My Spinning Head

I have a lot going on in my head right now. The currents are threatening to thrash me about and pull me under if I let them.

  • At the suggestion of a friend of mine who already works there, I applied for a job in my former field at a big university in a state my husband and I have never considered living in before. I had a phone interview a couple of weeks ago and have been invited for an in-person interview next month. I always have the tendency to worry about things ahead of time, and while I’m shoving the actual logistics of being offered and accepting such a job and selling the house and uprooting my family to the furthest dusty corners of my mind, they are still making their presence known. I have been having all kinds of feelings about this prospect bubble up, sometimes simultaneously – excitement, dread, panic, happiness, flattered, a positive outlook toward a new adventure, the irony of having applied to many university positions years ago with nary a bite and now to have it happen when I don’t know if I really even want such a position anymore, the irony of having decided to make this the year I go freelance and get more time with my kids. It’s a lot. I’m excited to interview, to see the situation that’s available. The idea of a stable job with real benefits and a pension and paid time off is appealing. But it’s not what I wanted. On the other hand, a lot of people don’t get what they want, and providing a secure environment to raise my children may be worth the sacrifice of my wants. Again what I’ve talked about before – others’ needs coming before my wants.  The position though is interesting, a mix of creativity and organizational work, and the situation seems posh. But this may be yet another year of BIG DECISIONS AND CHANGE for us, when I thought we were fairly settled. So there’s that.
  • I have two freelance projects I’m doing – one for an individual client and one for an entity – and both have been fraught with delays from other people. So now, on top of my full-time job and sneaking out of state for an interview next month, I’m going to be working incredibly hard to pull off these two contracts. Other people holding me up is frustrating. Having to chase after people for contracts and money and answers to questions to start working… it’s a pain.
  • I’m finishing the last part of Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Idea, and it has been challenging me in really great ways. But now I’m contemplating the workings of life and humanity deeply while all this other stuff is going on.
  • I’m letting myself carry more than my share of the outside world lately, allowing myself to get sucked down by it all.

So, in the midst of all of this, I have to keep myself centered. I have to take care of myself in the ways I know how and shut my mind up enough to be able to listen to the intuitive inner self. I need to keep stepping forward in the creative process. It’s going to be really difficult, but I am up for this challenge.


Art Supplies

I received the gift of some amazing new art supplies this past weekend at a belated Christmas celebration. I feel incredibly spoiled. The Dr. Ph. Martin’s watercolors are my preferred medium because I love the pigmentation, and I use the white Dr. Martin ink for highlights sometimes. I’ve never played with metallic watercolor before, so that will be fun to do.


Since I have gotten them, I have also begun the process of going through our old art supplies, testing them to see if they are still good and discarding items which are no longer functional. Also, reminding myself of what we have. Because that will help determine what pieces I tackle first. I was surprised that a cheapo marker set I bought way back in 2006 only needed a few thrown away, though I suspect many that are left may be a one-time-use-only before they completely dry out too.

What I will need to purchase most likely are the papers and canvasses to put the work on. And that can get pricey, but not quite as pricey as paints can. But maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by our supplies.

Anyway, I’m still having a difficult time carving out time for creative work, and usually it is my art time that seems hardest to squeeze in because I’ve made music more of a priority at this point, but I’m sneaking in bits wherever I can. It feels really good to get any creative time, even if it’s only 10 minutes here, 30 minutes here, time I should spend doing chores or going to bed earlier. It feels good.

The Music Writing has Begun!

I spent time tonight with blank ledger lines for the first time in eons, wrestled with lyrics to a second verse, and made significant progress (for me). It feels good. Now I must stop because I need to tackle a commission before completely losing steam, but I am giddy enough to share that progress has been made!

This is especially good because last night when I had set aside time to delve into my novel for the first time in ages as well, my teething daughter made that an impossibility. So getting to touch my piano tonight and tap into creativity in a way I haven’t in a long time soothed my wounded creative from last night.

My hope is to do a little time five days a week working on my own compositions, then have one day to sing from my collection to help build my voice back up again, and one day to play the flute a week. I know life will get in the way of that, but with set days to work on certain things, I’ll at least get a couple of hours in each week, which is loads more than I’ve been getting.

Yay progress!

Stepping Fully Into My Life

So my New Year’s began with more of a whimper than a bang. My baby has a horrible head cold, so my husband and I were all set to spend New Year’s Eve together at home, snacks and drinks on hand, to begin getting giddy about our future projects, the things that have been put on hold because of the chaos of living, and New Year’s Day was supposed to be spent having a glorious planning session on how to implement the creation of those projects. However, my daughter kept waking up because she couldn’t breathe, and I could feel myself starting to succumb as well, so I would wander back and forth between cuddling her and trying to get excited amidst filling sinuses, and last night I wound up going to bed at 8PM.

My plan for 2018 is to begin living the life that I have always wanted for me and my family. One where my husband and I share both income-making and raising the children duties, one that gives me time to actually take care of myself the way that I know I need to so I can take care of others in the ways I want to. One that gives me more flexibility – for parenting, for travel, for fun, for personal and creative growth.

I had hoped to be freelancing full-time by the end of 2017, but that didn’t happen. We need to have a firmer financial base for me to make the leap (either more in savings and/or my husband bringing in new income streams, which both are being worked on). So new goal is by the end of June, by the time my son is out of school for the summer. I horribly hated having to work this past week when he was out on holiday break. It was the first time since he started preschool that I didn’t have the time off with him. Last summer was super hard too. So no more.

But getting this cold is a reminder that I’m STILL not as physically healthy as I need to be, so taking care of myself physically is important this year, as I begin implementing my plans. Self-care, self-love, and mostly more sleep need to happen. I need to have both patience and persistence as I begin to implement my plans. I need to accept that I can’t have it all at once.

So the online shop is on hold until I leave my current position. I can’t sew for 8 hours a day and then continue to sew late into the night. I have, at most, another hour worth of sewing in me, plus some extra on my days off. I have a costume commission for this month, and potentially 2 designs for the spring plus a paid workshop that I’m in talks to do, and I may have to bring shop work home with me once we get into prom alterations this spring. Any extra sewing time will be spent alternating between some personal sewing (want to make some things for the house) and coming up with the samples/patterns for my first offerings in the shop, so that hopefully once I leave my current position, I can be opening the shop within a matter of weeks.

That leaves me with 1 to 1.5 hrs a night to split up between music, writing, and art, on top of sneaking in a little bit of writing during the day when it gets slow. I want to start promoting myself more again, and I have some lofty goals for getting work out this year. We’ll have to see what happens. When I am able to be freelancing, I hope to double to three hours a day spent toward those things, setting things up so I can be painting while my kids are doing arts and crafts again, like I used to, having fun creating together.

Again, this is going to be about patience and persistence. About applying my will toward the creation process. About making sure I’m not burning out and then having to recuperate, rinse and repeat. About creating a sustainable and nurturing life for everyone in my home, myself included.

I do not regret my time working at the theater for a few years, even though I was so overworked. It gave me amazing health insurance to have my second child, and it gave me the financial stability to get a mortgage and a decent home for my family. I do regret this past year working the bridal alterations because of how much time I’ve missed with the kids, but it gave me the flexibility to work from home for the first six months for part of the time, which was huge for my relationship with my daughter, and I’ve learned so much working on these gowns that I can apply to my own designs. It means a lot to be able to support my family, so there is that too. But I’m ready now to step into the life that I’ve been saying I’ve wanted for almost 10 years now. Our time on this earth is too short to try for less than what we truly desire, no matter how “safe” other paths may be.

And if the world completely falls apart around me, if my dreams don’t come true, if we end up losing our civilization, at least I’ll have tried. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing of all.

May your 2018 give you the strength and courage to follow your own deepest, truest selves as I will be.

Business Decision Making Time

I’m going to spend a little time today writing out my options and thoughts on the sewing line I want to start in the coming year as an income stream once I am able to move into freelancing full-time again, which will be on top of the freelance design and build work I currently do and will continue to build doing and the alterations I’ll take out of the home, and this will be the bulk of my income while I build up the creative work I do here with writing, art, and maybe someday music without stressing about the income the work here brings in as of yet.

So firstly, I have to pick a direction. I thought that I had, but I’m second-guessing myself now on whether I need to narrow my options more. After a lot of research, it seems like other shops are most successful having one niche thing they do very well, for example, a creator only makes tutus, or waist cinchers and corsets, or capes, or fairy wings, or hair accessories, or purses, etc. Or they focus on a very particular niche market, like horse blankets with a handful of horse accessories, or ice skating costumes, or ballet costumes, or burlesque costumes. Sometimes even more narrowed, like a shop only sells pasties for burlesque, with nothing else. The upsides to having a shop like this are:

  1. You get really really good at something so you can market yourself as an expert and build a reputation
  2. Being really good at something means you learn all the shortcuts you can possibly take and still make a really good product
  3. If it’s a “rinse and repeat” kind of pattern adjustment to create different looks, you aren’t starting from scratch every season to mix up your selection
  4. It’s a lot easier to train potential future employees/family members/friends to help you if the orders start piling up, which is again a time saver
  5. If for some reason you ever want to start mass-producing anything via hiring out a factory (not something I think I’m really interested in), having easily repeatable patterns makes the process much easier

The downside for me though is that the thought of limiting myself in this way bores me. Because my background is in costume design, my initial thought (and what I find much more interesting) was to design an entire look and then offer up the pieces of the look in a shop, and to also include interesting patterns of other things I’ve developed over the years. To have vintage and costume inspired pieces that could be worn in a wide variety of settings, maybe include some men and children’s pieces as well as accessories, and to tie in the designs with some of the work I am producing here eventually as far as inspiration goes. But if I go this route, I may potentially be running into problems down the road.

Part of my concern is that my husband and I already had an online shop, both on Etsy and via our own site, where we sold fairy-related art, costume pieces, and even bath products under our label, and we made it all. And we never were able to really get a good month of sales, in part because we were spread all over the place instead of having a particular focus, and also because we were frequently going for quantity over quality (a mistake I will not be making this time around). So is it narrowed enough to simply stick to sewing/wearable creations under my unique vision, or do I force myself to start very narrowed and see how it goes? Also as an aside, I made up a big batch of a face scrub/mask to give as Christmas gifts, and I had forgotten how much I love to make the bath/beauty products and it would be fun to eventually try selling those again. The recipes I had come up with were really good, but it is such a saturated market. So for the meantime, I will just allow myself to create more of those for myself and for gifts as I can carve out the time to.

Anyway, any of you have any thoughts on this that could help me reach a decision? Do I do what “feels” best to me despite it possibly being more complicated and time-consuming? Or do I follow good examples of other successful businesses and stop being so freaking stubborn in life? It would be nice if something could be easy for a change.


I am moving forward in my hope to be home with the children and freelancing as soon as possible, but the economic uncertainty in the United States and globally right now is making me nervous. I am trying not to let it freeze me up in my planning, but I am now trying to plan smarter as far as the planning my online shop for my sewing business goes. I won’t want to invest huge amounts into bolts of fabric to begin aside from some basic silks, which means going with the slightly higher cost and lower quality fabric available from the handful of local stores in the area. And I am rethinking my plan of only having truly high-end products and trying to come up with a few lower ticket items that will still be well-made to entice people. And I’ll probably take on as many alterations as I can reasonably do this prom season to invest back into the business, which means of course less time to get samples sewn up. All of that really is dependent on whether or not we get to the place of financial security to get out of the current situation I’m in. We’re working on it, but nothing is certain in this world right now.

It also means I won’t be able to afford oodles of new art or music supplies and equipment, so I’m going to have to make careful stock of what I have and be very careful in my use of things going forward. Writing thankfully can be done anywhere on any machine.

It’s really difficult to stay positive right now with everything going on, isn’t it? It’s hard to make plans for the future when everything could be easily cast aside at a moment’s notice. Part of me wants to go be a survivalist somewhere instead, and hide away from society. But I want to do what I can with what I have to help. So I refuse to succumb to fear.

A Couple Sketches

I found a couple of old sketches that I never shared here, probably because when I drew them, I was less than happy with how they came out. But I like them now, so I’m sharing them! I had to brighten the pics and darken the pencil lines to get them clear because I was lazy and didn’t want to hook up my scanner.

There is still a disconnect between my sketches and my finished works. My pencils are loose, almost aggressive at times, and I’m able to get that feeling still in my pastels and charcoal drawings as well, but when I switch to paints, I get a little tense and try to be “perfect” still. It was something I struggled with in my costume renderings. So it will be a balance I will continue striving toward as I move forward in my art.

I’ve started working on a couple new songs and that theatrical piece in odd moments, so new work is coming, and I’m still happily making future plans for projects. We’ll see what I manage to accomplish.

The Skjald

I found this quote I had pulled from a book I read and written out way back in 2010, and I wanted to share it.

“The skjald is,” he says, “the chosen lookout of life who must reveal from his mountain what he sees at life’s deep fountain. When gripped by his vision,” he says further, the skjald is “neither quiescent nor lifeless but, on the contrary, lifted up into an exceptional state of sensitiveness in which he sees and feels things with peculiar vividness and power. I know of nothing in this material world to which the skjald may more fittingly be likened than a tuned harp with the wind playing upon it.”  The hymnist Gruntvig quoted in Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark by JA Aaberg.

The skjald in Danish is a poet but moreso, one who speaks truth of the surrounding world even when others don’t want to hear it, or in ways that others can’t always understand.  It is a definition difficult to translate into English, but I love this metaphor of a tuned harp being played by the wind.  I feel very connected with this entire description.

Getting Ready

Last night, while sitting in the dark with my laptop monitor screened turned low on my bed while my daughter lay next to me tossing and turning due to teething and getting over the cold we shared earlier in the week, I spent a solid chunk of time focusing myself for my next projects to be released here.

Writing – I’ve decided my next poetry collection will be one of love poems, and I’ve narrowed down my choices last night. I will narrow those down further and finalize my selection in the next week or so, and then start roughs for illustrations. I need to decide if I want to make the book more expensive and do colored pages or not. I know the illustrated poetry collection to come after this will definitely need to be in color and possibly hardcover if I make the illustrations nice enough, so it’s something for me to think about. But yes, the future poetry collection will be where some of my new work will be aiming to land in, and of the ones I’ve shared here, Little Boy Blue will find a home.

I have two bigger writing projects I want to work on in 2018, a novel and a theatrical piece, as well as finally maybe moving forward on my graphic novel, but I still need to decide what is going to be my priority and how best to balance my currently limited writing time. I would love to be able to release both the poetry collection and my first novel by the end of 2018 and get my theatrical piece produced and my third poetry collection and graphic novel out by 2019, but I am not holding myself to any set schedule as of yet because my life is my life, with no set routine in place, and my kids always come first. But those are my big audacious goals. It would be lovely to settle into a rhythm of publishing one novel and one collection of poems and/or short stories a year. I think it can be done eventually. But maybe not until my kids are way more self-sufficient!

Music – I spent a long time going through all the songs I have ever written, half-written, written lyrics for, made notes about, etc. I discarded some real stinkers! I probably kept some stinkers too because they are still a little “precious” to me, but what can you do? Of the songs I’ve kept, I’ve tentatively separated into two potential “albums”, and my focus for the immediate future musically is to really hone every song on the first album and get it all on paper, get honest feedback on them, then hone some more and decide what I want to do with them all.

Tomorrow I hope to spend some time really focusing on art planning. Aside from the illustrations for the next poetry collection, I’ve been holding off on delving into BIG pieces for years. I had in mind years ago a plan to do a series of Dangerous Women portraits, made of women of history and fiction and myth and religions who shook the status quo, but I’d also like to dip my toes back into fantasy paintings and illustrations, and I get a lot out of the abstracts I’ve done too. But too much debating in my mind about it will continue to make me not produce anything, so this weekend is my “make up my mind” time. Honestly, a big chunk of it will probably depend on what decent art supplies we have left after we chuck what has become unusable over the years! I think I’m going to ask for some new paint sets for the holidays and see what I get.

Anyway, I’m feeling very good. Tired, still, as only a parent of a teething baby can be, worried about the state of the world and humanity as always, but good. Despite the chaotic nature of our current reality, I can create. And I can share what I create as I want to do so. And that is very good.

Planning All the Things

Right now I am in the midst of the planning stages on a lot of different things. It’s, quite frankly, something I adore doing, and I’ve kind of set myself from now to the end of the year to really outline, take notes, study, and develop firm business and marketing plans on top of the creative planning of the actual projects themselves. How fast I am able to move on the plans will very much depend on how fast I am able to get out of the 9-5 job (really crossing my fingers that it will be sooner rather than later) as well as how much extra contract work I get in. I’ve got some big audacious long-term goals though, that will involve letting all of my creative work feed into each other, but it has to come step-by-step, and I have to will myself to do the step-by-step piece of it.

So what am I doing? Well, I’ve started watching some handmade and small business videos on Youtube, learning techniques both for my sewing/costume work and for the work to come here. On the sewing side, I’m making concrete plans to build samples and open a shop up. On the writing/art/music side, I’m going through years of work and deciding what is worth keeping and what to discard. And overall deciding what is the most meaningful to me at the moment. I need to let my passion drive me forward. Because of course after having the most amazing week and 1/2 of moving forward and pushing outside of my comfort zones, I have a recoiling now with that little voice of doubt rearing up, whispering terrible things to me. I’ve had a couple of bad days, where even though I continued my process, the shine wasn’t there. Some of that is old insecurities still lingering, some of that is my letting the outside world bring me down… so to move forward, I must have that passion and drive that I’ve been missing for a while.

While planning, I will probably be getting the urge to create too, so expect more poems and sketches and little tidbits than there has been lately. I’m really excited about my next path.