to me to make sure communication is really clear from the start.

At this point, I'll usually do a few small projects that need just a little bit of work or a touch up. This morning I'm cleaning up a wedding invitation design and adding a few details the bride wanted me to include, and doing a few more gold and black envelopes for a client:


Then it's lunch! I'm having a quick salad for lunch today, and I usually like to read while I'm eating. I love to read - my favourite Disney princess growing up was Belle because she had this amazing library and could read while she walked! These days, I'm reading Yann Martel's new book, The High Mountains of Portugal, which is a different and unique take on a quest for faith in three interrelated stories. Really interesting so far!


After lunch, I reply to a few more emails, and then I do some more client work. I usually listen to podcasts or music while I'm working - I usually look up CBC's Q, and on Mondays, I listen to This American Life, because it airs on Sunday night. I love podcasts, and when Donald comes home, I usually have at least three different things to tell him that I heard about on a podcast.

At some point mid-afternoon I need to get out of the apartment for fresh air and so I don't go stir crazy. I live in downtown Montreal, so today, I head out to Nota Bene, the most amazing paper store ever, and Pikolo, a local coffee shop, for a little walk. Pikolo is one of my favourite coffee shops in town - it's always crowded in that charming way, has a little loft space, and there's Phil & Sebastian's coffee. Drooool.

I come home, and get to work on some product design. In addition to custom work, I also make and sell paper products including cards, which I sell online, at craft shows, and at some local shops here in Montreal. These days, I'm working on some wedding day of cards, which are cards that you might give your maid of honour or bridesmaid or parents on your wedding day. Sometimes a speech can't say it all, nor do you want to say it all in the speech, and there's so much adrenaline going the whole day of a wedding, so I wanted to provide a space for people to share their sentiments and gratitude and love in written word, which is some people's language to express love. Cards are also something you can keep and go back to again and again, so I feel like they're a special keepsake!

At around 5:30pm, I stop and whip up a quick dinner of stir fry udon noodles. Donald comes home a bit earlier today, around 5:45pm, and we quickly FaceTime our niece in Toronto for her birthday. All our family is in Toronto, so we make an effort to go back and visit every so often and make sure to remember those special events! We eat, and then I head out. On Monday nights, I meet with some gal pals from our church community to read the Bible and pray together, which has been so sweet, life-giving, and precious to me!

I'm back home by around 10pm, and Donald and I usually have a little snack around this time. Tonight it's mangoes, my favourite fruit! We snack while watching The Office (U.S. version), one of our favourite shows. Donald has a class online on Monday nights that starts at 11pm (the teachers are out in California!), so he'll stay up for that, while I get ready for bed and read in bed until he's done.

Every day looks really different from me, but I'm really thankful for what it looks like now. If someone had told me five years ago that this is what my days would look like and this is what I'd be doing or where we'd be, I'd probably just laugh in disbelief! But I am so thankful that right now, this is what I get to call work and that we get to live and grow and love in this beautiful city. We always say that this city will always be special to us no matter if we leave because this is where we learned to be married and to grow and pursue very different things than what we had ever imagined, and I will always be grateful for that!

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1 comment:

  1. It is all about our daily life! How amazing it sometimes can be! Thank you for making my day! I'm sure that you will be keeping it up! Your written works are much appreciated!Best regards,