Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oprah, Lego, and a Smidge of Art

I've been having a lot of roller-coaster weeks. Maybe you know what I mean? Where the very thing you have been dreading, can end up being a relief or a positive step forward. Then, what seems like a simple kindness from an unexpected source, turns into an unexplainable, soul-crushing blow. And then when you feel like you are constantly looking over your shoulder, waiting for the next blow... nothing happens.

I am certainly learning that I am a lot stronger than I have given myself credit for - but I am also re-evaluating my motivations (and those of people I come in contact with).  I get so mad or discouraged and want to yell and stamp my feet!!! But - STOP, girl! That's giving in. That's letting "them" win - whoever (or whatever) they may be. That's not me. That's a distraction.

One of the odd side effects of having trouble sleeping - is that, when I do, I have some very intense, exhausting dreams. In one, I was in a place like the Grand Canyon, walking along the rim. I was in awe at the beauty and unreality of the scene. I was walking towards a very tall, green, majestic mountain covered with trees. I wanted to climb that mountain even though I knew it would be a lot of work. I kept getting distracted by the view of the canyon until I realized there was an uncomfortable pull coming from it. Like a vacuum suction, it started pulling things down and swirling away into a black hole. I was trying to move toward the mountain when I heard yelling and saw that I had one of my kids dangling off each of my arms. They were being pulled toward the edge. I knew that if I let go... I could make it to the mountain and safety...
I was digging my bare feet into the rocks to try and get better control and I felt like all my oxygen was being pulled out of my lungs from the strain...

Yep. That's when I woke up.

I admit it. I am tired. Physically, emotionally and mentally.

Today - I put on exercise clothes - with no intention of exercising - but as an excuse to not leave the house. I felt pulled toward the studio to do more cleaning (a different blog post to come, it's on the To-Do List) and lots of other "Shoulds."  I procrastinated a bit by folding laundry and grabbed my iPhone to listen to a story while I worked. I had recently downloaded Oprah's book, What I Know for Sure, and that is what started playing.

I finished all the laundry and as I walked through the dining room, I saw three partially built Lego sets...

I spent the afternoon building and listening to Oprah's voice.

That woman is amazing. Her own story is inspiring and heartbreaking. We listen to other women talk about their pasts, their mistakes and their dreams - and we can't believe they can be so cruel to themselves. And yet - what do we do to ourselves? We are always "too fat", "not good enough", a "bad mother"... stupid, insecure, scared... mean mean MEAN!

If I can forgive Oprah, why can't I forgive myself?

So I followed her lead and asked myself - what do I know for sure?

A few weeks back, that was the theme for a journal group I am in. It is actually a very hard question - but the one thing I know for sure, is that you get what you expect.

In other words, if you expect unhappiness, you get it. If you expect to suffer through the "terrible twos" with your toddler - you most certainly will. Expect bratty kids? You get them.

But if you expect miracles, kindness, happy children, an adventurous life... you get that too.

A weird example... I'm listening to Oprah and pressing little blocks together. I have no idea what the pieces are creating - I'm just following the steps in the directions. I hit a snag when the pieces are being assembled... sideways...? It makes no sense. It's not fitting easily... ugh... my fingertips are feeling bruised.... but I adore building with Legos. I love the challenge and the puzzles. I trust that this has a purpose and it will be worth it, so I just keep going.

About ten minutes later, I pop the annoying bit into place and put a few pieces over it to hold it together - and OMG! I suddenly understand WHAT I was making!? The Legos spell "1932" (just under the clock tower). That's why the pieces were sideways and wonky!
Well then.
I was expecting something cool to come from the crazy - and sure enough.

I am very proud of my fire station.

(I also built this fairy treehouse!)

What I learned today...
* Listen to Oprah, she knows her stuff.
* Give yourself permission to take a break. Recharge.
* You can't help anyone else if you are sick, tired or sad.
* It's perfectly OK to want what you want.
* Create something. It feels good.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wouldn't You Like to Be a Cartoonist Too!?

Today, April 2, is "CCS Shout Out Day!" CCS is the Center for Cartoon Studies - soon to be my Grad School. The school is only 10 years old (10th Anniversary is this fall) and today is the day to get the word out about the school and cartooning.

Besides the obvious folks, artists, I hope that teachers will also take note of this post. Cartooning is such a fabulous tool for teaching! A great way to present information TO students, but also for students to express their OWN ideas. Being able to draw well is not as important to a comic as the ability to get the message across. Sequential Art opens up a whole world of possibilities.

If you are interested in cartooning, in general, take a look at the school's website - there are great links to other interesting sites and news about new comics and awards and alumni work. The Schulz library, at the school, has an impressive collection of comics, graphic novels and art books. (Zentangle for Kidz! is in the collection! :-) There's a library blog too.

If you are interested in getting your Masters in Cartooning or Applied Cartooning, the school has rolling admissions and there is still time to apply. We'd be classmates!!

If you are curious but don't want to commit two years of your life to comic books... and you'd like a whole lot of info packed into one week - then check out the summer programs! (There are scholarships available too.) Take a look at my links below so you can experience comic camp along with me (Summer 2014).

Jul 07, 2014
Comic Camp! My hotel room smells like feet. So does the hallway. And the lobby... This place - the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction, Vermont - is an intriguing mix of blast from the past, mysterious - and "well, that's what ...

Jul 09, 2014
Comic Camp. The teachers here are either wind-up toys or highly caffeinated! They have so much energy and enthusiasm, even at 9:30 in the morning! Me, I'm exhausted just typing the exclamation marks! ;-) Seriously, they ...
Jul 10, 2014
We spent the morning learning the Old School (photocopies) and the New School (InDesign and Photoshop) methods of creating the actual, printed and bound, comic books. Then, after lunch, we got really serious!
Jul 10, 2014
This one incorporating a lot of rules, like "Pay It Forward" - in which you draw the first panel of the comic and then write the dialog for the second panel, then pass it on... yep, in just one minute. Sheesh. Other rules were ...

Jul 12, 2014
We finally got to hold our comics in our hot little hands! To recap - yesterday, we had two hours to draw our page and ink it. We went from brainstorming the story, characters, etc. right through to silkscreening and assemble... in ...

And here are links to my more recent blog posts and application, etc.:

Dec 06, 2014
Today I am up in White River Junction, VT for Portfolio Day at the Center for Cartoon Studies. I haven't shown an actual portfolio in twenty years! I was so incredibly nervous that I almost let the winter storm that woke me up, ...
Jan 09, 2015
I've never wanted to be a political cartoonist, but I do want to chronicle life, and the Charlie Hebdo incident has only served to reinforce my desire to go to cartoon school. Bored Panda had a fabulous post with cartoons drawn ...

Feb 06, 2015
When I was working on my cartoon school application, I had to draw a comic that included myself, a robot, a piece of fruit and a snowman (?!). I also had to write an essay and all the other usual stuff. Since this is graduate ...


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