Bring Out Your Dead – 6 April, Greeting Cards for Goths

A miracle has occurred. I’ve managed to squeeze in about 6 hours of work in the last 3 days! That’s the “might possibly earn me some money” kind of work, not the “I sold my soul to Girl Scouts” kind of work.

I’ve also managed to do some yard work, clean the house a bit, cook a few meals and exercise 3 days in a row! So many miracles! And I am soooooooooooooooooooo tired right now.

But it’s a good kind of tired, because I made a choice about how I wanted to spend my time and I didn’t let myself get derailed by what other folks wanted. Did I mention that I even played video games with the kids this week? Far out, dude!

But back to resurrecting my dead career. My current goals are:

A) Get back on a regular schedule with the webcomic, so that I’m back to putting out a new strip every week.

2) Draw and publish one or two new greeting cards (or mug designs, t-shirts, etc.) each month.

Which brings us to the topic in the headline – Greeting Cards for Goths.

I do not consider myself to be a Goth, though I love to wear black and I celebrate Halloween all year long. I’m more of a general geek, with a sort of minor in punk, zombie, kawaii and Goth interests. In other words, I enjoy lots of different things. One thing I especially enjoy is drawing beautiful but creepy ladies. I get a lot of inspiration for Edward Gorey (who doesn’t?) and Aubrey Beardsley. Combine that with my fondess for twisted humor and you get some very interesting ideas for greeting cards. Like greeting cards you can send to people you don’t like. Greeting cards made for people who despise the mundane world. Greeting cars for people who live in Night Vale. Greeting cards for people who like their humor the way they like their coffee – sweetened with the blood of innocents and the tears of the wretched. In other words, greeting cards for people just like you and me!

So I’ve been working on drawings for these cards. I do this at the local library, where I have the perfect excuse to turn off my phone (if I don’t, the librarians will sacrifice me to their dark gods). I find a nice comfy chair, spend an hour working on the webcomic, and then spend another hour working on the greeting cards. Here’s a peek at what I’ve managed to produce so far this week:  

Cool sketch!

“I’m so gloomily beautiful, I may faint!”

 Isn’t she lovely?!

I’m doing the sketch in SketchClub on my iPad. Once I’ve got both the inside and outside artwork sketched out, I’ll import the images into Concepts to ink and color them. Final clean-up and formatting will be done in Corel Draw on my desktop.

I’m very happy with this piece so far. Like I said, I feel like miracles are happening this week. Just making the decision to reduce my volunteer hours has given me a real boost. Hopefully, I’ll get my boundaries between volunteering and work firmly established by the time cookie season comes around again. Because I do not want to get sucked into a black hole of unending burn-out ever again!

I’ll post another update later this week. Until then, have fun!

April’s Theme! Bring Out Your DEAD!

Hey everyone! I just wanted to post a quick note about April’s theme. I mentioned in my last post that I want to revive my art career. After thinking about it, I decided that I’d label this month’s theme “Bring Out Your DEAD!” Because if this were a Monty Python movie, you just might here my career say, “I’m not dead yet!”

So I will be posting images of artwork in progress for the Zazzle store (I’m working on greeting cards for people you hate!), and just for laughs, I’ll post pictures of my garden in progress. Yes! The Black Thumb rides again! I’ve already successfully grown several seed pots of…. mold. So much for heirloom tomatoes!

I may also pick up a few craft projects that I left languishing in Limbo. Remember the spider web poncho I was working on in October? Yeah, I found that last weekend while I was cleaning up my room. I think I should probably finish that, and maybe a couple other projects that didn’t quite get done.

So that’s what’s going on. And if you have any half-dead projects lying around that you want to revive, let me know! I’d be happy to cheer you on as you finish them, and even post a link to pics or blog posts about your work!

So let’s get cracking! We’ve got dead things to reanimate!

ACW Episode 287 – It’s all a bit fuzzy to me

Webcomic!

Click on the image above to see it larger!

Wow, I finally got a webcomic drawn and posted! It’s been like, forever!

Seriously though, it has been a month since I last posted a webcomic. The reason, of course, is because it was Girl Scout cookie season, again, and I let my life get taken over by Girl Scout cookie season, again.

The problem is partly the organization I volunteer for. Girl Scouts demands a lot from its volunteers, and I understand this. We work with girls who need us to be responsible, keep them safe, and offer them opportunities to do things that are fun and exciting. That requires training, certifications, background checks, the ability to handle finances, the ability to plan and conduct training, and so on, and so on, and so on. Basically, all the things I used to do in the Army Reserves. Only without the paycheck to go with it.

So I understand that, and I agree with that. But…

I’m not sure Girl Scouts understands what it’s asking of its volunteers. I mean, in a way, they do. They know what’s at stake when it comes to working with girls. But I don’t think they understand the demand these requirements puts on its volunteers. I volunteer at least 10 hours a week. And some weeks I volunteer more. A lot, lot more. During cookie season, I could end up volunteering 60 hours a week. Keep in mind that some weeks during cookie season I am also hosting the troop meeting (we have one 5-hour meeting a month), running cookie booths, handling accounting for cookie sales, making deposits of cookie money at the bank, preparing for Scout Sunday, preparing for Thinking Day, attending those events, and more. And doing all that is exhausting.

I read an article recently that talked about the ideal amount of hours to volunteer. And the number they gave was 100-800 hours. Less than that didn’t give the volunteers the same boost of happiness. More than that left volunteers burned out. Now 100-800 hours seems like one hell of a range, but the article also mentioned that there were no benefits to volunteering more than 100 hours. And I’d say they’re right about that. I’d be happy if I could cut my volunteering back to just 5-10 hours a week. That would put me at around 250-500 hours a year, as opposed to what I volunteer now.

But how to get those hours down? That’s where I have to admit that I’m part of the problem.

Yes, Girl Scouts asks a lot. But that doesn’t mean I always have to say ‘yes’ when they ask something of me. I need to start learning how to say ‘no.’ And there may be some folks I work with in Girl Scouts who will be disappointed to hear me say no. But I’m thinking that the organization as a whole will understand. Girl Scouts needs dedicated volunteers; it doesn’t need burned-out volunteers. And so I’m making the choice to step back from some of my volunteering so that I can do a better job at what I still intend to volunteer for, and so I don’t feel resentful about volunteering.

And then maybe  I won’t be so tired that I try to type my emails on my cat 🙂

I’m not dead!

I’m not dead, just struggling through the tail end of cookie season. We’ve finished our sales and now I have to get all the paperwork and financials in order. That takes a couple days, so bear with me for a little while longer. I am working on the Wonder Woman dress in dribs and drabs as time permits, and am working on another webcomic. I promise, I will get back to regular postings in another week or so!

Remember! Only the strong survive Girl Scout cookie season!!! Aiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiayaaaaaaa!

Creature Comforts – Day 24, A Woman and her Couch

 

Pillows and Blanket!

I am creating the coziest place on Earth!

 
This is my couch. I have had this couch since grad school, which was almost 25 years ago. We replaced the couch cushions on it last summer, but little else has changed until now. The pillows I had originally made for the couch all fell apart. The various afghans my mother made for me have all been stolen by my children. But the couch abides. It is my couch, and I love it.

Three years ago, I tore my right ACL and meniscus cartilidge, and as a result, I spent almost 6 months straight on my couch, first recovering from the injury, then the surgery, and then the physical therapy. I realized then that I never wanted to be parted from my couch, and that my couch deserved the best of everything I could ever give it. I’m just sorry it’s taken me so long to make my couch such nice pillows and a blanket. The blanket should be done by the end of the week. The Jake pillow was just finished today. Next month, I may add another pillow, a cat bolster, perhaps. I spend a lot of time on my couch, and so it deserves every luxury I can give it.

Yes, I love my couch. Of course, I also love my bed, and it’s late, so I think I’m going to go there now. Good night, couch!

October Crochet – Day 13, Scrambling For Time Today

 

Yarn Bag

My day was just like this bag… a MESS!

 
I think the month of October is going to kill me. Princess has Cross Country 4 days a week, including one race each week. In the next 10 days, I have 3 Girl Scout events to prepare for and run. And on top of all this, I still need to make 3 costumes for my two children. Since Pixie is in fourth grade, this year she is participating in the “All Saints’ Day” event at school. She is going to be Mother Teresa for the event. The next day, on Halloween, she wants to be a Sith Lord, because we simply can’t go to one extreme without visiting the other.

Anyway, during all the madness today, I only managed to steal about 15 minutes to sit and crochet. I’m hoping I will be able to steal a full hour tomorrow and make some serious progress on this shawl. And for those that asked, there is a knitting version of this pattern. I will look it up tomorrow or the next day and post the link here.

A Mind Map of My Life – It’s a Mess

I’ve been reading an interesting book called The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown. It’s about the importance of visual communication and how drawing simple doodles can enhance learning and productivity as well as aid in creativity and problem solving.

I have two degrees in communications, with an emphasis on visual communicatin, so I’m very interested in what I’m reading in this book. I’m also at a point in my life where I’m trying to sort out all the competing demands on my time to figure out what I want my priorities to be. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to do that, but here is the mind map I doodled today that shows what I deal with on a daily basis.

 

Mind Map

That’s a lot of mind to map!

 
There’s a lot going on here. The big take-away I get from this is that I have a lot of things to do, and very little time to do them in. Or rather, I have the same amount of time that everyone gets, but I don’t know how to squeeze in all I have to do.

The other big thing I notice is that I have a lot of possibilites for making money, but I’m not spending enough time on any of them to actually make money.

I’m sure if I were to make a map of what my life looked like a few years ago, things would look very different. When Princess first started school, I actually made a bit of money every year. I spent my time writing and selling short stories and I did a lot of art work for small publishers. I had a thriving career, and I loved it. But as I got more and more involved in Girl Scouts and the kids got further along in school, my time evaporated and so did my income.

I’m not sure how to get back to making money, because I’m not sure if I can get my time back. But that’s something I intend to work on, and hopefully you’ll see the results here.

Night blogging?

I swear to you, I have been trying to get back  into the habit of regular blogging. I get all sorts of ideas for blogging late at night when I’m lying in bed, but then by the morning, these ideas have evaporated, or else I’ve lost the interest in writing about them.

I set aside the morings for working on the webcomic and for other drawing projects, which is partly why I don’t have the enthusiasm to blog in the morning. All my brain power has gone into drawing for a couple hours at that point, so the well is kind of dry by then. I can usually refresh myself with exercise, but by the time I’m done with that, it’s time to eat lunch and then it’s time to pick up the kids and then I have to deal with homework and chores and dinner, etc. I’m brain-dead once again by the time 8PM rolls around, which means I’d rather watch TV and crochet than write.

But once I get into bed, my brain once again starts to rev up, like it has now. I always read the news before I sleep (bad habit, I know), and usually after doing that, I’ve got ideas for a blog post I’d really like to write, and I know exactly what I’d say…

Except that it’s bedtime, and the lights are already out and Hubster is sound asleep beside me.

So right now, I’m experimenting. I have a wireless keyboard set up with my iPad, and I have a reading light clipped to the iPad/keyboard case. It gives me just enough light to see by. Hubster isn’t in bed yet – he always stays up later than me – so I’ve got a few quick minutes to write this post. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write like this on a regular basis, but it’s worth trying. I’m saving this as a draft tonight, and will post it in the morning. Then I’ll see if I can start other articles this week.

Maybe I’ll even be able to post some artwork from the iPad?

 

Zombie!

Test artwork for night time posting

Yerp! That seems to work!
 

ACW Episode 256 – Don’t tell me which way to lean

Webcomic!

Click on the webcomic to see it full-size.

The above webcomic is not about Girl Scouts. Or rather, not just about Girl Scouts. It’s about all the organizations and groups I’ve volunteered with over the last several years. I’ve had conversations about leadership and “leaning in” with all of them. Some of those conversations were subtle suggestions that I might take on more work. Others were outright demands for my time and energy. In the worst cases, people simply refused to believe that I do not exist just for them. So what if I have two kids, a husband, parents, and friends who need me? That’s not their problem. They don’t care that I have my own work that I love to do and don’t get nearly enough time to spend on it. And forget trying to tell these people that just like everyone else in the world, I only have a limited number of hours in the day.

“Get up earlier!” one person barked at me. “Then you’ll have more time for our organization AND your work. Sleep is for the DEAD!”

The problem with that, however, is that if I give up sleeping to do more volunteer work, I’ll be dead sooner rather than later.

I don’t want to die soon, and I don’t want to give up everything in my life to BE A LEADER AND SAVE THE WORLD. So when people who want to fill up all MY TIME with THEIR PRIORITIES tell me that I need to “lean in,” I remind them very firmly that I am leaning in, every single day. I lean into taking care of my kids, spending time with my husband, helping out my family and friends. I lean into drawing webcomics and digital art. I lean in like a BOSS when I sit down on the couch to crochet. Just because I choose to make my priorities MY PRIORITIES, that doesn’t mean I’m not a leader and I’m not leaning in.

It just means I choose which direction I lean instead of giving up my life’s direction to someone else. And that is the very definition of being a leader.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Lean back, relax, and enjoy the holiday.