March Planner Stickers

It’s almost March, which means I needed to get my planner stickers laid out for the month so I could start planning. I actually had this layout done last month, but my cutting machine was giving me fits. I print out and cut two different pages of stickers – one that has a lot of the monthly stickers I use, like the month name and date covers, and one that has my notes/to-do list for the month.

However, I could not get my machine to cut the stickers correctly. I tried everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – to get it to work, short of recalibrating the machine. I even reconfigured the furniture in my office so that I could plug the machine directly into my PC rather than using the Bluetooth option. Finally, after multiple botched attempts and wasting a LOT of sticker paper, I tried to recalibrate the machine.

Imagine my surprise when everything cut perfectly!?

Our only guess is that somehow the file got corrupted and was causing the machine to cut wrong. Frustrating, especially since, of course, the corrupted file was my template. So, after recreating the template and the stickers – voila! Everything is done and cut exactly as it should be.

I didn’t want to do the traditional St. Patrick’s day art for March, but I did want to use a green color scheme. I added a couple of Celtic knots as a nod to my husband’s Irish heritage. Green isn’t my favorite color, but I like how it turned out.

Now my planner is complete and I can start working on checking off the other items on my to-do list!

Stream Explorer

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com (I’ve never seen a horseback archery stream, but there probably is one!)

A few years ago, my youngest introduced me to DND Beyond. He wanted me to buy a subscription so he could create characters and play. So I did and he did.

He’s also the one who introduced me to Critical Role and got me back into gaming on a regular basis. I used to play regularly when my kids were little, but life happened and I eventually stopped. We played in person for a while, and then the pandemic hit, so we moved online.

During all of this, I was introduced to Twitch – something I’d never heard of before. I had to get a Twitch account to get a DND Beyond account, but I never used Twitch. Fast forward a few years to now, and Twitch has become a regular viewing habit for me.

A few months ago my youngest informed me that Twitch had all kinds of streams. I assumed they were all gamers who streamed there, and indeed I watched many of them, like Critical Role, Roll20 Presents, and others.

Imagine my surprise when I found a whole community of crafters and makers on Twitch, including fellow diamond painters! I’ve watched people knit, crochet, cross-stitch, spin yarn, blacksmith, paint miniatures, tool leather, and more.

It’s been amazing to watch people – you know, just regular people like you and me, who enjoy the same type of hobbies. Or to be introduced to new hobbies I’ve never even heard of before. I have a couple of streamers that I watch on a regular basis and it’s been great to interact with people who are as obsessed with diamond painting as I am. 😀

I don’t think I’m interested in streaming, though I often think it would be nice to not have to stop what I’m making to type in chat. I’m usually diamond painting myself when I watch, and it’s fun to interact with people who are new to the hobby like me, as well as people who have been doing it for years.

I also watch a lot of miniature painting streams, and I’ve learned some tips and tricks I want to try out in my own painting – when I finally get around to finishing up that last batch of minis. 😛 It’s been a blast wandering around Twitch and seeing what new amazing thing I can find to watch. I wonder what I’ll find next?

Mandalas Everywhere

When I started my mandala YouTube channel, I wasn’t sure how it would work and how I would feel about it. Drawing is often one of those things where I do a lot all at once because I’m inspired, but then it might be several days or a week before I feel like drawing again.

Before I started the channel, I decided that I would begin with a fairly light publishing schedule – just twice a week, because more than that seemed daunting. And for the first few weeks, it seemed like a good choice, because it was taking me about 20-30 minutes to draw something. Normally, the time it takes me to draw something is mostly irrelevant, since I only posted here for the most part. Occasionally I’ll remember to add them to my Pinterest, but that’s not a given.

However, I wanted my videos to be shorter than that, so I was spending a lot of time editing them down to make them around 10-15 minutes. Last week, I challenged myself to do some speed drawing. How fast could I draw some mandalas? Could I spend less time drawing so that I could then spend less time editing?

So I sat down and started filming. The first mandala took about the same amount of time as usual. However, I was using a reference photo and was getting frustrated when things weren’t going the way I wanted. I decided to ditch the reference photos and just draw.

It helped that I was home alone, so I could really focus on what I was doing, and not worry about being interrupted while I was filming. The next mandala took about 9 minutes, so a little better, but not great. I tried a few more and eventually got down to just 5 minutes. Now, I don’t want to draw that fast all the time, because I often want more details than I can get in that time, but it was nice to know that if I need to draw quickly, I can.

Plus, the quicker I can draw, the more videos I can put out – which seems to be how you succeed at the YouTubing – more content, more content, more content. 😀 So now that I know I can get more done, I am going to try and post a bit more often than twice a week on YouTube. I don’t think I’m ready for posting a video every day yet, but I might get there eventually.

Lots of Projects

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

It’s been a busy and cold week here at the Hermit Hut. I haven’t seen temperatures this cold in decades where I live. And it’s slated to be even colder next week.

Brrrrrrr.

I’m not looking forward to the cold, but at least I get to be inside. My poor husband works outside, although he’s used to colder weather, being Canadian.

I’m dreaming of being sitting in front of the fireplace or wood stove, drinking hot cocoa, reading a book, and snuggled under a cozy blanket.

Alas, it will remain a dream for a while longer. Next week will be a short week at work since it’s President’s Day, so that will be nice. And as I’ve been planning lessons, I realized that it’s only about a month until Spring Break. Which is kind of hard to believe – where have January and February gone?

It will be nice to get some hopefully warmer weather, if only so the kids in my class can go outside and run off some of their energy. Having to be cooped up indoors all the time is hard on the little wiggle worms, and even 5 minutes outside can make a huge difference.

Besides work, I’m staying busy with various projects. I finished several diamond paintings, including a mystery painting, which was fun to do. With a mystery painting, you don’t know what the picture will be until you get done with it. It was fun to do, but it ended up being a picture of a cat – something I have zero interest in. So it went into my portfolio with all the other finished paintings I don’t know what to do with.

I had to buy a larger portfolio (big enough to fit a TV in) to fit some of the larger diamond paintings I plan to do. I’ve also completed a couple of smaller paintings – the mystery cat, a butterfly journal, and I’m currently working on a cute little elephant.

I’ve purchased another mystery painting, but I think I’m going to start one of my bigger projects before I open that, because I know I’ll want to do it first – I have no patience. 😛

I’m also still working on mandalas and my fledgling YouTube channel. I think I’ve found a decent setup for filming, so I can start drawing and filming a little more often than I was able to before. I hope, anyway. Once I get a decent backlog of mandalas on the channel, I may bundle them and put them up for sale on my Etsy shop.

I’m debating whether some of my mandalas (colored ones) would make good custom diamond paintings. I may try ordering one and see how it turns out. I don’t know how much something like that costs, so it might end up being prohibitively expensive. We’ll see.

I also have a couple of sewing projects that I need to get completed – a t-shirt quilt/lap blanket, and a quilt made from squares that my mom embroidered before she passed. My eyes aren’t that great for sewing anymore, but I’m having no luck finding someone who could finish them for me locally.

The last project on my to-do list is a blanket from the last bit of yarn I have left. I started to make an afghan for someone, but ended up undoing it all. Now the ball of yarn just sits there, taunting me. Not sure what kind of afghan I will end up making, but it would be nice to have a warm blanket over my lap while I sit and crochet of an evening during these cold winter nights.

Fear of Failure

I originally started this blog with the idea of sharing my failures – because failing is how we learn. Everyone thinks that you learn from success – and you do. But the lessons you learn from failing are often more valuable – you remember them better (and probably longer), and you remember to do things differently the next time. I wonder if we would all be so afraid of failure if we embraced it rather than seeing it as something shameful. What things could you accomplish if you weren’t afraid of failing?

As I get older, my fear of failure is often outweighed by my sense of mortality. If I don’t do it now, then when? The number of tomorrows is always decreasing. That’s not to say that my fear of failure has disappeared, however.

In fact, it’s something I struggle with often, especially as I try to grow other sources of income in addition to my day job. But I read something the other day that really resonated with me. Nimue Brown and her Druid Life blog is something I’ve followed for a while, and I love her writing because she always makes me think.

Her latest post, ‘Taking it personally,’ struck a chord with me. I lived with an abuser for many years and even now, a decade later, I see things I couldn’t when I was stuck in the situation. When you live with an abuser, you learn to walk on eggshells, and every small remark isn’t just a criticism, it’s a signal that worse things are coming, unless you do something to head it off. You try to anticipate everything (you can’t) and make everything perfect (again, you can’t).

So even though most criticism isn’t harmful and is well-meant, after living through abuse, your reaction is different, and may seem like over-reacting to most people. It’s something I’d never really thought about before, but in looking back at that period of my life, it’s like a light bulb went off. It explains so much – about my behavior and the behavior of those around me. I was hyper-vigilant about criticism because I had to be, but I didn’t allow people to see that part of my life, so most of them thought I was just a drama queen.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I realized that my fear of failure is tied to the abuse I suffered. Not all, but a large chunk. Previously, failure could have devastating consequences, not just for me, but for those I loved most as well. So even though I am no longer in that situation, my brain has been conditioned to respond to failure in a certain way and to avoid it as much as possible. And unlearning that behavior is extremely difficult – impossible, if you’re not even aware of it, as I wasn’t.

As I continue on my journey, I am going to try and be a little kinder to myself when that fear of failure creeps up on me. It’s not just me being lazy or unmotivated, though that happens as well. And knowing the enemy is half the battle, right? So next time, I can recognize that conditioning and work through it, rather than beating myself up because I’m not making the progress I want.