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Tuesday
Jun062017

Work/Life Balance 

The last time I was unemployed I had all these plans to work on all of these projects, and before I even had a chance to catch my breath, I had a new job that I loved and the projects go put on the back burner. 

I spent a year and a half in that position and, while it had its ups and downs, it was at its heart a job that I really enjoyed and into which I willingly poured my creative energy. I was generally doing what I wanted, but personal projects fell to the wayside, and I have spent at least the last year, if not longer, attempting to regain my personal creative momentum. 

So now I am with nothing but time on my hands and passion projects I want to pursue and I find myself stumped and struggling, and life getting in the way. I don't know the source of my blockage, or if there is even just one root of my creative constipation. I am, unsurprisingly, depressed and stressed. The weather is hot. And people around me interfere with clockwork regularity. 

But so does life. There's always something that needs doing, isn't there? Long-planned events that just aren't conducive to pulling out a sketchbook no matter how much I plan otherwise. Post-camping loads of laundry to do and thank you brownies to bake for my roommate. Keeping to a workout schedule. And spending time with my friends. 

My friends are persistant. I tried to stave one off a couple weeks ago by telling her I had projects I needed to work on and she told me that my self-imposed schedule should have time for friends or I was doing something wrong. 

I've been trying to decide if she's right. I tout balance in all things and consider it the healthy and correct choice...but I am deeply bad at achieving it myself. I tend to run headlong all or nothing into everything. And the thing about art is that i feel like...someone absolutely CAN succeed with it as only one of their mistresses but I don't think that everyone can and I fear that without that level of dedication to my passion I will slide into an everlasting pit of mediocrity. So, I become the person that bitches about having people in their life that care about them and want to spend time together. Which feels deeply douchey. 

This is another tangled mess in my mind that I am working on working out for myself and I don't have any answers or resolutions. I just know that...I don't spend the time and passion on my art that I did a few years ago but I don't know how much of that is distractions that have crept in and how much is ...well, I pretty much assume that at some point it will absolutely come to light that i never had any talent to begin with and any creativity that I accidentially expressed is gone. 

In conclusion? I am, was, and ever will be, a hot mess.

Thursday
May252017

Just Keep Swimming 

This week went not entirely as planned, due to an outbreak of influenza running rampant in Sonoma County. 

At least the weather has been cooler than this past weekend, for the most part. Being sick in 90+ degree weather is exponentially more miserable than it has a right to be.

I've been struggling a little this week and trying to figure out to what I should attribute my exhaustion and lack of motivation. One of those burning questions that us non-neurotypicals face: "Am I still sick or am I low on energy because I'm sad?" On the one hand,  the act of folding my laundry yesterday drained me to the point that putting it away was beyond me until I had to move it off my bed before i went to sleep, and that was absolutely a result of not being past this flu yet. But the fact that I've skipped writing my morning pages all week speaks to a different lack of motivation. 

I have accepted it and given myself permission to take the week off. I'm sick. I have a lot on my plate and am working on what I can. 

I saw a post on tumblr today about people who say "I don't have time to be depressed," and what a harmful load of crap that is. I not only passed it on, but added a paragraph of vehement agreement to its tail. I heard that pronouncement myself many times in younger years and it makes me feel like I am failing every time the chemicals in my brain fail me, leading to a vicious circle of self-loathing and despair that is hard to fight past. 

I don't have time to be depressed either. But that's not generally something that depression actually cares about. 

What I do have is a full utility belt of coping mechanisms and tools at my disposal, built and scavenged through years of experience. I have a growing understanding of how to do what I can, and not feel as bad about the things that I can't. 

This was meant to be a tangent about how emotional disorders seem to disproportionately effect creatives and what that means for our art and that it doesn't, despite common stereotypes, make our art better to be sad, and about chicken/egg issues regarding depression and creativity but things got sidetracked. And many people that aren't me have said it before. 

But my point is that I have been finding ways of fighting past the lack of motivation that my brain has dumped on me towards working on things. Not working on big things, or anything that I'm deeply proud of or excited about, but following the advice of Lin-Manuel Miranda and keeping the tools sharp for when inspiration DOES arrive. 

Wednesday
May172017

Return from the Abyss 

I haven't posted anything new in a while. 

That's not a rarity for me. 

Part of it is the usual storm of procrastination that sweeps everything to the wayside. 

But also 

I've been working on...I think the best way to put it is perhaps...attempting to regain my creative direction. I haven't known what I was doing. I need something to fan the flames of my passion. I've been depressed and directionless. I have big ideas but they are so big that they become daunting. So I try to work around their edges and look at them slantwise and hope that's enough to gain the momentum I need. And, unsurprisingly, it hasn't been. 

So. 

Sometimes when you feel lost, the only thing you can do is just choose a direction and start walking. 

This is me putting on my hiking boots. 

 

Monday
Jul252016

Meeting Goals 

As usual after a lengthy hiatus, I'm not sure how to start my entry. 

...in this case by writing one sentence and then thinking of two or three things I need to do immediately then wondering if it is too late to write and if I should just go to bed. 

I clearly did not succeed in my plan of bi-monthly updates, a fact that I realized when I started my July goal list and saw my June goal of 'update website twice'. 

It's been a busy couple months and that has kept me distracted. Honestly, in June, I don't think I even THOUGHT of updating. It simply slipped my mind. 

This month, I have thought about updating a number of times. Of course those times are usually times that I can't, like at work, or during the few minutes I'm squeezing in my morning pages before I have to go get dressed and be an adult. At those times I tell myself that I will definitely add an entry that night, and then I forget by the time evening roles around, or I think about it but I'm tired and busy and there are too many distractions and it just doesn't get done. 

Other times, I have thought about updating but have been feeling badly enough about myself and my art that nothing feels like it is worth posting and I figure I'm better off working on stuff -- which I don't see as a BAD choice. It's the nights that I'm feeling too cruddy to even do that which really grate my cheese. The nights I know that I should work on something and that I will probably feel better if I do, but I can't muster the motivation out from behind the depression to even make the attempt. 

That's the bitch of depression though, isn't it? Knowing that if you could just get something done you'd feel better about yourself but not being able to convince yourself to do anything more than endlessly refresh tumblr, or curl up on the sofa to read for hours. When I finally do something I DO feel better but I am never sure if that is actually BECAUSE I did something, or because the chemical imbalance finally lessened enough so I was able to both do something and feel better. 

But enough of my mental health problems. 

I HAVE been working on things. I made something a while back which...just didn't quite work out how I wanted it to. I'm working on something now which I think I'm liking a little better, but I'm struggling with the ongoing problem of adult life -- even small projects take so long, squeezed in between the rest of what I want and need to do, that when I do have great new ideas, the spirit of them fades away before I can work on them. Some are abandoned to the pages of my sketchbook or the back corners of my mind, as I'm unable to recapture the heart of the idea that I wanted to express. Those that do get developed don't always...I don't even know how to fully express this. I need to be able to work faster. To spend more time working so I can get more projects out and both hone my skills and be able to push through projects that may not be pleasing me to something new. That's a lot of the secret. Just work a lot. Make new things, develop new ideas. 

I don't know how to articulate everything I suddenly realize I want to say. 

I'm feeling cranky and maudlin tonight. 

I'm feeling dissatisfied with myself in a number of ways and my art and perceived personal failures in that arena are only one aspect of my current stress and anxiety and general unhappiness with myself. 

This post was intended as an update with maybe a few sketches to assert that I continue to work. It has turned into a frustrated rant too late at night on a Sunday, which doesn't matter excessively, as I fell asleep for a couple hours this evening rather than working on the projects I had been planning on tackling. 

I know that art and creativity are often seen as natural companions to mental health issues, and that there are those who believe that depression and angst are what make the greats what they are. However, based on conversations with others and on my own experiences, I think that is faulty logic. Yes, some of my sad times have fueled things I've made, but so have my passions and my joys (and to be honest, half of what I make when I'm depressed smacks of over the top teenage angst and is not fit for mortal eyes). All my depression really ever does is make me unable to move forward, so convinced of my pointlessness that creation is beyond my grasp.

I hate feeling like this. I hate feeling so unhappy with myself and not sure how to balance the various aspects of my life in a way that will improve my self other than to accept that this is a rough patch and that there is nothing to do but look for solutions one at a time and move forward with them as I can and hope that the slow path forward will lead to improvement and to meeting my goals, both in the short term and for my life. 

Sunday
May222016

What I've Been Up To

Since I've been so bad at updating, rather than worrying about a weekly update and then falling behind and feeling overwhelmed, I made myself a goal on my monthly goal list to update two times. My first update was rather shoddy, to be sure, mostly just a message to say that I would update again at some point soon, but now I am posting for the second time in May with the intent of actually imparting information about the current state of my own little art microcosm. 

The problem being where to begin.

Well. As I've mentioned once or twice, and touched on briefly in the last post, for a while, I was in a rather rough state in regards to my creativity. Due to stupid circumstances art had become more a point of stress than an oasis and I would only succeed in dragging myself reluctantly to my medium of choice on a sporadic basis, the rest of the time feeling dissatisfied with my lack of creative energy and plagued by phantom guilt, which only succeeded in feeding back into the bad feelings surrounding creating. 

So, I set out to change that. I started trying to draw every day again, as I should. I don't always hit the mark. Sometimes a day is busy or I go to an event and come home tipsy and tired have nothing in me but a need for food and sleep. But I try not to beat myself up for the days when I live life and experience things because I feel like that's important too. 

Also, I feel like I promised art and am now rambling about my process and I'm boring even myself. 

The point I'm working around to is that, ups and downs of my life over the last while or not..and downs and downs, if I'm being candid, I have been drawing again. Regularly. I've been getting better not thinking that every sketch in my sketchbook has to be worthy of the Louvre. I have drawn crap and I have been okay with it because I was drawing and maybe an idea came out of it. And maybe something that I thought was stupid ends up being good and sometimes something I think will be good simply DOESN'T work and arching over all of this is the fact that I once again have the DESIRE to draw. 

Here are some of my stupid sketches: 

 

 

Just...doodling. While I'm watching tv with friends, while I'm waiting to read a poem at open mic, while I'm in between other projects, when I just want the tactile experience of paper under my hands. And some of them are totally stupid. But some of them I like enough to do more with: 

I actually have a few things right now that are pencil sketches waiting impatiently for digital inking, things I haven't yet had time to tackle. Because my time is not always my own. I've had a couple of people beg projects off of me: 

(Conversations with Coffee can be read here)

There are more things to talk about: work, art and music festivals --but think I have a little time before a friend arrives to start work on a new project, so I'm going to leave this for today. 

Fair winds and full sails!