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New Year, New Resolutions?

abstract art blur bokeh

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The last couple of years I’ve made New Years Resolutions. I feel like I’ve done a decent job of keeping most of them. However, that’s not the case for them all. What I like about resolutions is that it pushes boundaries, it helps you learn about yourself, and I’m an advocate for self-exploration and learning.

Sometimes, what you learn is that you’re not cut out for everything, and that’s okay. One goal I’m giving up is the idea of running a 5k. Running is not the thing for me. I keep getting hurt, and I…I hate it. Like really hate it. I don’t see the point in being miserable just to accomplish an arbitrary goal.

Just because I’m giving up on the 5k doesn’t mean there aren’t physical milestones to reach. I just don’t know what they are yet. Maybe it will be riding a bicycle again or actual yoga classes instead of self-instruction, I don’t know yet. My plan is to do a bit of exploring this year and find out what I enjoy.

My other goal is to re-evaluate and create the next steps in my plan. I mentioned in my post Breathe, that I’ve been so diligently pursuing the early steps of my plan that I never figured out what happens now that I’ve accomplished those things. I also want to take more time for me, writing, drawing, reading, spending time with family and friends, getting out into the outdoors…so much of these were things I had to give up to get another degree while I worked full time and then to get my house ready and sell it.

Part of me feels a little lost now that I don’t have a life filled with deadlines and timetables, but…that’s okay. I’m hoping that my life is what’s waiting for me in that space that feels lost. It’s only been two months since I sold my house, but I’m already beginning to feel rejuvenated and renewed. The itch to create is back with a vengeance, and, wow, it feels good.

So…the 2019 list.

  1. Breathe – Take time for me. I’m instituting Pamper Me Sundays filled with bubble baths, pedicures, face masks, and hopefully professional massages.
  2. Think – Life gets so hectic and so filled with television, music, and social media that we forget to take the time to just think. I need to leave more time to think, because the best ideas and plans spring from that time. Saturday mornings spent in the quiet with a cup of tea and maybe a journal will do nicely. Hopefully, once I get in the habit of giving myself time, I won’t need to schedule it anymore.
  3. Get Outside – Walk the dog, go camping, see if it’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike.
  4. Make More Art – Finish at least one story I have outlines for, paint, take photos, draw…whatever…just make more art. Scratch the creative itch.
  5. Read – Read books, comic books, short stories, articles…whatever.
  6. Grow stuff – I have houseplants that have survived the last four months, which is a record for me. Maybe add to that. Kitchen herbs, an outdoor garden in the spring…stuff like that. I like being surrounded by green growing things. Maybe I can  convert my black thumb to a green one…with some help.
  7. Take a class – Art, yoga whatever. Just take a class.
  8. Learn a new coding language – I don’t know which one yet, but I’d like to be able to write the server side code for websites as well as the front end code. This one is a big fat maybe, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. (Suggestions are welcome!)
  9. Make time for what’s important – My family, my friends, the things I love.
  10. Be Spontaneous – Say “yes” more often. Yes to day trips, road trips, outings with friends and family…just say “yes” instead of “no” or “let me see what’s on my schedule”.

As someone who’s done training on goal setting…my list doesn’t begin to meet the requirements. It’s kind of vague and lacks time frames for things, but that’s part of what I  want to learn this year. How to live without a rigid structure, because that was what got me through the last few years. Spontaneity is a good thing, and I could use a bit more of that in my life. So next time a friend asks me to take a day trip, I don’t say “no” because it doesn’t fit in my schedule for the day.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you manage to stick to them? How do you do it?

‘Til next time,

Jess


Breathe

The last handful of years have been a roller coaster ride…or maybe a merry-go-round.

abandoned grass light merry go round

Photo by Levi Damasceno on Pexels.com

You know the kind that we used to play on that spins you around in circles so fast you puke…or fly off and possibly sustain an injury worth of a trip to the ER. The ride’s been fun, but now that I’ve hit the most important of  the goals I’d set when I started down this road just over three years ago…I don’t really know what’s next.

So, I’m taking a little time to just breathe and recharge my batteries. Part of that includes giving some TLC to relationships I’ve neglected too long, and allowing myself time for…fun stuff. Reading, writing, cooking, and walking the dog come to mind…and that should give you an idea of what my life has looked like the last few years.

First on my list was sleeping a lot. Turns out, I’m not great at that, so the sleeping all day I imagined didn’t happen. At least I’m getting a regular night’s sleep…most of the time…well, sometimes anyway.

This actually worked out because it gave me a lot of time to read a few novels. I started out with rereading a few books before I moved on to new material, and boy have I found a couple of good ones! I’ll be writing about one of them, Sandman Slim, when I finish this post.

According to my friends and co-workers, there are also a lot of movies and television shows I’ve missed out on, so I’m working to rectify that too. I’m making a list…feel free to add to it in the comments. I’ve knocked out No Country for Old Men, Sideways, and Aquaman…okay, I didn’t miss out on the last one, I saw it opening weekend. I’m also watching Rick & Morty while I write this. A staycation is great for catching up on this like this…and naps. Speaking of naps…

‘Til next time,

Jess


Snippets & Treasures on Memory Lane

I’m preparing to sell my house, which is a moment I’m looking forward to with a great amount of joy…and a bit of sadness. In between bouts of menial labor, I need to sift through all of my worldly possessions. You know, go through the whole keep, donate or trash process. Wow! Let me tell you, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. There are a lot of memories tucked away in this house.

abstract black and white blur book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Among those memories are notebooks. I used to write…a lot, and the notebooks are filled with snippets of stories.  I’ve been reading through those snippets, and a couple of things caught my attention. First, I still like reading my stuff, and I wrote a lot of this years ago. That tells me I’m not half bad. Second, I didn’t finish anything. All of the notebooks are filled with unfinished pieces. None of the notebooks are full. I just kept buying new notebooks, writing a few scenes and moved on. Third, maybe it’s time to finish writing something.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Itchy Fingers

coloring materials

Photo by Sascha Düser on Pexels.com

You know the feeling you get when you’re enthused, inspired, and energized to do something or make something? I call this “itchy fingers”. That’s where I am.  This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. As a matter of fact, it happens all the time.

Usually, it signals the end of a creative dry spell. Not the case this time, my friends!  No, this is the direct result of attending the 99U Conference in New York City last week. For my first conference of creative professionals, I picked a doozy.  I mean wow.

Please allow me to gush about the location for just a moment, attending an event at the Lincoln Center provides a special kind of inspiration all on its own.  Walking by the building with “The Julliard School” displayed in simple silver metallic lettering made me a little giddy. There’s a secret little dream the I held during the years of piano lessons that I would be a virtuoso to one day grace those halls. Since I was neither dedicated nor talented enough to do more than daydream, this was as close as I’ll ever get.  Alice Tully Hall’s light, airy feel and comfortable theater seating made the perfect setting for the truly wonderful speakers. Layer all this on top of the frenetic energy of New York City, and you have a recipe for something wonderful.

The stunning lineup for this event…I hoped to glean a handful of useful tidbits to take back to energize both my professional and personal work, but I didn’t expect to spend the bulk of my time furiously taking notes. As much as I really want to list all of the inspiring speaking and a nugget of what each one taught me…that would make for a REALLY long blog post.

I will tell you that in two days, I didn’t get bored once…that’s saying a lot for me. Hopefully, I’ll take the energy of May and carry it on into the rest of my year. I’m really glad I got to attend, and now…I’m off to make something!

assorted color artwork equipment set

Photo by Marko Blazevic on Pexels.com

‘Til next time,

Jess


Talking Turkey

My neighborhood has a flock of turkeys.  My. Neighborhood. Has. A. Flock. Of. Turkeys.  This is a sentence I never thought I’d utter, write or even think.  So, turkeys in the middle of the Tulsa Metro, weird, but not that weird.  What if one of them were impaled with an arrow?  An. Arrow.

While I know many hunters, and have enjoyed the bounty of their hard work, I can’t bear to see an animal suffer unnecessarily. However, I have no idea what to do about a turkey shot with an arrow.  Who do you call about a turkey?

Dad.  I called my dad.  Of course, he was no help whatsoever.  His suggestion involved No. 4 birdshot.  I thought maybe it would just die on its own, but I saw the darned thing again…and again.  It didn’t look injured…except for the freaking arrow going through its body.  My conscience (and my mother) wouldn’t let me stop there, so I called my vet.

They’d be happy to treat the turkey…if I caught it.  How do you catch a turkey?  Have you seen a wild turkey?  They’re not cuddly creatures!

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Wild Turkey via Pixabay

So, I called the SPCA.  The gentleman expressed such gratitude I cared about the animal, and he would be happy to give me treatment options…if I caught the turkey.

The wild life refuge rehabilitates and re-homes animals when they’re well. They’d be happy to treat the turkey as well…if I brought it in.

At this point I’m getting a bit excited. Who knows how to catch a turkey?  I don’t!  Does anyone have a suggestion?

“Well, this is a multi-person job,” the helpful refuge personnel informed me.  “I’ve got the numbers for a couple of companies you can pay to help you catch the turkey.”

Pay to…does anyone else realize this is not my turkey?  I just don’t want the animal to suffer needlessly.  Catch a turkey?  What the hell would I do with it when I caught it?  Load the “docile” animal in my Hyundai and trek down to the wildlife refuge?  Are you kidding me?

However, my colleague upon hearing my plight offered an excellent suggestion.  I should lasso the turkey…Lasso. The. Turkey.

Okay, so setting aside the fact this is…a turkey.  What on God’s green Earth makes anyone think I a) am in possession of a LASSO b) would in any way shape or form be able to LASSO A TURKEY?

Fortunately, she was able to demonstrate the lassoing motion…along with a handy gallop. Because apparently, I would be riding a stick pony while wielding my lasso.

Of course, this was not the only suggestion offered up in my quest to capture the…turkey. Calling Channel 2 came up surprisingly often.  Although I’m not sure what a news crew could do.  I suppose that is a multi-person effort.

My mother helpfully suggested shooting the animal with a tranquilizer dart.  Fortunately, I keep the dart gun stored next to my LASSO.  It is so much more convenient than storing them separately.

She also suggested a blow gun…that suggestion came complete with sound effects. Seriously, I’m not even going there.

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Turkey via Pixabay

The placement of the arrow came up several times, but let me be clear.  The only time I’d been in the presence of a whole turkey was at Thanksgiving dinner.  The vantage point was just a little different.  I can be pretty certain the arrow didn’t damage the drumstick though.

 

The fate of the turkey?  I have no idea.  It seemed content to be pecking away in my neighbor’s yard the last time I saw it.  In the end, I hung up the phone and poured a drink. There’s no Wild Turkey in my house, so it was a Jameson’s.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. No, it is not turkey season.  Yes, hunting is illegal within the city limits.  I did get confirmation that a few geese have also been shot with arrows.  The SPCA’s opinion is that this is not hunting for food.  This is target practice and sport.  Just in case you’re a little foggy.  Maiming animals is NOT okay.  In my opinion, hunting for anything other than food is NOT okay.  Don’t be a jackass.

 


Simplify Your Style

Have you ever heard of Saul Bass?  Even if you don’t know the name, you’re probably familiar with his work.  Some of the most recognizable logos in the world were created by his hand, United Airlines, Girl Scouts, United Way, and that doesn’t even touch on his film work.  Psycho, Spartacus, Exodus name a few of of the films he designed for.  The power in Bass’s work comes, in large part, from its simplicity.  His ability to take a big concept and condense it into a few lines is magnificent, and this is my first tiny step toward being able to do the same kind of thing.

renoir reading womanThe reading woman, by Renoir, captured my imagination from the first moment I saw it.  Loose brush strokes and intricate walls seemed like the perfect image to simplify.  The challenge would be to capture the energy and vitality of someone engrossed in their reading, at rest yet engaged.

Simplifying the lines of her shirt, skirt, the chair, the background, all that would be simple, but without the right amount of detail, my image would fall flat.  After a few false starts, I discovered that utilizing the correct details is the most important aspect of successfully taking a beautiful masterpiece and keeping heart and soul of it intact while removing a lot of the fine details.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.34.58 AMUsing, a digital image of the Renoir as a reference, I sketched out my concept by hand and then drew my simplified version in Adobe Illustrator. A few touches of gradients in place of the highly intricate wallpaper in the original served to spotlight her sillouettte.  I also shifted the overall color tone to something a little cooler.  As the variances in color were removed, I discovered that my piece required more color contrast to keep it from becoming a warm toned blob.  I’m really happy with the final product, and I hope Renoir would be too.

What do you think?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 

 

 


Budding Photographer

You know what’s fun?  Taking pictures.  I love taking photographs.  My best friend would argue that I already knew this (or at least she did).  I did take a few hundred photos during our trip to Ireland, after all.  However, I’m discovering a big difference between the pictures I took before where I found a great view I wanted to keep, but I didn’t have a few very basic skills to translate that into a good or even a decent photograph.  Usually, it ended in disappointment.  Now, with a little very basic knowledge, I’m turning out much better photos.  More often than not, that cool thing I see actually emerges from my camera the way I imagined it would.

Last week was my first real experience with this.  My current class is Concepts in Photography, and I’m very fortunate in that Full Sail decided that a Sony a6000 should be included as part of our tuition package this year.  One of my first assignment, designed to get us familiar with our cameras, was to take 34 photos showing  different features and concepts.  I promise I won’t bore you with all of them, but I will share a few of my favorites.

I’m new to exploring photographers. My new favorite this week is Trey Ratcliff. You can check out his website Stuck In Customs to see what’s up with the fascination. Do you have any favorite photos or photographers?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 


The Book Is In the Freezer, Folks

I’m reading The Shining for the first time.  Are you a fan of the television show Friends?  You should be.  All kinds of life lessons there.  When a book scares you, the freezer really does work to help you sleep at night.  Thanks, Joey!

This is all in preparation for Stephen King’s visit to Tulsa.  See we’re getting a bookstore downtown in the Brady district, and it is kind of a big deal.  Magic City Books doesn’t even open until sometime next year, and I’m already excited. It would mean that I can go downtown for the First Friday Art Crawl, grab some dinner, check out some art, buy some books, enjoy a cocktail….oh yeah, it will be fun.  I need to make this happen, people.

Oh yeah!  The point is Mr. King is coming to Cain’s Ballroom (also in the Brady district) for an event, and I’m going.  However, I’m a scaredy cat and I’ve never read a single novel he’s written.  I’ve started several, but then I start thinking about the “what if” scenarios and then I start with the dreaming crazy things(this is all pretty impressive…some might say ridiculous, because really, I’ve scared myself before the book even gets remotely frightening)…this is where Joey’s freezer method will come in handy.  I’d forgotten about this until a couple of my friends (and Netflix) reminded me.

Some books require daytime reading…this includes all of Stephen Kings novels.  On Writing is fine to read at night though, that’s his memoir, not scary at all.

‘Til next time,
Jessica

P.S.

Man, I didn’t even read The Shining tonight, I just started thinking about it, and it wasn’t actually in the freezer yet.  I’m not at any of the scary parts yet, but then I started thinking about how they just moved into The Overlook.  I’ve seen the movie, people.  I know what’s coming!  It’s 11:00pm, and my stomach is all in knots and my heart is racing just thinking about REDRUM!  Now the book really is going in the freezer!

 

 


Spring is Here!

 

Ladies and gentleman, I have officially survived the first six months of my degree program.  Hooray for me! No seriously, some days survival was the only thing on my mind…well that and why technology hated me.  I can’t say I’ve loved every minute of it, because there were a couple of hours in there where I seriously doubted my ability to hold on to a full-time banking position, my GPA, my family and friends, and my sanity all at once.  However, those moments passed pretty quickly.  For the most part, I’ve loved it.  I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in half a year.

The really fun part is watching those skills progress from clumsy attempts to well-conceived designs I’m proud to show off.  The best part is that most of the work I do for school doesn’t feel like work at all.  I get to spend my lunch hours, evenings, and weekends drawing and creating fun stuff.  Let’s face it, I would do that during a good portion of my time anyway.

For my family and friends who wonder where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing…here you go.

One project I had a couple of months ago was to choose three animals, and create sketches and final drawings in three poses that could be used as part of a logo for a company.  The final drawings needed to be done in black ink, and should be easily simplified.  Now, keep in mind this is still early on in the program, so my drawing skills are improving the more I use them (there’s some saying about perfection and practice, but I’m not trotting out cliches here).

I learned a lot from this exercise.  First, I’m better at this drawing thing than I thought.  Second, I’m not as good as I’d like. Third, I like elephants more than I realized.  There’s other stuff too, but those really stand out.

Yeah, elephants are super cool. So awesome I just kept drawing them when I finished the stuff for class.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. I’ll be posting more of my work here, but if you can also check it out on Behance. You can find my work as well as other really amazing designers and artists there.


A Year of Bravery

NewYearsWish2012‘Til next time,

Jessica