New year, different challenges

And I started the new year with a break from blogging and so closely managing my life. Which was good, because work is super busy right now and I think I would be way overwhelmed if I was also trying to *do* something every day. I’m feeling overwhelmed as it is.

I have been incorporating different things into my downtime and my daily habits from last year’s experiment, though, when I can. I think that the experiment broke some of the road blocks in my head about the amount of time needed to do The Things, or maybe just loosened up my approach to them. It funny because I remember spending more time working on something on-and-off in my student days. Maybe someone convinced me somewhere along the line that I didn’t have enough time to work on things in the evening.

This weekend, I’ve been painting again, which is nice. I’m working on a sunrise over the Mediterranean from December. And I’ve been having tickles of writing urges – poetry or thoughts about a couple of my existing stories. I’m thinking I’ll take my laptop into the living room in a moment and work on something (I’m currently waiting for a layer of colour to dry on my canvas so I can build on it).

I’m looking at my journaling exercise writing and trying not to lose that plan. I have to keep doing my self-care so I can continue to move forward and build toward my goal of taking a new chance and reshaping my career.

I took some exciting training last week at work that made me remember one of my potential options for career reshaping – knowledge translation. I might look into getting more involved with it, and practicing it, so that I have a solid basis. I feel like it’s one of the things I’ve been working towards without really realizing it – communicating appropriately for appropriate audiences to help people access more knowledge.

But first, I have a big project to see through, which is stretching me in uncomfortable ways, and I have another big task to do by the end of the month. I will be asking for at least day off at the beginning of March to maintain my self-care.

Just a quick update with some hope, some struggle, and a reminder that we all need to take care of ourselves. Especially this winter with the cold and the snow, which can wear on the psyche, especially in the dark months. Keep looking for the light, and incorporate some hygge to see you through. I’ll be putting on a stew this afternoon, and maybe some fresh beer bread. :) Happy Sunday!

So long, September

In a nutshell, I’d say that sugarless and sober was a success. It’s unfortunate that the rest of the month was so stressful. But I think I’ve proved to myself that the discipline isn’t what I lack.

Sober was easy. In my life, I don’t think I’ve ever really felt like I “needed” a drink (unless I’m forgetting something). When I’ve been stressed or grieving, alcohol hasn’t been my vice of choice.

Sugarless was a bit more challenging, but again, the discipline was there. Even if I was going for a coffee with a friend, I’d opt for the straight milk and coffee latte, rather than the fancy one with syrups and whatnot.

But during the power outage aftermath of the tornado, I did stop being strict about it. It was just so that I wouldn’t be avoiding perfectly edible food that otherwise would be fine, except for there being sugar as one of the ingredients.

Also, I was tired. This month was a lot. There was a lot going on, and a lot of exhaustion, stress, and then having to throw out everything in my fridge and freezer after 53 hours without power. That sort of just broke it for me. I decided that Sugarless September was done last week. And I enjoyed that Blossoming Rose tea latte.

But again, funnily enough, as I’ve come to realize at the end of most every month – the change had felt good. I will probably maintain a fairly sugar free diet, focused on fresh fruit and vegs, with good protein sources, and light on the breads and pastas.

What’s on tap for October? I had been toying with the idea of Educational October, where I’d sign up for those courses I had planned on doing (and finish the one that has been languishing for years). Except I’m still tired and there are still two weeks to go on a big deadline at work. So I think I’m going to go with Optional October.

Optional October will mean that every day, I will choose one thing to do – yoga, meditation, reading, art, journaling, gratitude exercise, heavy workout, staying off social media, sugarless, sober, and yes, even working on a course or two. This way, I’ll be able to work in some of the things I’ve learned this year about what makes me feel better, and I’ll still have a goal, it just won’t be as strict.

Another month theme done?!

And so ends Artistic April. I wasn’t able to rouse any creativity while I was ill, so I lost a week, sadly.

But even so, I got a short story finished, another one almost done, and some writing done on two existing long stories as well.

I also worked on my one canvas and made some good progress that I’m happy with. That was what I did on this final evening. I did four sketches, and attempted a fifth while I was feeling ill that didn’t really get very far.

And lastly, something that I did count towards creativity was building some Sylvaneth miniatures – my Spirit of Durthu and some dryads. Although I didn’t entirely make them myself, I did choose which bits went where so there was some creativity associated with it.

So, all in all, this month seemed more challenging, surprisingly. I think because I was fighting against my normal deprioritizing of doing my art, and because it is work to create things. It takes energy, and sometimes I didn’t have much. It helped that I mostly had a plan for what I wanted to do, so I didn’t have to think things up on the fly too often. The couple of times I didn’t have a plan were tougher to get through, and I wasn’t as happy with the results.

And May? I’m going to do a Mindfulness May. No, not every month has to alliterate. But I’d like to challenge myself to incorporate meditation into my daily life. It’s another one of those things that I have been deprioritizing.

One of my sketches, inked and cleaned up – a replica of one of the pages in a quest item from Skyrim. I really enjoy the designs they developed for the game.

Wrapping up March

There are still a few days left in March, but I’m only going to get one more real muscley workout in before the calendar turns over, as we’re travelling to see family for Easter. But I’m going to make sure to do my big machine workout tomorrow to make up for it.

I have figured out the weights I have been using though and that has made me feel more accomplished, actually. Thanks to the Internet, I discovered that each plate on the machine weighs 10lbs. But that the pulley system provides 0.5 resistance, so that actually means:

Actual weight = (number of plates x 10lbs) x 0.5 resistance

So happily, that means I’ve been pulling 70lbs with my lateral pulldowns (7 plates on two stacks = 14 plates) and 30lbs (6 plates on one stack) with my bow pulls, triceps extensions and bicep curls (though that one fails before I get a whole set). It doesn’t seem like much, but I’m evaluating at set 2 (of 3) whether to increase my weights next time and usually I am.

Considering how those feel, I’m pretty confident that the dumbbells I’ve been using are also in pounds (lbs). So I’m still struggling to complete my sets of hammer curls with 20lbs per hand, but frankly I’m also struggling with the machine bicep curls (which I’ve been doing with a bar connected to both stacks therefore using both arms on the same weight) at 30lbs. But I can easily complete full sets at 15lbs so that means I have to use 20lbs. So, it’s a work in progress.

We’ll be travelling on Friday, but I might be able to get in some yoga when we reach our destination. And I could always incorporate just body weight strength exercises into my post-driving recovery yoga. ;)

Next month, I will keep doing muscle building workouts, but my focus will be on doing something artistic every day. I have set up a backlog of sketches to do, and there are at least two poems fighting to be written (I am trying to work on one today before I lose it). I also have some short stories in my mind (and hopefully jotted down in my notebook for later). And, of course, the couple of books that I have started writing are vying for imagination space. Yesterday as I was walking (a prime writing time for me), an extra layer for my main book came to me (which I should also jot down in my “notes for changes to make when I’m editing later”). I’m trying not to go back and edit while I write because it just slows everything down. Also, I have paintings just waiting to be completed hanging around – one needs a Milky Way starry background; one needs tumbling ravens in a mating display; one needs more layers of blues, purples, greens and white; and another one needs… just more, it’s nowhere near done.

I’m also thinking of adapting one of the books into a graphic novel project instead. It had started as a graphic novel idea, then I just started writing it so that I could pursue the idea further, and now I’m wondering about going back. I have another graphic novel idea that’s in a very rudimentary stage of planning as well.

I don’t think it’s going to difficult to find something artistic to do every day in April…

Painting and preparing

I’m back in the studio/office tonight. I had a lovely visit over a lovely sushi dinner with a lovely friend, which usually ends fairly early because we meet up right after work. So now I’ve finished my chores and I’m reaching for the blue and white paint to work on the painting with the cirrus clouds again. But I thought I’d blurt out a quick blog post first.

My boss and I had a good chat today that actually encouraged me to do more painting. He’s also an artist and he told me the number of paintings he’d made/sold in the past couple of years, and I thought “Jeez, I need to paint more…”

Also, in a few days, I’ll be boarding yet another trans-Atlantic jet to go to a meeting for work. It’s going to be a quick trip, but I’m hoping to post a few pictures and impressions. This time, we’re headed to Denmark. I’ve never been, so that should be fun. I have to pick up some Danish krone tomorrow, and set out my clothes. Luckily, it looks like the temperature there is essentially the same is it is here now – between 8 and 11C – so my current coat setup and shoes should be appropriate.

Okay, just a quick one. I’m going to see how many canvases I can add to tonight. :) And still get a decent amount of sleep. ;)

Back to the grind

I’m on my second week back at work, and I’m feeling much better today than I was all last week. For some reason, I was very sensitive, overwhelmed, anxious and emotional all last week. I theorized that I wasn’t used to being surrounded by so many people and so much noise, or something – a bit of habitual agoraphobia? It was really uncomfortable, and led to some bad days and bad evenings. I ate about 1000 calories in emotional eating at work during the first four days of being back. My poor husband ended up bearing a lot of the brunt of it, and he was having a terrible week too.

So basically, we both had terrible, no good, very bad weeks, and now we’re trying to have better ones.

I didn’t look at my writing at all this past week or even weekend, and I didn’t touch a bit of paint. I read a book, I played a video game, and I talked a lot to my husband about how I was feeling. I cried. I knitted a bit.

So tonight, I opened my story and I looked at where I’d left it. And then a question my husband asked me last week occurred to me, and because I couldn’t figure out how to make my word processor tell me a specific thing, I highlighted everything I had written since the beginning of my time off and I copy/pasted it into a new document. And I looked at the properties.

My word count for my time off was 31 374 words. My current word count in my entire novel is 131 585 words. That is Not Too Shabby. I’ll take it.

I also came in to the office/studio and looked at my canvases, and I definitely need to do another layer. But I’m just too tired tonight. I’m actually thinking that after I finish this blog post, I’ll probably go rest on the couch and knit or read again.

I’ll probably spend some time tomorrow night painting those canvases. I need to make the base colours more opaque and less streaky. The painting can be streaky, because it’s supposed to match another painting with high cirrus clouds in it. The streaks will help with that. But the doodle canvases I need to be flat.

Then we’ll work on getting my characters into Act 5, the exciting conclusion of this years-long journey!

Here’s what I’m listening to tonight while on the computer. Satie’s Gymnopedies and other songs.

Canvas prep is messy work

  
Outside again, on my comfy blanket in the shade and the gorgeous breeze. Finished a weird chapter that will likely change significantly after editing but that is for later. Starting a new chapter to try to get them to their next destination and thought I’d give myself some time outside before my social evening #2 starts.

One week left in my eight wandering weeks. This time has flown by. I’ve gotten through almost 50 pages in my novel, written a short story that will be followed up with another, and started what I thought was a short story that is apparently another book. Plus, I finished and delivered a painting, and started a new one. Just today, I completed a doodle canvas and prepped six more smaller canvases. One will be a painting and the other five will be doodles.

I still have lots of other things I’d love to do (enumerated to my friend last night, it seemed suddenly like a tsunami of creativity). But reality does have to be acknowledged at some point. My job does still need to be done. ;)

Eight wandering weeks

So, today is day 2 of my second round of leave from my job. 

The first time is what started this blog two years ago. And I am doing it again!

This time, I’m going to be on a slightly different adventure. I am going to travel – I’m heading to Prince Edward Island for a week with my mother and sister. But when I get back, I am going to be working. 

I’m going to treat fiction writing and painting like a full time job. I have several novels started and in various stages of development, and I want to try to get one done. I also have a bunch of short story ideas banging around the inside of my head, waiting for me to put pen to paper, or, at least, fingers to keyboard. I also have an entire library of paintings queued up in my head, waiting to be put on canvas. And one metal sculpture project that has been patiently waiting in a box to be realized.

I’m hoping to make these weeks juicy and creative and delicious. The morning routine I have imagined includes getting up with my alarm, doing a round of yoga, putting together a nice breakfast and some tea (coffee for my husband) and then heading into the office, or wherever my creative space will be that day, and writing. Or generally creating.

I may need some help to break away from social media for a bit because I have been on Facebook and Twitter a lot in the past while, but hopefully I will have the discipline to avoid them most of the time.

So, that’s my plan. I will post updates and share photos and such, especially if my creative space is inspiring or fun or interesting or… Whatever. :) I expect I’ll need to take walks and stretch every once in a while. Adventure!

  
Crab apples blushing in my neighbourhood.

dream on

Last night, I dreamt of flying again.

I was in a ruined building, with a rag-tag group of misfits, scraping out an existence in this rubble filled land. We’d just come up to their main “living” area, looking out the non-windows onto the rest of the shattered building below. The knocked down yellow bricks made the surrounding area look littered with rocks and dust. This spot was safe. Easy to see people trying to approach. Elevation. A roof over their heads, for at least two guys and a punky girl.

I’m not sure where I was from, but I was visiting them and got a warm welcome. We had just been down in a different part of the ruined building, talking, visiting, hanging out.

Then movement outside. Someone else. This time, a stranger. The leader guy, dusty longish blond hair bleached by the sun messily pulled back, tanned skin, looking every bit the dirty surfer dude, stepped toward the non-window to squint and see. And I took off out the side “door” – a large rent in the wall that lead to nowhere, just thin air with rubble down below.

At first, I had help. A machine clutched to my chest kept me afloat. And I got my muscles working, clumsily at first and then more naturally. But then, that was all the energy the machine had, and it was all up to me. And I pumped those big black feathered wings of mine, as I soared down over the rubble towards the movement. I felt the muscles in my chest working and getting tired. I knew I’d eventually work up to flying further as the muscles got stronger, but I’d soon have to land.

As I woke up, remembering the dream, remembering feeling those muscles working, then remembering that doesn’t work here – such a strange feeling. Disjointed reality.

dream of flying

Commercializing

I am a Crated artist now! I uploaded a few of my photos from various trips and adventures. It’s really interesting to consider this side of art creation, because I’ve only ever given away my art before. As gifts, as cards, as a reaction to “Oh, I really like that sketch you did” which meant that I said, “Oh, you like it? Here, you can have it.”

My paintings and sketches may get up there eventually. I need to adequately photograph them first so that they can be reproduced in a good way. I was thinking of trying to find somewhere to professionally, large format scan them, but the only one I could find said they would disassemble my canvases, roll them up and send them to BC, so I should probably insure them……

I may have a skewed estimate the value of my pieces, but a lot of these take me weeks or months to complete and I am feeling attachment to them. I don’t want to risk it. Even if that’s something they just need to say to everyone for legal reasons.

So, instead, there are a few photos from very early on in my experiments with my dSLR, some from more recent trips and there are a couple of photos from my Ireland adventure. I’m going through my archive and curating more, but I haven’t added them yet. It’s taking a while because I don’t think I envisioned doing this. Sure, I thought I might do a show at my local, the Manx Pub, and potentially sell a few prints through that, but I had a specific set of photos that I planned on using, and those aren’t necessarily the ones I’m posting on Crated… yet.

Another adventure this year! The adventure of marketing and business, somewhere I never thought I would go.

↓ (You can click here to see my gallery) ↓

I am a Crated artist.