The Shallow End – April 2021

Hello April!

Shop Update

The Countdown to Relaunch is officially on!

I’m still trying to carve out some time for other projects and sketching. But honestly, I’ve had nothing BUT time to focus on that stuff for the last year. So I figure it’s probably okay to temporarily shift focus to getting my shop ready to re-open…

Overall I’m making pretty good progress, I think, on getting everything ready for May. I can’t wait to share the selection of prints for relaunch, the little details I’ve planned for packaging..and hopefully it all photographs really well too! (Fingers crossed and camera set to auto!)

I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this structure of dedicated time to create, and now working on this shop update. I know the pandemic kind of forced me into working this way, but I think it’s definitely one of the habits I’ll probably keep in the “new new normal.”


Art Stuff

I’m still trying to keep some balance and not neglect sketching for weeks while I work on my shop. I did a ton of drawing this last week in my sketchbook, and am still working on my webcomics.

Although lately I’ve been thinking I might want to create a sort of world for my comics, with recurring characters and some settings, to make it more cohesive (without being a single narrative). I’ve noticed most of the comics I enjoy are set up that way…hmmmm….

So, I’ve got a lot of ideas and have something like a plan for my stuff, which is largely why I’ve done so much sketching lately. And think it could be really cool. But I’m not sure how to make that transition… like, should I take a break from my current webcomics until I get it all designed for the new stuff? Do I just jump in with what I have and develop as I go? …I don’t know. But I guess I’ll have to decide soon!

A super sneak peak from my sketchbook!

Not Art Stuff

We’ve started watching Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt so I’ll Max Out Defense…again… I think we watched it this time last year too. It’s still so good, and it’s nice to get a break from our usual — The X-Files and The Amazing World of Gumball.

We’ve also started watching our way through the “Conjureverse,” because I’m apparently now one of those people that will watch horror movies all year long?! What?! (We’re supposed to watch the second Annabelle movie next, and I’m just like…why?! How can there be a sequel?! or prequel?! why?!) It’s so dumb. But so fun.

Lastly, I’ve fallen down the studio-vlog rabbit hole on Youtube. Sometimes it can be a little isolating not having coworkers, and I’m not really a part of an artist community. So watching other artists share their processes, experiences, and journey has created a sort of illusion of comradery. Like, “hey I can totally relate to inexplicable printer problems, the excitement of new paint colors, or wondering how to fill a sketchbook! How neat! It’s not just me!” Sometimes I get tempted to try to start my own vlog, but…I think I’ll stick to writing…


Books

Books? What’s that?! Just kidding…but haven’t been reading a ton lately. I’m kinda sorta re-reading Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies again, for the pep talks. I haven’t read Abaddon’s Gate in what feels like ages. Oops. Oh well. It happens.


So I think that’s everything (which seems like a lot to me?!).

Thanks for joining me in the shallow end!

Countdown to Relaunch!

Trying out a new header — what do you think?!

Hello!

It turns out there is a light at the end of this tunnel — that there may not be a second year of quarantine after all?! Yay! And in my daydreaming of life post-vaccine, I’m starting to make plans to reopen my Etsy shop! Yay!

…I have a lot of work to do to get ready…

With that being the case, I thought it would be fun (or at least interesting?) to go behind the scenes as I’m planning for a sort of re-launch of my Etsy shop!


Step one: Going through ALL my past work, and ALL my work from the last year to figure out what I want to include in my shop…The good news is that there is a lot of it. The bad news is that there is a lot of it. Admittedly in the past I had the approach of “is it finished? then list it!” which was…fine?… But now I’m being a bit more picky, and sort of curating everything into a more cohesive selection of prints. So figuring out that selection is step one! <<< I am here.

Step two: making prints! I have about twenty or so new illustrations that I actually need to turn into prints! It’s not too hard, but a little tedious to get everything scanned and/or formatted and sized. It’s always exciting to print new stuff, but it’s also pretty loud. Since I’m sharing the office with Mr. Husband, I’ll need to work in smaller batches, maybe even just nights and weekends. Not a big deal…If I really feel like multi-tasking, I could send art to the printer while I’m playing video games…hmmm…

Step three: I want to curate some of my older prints into mini-themed-bundles! I have a lot of recurring themes and color palettes, and I thought that would be a fun way to provide coordinated prints. And while I don’t normally do sales, since I try to keep everything fairly affordable anyway, these will probably be on like super-sale. Probably.

Step four: photographing my work. This is honestly my least favorite step, and definitely something I need to improve on. In the past I’ve done either cute staged props OR good lighting, not both. But I think both would be good? So, that will be…interesting! Currently I’m thinking of using some simple black and white props and frames, so the colorful prints really stand out. And I think I have a window picked out for solid natural light. I’m just going to have to be patient…and maybe take the glass out of my picture frames… because fighting with glare and reflections is no fun!

Step five: the (theoretically) super fun part — packing and shipping! Previously I was using (and spending too much money on) cardboard backing and plastic covers for all my prints. That’s a pretty traditional way to do it, so it worked for me too. However, I really really really want to move away from using so much plastic. Besides, when I order art, personally I never keep it in the plastic to display it anyway — I either hang it up on it’s own with like push pins or clips. Or I frame it. So, I’m hoping to figure out a way to package my prints in a way that protects them in storage and transit, without relying on plastic covers. Is this possible!? We’ll find out! …I’m also considering recycling cardboard for keeping mail sturdy (why was I not doing this before?!), and picking out some cute tissue paper and goodies for packing orders. In the past I was very focused on keeping the artwork safe, but now I want to make it a little more fun too. So, I’m really excited about this step!


I think that’s everything!? I suspect taking photos will be the longest and hardest part, but I also think I’ve got plenty of time. Right now, I’m hoping that I will be able open my Etsy shop back up by the end of May. So not super soon, but not that far off either! What is time anyway?! I will definitely be making announcements as we get closer, both with a special blog update here, as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Stay tuned!


Do you have any ideas or suggestions for my Etsy shop 2.0?! Want to share your exciting post-vaccine dreams?! Let me know in the comments below!

The Shallow End – March 2021

Original Photo Credit: Ed Robertson / Unsplash

Hello March!

This last month I’ve been focusing a lot on productivity– making time to do all the different things I want to work on in my art. Big projects, fancy sketchbooks, practicing new techniques, etc… Lately I’ve adopted a bit of a schedule, balancing different projects throughout the week and splitting my day between one thing in the morning and something else in the afternoon. It’s helping me stay focused and keep a balance between ALL THE THINGS. So I’m pleased with how it’s working!

Interestingly, I’ve prioritized digital art for three days a week, and traditional art for two. I don’t think I want to abandon watercolor painting and ink drawing, but honestly I’m finding digital art way more FUN right now. So I’m just leaning a bit more into it, because why not?!

As a result, I’ve been spending some time learning and practicing with Procreate. I love it so far, and see why it’s gotten so popular! I’ve been working through the book: Beginner’s Guide to Digital Painting in Procreate by 3dtotal Publishing. The tutorials aren’t perfect, but have definitely taught me a lot so far! It’s stepped up my color and lighting work SO MUCH already!

Made in Procreate! I used a photo from Norbert Toth / Unsplash as a reference for this composition so I could focus on technique.

I don’t know that I’ll use this style all the time moving forward, but I’m excited to have the option! Yay learning!


February was action movie month in our household. It was originally just a Valentine’s Day tradition, but we decided to expand it to be more like our Halloween movie marathon. Our favorites included Commando– classic Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wheels on Meals– early Jackie Chan comedy, and Hard Target — ridiculous action with Wilford Brimley easily stealing the show from Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Oh! and we watched Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot with Sylvester Stallone. It was AWFUL. Just absolutely painful. Do not recommend (just watch the trailer)…BUT, since the rumor is Schwarzenegger faked interest in the script to get Stallone to take the lead, it’s basically the funniest prank ever.

Wut.

As for books, I finally finished Caliban’s War, book two in The Expanse series. So good! I’ve already started book three, Abaddon’s Gate and I am hooked! My goal is definitely to finish the series this year…assuming the series is finished?? Either way, it’s nice to have a series to focus on. Makes it a lot easier to figure out what to read next.

I’ve also started reading some graphic novels again, including some for younger readers (after enjoying Lumberjanes so much last year). I recently finished Sentient by Jeff Lemire. It was about deep space travel, a ship’s AI taking care of the children onboard. It was super dark and violent, and I think there is only one book so far, but I still liked it — the art was awesome, and I’m intrigued by the world building and story. But it didn’t really end with a cliffhanger, so maybe there won’t be a book two, now that I think about it? I don’t know, I liked it. Not something I usually read, but it was well-done.

On a much lighter note, I read Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez. It reminded me a bit of the Hilda graphic novels — gorgeous art, and a ton of whimsy. I was just starring at the pages and the artwork. And the story is charming and clever and explores creativity, so that was a lot of fun, and was suprisingly thought-provoking for a kid’s book! I think there might be a sequel, and I’ll probably pick it up soon!


Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

Maps & Diagrams

Original Photo Credit: Ussama Azam / Unsplash

Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t know what kind of art I want to make.

Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t think I’ll be able to make the art I want to make.

And sometimes it looks like I’m procrastinating, thinking about what kind of art I want to make, when really it’s a pretty important part of the process, and not procrastinating at all.

It seems counter-intuitive to step away from the making of the art, to just thinking about the art. But I’m learning that now and again (read: not all the time!), it’s super important.

In a way, it’s like checking the map and making sure I’m still heading in the right direction. In this metaphor, consider shiny new art supplies, techniques, and inspiring creators as various features on the map. They are very important, very distracting, and very much not the destination…I think…?

So, lately I’ve been “checking the map.” I have a general sense of direction that has been serving me well, for the most part. My, uh, leisurely, pace has avoided burnout, and I’ve learned all kinds of new and exciting things, some of which I’ve even brought along with me now (like, abstracts and gouache). But now it’s been time to get my bearings.

I took a lot of time this last month to really study where I’m headed, what I’m working towards. My goals haven’t changed, but it was more just making sure I’m on track to even get there…

I was sort of taking inventory on all the art media I use — how do I want to use my watercolors, gouache, inks, and colored pencils? What is the role of digital art in my work? That kind of thing. For instance, I realized that while I love that I have learned how to use gouache, I still prefer my watercolors, and would rather gouache play a supplement role. It turns out that the style I was using gouache for, looks better to me when done digitally. And that’s okay! But I had to really study and think about it to figure that out.

I also reviewed some of the main sources of inspiration and main learning resources for my art thus far. I kind of assumed it was a single circle Venn diagram — that I want to make art that looks like the art I really like. It seemed obvious. But as it turns out, I like a lot of different kind of art and artists. And there are really two different circles — there’s a lot of art out there that I LOVE but doesn’t look anything like the kind of work I want to do myself. And that’s okay! …I was getting so frustrated comparing my work to some of my favorite artists. I would really like something I’d made, then look at art I admired, see that they didn’t look anything alike — et voila — clearly that meant there was something wrong with my work! I am a failure! …Yikes!

Now, instead of asking myself “how do I do THAT?” I’m asking the much more generous (and interesting!) question, “what about this piece would be really interesting to LEARN from?” It’s not about copying anyone’s work, but trying to be much more intentional in how I learn. “THAT” gestures wildly is not nearly as helpful as “well, I love the shading they used…if I tried more defined shading, maybe my work would pop in a similar way?” YES!

This was not a simple process, reframing my approach to my work. “Checking in” on the road map this time was involved and I made it kinda tedious (so many lists! mini-essays! (why?!)). But honestly, I’m so glad that I did it. It was worth taking the time. Because for the first time in a LONG time, I’m not really procrastinating at all. Because I know where I’m at, and what I want to work on moving forward. (Fun fact — it looks a fair bit like the work I made when I first got started. But, maybe a bit evolved? Is that pretentious? Or just progress? shrugs)


Sometimes, like now, I’m just making the art.

And procrastination is just refilling my coffee and spending five more minutes on a puzzle before getting to work, and not contemplating (and being overwhelmed by) the art world and my lil’ place in it… Whew!

One of my newest illustrations. Isn’t it CUTE?!

The Shallow End – February 2021

Original Photo Credit: Ed Robertson / Unsplash

Hello February!

So, on the one hand, I’ve managed to successfully get back into my weekly routine after taking a bit of time off for the holidays. It’s been really nice, and comforting to know what my work day is going to look like in advance, and setting small daily goals…

On the other hand, I’m struggling with how to incorporate a new (secondary) sketchbook habit into that schedule. You’d think I wouldn’t lack for time, but somehow I can only seem to work on big projects, and small doodles in my regular messy sketchbook. Adding a themed sketchbook sounds a lot like a big project now that it’s in front of me. I know the hardest part of starting a sketchbook is starting a sketchbook, but dang, it’s not usually this hard. I’m just going to have to just dive in eventually… I did listen to one of the latest episodes of The Laura Horn Art Podcast, which happened to be about working in sketchbooks. It was super encouraging, so I’m hoping that will help me get started!

Otherwise, it’s been mostly the same old same to my start of the year. Working on paintings, practicing drawings in my sketchbook, and making my weekly web comics! Normally I’d also be planning my “big” business goals for the year as well…but, obviously that is darn near impossible right now… Honestly, the easiest way for me to stay motivated right now is to focus on those small daily goals, and letting that be enough! Not just for my art and working, but for just about everything. Just one day at a time!


So, I’m proud to say I beat Immortal Fenyx Rising! I’m still trying to finish all the puzzles, but I completed the story! A rare feat for me! The hardest part was making one dumb jump up a series of pillars — but it probably took twenty minutes! When it comes to video games I have basically no depth perception. When I would play old World of Warcraft dungeons and put up a solid fight, I’d get stuck trying to jump across a lake…every. single. time! But that said, it was still a lot of fun.

I’ve also been watching Mr. Husband play Yakuza: Like a Dragon. We were new to the franchise but it is SO GOOD. Easily one of the best games I’ve never played (haha) but I got completely hooked watching him play through the story! It’s like a really funny, super nerdy, soap opera. Absolutely love it!

In other news, while I’m not someone that just browses Youtube, I just have a few channels I follow. One of which is Jenny Nicholson. She recently released a two and half hour review of The Vampire Diaries show. I never watched the show, but I definitely watched all of the review. Was it a good use of my time? Probably not…Was it entertaining? Absolutely. And I now feel like I’ve seen the whole thing!


Also thanks to Jenny, I started reading The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith (creator of Vampire Diaries). It’s a super ridiculous, super 90s…thriller, I guess? Basically, a group of teens are trapped in a board game facing their deepest fears. But also (of course), the game is being controlled by dreamboat demon guy that has been in love with the protagonist for-ev-er. HA! It’s a complete mess, but an absolute gem! For someone who now loves campy horror movies, I don’t know why I’ve never considered the literary equivalent, but it’s fantastic. I definitely have to take breaks and read something else in my current reading pile (like, still working my way through Caliban’s War), but it is a treat to be sure!


Thanks for joining me at The Shallow End!

Book Review: The Artist’s Way

Original Photo Credit: Sincerely Media / Unsplash

I haven’t done a book review since college (so definitely not recently!). But, I figured if I am going to read and talk so much about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at the book now that I’ve (finally) finished it!

If you aren’t familiar with it — The Artist’s Way is a 12-week guide to fostering creative living. Cameron argues that we are all capable of creativity, in our own ways, and walks through methods for developing that creativity within us. Note, I found it it was written truly for everyone, and not just career artists, and encourages all kinds of art forms, not just like, traditional fine art.


So, I was vaguely aware of the title, as it shows up in just about any search for art books. But I only started reading it because it was recommended in Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, which if you aren’t new here, you know is one of my favorite books ever now. Also, there was a little blurb on the cover from Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic (so good!). So yeah, after that, I was intrigued…

I went with the library’s ebook version, which worked fine. But it does seem like creative books are all in high demand right now, so I could never hang on to the copy very long, would have to return it, place a hold, and wait for a copy to be available again. It’s not efficient, but it did work. But I’m not sure I recommend it… that said, I’m also kinda relieved I didn’t buy it instead.

Honestly, I just didn’t love it.

So, each week has a series of artists tasks, including journaling prompts and small projects to foster creativity. Overall, her two essential practices are morning pages, and the artist date. Morning pages is writing three pages of journaling first thing in the day. And the artist date was a challenge to go and do something fun and inspiring for your “inner artist/inner child” just because.


What I liked:

So, I liked the morning pages, in theory. But I followed the “spirit” of the task, as three pages in a normal sized journal with my handwriting took a full hour (it’s supposed to take about 20-30 minutes…). So I quickly started just setting a half hour timer for writing. I found it easy to wake up early and write at first, but by the last few weeks, I was struggling to hit even 15 minutes. Admittedly I already have another journal, so it felt like having two wasn’t really beneficial, but if you are out of the habit of journaling, I do recommend it.

As a fan of journaling already, I did like the artist tasks that were writing prompts about creative interests and processing feedback on creative work. But, my favorite question was probably the “what would you secretly do for a living, if you could do anything?!” I mean, it’s not exactly a ground-breaking question, but it was fun to consider and my answer surprised me.


What I didn’t like:

A large part of the book felt very intentionally vague to me, like a prosperity gospel for creativity. If you believe you are made to be creative and our creator wants you to create then you can create and should create and it will be great! Um, I guess there are worse messages about creativity, but I guess I don’t need it to be persuaded to follow my creative dreams. I’ve never considered that a matter of faith or spirituality? So, yeah, that was just…weird. Because it wasn’t just that you will be creative, but you will be a SUCCESS. It’s a nice pep talk, but I wouldn’t hold her to it. After all, as a filmmaker, her biggest success is this book franchise…sooo…

I also think so much of the book was focused on convincing people to BE creative, that it didn’t really explore creative block as much for those who are already unabashedly creative. And it certainly didn’t address professional creatives. After a while, it was a little frustrating to read so much about finding these deeply hidden creative passions, rather than how to explore our creativity in more depth. Not saying she doesn’t address it at all, just not in anyway that left a big helpful impression.

I also don’t recommend working through this book in a pandemic. It’s not her fault, but the artists date was largely about getting out and finding inspiration out in the world doing fun stuff. EVERY WEEK. I felt a little called out when she was like “are you just WaTcHiNg A mOvIe?” Um, yes? Again, it’s not her fault, but I stopped bothering with the artist date after two weeks… so I can’t say how much that helps, because I just didn’t get to do it.


So there you have it! I hope this review is helpful!

Side note (and maybe I should do reviews on them as well?) but I found Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and Amie McNee’s For the Procrastinator much more helpful for encouraging general creativity and finding inspirations and working through creative block… they also don’t need twelve weeks to get through!

If you do want to see more book reviews like this, be sure to let me know in the comments!

The Shallow End – January 2021

Original Photo Credit: Ed Robertson / Unsplash

Hello January & Happy New Year!

As weird as last year was, I tried really hard to cultivate and stick to a weekly routine. But honestly, it’s been pretty nice to just rest the last few weeks. And while normally I’m encouraged to sort of “hit the ground running” this time of year, I’m honestly looking to just ease back into my routine when I’m ready…

One thing I am looking forward to working on is starting a new themed sketchbook this month. Taking a bit of a break from creating so many finished pieces, and focusing just on playing with ideas and different media to start this year. I’ll definitely share it in a sketchbook tour when it’s done!


Not watching a ton of TV lately, except for X-Files, of course. Mostly playing video games — Immortals Fenyx Rising is a blast. The puzzles stress me out, but it helps that it’s funny, reminds me of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (my favorite!), and I’m a sucker for Greek mythology.

In the last month, I’ve also become one of those weird people that actually enjoys working out? I’ve been trying to make time to move around and keep active since this last summer, but I recently learned about Sydney Cummings on Youtube and am totally addicted. I’m super late to the party, but I’m almost a month into her Summertime Fine series, and I love it! My only goal is to stay consistent and keep at it! Not my strength in this area, but something to work toward. One day at a time!


Since re-starting the Expanse series books, I’ve been diving back into fiction more. I recently read Evvie Drake Starts Over, which was a delightful rom-com of a novel. Not gonna lie, I loved it! I also read the YA mystery The Inheritance Games, and despite the comparison to Knives Out (so good!), I thought it was just alright. Oh well… But I did want to read another mystery after that, so over Christmas I read the -very grim- detective novel In the Woods, since I’ve had a copy for ages. Despite the super dark story, I actually really liked the way it was written/narrated and it kept me guessing! So that was…fun? And it was at least interesting to try a different genre for a bit!


Anyway, thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

Hindsight – Looking Back on 2020

Original Photo Credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

So I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a review of my artwork from the year… Because despite everything else, I did keep pretty productive.

I really tried to fine tune my schedule so I could have a sustainable creative routine. So between that, working through The Artist’s Way (which I do still plan on reviewing eventually), getting heckin’ motivated by Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, and not running my Etsy shop… Yeah, I’ve stayed pretty busy!

I focused mostly on watercolor, gouache, and ink. And I spent a lot of time in my sketchbook with colored pencils… I started the year working on ink and watercolor abstract landscapes and scenes. Explored abstract non-representational watercolors. Did a few ink & digital color pieces (one or two are still waiting on color. still. oops.) Learned about mapmaking– made a few maps. Bounced back to some watercolor landscapes again. Then started trying to work with gouache, loved it, and have been alternating my time between watercolor and gouache pieces.

I tried to focus on certain themes and subjects and that helped keep me working. I noticed I got too overwhelmed wondering what to work on, so by narrowing it down it was easier to move from one project to the next. Landscapes, still life, animals, abstracts, maps, and what was originally “single page comics” now also includes my little instagram comics too. I still gravitated to space, floral and food elements, as I always have. So that was fun to see pop-up throughout my work still.

In total, my count is about 35 finished paintings and illustrations! Not including comics, which I have two on Instagram and three queued up! (Look at me, working ahead!?!). And I put my sketchbooks to work this year too. I don’t have any pretty & organized sketchbooks this year, but maybe that’s something I can work on next year…

Ink & Watercolor
Gouache

Lastly, I thought it would be fun to end this year picking my favorite piece. Fortunately, it was really hard to choose! And it was fun to look back and see which ones still jump out as personal favorites… but I think as of right now, the winner of My Favorite Piece from 2020 is:

An abstract watercolor inspired by Mars

So there you have it! I’m so looking forward to eventually being able to reopen my shop and turning all this artwork into prints! And I can’t wait to see what new stuff I’ll make next year!

In the meantime, I wish you all a safe and happy holidays! See you in 2021!

The Shallow End – December 2020

Original Photo Credit: Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

Hello December!? When did you get here?!

As you can tell, I’m now officially unstuck in time…maybe it feels like there should have been more days in November? Or time is really becoming meaningless in day 250+ of staying at home. Dunno.

But I couldn’t let a little calendar confusion stop me from sharing the latest update with y’all! So here we go!


Lately I’ve been focused on building a routine to my work day. I don’t super love structure, but it’s also kinda helpful. I want to enjoy the “perks” of self-employed-work-from-home-shop-closed-due-to-a-pandemic but also stay reasonably productive, and not let weeks go by where all I’ve done is glance at my sketchbook “thinking of ideas” while really I’m working on a giant jigsaw puzzle (Oh noooo, how did that happen?!). So, yeah, there needs to be a little balance…

For me, it looks a lot like taking it one day at a time, and setting the pace at “the smallest step I can take toward my goals I can do today.” This attitude is actually letting me approach some new long-term goals as well that normally would have seemed absolutely impossible, too time-consuming, etc. Now I’m just breaking them down into the super smallest reasonable step forward, knowing I’ll get there eventually. (And I usually do a little bit more than I expected)… It’s the luxury of not having hard deadlines for anything, I guess. But that’s the reality of where I’m at, so I’m making it work! I don’t do “hustle” but it does feel nice to feel consistently productive in some small measure! And let me say, it adds up quickly!

Specifically, I’ve been regularly working on painting in watercolor and gouache, and practicing drawing cute little cartoon characters. I’m really having fun playing around with that, and have even started working on little comic strips to start sharing. My goal is to do one a week, but the babystep of “coming up with an idea” is way harder than I expected! I’ve got a few I’ve made already and I plan on sharing on my Instagram regularly(ish). I hope you enjoy them!

A sneak peek at my first comic strip!

We’re still watching The X-Files. It’s ridiculous but I love it… And we binge-watched all the Thanksgiving episodes of Bob’s Burgers on Thanksgiving, which may now be a new tradition in this house. It’s a fantastic show anyway, but it’s especially entertaining to watch Bob AND Mr. Husband get super excited about cooking a turkey! (My only contribution to dinner was thinking up a “turkey and winter veggies pot-pie” but Mr. Husband developed and executed it perfectly! With a squash soup! It wasn’t traditional for us, but it was soooo good! Apparently we really really like parsnips, who knew?!)


During the holiday weekend I also binge-read (is that a thing?) Leviathan Wakes. I’d read it before years ago but for some reason felt compelled to revisit it. Goodreads informed me I was NOT a fan the first time around, which is weird because I remembered it pretty well? Anyway, I super enjoyed it this time, and have already jumped into the next in the series, Caliban’s War. (No, I haven’t seen the show…yet). I’m also reading the Hilda children’s books/graphic novels, because they are delightful. Like a more juvenile Lumberjanes, almost. And I LOVE the artwork and colors. (I guess it is also a show, but I haven’t seen it either).


Thanks for joining me at The Shallow End!

Gratitude II

Original Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

When I decided to write about gratitude this month, I didn’t remember that I wrote about it last November.

And yet I think it’s still worth talking about… again.

Last year, to sum up, I didn’t know what to do with “gratitude.” I knew it was important but I didn’t know how to be cognizant of feeling thankful, and I definitely didn’t know how to express it to anyone else. But I was determined to try.

This year…well, gratitude is looking a little different. It’s all different this year. This year just sucks. It just does. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. THIS YEAR IS HARD. For all kinds of reasons, and in all kinds of ways, this year hasn’t gone the way anyone planned. I suppose that’s normal to some degree, but not usually to THIS degree.

Like lately, I find myself exceptionally sarastic when reading motivational books lately. They tend to read like “did you get in your own way? are you not doing the thing that my book is telling you to do because of made up excuses?!” …um, no? I think I get to use my “pandemic pass”. I know you couldn’t possibly accounted for your audience to experience a pandemic while reading your pro tips for doing stuff, but it’s happening, and you don’t get to tell me what to do! Gosh! So, I’ll just make a note of it now, and will MAYBE try it once things settle down, okay?!

…reading is fun. 🤦‍♀️

Anyway, if anything, because we are in a pandemic, because this year has been hard in so many ways for all of us, at once, I think that makes Thanksgiving look different, and feel different, but also more important than in recent years. I’m talking about GIVING THANKS. I’m not talking about a big feast, or a get together. Those things are not happening this year… But what will happen, what needs to happen now more than ever is remembering some of the good things that are happening right now, that have been happening in all the chaos. The moments of lightness and joy and hope…

I’ve started writing a small gratitude list at the end of the day. It was suggested in Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies (the book I am obsessed with this year), so I had to give it another try (I don’t argue with this book!). So, I try to write 10 things I’m grateful for at the end of the day. This is not a profound list. About half of it is food, which seems dumb. But also, it feels good to be grateful for food. Or like, hearing birds outside? It’s wild! And I can’t remember the last time I wore jeans, and I love it! I’m also super grateful that video calls exist and the internet and texting, so we’re not all waiting for nights and weekends to talk to our friends and family (DO YOU REMEMBER WORRYING ABOUT LONG DISTANCE RATES?! I DO.) There is also a lot of super important stuff to be grateful for this year as well — like essential workers of all kinds. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Sometimes I think I’m reluctant to give thanks because it like reeks of privilege (#blessed much?). But I think when it’s approached with sincerity, yes it does call out privilege. It should… When I give thanks for tasty food and a full pantry, I can’t NOT think about those with food insecurity and hunger, and I want to help. So, gratitude doesn’t just change the way I see my life, but the way I see everything. Gratitude offers the gift of duality — of shining a light on the good things in bad times, but also pointing at hard things I didn’t see because I’ve had it so good. It does both. And that’s important, I think, to realize that both are present and both can be true at the same time.

…Okay, that got a little heavy. My bad!

“This is why everyone hates moral philosophy professors.” – The Good Place

(…and I’m not even a professor! 😅)

Anyway… basically I just think this year has been a hot mess. But sometimes things are pretty nice too. That’s it.

Happy(ish) Thanks Giving!