Playing with Color

I spent some time this week playing around in Procreate with some of my mandalas. It’s always interesting to me to start coloring them in and see what works and what doesn’t. If I was just printing the mandalas out on paper and using colored pencils, they would all work.

But if I’m coloring them digitally (with Procreate or another app), sometimes how I’ve created the mandala causes issues when doing so. For instance, the net sections I left white above, because coloring them in using Procreate isn’t as easy as dragging and dropping the color like I do with most sections.

It’s a good exercise for me, so that I know when I create the next mandala what to do or avoid. Case in point – the circles on the inner layers of the above mandala. I used white to create them, so you can’t color them in digitally, because they are already white, even though it just looks like open space to color.

You can see the same use of white in this mandala to create the circles. Had I used the eraser to create the circles, the background color would show through them. Instead, you get this stark white on top of the layered gradient background.

An interesting effect, but definitely something I need to keep in mind when I am creating the mandalas. Draw and learn, right? 😀

Sea of Change

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It’s been a while since I actually posted something other than a mandala here. Things have been changing in my life and it’s been hard to keep up with everything. Maybe that’s my own fault for trying to change too much at once, but I needed to make some changes and I had to ‘seize the day’ as they say!

I still plan to keep on drawing mandalas, so the Monday Mandalas will still be happening. However, the YouTube mandala channel isn’t working, for a variety of reasons, so I’m dropping it for now. I won’t be taking anything down, but I won’t be posting much, if anything, either.

I keep meaning to finish up the last sets of minis I have, but I just don’t have the motivation to paint right now. I am going to try and complete them this summer, once school is finally out and I have some breathing room again. That will finish up all my minis, and I haven’t bought any more, so my paints may get shuttered again after that.

I’ve written before about trying Noom, and I’m still doing it. I’m two months in and down 20 lbs. So I can definitely see progress, even if logging every single thing I eat is incredibly annoying. I tried jumping in whole hog and doing all the things at the beginning, but honestly, for the last 10 lbs, I haven’t really been exercising. Just watching my calories and staying in my calorie budget. I’m hoping to add in more exercise once school is out and I have extra time. (No idea if I will actually achieve that – all this extra time I won’t be working is being spent in about 20 different ways, so who knows?!) 😛

My focus right now, besides work, has been my new diamond painting obsession. I have just absolutely fallen in love with this hobby and that’s how I’ve been spending most of my free time lately. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so I’ve had to cut back the time I spend doing other things to make room. Hence the decision to hit pause on the Mandala YouTube for now.

I need to make a decision about my Etsy shop as well. It hasn’t really gone anywhere, and that’s my own fault, so I need to decide whether I’m going to just let it sit (like it’s been doing), close it, or take it in a different direction. I’m seriously considering going a different route and opening an online shop via Shopify, but I haven’t made a final decision yet.

On the financial front, our journey towards being debt-free continues. We made a good dent in our last remaining debt – my husband’s car loan. Now it will be a matter of balancing paying off that last debt and putting money in our emergency fund. Looking back, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short time. It seems like just a few months ago our calendar was full of bill due dates, and now it isn’t. There’s room to breathe and to dream!

Now that we are in a better financial position, we have been talking about our dreams and what we want our future to look like. We are hoping to make some pretty big changes at the end of this year, but we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my oldest graduating college this year – another milestone!

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.

Burnt Out

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In addition to my many other hobbies (see my previous post), I also play Dungeons and Dragons every week. For the past two years or so, I’ve been the DM for our group. We started out playing in-person and then moved online when the pandemic hit.

For a while, I was also the DM of several play-by-post games on DNDBeyond. One lasted for almost a year, which I am tickled about. I learned a lot, and it was a lot of fun. But eventually it ended, so I am down to just our regular weekly online game.

We use Roll20 and Discord and have played several adventures over the course of the last few years. We started out playing Tomb of Annihilation in-person and then switched to Roll20 when we could no longer meet. It was going well, but then a couple of players had to drop out and the game just kind of fizzled. They had made it almost to the end tomb, but didn’t want to continue on.

So we found another player to round out the group and they decided to play the Icespire Peak adventure. We made our way through that, including all the add-ons. I did have a small respite for one or two sessions while someone else DM’d, but then he returned to college, so he didn’t have the time anymore.

We opted to play Waterdeep: Dragon Heist next, and we are almost done with it. They have located the vault and the keys, so it’s really just the last bit of the dungeon next session and we will likely be done with this adventure.

I’m torn about what to do next. I am severely burnt out being the DM. It would be nice to just show up and play without spending hours of prep before each session. I enjoy it, but I’m ready for someone else to do it for a while. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of my players stepping up to DM if I don’t. So now I’m torn between continuing to DM even when I am burnt out, or likely having the group split up because no one else wants to DM.

Personally, I’d like to try some new games, including the new Burn Bryte space game, as well as Humblewood, a game that uses D&D rules but has a new setting and player races. None of my current players are interested in any of those, however, so I don’t know what to do.

Actually, after thinking and writing about it, perhaps I’m not burnt out from DMing, I’m burnt out from managing players – dealing with issues such as late arrivals, last-minute cancellations and the like. Which is a whole different problem – and one that’s pretty easy to fix. So I’ll continue to DM this adventure to its conclusion, and then after that, I’m going to let my group know that I will be taking a break as DM. Perhaps one of them will surprise me and step up – though I’m not holding my breath. If so, great. If not, then I am free to find another group to play with, whether as a DM or player.

I will say that I have thoroughly enjoyed using Roll20 to play online. Even though I love playing in person with miniatures, the process of drawing maps and such was a huge hassle. It’s so much easier in Roll20 to set things up, even though I’m usually extra lazy and just purchase modules that are already all set up for me. It also makes it a bit easier to find players, since playing online removes a lot of the scheduling stumbling blocks you encounter when playing in person. I may even try playing an asynchronous game in Roll20 if I’m feeling really adventurous.

We’ll see what happens when this current adventure ends. In the meantime, I have lots of other projects to keep me busy. 😛

Making a Plan

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My thoughts are all over the place today, rushing full-spreed through my brain. I also have a migraine, so that makes it so much more fun. :/

Yesterday I was determined to be productive, and I was. I ‘adulted,’ as the kids call it, paying bills, organizing my office, and marking off things on my to-do list. I got so much done I gave myself a reward and diamond painted for a couple of hours.

Today, my motivation is nowhere to be found. I have a whole list of things I ‘should’ do and I don’t ‘feel like doin’ anything,’ as the song says. I do just wanna lay in my bed. Alas, the real world beckons. I have to go into work today. I am already prepping for classes in January, though I still don’t know whether they will be in person or remote. In any event, I need to get the prep done, so into work I will go.

I’ve also been trying to make myself some concrete goals for my online business ideas. I have so many ideas running around in my brain that I end up doing nothing because I can’t figure out where to start. So, I’m going to take some of the advice I give my students and break things up into smaller chunks. That way the task doesn’t seem so overwhelming. I try to set three goals a day for myself when my motivation takes a hike. If I get those three things done, then I can call the day a win. 😛

I’ve had some of my coloring mandalas listed on my Etsy shop. The other day I discovered that I should probably be calling them zendalas instead of mandalas, since I use a lot of zentangles as elements of my designs. I’ve also decided to add a .png and .jpg file to the listings, so that people can add them into Procreate or other apps for coloring. I may at some point sell them as SVG files as well.

I also want to finally add some of my planner stickers to the shop as well. I’m going to be sitting down and designing them for my own planner, so I might as well get double duty out of them and put them for sale as well. So there’s my to-do list for today – work, add files to the mandala listings, and design my monthly planner stickers. I probably won’t get it all done, but at least I have a plan. Even if I don’t get everything done, I will have at least gotten something done. 😀

And since today is Friday, I can look forward to some relaxing time this weekend working on my latest diamond painting project. I’ve only completed one small section so far, but I can already tell it’s going to be a challenge, as the painting is mostly shades of blue and white. If you’re interested, you can find the painting here.

Slow But Steady

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I still have tons of things to work on, but – as someone reminded me – even slow progress is better than no progress. In spite of all my dithering about, I did manage to get some things done the other day. I added items to my Etsy shop, I began working on additional items for the shop, and I did some back end work for opening a TeachersPayTeachers shop.

As I get older, I find that my motivation and focus are not what they used to be. However, I’m trying to remember that I need to be nicer to myself and that everything does not have to get done in a day. Even if I want it to. 😛

So, if I want to work on a diamond painting one day and paint some minis the next, that’s okay. The world won’t end if I don’t finish all the things at once. Slow but steady wins the race, right? That is how I’ve approached our financial goals, and even though it seems really slow some days, if I look back, I can see exactly how far we’ve come.

When I started working on paying off our bills, we had a mortgage, two car loans, a bank loan, and 4 credit cards. As of today, we are down to just our mortgage, one car loan, and 1 credit card. 😀 We’re still not where I want to be, but we are so much closer than we were to being debt free.

I’m hopeful that by the time we are ready to move, we will have paid off the last credit card. That means we will have more cash available for our move and associated expenses. We want to move so that we can be closer to my husband’s family. Lots of things are still up in the air (because nothing is normal in 2020), but at least we’re making progress towards our goals. So I’ll continue to try and remind myself that progress is progress, no matter how small it is. 😀

Feeling Like a Failure

I promised myself that I would spend time this week working on various things related to my (supposed) online business. I want to 1) add things to my Etsy store, 2) create products that I can sell on TeachersPayTeachers, 2) research how to increase my sales on Etsy (keywords, SEO, etc.), 3) research whether a Shopify store would be worth the time/effort/money, 4) set up my YouTube channel, and 5) upload videos to said channel.

Except after about 10 minutes of sitting here on the computer, I feel almost paralyzed. I have no idea what I’m doing. I know what I want, but there are so many things I need to learn I don’t know where to start. Do you ever get that? Overwhelmed because there are SO MANY choices?

It can’t be that hard. People start and run online businesses every day. And I’m not looking to become a millionaire overnight. I just want to have an online source of income so that I can be mobile and still be able to work.

I’ve been blogging here for over a year and have launched my Etsy business. I have a ton of ideas for products, many of which I’ve already created. I just can’t seem to buckle down and get anything done. I can’t seem to force myself into gear to be productive.

It’s easier for me to work with external deadlines, even if there are no real consequences for missing them. My own deadlines, however, I can ignore with apparent ease, even though I feel horribly guilty for doing so.

Sometimes there’s just no way but through, right? So I am going to force myself to get SOMETHING done today, even if it isn’t everything. I’ve already had my workout, done my cleaning, have laundry going, and I’m writing this blog. So SOMETHING has been done, even if it wasn’t what I intended. That’s better than nothing. It’s not even noon yet, so I have time to work.

How do you hold yourself accountable? Force yourself to be productive on those days when you’re overwhelmed?

Finding Time

I’m still struggling to find time to do everything I want to. We did finally start on the paperwork for our move to Canada, so that’s good. I’m hoping it’s less work than getting my husband’s permanent residency here. It’s less expensive, at least. 😀

I’m still plugging away on lesson planning. I enjoy it, but I’m getting a little burnt out. I have 3 more weeks to do to get through the end of the year. I think I’m finally starting to figure out how to make the process as quick as possible, even with all our COVID restrictions. I’d like to be further ahead than I am, so I don’t feel guilty working on other projects.

I’d love to get back to my mini painting, especially since I’m so close to finishing off my pile of forgotten minis. Then I could open up my CR minis and get those done. We’ve been playing online, so I haven’t needed to purchase any new ones.

I also have lots of other projects I want to get done, but it’s hard to justify the time when it means putting off work I’m actually getting paid for. 🤨

In the meantime, I am still drawing and playing around with dot mandalas.

I like the color palette of this one. It reminds me of ice cream cones for some reason. I enjoy drawing these a lot. I wish I had time to do more.

Also, I splurged and bought myself a new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to go with it. I can’t wait til it gets here!

Fallacy of Time

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My brain is all over the place these days. I feel like I have so much going on and not enough hours in the day to fit in everything I want to. That feeling is not accurate, though. I may not have enough hours in a day to get EVERYTHING done, but I certainly have enough hours in the day to get MORE things done than I am currently.

I confess, I am easily bored. So I am constantly putting off things that feel like they are boring (like cleaning, paying bills, blog admin, etc.). I’d rather spend time thinking about new and exciting ideas, which is fun, but is then followed by guilt about putting off things I know I should do.

All of this got me thinking about that old cliche:

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

On its face, it’s a true statement. There are, indeed, only 24 hours in a day. No matter whether you are a Prime Minister, a company president, a pop star, or a peon, we all only get 24 hours in a day.

However, my 24 hours are different than yours, and yours are likely different than others as well. How much you can accomplish doesn’t really just depend on you. It also depends on how much support you have.

For example, for most people (read: peons), part of your 24 hours is spent on things like:

  • commuting to your job
  • cooking your meals
  • doing your laundry
  • cleaning your home
  • paying your bills
  • taking care of your family

If you are a single parent, you likely don’t have a lot of help doing any of those things. If you have a significant other or other family to help, you can (hopefully) rely on them to do some of those things for you. Add in sleep and work hours, and most of those 24 hours are filled.

But if you’re a pop star, a company president, or a Prime Minister, you probably (read: almost certainly) have a TON of people supporting you and helping you, thus freeing up a lot more of your 24 hours. How much more would you be able to get done in your 24 hours with more support? Someone to cook your meals? Clean your house? Do your laundry? Make sure all your bills get paid? Drive you to work?

Suddenly there is a lot more you can accomplish, because you have more time available to you. If I had a way to commute to work (like a driver or a mass transit option), that’s 40 minutes a day I’d have free to do other things – like write, draw, or blog.

I started to actually do some math on how much more time I’d have, but it just got depressing, so I stopped. The point is, even though we may all have 24 hours in a day, there are many people who have the luxury of using those hours in ways that are not available to most of us.

It’s a vicious cycle – you work to make money so you can pay for someone else to do certain things for you, which frees up your time for other things. But a lot (read: most) of those other things don’t make money, so you spend more time working to make more money, which means that time you thought you’d bought is no longer free.

People with lots of money and/or support like to tell the rest of us that we could be doing just as much, if only we were more dedicated, more ambitious, or more like them. The underlying implication is that you’re lazy, stupid, or somehow ‘less’ than them. What they ignore is that none of them could do all the things they do without that support.

I’m in that vicious cycle currently. I’ve taken on extra responsibilities at my job to earn more money, which is great. I’m glad I have that opportunity, because I know a lot of people are struggling right now. And while, in the long run, it will allow me to reach some financial goals I’ve set for myself, in the meantime, it’s incredibly frustrating because it’s taking up more of my time and thus taking away time from things that I enjoy, like blogging and drawing. You know, those things that I want to do in the hopes that at some point, I can make money doing them, rather than what I’m doing now.

Until I win the lottery, I’ll just have to keep plugging away on my own, finding ways to more productive in less time. Maybe I’ll even figure out how to motivate myself to get on those boring jobs and get them out of the way so I can spend time on other pursuits. 😛