Art and stuff!

I really, really enjoy playing around with mixed media. I have a ton of art supplies already and I constantly find myself wanting more and more and more. It can get crazy. In fact I recently spent over $100 on a set of ten handmade watercolour paints.  But they are so lovely and were entirely worth the money.  You can see the seller’s work here in her etsy shop.

I also recently bought these prismacolor markers. Hey, they were half off on Amazon, how could I resist that? I’ve enjoyed exploring what they can do, and they certainly are pretty colours!

I also have my Dr. P.H. Martin’s, two cake sets, 2 sets of water colour pencils, my inktense pencils, a whole lot of fineliner markers, regular pencil crayons, various pastels, etc.

But I want more! For example, I want these handmade watercolour paints.  And I also just discovered Jane Davenport. So many things I want!!

Like this pastel combo set. These markers. This art journal essentials kit.

I could go on, but I’m starting to sound like a commercial. I just want all the things! Let’s just say I’m feeling inspired these days and I love it.

It’s Been A While….

I’ve been spending so little time writing lately I almost feel like a poser.  I’m not sure what the deal is, but it’s not that I haven’t been creating. I definitely have. It’s that it’s all been in the form of painting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (heh). I really, really have developed a loved for watercolours, and although I’m not very good, I can’t help but keep practicing this art. They say it takes 10,000 of practice to get good at something and I plan to get there.  That’s only 417 days.

Or an hour a day for 27 years.

So come talk to me when I’m 67 (ouch)

But you know what? I don’t care how long it takes. This is the longest I’ve held on to any hobby besides writing. That must mean something. I’ve decided it must.

In fun news, I’ve found the site Willowing.org, or Willowing Arts. Tamara Laporte runs the site and she offers several art classes (mostly multi-media). One of them is free, called “Art, Heart and Healing” so I joined the site to get access to that course.  It may sound cheesy, but I think a lot of self-discovery and healing can happen through art, so this is right up my alley — although I may skip the part where you make a puppet.  I do not sew (I must be house Greyjoy).

But the thing I’m most excited about is her course Lifebook 2018. It sounds bloody amazing. Lifebook 2018 is all about “a celebration and honouring of YOU” and is a yearlong mixed media art class.  You get “a minimum of 1 lesson or session every week! A minimum of 52 creative, inspiring, encouraging, enabling, liberating, colourful, insightful sessions throughout the year!”

And no, I’m not being paid by her for this, I honestly found the site today and am so excited to join the 2018 exercise! It should be noted that Lifebook 2018 is not free, however.

So even if it’s not writing, it’s nice to still be excited by art in general.

What gets you excited, creatively speaking?

Motivation

I don’t tend to think of myself as a very motivated person, and that’s terrible. However, when I think about it a little further, I realize that everyone is motivated; it’s just a matter of what they’re motivated to do. For myself, I am clearly motivated to spend a lot of time on the internet. But what motivated me to do that? What do I get out of avoiding daily life and staring at a screen all evening?

It’s a good question, and one I don’t have a clear answer to.

Obviously, I like what I see and read. I mostly go to interactive communities like Reddit, Metafilter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Oh and Skillshare. I’m addicted to Skillshare.  The good thing about that is that it gets me doing things like drawing and painting and writing. But I digress. I like reading what other people have to say about things. It doesn’t even matter what it is, usually.

The closest thing I can come to is that spending so much time on the internet keeps me occupied and prevents me from feeling lonely. It also helps me procrastinate, but that’s a different issue. There’s something about the “interactive” aspect that really does it for me. I mean, I could do any number of things to spend my time.  I could read, I could write, I COULD FRIGGING CLEAN, I could paint or I could draw. But I don’t.

I need to work on myself and at coming to terms with the fact that I have no partner in life. I need to accept that I am alone (in a romantic sense) and I have to learn to be okay with that. If I’m truly honest, I know that I’m not ok with it. At all. I fill all the empty space with things that are bad or unproductive, when I could be filling that empty space with good things like art or exercise. I could do so much if I just stopped trying to distract myself from the lonely parts of my life. If I faced the loneliness head on and did good things anyway.

But knowing that I do what I do in a misguided attempt to cope is a new revelation for me.  This is a good first step, I think.

No More Zero Days

I need to learn to stop procrastinating. It’s terrible.  I could have a nice apartment if I cleaned it up every once and a while. However, I tend to avoid doing that. Instead, I paint, or draw, or surf the internet. Mostly I surf the internet, let’s be honest. It’s like the famous Allie Brosh comic Why I Will Never Be an Adult. I try and I try. Then I give up. I lack the self-discipline and self-motivation to keep my home the way I want it kept. I would love to have it be this clean, cozy refuge from the world.  It’s my relaxation place, or it’s supposed to be.

So I have started forcing myself to clean in 5-minute bursts.  Once every hour or so that I’m at home, trying to time that 5 minutes to coincide with the stand nag on my Apple Watch. I know that sounds incredibly lame, but it’s amazing what you can do with 5 minutes. But oh man, I have so much recycling to take out? Why does that stuff have to go to the basement 20 floors away?

I am a lazy, lazy person.

I’ve come to accept that.

However, I recently read some advice on reddit by user ryans01 that was super bloody amazing.  Really. You should read it. Now. It covers four basic things.

  1. No more zero days. Meaning there are no more days where you do nothing towards your goal. My goal? A clean, relaxed apartment. I’m serious. That is my current life goal. They key is, it doesn’t matter how much you do, as long as you do something. 5 minutes counts.
  2. Be grateful to the three yous. The three yous are Past You, Present You, and Future You. Be grateful to past you for positive things you did in the past, and do favours for future you like they are your best friend. You exercised for 10 minutes yesterday? Thanks past me! Did you make a healthy lunch for tomorrow? That’s for future you! Always think of the three yous.
  3. Forgive yourself for not doing something. That’s right. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to that day, forgive yourself. Being disappointed in yourself doesn’t help.
  4. Exercise and books, self-explanatory.

I did not come up with any of this, just to reiterate.  I found it on Reddit.  It has really made an impact on me. So I set my No Zero Days goal to have a clean apartment.  Not necessarily instantly clean in one day, but in little bits over time. It’s been working so far. Nothing is sparkling but it’s getting there.  Once I manage this goal, I’ll set another one.

What will be your No Zero Days goal?

One Year

One year.

It doesn’t seem like a very long time, and yet it seems like an eternity.

It’s been one whole year since my mother died. I can’t really believe that.  It seems like just yesterday my sister and I were talking about it being one whole month since she’d passed.

The pain isn’t as raw anymore.  Instead of a sharp stabbing kind of pain, it’s settled into a throbbing ache that’s sort of always in the back of my mind. I miss her incredibly. I miss that I can no longer talk to her, except when I dream about her.  And I do dream about her. The funny thing about these dreams is that usually she has a limited time to be with us before she disappears, or she’s back from the dead, but no one else believes me that she died.  Weird right?

I often think about how she would react to things. Like my brother getting married.  She would have stressed out about finding the money to get there, but I’m sure between the four of us we would have gotten her there. I don’t know whether she would have come on vacation with us.  Half of me thinks she wouldn’t want to, but the other half thinks I could be very wrong about that. Would we all have gone on vacation if she hadn’t died? Did her death somehow teach us that our ties to each other are important but tenuous? I don’t know.

I do know that she’d be horrified at the state of my apartment.  She’d be constantly worried about me losing my job. She’d be worried about my falling too much, but I’m also sure she would think a rollator a silly idea at this stage in my life. I’m sure she’d be proud of me too, although I haven’t done much in the last year to be proud of.  Just kept moving forward.  Maybe that is enough.

365 days without her. One is too many.

Life with Wheels

So, here’s the deal. As most of you know, I have Cerebral Palsy. It’s a “mild” form of it, but it’s certainly had an impact on my daily life, and more so as I grow older. I have difficulty with a lot of things.  Even the simple act of bending over to tie my shoes is really hard for me.  I need to sit down to deal with shoes. I fall and I fall often enough that it worries me. Walking has become painful.

I had a cane, and then I broke it, but I’m not sure it was really helping me.  Sure, it was like having a third leg, so I suppose there was some help with balance. However, it was also like having only one hand, because one hand was always holding the cane.  It could be a giant pain in the ass that way. Moreover, in the end, it didn’t stop me from falling. Falling while holding a cane sucks more than falling without one.

Winter is my enemy.  It’s horrible and I fall all the time.  Summer is better, but there are still moments when I hit the pavement.  It gets frustrating.

That’s why I’ve started to think about alternatives to canes.  I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be researching rollators on Amazon, but here we are. A rollator is on my mind.  However, there are pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Has a seat so I can sit when I’m tired
  • Will help prevent me from falling
  • It can carry my things when my hands are otherwise occupied
  • Is (relatively) cheap

Cons:

  • Can’t get over the giant snowbanks after a storm/before the city ploughs
  • Don’t need one all the time
  • Will be another thing I need to store when not using

 

I don’t know what to do.  There’s nothing pushing me in one direction or the other really. I just know I need help. Losing weight probably would help too, but one thing at a time.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Sometimes I have a hard time writing.

That’s hardly a revelation to anyone I’m sure.  We all get writer’s block. Or at least most of us do.  However, I seem to be plagued with it these.  Or maybe it’s just that I can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.  Since I began focusing on painting my desire to write has become weak.  I still WANT to want to write, if that makes any sense.  There’s my story 17 waiting for me.  And I actually care about those characters (unlike Thana in Abdication of the Fourth).

Perhaps it’s the daunting task of trying to write an actual novel that’s getting me down.  Painting is nice in that you have a finished product relatively quickly.  It feeds my need for instant gratification. Writing is much harder in that it can take years to really see the final version of a novel.  And maybe I’m just not cut out to write novels.  Maybe, in the end, short stories are more my speed.  That’s ok.  It’s just that there’s not as much of a market for short stories these days.

There are places out there.  And I could publish a collection.  I certainly have the diverse POC everyone seems to be looking for these days (queer, mixed-race, disabled woman checking in!). I don’t know how to harness that, however.  These are just such fundamental aspects of myself that to write about them feels….weird. It would be like writing a dramatic piece on having brown hair.  Which maybe isn’t such a bad thing in and of itself.

It’s like the trouble I always had at therapy.  I couldn’t just talk.  I needed my therapist to ask questions to prompt me. Similarly, if I want to write from my varied perspectives, I need someone to ask “How do you feel about Blah?” or “What’s it like to be blah, and blah while blahing?” I don’t know what those questions are or I would ask them of myself and get writing.

Not that everything I do has it be about my “diverse POV”.  In fact, the less I focus on that, the better.  I just need to focus, period.  Accept that maybe Abdication and Seventeen are better off as short stories than as novels.  Accept that maybe I don’t have the attention span to write 100,000 words. That’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with writing short stories.

Hey, Neil Gaiman does it all the time!

The Fight

So the thing about me is that there’s a lot going on in my life right now behind the scenes. Not good things, things that cause me stress and anxiety. And anxiety can be a real bitch, let me tell you. It feels like it has taken over my life recently. I had to go back to my doctor to talk to her about it (again). I requested some work accommodation that didn’t get granted because there wasn’t enough information on my needs. Plus there’s mother’s day coming up. It’s been a struggle for me lately.

But I’m still fighting. And it is a battle that much I can say. So about a week or so ago I went to one of my favourite websites Ask Metafilter and asked them to recommend me some “You Got This” type music. And boy did they, to the tune of 125 songs. So I went ahead and made a Spotify Playlist (and maybe I’ll make an Apple Music Playlist this weekend, just for balance). It’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

So I have music. I also recently got my first Sketch Box in the mail, and it was pretty awesome too. I got watercolour pencils, some nice ink markers, and a water brush pen things (yes that’s the technical term). So that was a nice treat for me, and art is always fun. It helps me get my mind off things and exorcizes the demons, so to speak.

Additionally, I just signed up for a meal delivery service. It’s all paleo (and gluten free, but that’s neither here nor there for me) and likely to be far healthier than anything I make for myself or grab on the go. I eat out way too much. So I’m hoping that this will help me eat healthier and maybe even lose a couple pounds. We shall see.

These are all things I’m doing to take care of myself while I fight the battles I have to fight. What do you do to take care of yourself when things aren’t necessarily going your way?

Now if only my hockey team would win a few more games.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

And before you ask, yes, there is an International Men’s Day, it’s November 19th. So there.

I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by fantastically strong women my entire life.  Women who have been through so much it’s actually indescribable. First, of course, is my mother.  I haven’t really gone into detail about her life and what made her an incredibly strong person previously because, well, it would have been an invasion into her privacy.  I feel guilty doing so now, even though she’s gone.

My mother faced hardship from the minute she was born. She was continually given up into foster care by my grandmother off and on for years, for reasons I was never really clear on besides the fact that it was easier for my grandmother that way.  She was a resident of reform schools and mental hospitals in her very young youth, something they routinely did with kids back in the day. She went through sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse by numerous people, including my own father. She wasn’t perfect; she had some emotional issues until the day she died.  But despite all of that she raised four children by herself. Four children who are now all successful adults (if I do say so myself), who are that way because she was the one who raised us.  We are very lucky to have had her, even when she drove us crazy. We miss her dearly every day.

My grandmother, despite her flaws, worked hard and followed her own will at a time when doing so was looked down upon.  That meant being the only girl in her family to not marry another Italian. No, grandma went on to marry and divorce an irish man, and then followed that up with a marriage to another irish man. She followed her heart into forbidden love in between, but didn’t let that love break her down when it wasn’t meant to be.

There are my sisters, Angel and Susan, Joy and Nancy, each with their own battle scars and some who never made it out of the fight (we miss you, Joy). But each of them have given the world the amazing gift of their children, and the world is a better place because they are in it. Growing up with sisters is a special thing (just ask my brother, Peter), especially as the youngest.  There’s so much you learn about life from your sisters, everything from how to deal with your first period, to how to dress for your first high school dance.  My sisters were my first friends, even when we hated each other.

And then there are my friends.  I don’t make friends easily.  I’m an introvert who takes a while to warm up to people.  But I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by such phenomenal women, particularly in my youth. Some, like Amanda, Kate, and Darla helped me grow into the woman that I am today and have given me the best memories a girl could ask for. Some, like Jasmine, Sara, Alice, Jennifer and others know me as the woman I am today and are helping me become the woman I will be tomorrow.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without these amazing women.  I cannot find the proper words to thank you for all that you have given me.

Happy International Women’s Day to you all.

What’s In My Bag?

So most of us carry stuff around with us during the day, especially women. I am no exception. In fact I carry a lot of stuff. A LOT. So I thought I would treat my readers to a peek inside my bad, thus a peek into my life.
So here goes.

1. Bag (not pictured) is a handmade bag by Mariclaro sustainable bags. Mariclaro makes bags out of repurposed car materials. I’ve had this bag for years and I love, love, love it. I bought it from a little store here in Ottawa that sold all sorts of handmade local stuff. It goes with me almost everywhere. Highly recommend.

2. Headphones – Sony MDR-XB950BT. They come wired or Bluetooth wireless at my choice (or mostly when I don’t charge them). They were not cheap, but they are excellent quality build with great sound. I definitely use them almost every day.

3. Bag of Yuedge Anti-slip cleats. I have yet to use these, but it’s been a fairly mild winter with a distinct lack of freezing rain, both weird things for Ottawa. But I carry them around just in case. And these things are monsters. If I ever need them, I’m sure they will keep me from falling.

4. Supernatural wallet. To hold all the money I don’t have while staring at the pretty, pretty boys.

5. Lipgloss. Because a girl can never have enough lipgloss.

6. USB drive. I have no idea what is on this. Probably work stuff.

7. Travel Aleve. Because you just never know.

8. Pens. I have a lot of these.

9. Lighter. I clearly haven’t cleaned out this bag in a while.

10. Medication. That I stuffed in there on my way out the door this morning so I’d take it once I got to work. Did I take it? Of course not.

11. Another pen batch of pens and a water pen/brush thingy. I have no less than 3 pink pens in my bag apparently. I don’t know why either.

12. YMCA Gym Membership card that I almost never use. But it’s in there because I’m endlessly hopeful.

13. Victoria’s Secret bra sizing card. Just in case I forget what size my boobs are? Yeah, no clue.

14. Current journal/notebook. Where I write all my non-freelance, not fiction, personal crap that doesn’t go on this blog.

15. Barley’s Angels pin, because I am a proud, proud member.

16. Plastic reusable bag. Because I intended to pick up my veggie basket today. Instead, I am going for beer.

What’s in your bag?