Monday, August 19, 2013

Project Musings

For every project I've finished, I've started at least three more that remain unfinished. One of the things I want to learn how to do the most is focus. Focus on one project until it's complete. Finish things. Not feel like a failure because the time and money I've spent are piled up in a corner, supplies wasted.

I'm trying to remain positive about this, to think that I'm finally engaged with arts again. I'm writing. I'm painting. I'm making things. But I want to do more. I want to write and record music. I want to make my own clothes.

I keep trying to remind myself that I don't have to do everything right now. That I have years ahead to accomplish my goals, that I should always make progress, but there's no deadline. But that's hard when I realize that the thing I went to college for may not be what I do with my life--even if that's what I had my heart set on. I'm not happy with my current job, but it takes away 50 hours of my week (30 working, 20 driving). I need to focus on my health--there's another 10 hours a week at the gym. Then there's sleep--about 70 hours a week. Those leftover 38 hours in a week are the ones I spend with family, with friends, getting ready for work, getting ready for bed, doing projects. Otherwise, I'm missing some sleep or skipping the gym.

All I can think is, if not now, when? When am I going to work less than I do now? When will I have more disposable income? When will I be free of obligations?

The pressure I feel is self-imposed, of course. No one else cares when I finish projects--very few people actually know about them. It's all in my own head. I'm feeling stretched to the max, which is what anyone in my life stage feels like.

Currently, I'm working on two paintings, four stories, several stuffed animals (I did get my first commission!), and I want to start a web comic. I'm doing all of this while working, reading, meeting health and fitness goals, and maintaining social relationships (and dealing with heartbreak).

I'm doing the best I can, but it doesn't feel like enough.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Health and Fitness

One of the reasons I've long been absent from this blog is that much of my free time has been spent trying to meet a different sort of goal--becoming healthy and fit. These goals don't coincide very well with any sort of sedentary activity, as crafting and blogging tend to be. I've been working out (almost) daily for six weeks, and I'm making progress toward accomplishing my goals.

Week One                                   Week Four

But after six weeks, I'm still struggling to find a balance between work, working out, spending time with family and friends, writing, painting, and crafting. Although I am disappointed by this realization, I understand that my health has to be a higher priority than it's been in the past. Without my health, I cannot do anything else I wish to do and do it well.

I'm noticing small changes here and there that let me know I'm making progress. I'm getting stronger. I sleep better. I have an overall sense of well-being that I don't think I've ever had. Although I am trying to lose weight, I am happier and feel better about myself than when I was thin. Feeling good about yourself has very little to do with what you look like; it comes from what you do to take care of yourself.

I was an overweight child. I was active--I took dance lessons for eight years and played outside--but genetics and a poor diet meant that I was always fatter (and taller) than other kids my age. I was self-conscious of that fact then, and I still am now.

When I was sixteen, I became ill. I lost 70 pounds in six months. People who didn't know I was sick told me how great I looked, but I didn't see it.I still saw a fat kid when I looked in the mirror. I wore clothes that were too big. I still avoided pictures that showed anything other than my face. I could count my ribs, see my spine, but I cried because I thought I was fat. Body dysphoria is hell. (No, I did not have an eating disorder.)

One of the few pictures showing anything other than my face. Ignore the fact that I was trying to be a burlesque model.

See that collar bone? It gives me chills now.

And here I am now. I think I even look happier.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Felt and Friends

When I first started making stuffed animals, my friend Caitlin suggested that I try felting. She described the process as "where you take a bunch of hair, wad it up, and stab it with a needle." I'm not sure why, but I imagined felting to be bloody and also involve teeth. I burst out laughing (much to Caitlin's chagrin), and neglected the idea until Sarah sent me this adorable video called "Make a Cute Kitty."

After I got my first paycheck from my new job (yay!), I went to the craft store and picked up some supplies for a felting adventure. And it was quite the adventure! Felting is a lot harder than it looks. For one thing, it takes a lot longer than you'd think, and you'll stab yourself a few times with very sharp needles.

Here's a look at what you'll need:

Felting wool, felting needle, a work surface you don't mind scratching, and a ton of patience...

Here I am, working on the head of my animal...what am I making?

It's starting to take shape (hours later).

And...SURPRISE! I made a bear.

I bet you thought I'd make a kitty. Well, that's because I was going to make a kitty. But then I looked at my felted creature and saw a bear.

Sarah also made a felt friend...anyone care to guess which animal she made? Drumroll, please...! A kitty! :D

I borrowed this picture from Sarah's blog. Photo by The Guy Behind the Lens (check him out here).

About a week later, I did make a kitty, which turned out looking like a fox:

My lesson learned from felting? Sometimes you can't plan for how your work will turn out. Sometimes I jut just happens.