October: One Year Later

October

“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!”
― Rainbow Rowell, Attachments

Hello!

I’m not quite sure when I started Summer Child Designs last year. It was a blurry transition from idle brainstorm to actively working with purpose. But I do know that despite the name, Summer Child Designs was official by October in 2016.

And now it’s one year later.

Part of me isn’t really ready to celebrate. And I think it is largely because I know I have a ways to go. It’s a journey, right? …While it certainly feels like I’m constantly winging it (sometimes I definitely am), in reality, I’m usually pretty good about doing my research and setting somewhat reasonable goals for what I can accomplish… and really, I know the work hasn’t changed and there is a lot more that needs doing (but good news, I still enjoy it! *whew!*)

But then again, part of me wants to celebrate anyway. I mean, it’s one year later! And I’m still here! I don’t usually condemn quitting, but I think I still deserve to be proud of not giving up, right?! Right.

For this last year my primary goal has been to open my Etsy shop…which I obviously did. So for the rest of the month — from today until midnight (central time) on Halloween, I’m going to host a ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY SALE.

20% off everything in Etsy my shop! Including even my latest piece, The Autumn Tree!

The Autumn Tree
The Autumn Tree

Whether I feel like celebrating or not, I am so grateful that I have this wonderful opportunity, and experience — and that I still enjoy it so much! I’m definitely back to work, feeling motivated, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

-Belinda

Switches & Dimmers

Switches & DimmersHello!

August was a total blur. There were visits from friends and family, and a birthday celebration (mine!). Plus I spent two weeks fighting a cold (and by “fighting,” I mean napping on the couch and watching 14 hours of documentary about the Roosevelts (highly recommend it, by the way)).

As far as colds go, it was pretty solid timing. I’ve been feeling 100% unmotivated lately. I knew what I needed to do to be productive, and I just couldn’t do it. I was completely uninspired and without discipline.

Fortunately, I had enough distraction with not-working; instead enjoying plenty of summer events with good company. Sure enough, it seemed the only thing that helped with the discomfort with not getting anything done, was not worrying about not getting anything done. Apparently I needed an unofficial, accidental, vacation…

So that’s what I did, kind of. And it was wonderful.

My family jokes that there are two types of people — switches and dimmers (as in light fixtures). My mother is a switch. When she’s “on” she’s go-go-go. She’s unstoppable, keeps going, until she’s exhausted. Then she pauses, takes a vacation (or fights a cold), and before we know it, she’s back to normal, marching ahead and blazing trails. On. Off.

I’m more like my father — a dimmer, as it were. There are some occasions and some things for which we go forth and conquer. But also, sometimes, we’re comfortable with a stroll, with watching the clouds go by, or telling the same well-loved story again. Occasionally, we too need to be “off” from everything, being particularly fond of napping. We have all kinds of variables of intensity, being dimmers. Not quite on, sometimes off.

After a year of being busy trying to get things started as an artist, and building momentum and a professional work-ethic, I seem to have forgotten my natural habits. Sure, hard work is super important, but I’ve decided it’s okay to not be “on” all time time too. I didn’t mean to take a vacation of sorts. For a while, it felt a lot like giving up and quitting…and probably looked like it too. Instead, I’m back and ready to go again, feeling more energized and enthusiastic than ever before!

I may have been “off” in August, but it’s “on” for September!

-Belinda

More About Summer

Hello!

So obviously from the last post, we established I view the Summer like this:

Schlitz
Schliiiitttzzz

But more accurately, it’s something like this:

olaf-frozen-summer
“…in sssuuuummmmer!” (Frozen 2013)

Sure, it looks lovely outside…and super inviting…and totally awesome.

But I’m not exactly built for it. At all.

For example, I have visited the pool exactly once so far, and managed to summon a random, isolated thunderstorm over my neighborhood. Even then, I still happened to get a little sunburned in that half hour and with like 70 SPF sunscreen! *grumbles*

Admittedly a lot of this summer is currently being spent curled up on the sofa, binge-watching Downton Abbey, reading a bunch of books, and learning new ways to draw. (I’ve given up on the office until it cools off a bit, as I fear I really could melt! 😉 )

I forgot how exciting book-reading is in the summer. I don’t know why, and I don’t know if it’s a girly thing, but the idea of a “beach read” is enchanting (no sand required!). And I do believe that there are books meant to be read in certain seasons of the year, and seasons of our lives.

So, yet again I will put on my rose-colored glasses and celebrate that sitting in the shade anywhere (even indoors) and reading a good book is as summery as it gets! Here are a few “summer books” that I’ve enjoyed (or am currently reading).

Legally_Blonde
Elle Woods knows what’s up.  (Legally Blonde 2001)

 

Hondo by Louis L’Amour

I do not usually read Westerns. I don’t even remember buying this book, but it was on my Kindle anyway and I thought I’d give it a try… And it’s not perfect. It’s definitely dated– not just historical fiction, but written in the 50’s. And not exactly progressive… BUT if you can look past that, it’s surprisingly well written. The rough, desert landscapes of the Southwest actually feel like the main character in this story.

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

I have not read this one yet, but am super excited to do so! The author took her family on a nine-month trip around the world. As someone who dislikes flying, hasn’t left the country, and literally can’t even imagine having to do either with children in tow– I’m looking forward to living vicariously through this book from the comfort of my sofa.

Gracious: A Practical Primer on Charm, Tact, and Unsinkable Strength by Kelly Williams Brown

This one I’m currently reading, and I absolutely love it. It is a gem. So far it has made me laugh out loud (literally), been 100% quotable, and made me tear up a little. Not only does it inspire me to be a better person, but it demonstrates how. The only way I could enjoy this book more is if my home had a sunny wrap-around porch to read it on, while sipping fresh-squeezed lemonade, y’all.

So, what are you reading? Do you have any favorite summer books?

-Belinda

Season of Awesome

Adobe Spark (7)
Hello!

It’s officially Summer! Yay! 🙂

There is so much I love about this season, but honestly it seems like if I don’t make an effort to pay attention I can wind up in September wondering where the last three months have gone…

It’s usually such a busy time of year– taking full advantage of the longer days. I mean, what’s not to like about being able to buy groceries after work and still have a bit of daylight left to enjoy?! It seems like there is now finally time to do all the errands and chores that have been long neglected over the Winter hibernation. I guess some people believe in Spring cleaning, but I stick with “do everything in the Summer — or bust” plan.

It’s not just work stuffs, it’s fun stuffs too! As if I were still in school (I’m not), the excitement of Summer is palpable. There is so much I want to do this time of year, before the arrival of Fall. It’s outdoor stuff like concerts, sporting events, and sitting by the pool reading a good book (or mediocre book that I’m desperately trying to finish so I can read a good book next!).

It’s also camping, BBQ-ing, and maybe a road-trip somewhere only a few hours away. Basically, the goal is to be outside or near enough to a window to enjoy the warmth of the sun, as much as possible.

But it’s also little stuff, like a vivid sunset after a long day. Fresh fruit. Refreshing cocktails. Ice cream for days. Farmers markets. Iced Coffee. And even the inevitable video game binges (often World of Warcraft or Civilization)… Our office is upstairs and is already on fire all summer. But goodness if I don’t make it worse by sitting up there for hours with the PC churning out it’s own flames. Why I don’t hang out there in the winter and use the computers for heat, rather than a source of misery I’ll never know… Wait. The Steam Summer Sale. Duh. 😉

Anyway. In honor of this season of awesomeness – I created “The Beach.” I’m trying my hand at comic-style illustration, which is one of my favorites. This piece is kind of a story about a trip to the beach, and those smaller details that make up the memories of a fantastic place. It’s a reminder that even if I’m not going on an official vacation this Summer, I’m still in a good position to make these kinds of memories and to be grateful for the moments — big and small — that make up this season, which I love.

-Belinda

The Beach

Home Work

Adobe Spark (2)

Hello!

I was taught that to successfully work from home required discipline and boundaries. The work day should carefully reflect the expectations of a traditional office… except without a dress code. (Working in pajamas isn’t a myth, it’s more like a rite of passage.)

Anyway, since I knew that model worked so well previously, I’ve tried to continue it while self-employed. I avoid mixing professional and personal tasks during traditional business hours. I don’t try to clean house while checking emails, I don’t run errands during the middle of the day, and I’m usually not watching TV while I’m working (usually). It may not necessarily inspire creativity, but I do try to keep myself at my desk all afternoon and keep working even if I don’t exactly feel like it. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t get anything done. And I’ve got plenty on my to-do list.

But I never really understood the idea that sometimes it’s good to walk away from a project. I haven’t had anything that required that much creative energy before. But it really does happen. I’ll be working on a piece and know it’s not finished, but can’t figure out what’s left. That’s incredibly frustrating! And in these newly occurring moments, I want to sit there and stare at my desk and figure it out through sheer force of will. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes it really does help to just walk away, and I’m having to learn to give myself the room to do so. It’s a fairly short leash to be sure, and usually looks a lot like eating ice cream on the couch and re-watching a favorite TV show. But I’ve decided that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up (which is even more so my instinctual tendency). It doesn’t even technically mean I’m not working… Okay, in that moment I’m not technically working. But it’s still okay…

I’m learning it all tends to balance out in the end. So, don’t get too jealous, office peeps! I may shut down early one day and marathon Playing House or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And I may feel really bad about it too. But then, it’ll be like a Saturday afternoon with nothing going on and all I’ll want to do is draw. I’ll finally have figured out how to finish a piece, or come up with an idea for a new one. Sometimes I won’t even know what I want to work on in particular, but know that it wouldn’t hurt to use that time to be productive…But either way, it’s Saturday and I’m back at work…

What I forget is that boundaries go both ways. Sure, I need to make sure I’m not distracted by cleaning house when I’m supposed to be working on something (as if I would be soooo tempted anyway), but then again, just because I’m in my office or have spare time doesn’t mean I have to spend it working either. Weekend or not.

It takes balance, and I’m learning.

-Belinda

Now on Etsy!

Hello!

The Etsy shop is officially open!

I added a couple digital items — from the “Go & See” series — to get started. And I’m hoping to start offering physical versions as well, very soon!

In the meantime, I’m excited to unveil my latest series, “Meritless Badges”! I’ve been reading A Woman’s Guide to the Wild: Your Complete Outdoor Handbook by Ruby McConnell. It’s been super informational and inspiring! I can’t wait to get started with the summer camping season!

For whatever reason, I thought it would be fun to make scouting “patches” for adults! Not really patches (they’re stickers!), and not really for scouts…and not really for anything of merit. Mostly in jest as the the grown-up equivalents of all the outdoorsy, social or educational badges we all tried miserably to earn as children.

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Float Trip, complete with beer in cooler.

It’s since expanded into other mundane or trivial “bragging rights” that come with being an adult. Like, “Ice Cream for Dinner,” no longer a childish dream, but a reality — often when I’ve put off going to the grocery store for too long. And while I take politics fairly seriously, in general, felt the traditional “I voted” sticker wasn’t honest enough for the local election ballot.

Right now, “Float Trip” is the only one available in the Etsy store, but the others will be added soon too. And I definitely have plans to make many more!

(I feel like, if anything, I should make a “Resolution Complete: Finally Opening an Etsy Shop” badge for myself! Yay!)

You can visit the store at Etsy.com/Shop/SummerChildDesigns

YAY!

-Belinda

P.S. – If you haven’t already, you can now also follow Summer Child Designs on Instagram!

Work In Progress

Hello!

So, I think my quest to become more organized was a result of the realization that I am in fact an adult with sh*t to do. For what it’s worth, I started the bullet journal and it’s been super helpful. It doesn’t actually get anything done, that still is all internally motivated; but at least I can clearly see what items on my to-do list are being ignored and what goals I’m tracking that are being woefully neglected. (But in all seriousness, I highly recommend it).

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Kinda sorta almost keeping up with my goals!

And after way too much introspection, I’ve realized that I am in fact a “grown-up” technically. I mean, I’m a twenty-something business-owner. It’s not that I’m afraid of thirty (it’s still too far away for that), but I’m definitely more aware of it (it’s not that far off either). But I also feel emboldened. I’m a twenty-something business-owner. Sure, it’s more accurate to say I’m a paperwork-plagued artist, but still. It counts. And if I can do that, which I never would have thought possible even this time last year, then what’s to say what is or isn’t possible this time next year?

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Frances Ha (2012)

I guess in a way I don’t want to be an adult by technicality alone. I want to own it. More than that, I want to mold it and define how I choose to experience it. I think we all do that, certainly, but right now I’m acutely aware it’s an option. This is too positive to be mistaken for an identity crisis. It’s more like a set of resolutions that resulted from the hibernation of winter to be revealed with the fresh air of spring! Why should the Gregorian calendar have all the fun, anyway?

I want more gratitude, more joy, and laughter. I want to be a good hostess, and a great friend. I want to be more organized, less afraid, and a better listener. I want to live each day aware of grace, beauty and sunshine, even if I can’t always see it. I don’t want to worry about perfection, or perfection…or perfection…

It’s definitely a work in progress.

-Belinda

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail?

Hello!

About a few weeks ago I bought a planner. I loved having a desk calendar at my last job. It was pretty much the only way to ensure I would get stuff done. But now my desk space is at a premium, between my computer, the stacks of reference materials, tax paperwork that needs to be filed, and drawing supplies, I decided to shake things up and get a notebook planner.

I love staying organized, as best as I can. Even if it doesn’t necessarily help me get things done, I like the visual reminders and progress statuses for my ever-growing to-do list.

…and yet I’ve already stopped using it. Fail.

I’ve seen on those other blogs — you know, the ones where they have their life together (or at least certainly seem to) — I keep hearing about Bullet Journaling. And I have/had no idea what they are talking about. Is that just a fancy millennial word for a to-do list? C’mon now.

Today, with nothing on my calendar (I think), I decided to see what they have been actually talking about. I found this article on BuzzFeed, “WTF is a Bullet Journal and Why Should You Start One?” And now I’m SUPER intrigued. It looks like a specific (but also customizable?) format for organizing a to-do list, calendar, and journal/diary into one notebook system. Everything in one place? I dunno… too good to be true, right?

But since this is like almost the opposite of one of those lifestyle blogs, I turn to you, dear reader. What systems do you use to keep organized? Do you Bullet Journal? Or are you as intrigued as I am?

-Belinda

P.S. – Since publishing this, I noticed one of my favorite blogs, Bad Yogi, wrote about Bullet Journaling too! For another take on what it is, check it out here.

Artist in a Coffeeshop

Hello!

I’ve been lacking inspiration lately. It’s hard to find something new to inspire you when you sit at work or in your home office day after day after day…as I have been known to do. I’d been reading Steal Like an Artist and it suggested to shake things up and get outside. So naturally, I assumed it meant go get coffee.

I had a plan. I packed my sketchbook and planner in my purse, scouted the busy times on Google maps for a couple places, and was determined to pick one and spend an afternoon listening to singer-songwriter mixes, enjoying some fresh air, and feeling inspired (and let’s be honest, very cool). Naturally, I would be so overwhelmed by the new perspective and caffeine-boost that I was sure I’d be unstoppable!

(I mean, why else do I see people working in Starbucks all the time?? It must be the place to get stuff done.)

Yeah, so it turns out I’m not that person.

I should say, I have anxiety that is usually pretty manageable (it’s kind of my “normal,” I’m like the Hulk of anxiousness). But working in public, or just being in public for too long is not my cup of tea… or coffee. Honestly, I didn’t even try this time. I walked in, got my beverage, and returned to the safety of my home. It wasn’t even that busy inside, it just mostly wasn’t for me.

Which makes for a striking contradiction to my latest project in progress: Go & See.

It’s a play on the more common phrase “wait and see.” If you don’t know how something might turn out, just be passive and wait. (Not to say that there is anything wrong for patience, in it’s time.) But sometimes, it’s better to get sh*t done, and experience stuff…


…but in the meantime, I’ll be drinking coffee on my couch.

-Belinda

Same Site, New Look!

Hello!

When I decided to create the website for Summer Child Designs I used my fairly serious customer service business voice. I thought that was what I needed, since I was trying to start a business after all. So I wanted to keep it sleek and professional, albeit still kind of “business casual.” And I was really proud of it. Look at me, doing stuff for real and serious! But every time I was ready to sit and write and update the blog, I struggled to think of anything worthwhile to say, especially lately. Everything seemed counter to the look and feel of this site I had worked so hard to create (well, only kind of hard, but still).

As it turns out, I’m not an abstract business entity. I’m not perfect. It’s just me. And I’m a messy, goofy artist. It’s time to start acting like one!

I mean, what was I thinking — business casual?? I know some people love the idea of wearing a suit everyday, but not me. I love my baggy, hole-y jeans that should probably have been thrown away ages ago. That and my flannel. Oh man, flannel is the best…I’m lucky it’s “on-trend” or whatever. I’d wear it anyway, but now it looks like I tried. 😉

So, anyway, if you haven’t already noticed the site has a new look!

I’m much happier with this one. It’s kind of “crafty” which is almost too far the other direction, but I think this lands a lot closer to “if I was a website what would I be” than it was before. I think it’s comfy, like workin’ in pajamas. Plus, you can now easily access the latest posts, sign up for email notifications (if you haven’t already), and it includes convenient links to the Facebook page and Society6 shop… all from the home page! (I do like being somewhat organized, after all).

I hope you like it!

-Belinda

P.S. – If you are using a mobile device to view this, admittedly it may not look much different at all. Sorry, I’m an illustrator not a web-wizard!