Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Not About The Money

But it sure is nice for my better half to be re-employed!

When I went to post on my other blog about my Halloween makeup test-run (Hello, Ursula!) I saw that I hadn't updated this one in months.

So here's the update...

Roughly 3 weeks after being let go from his former employer, he was re-employed, still in the high-tech field, still writing software, but doing something completely different from what he had been doing before (metrology). He took a tiny (really small) paycut, but it's ALL good.

He has a smile on his face coming home from work and is excited about what he does now. And that's something I haven't seen in YEARS.

Friday, May 15, 2015

We're Paying With Love Tonight

Two days ago, my better half's company decided to completely eliminate his entire department. It wasn't completely unexpected, but was still pretty shocking to get the news. 

There's a ton of emotions involved when something like this happens... But the overwhelming emotion right now is RELIEF. In the last 17 years, my better half has weathered no less than 6 rounds of layoffs. They had to close an entire department to get rid of him. ;)

When we started looking back...

It was his first job out of college.
Now, he has 17 years of experience in a very specialized field that means he is very bankable.

It was how he got sponsored to work in the US. 
Now, he is a naturalized US citizen and can work anywhere and for anyone without worrying about employment-based visas and green card issues.

It was how we qualified to buy a house.
Now, we have the freedom for him to find the *perfect* fulfilling job and we aren't strapped financially thanks to their appreciation of his almost 2 decades of service.

Five years ago (give or take a few), I really didn't have many friends outside his work friends.
Now, I have a circle of friends who I know I can call on if I need support.

When I posted the news on social media, the outpouring of love and support was overwhelming and it helped me through a pretty nasty panic attack. That and my better half being the rock that he has always been. Truthfully, he took it WAY better than I did.

The funny thing is, I'm not one to ask for help. I prefer to GIVE it. But just knowing that if I need it, I can call for help means the world to me. To all my friends, you are loved and appreciated more than you know. I thank God every day for all of you!

And now we move on to another chapter in our lives. Where it will be? That chapter has yet to be written. I just know that wherever we go, whatever happens, it will only be up from here.

We had been stuck in a serious rut for a while. We'd bandied about the idea of moving jobs, moving cities, yada yada, but we never really did anything about it. We'd prayed for a sign...

Apparently we're really dense and haven't seen previous signs, or it needed to be a REALLY BIG ONE to have us realize it as actually being a sign. Either way, we saw it.

I know this is sort of rambly, but it's real. I'll leave you with this thought: Life isn't about the money, money, money. It's about your support system and love.

PS: The KonMari Method really is magical. His job wasn't really sparking joy and it KM'd itself right out of our lives.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

{Insert Witty Title Here}

After almost two years' absence from blogging, it feels weird to write anything. Truth be told, I've been using facebook as my platform of choice to post photos, muse a bit and generally give the world a piece of my mind. The thing is, my facebook is set to friends only, so sharing my musings with the world at large is rather tedious.

Most blogs die a lingering death when the author loses interest. And so it goes with this blog which was my savior for a vey long time. But I feel the need to Muse a bit here because... Well... Just because. I'm prompted to blog about a new book I finished last night... It's the "Japanese tidying up" book by Marie Kondo. That's not its proper title, but it distills the essence of it down and if you google the author you'll find it. It was a short read, really. I finished most of it while soaking in the tub.

Cleaning has always been my nemesis. It's a well known fact in my family of origin that I am the messy one. For decades, the tidy, peaceful space has been elusive. The quest for "cleanliness" has been as fraught with disaster as any quest for the Holy Grail. After reading this diminutive book, I realized why.

I had been pursuing the wrong goal and going about it all wrong. The common wisdom says "start with one room" and "do a little every day". The KonMari Method outlined in Ms. Kondo's book starts from an entirely different premise. Instead of starting with a place, you start with a category. You corral all the items of that category in one location and from there you determine whether or not it "sparks joy" when you hold it in your hands. If it doesn't, thank it for its service and dispose of it. It sounds a little out there, but truly, it works.

The above photo shows the entirety of my clean clothes in a pile in the floor. We won't talk about what's in the dirty clothes. When I started, I felt overwhelmed looking at it. "This doesn't include the dirty stuff!", my mind cried. And I really doubted whether or not I could make it work. After all, I had been programmed to believe I could NEVER be a tidy person. But I plugged along while working on a client project (machine embroidery) and the breaks I took to swap out the stuff in the machine made it seem like not so daunting a task.

At the end of it all, I was left with this.
That's right. ONE laundry basket to fold and put away. What became of the huge pile? Some of it went to a trash bag to toss. And some of it went to Goodwill. 4 garbage bags FULL, actually. It felt GOOD. I'm a big fan of Goodwill anyway, and we'd already donated what felt like tons of stuff in the last few weeks, so I did it really believe I had all that much left to give. Hah! Never say never, I guess.

I still have shoes and handbags to sort through. But that's ok. Some will be super easy since I've already donated their matching outfits, lol. #TidyHo

We have decided to erase the word "clean" as a verb from our vocabulary. It brings up a host of negative emotions while the word "tidy" is, according to my 12 year old, a "brighter" word. Tidy conjures up a peaceful space, a restful space that needs minimal intervention. "Clean" only brings To mind endless drudgery and a nagging sense of inadequacy.

As I navigate this new territory of tidying, I will be updating periodically, sometimes here, sometimes facebook, sometimes Twitter and sometimes Instagram. I need the accountability.

Keep Calm and Tidy On

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Duck, Duck, Goose

Otherwise known as "Technorati asked me to put this code (YH3Q47P95FPA) somewhere in a post". And since I'm trying to get all my techie duckies in a row, I complied.

As you can see, I've updated the blog look and feel. You can find me on Pinterest, DeviantArt (no comments about how I'm such a deviant!), Etsy, Cafe Press and elsewhere on the Interwebz. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep all this stuff straight?

It reminds me of 2000 when I had 15 different email addresses... And a GeoCities account. Y'all remember those days of sprakly internets, right?

Anyways, I'm getting all hip to this new technology stuff.





Is that a freaky music video or WHAT? But I can't help but move to the beat. Even if it is Chucky at the wheel.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Finding Your Creative Voice

In 2005 I began attending an Artist's Way seminar in hopes of "unblocking" my "inner creative". It was, for me... interesting. It's nothing against the program, facilitator or other members of the group. Far from it, actually. For me, it was an uncomfortable thing to do. I have ADD and SPD*, two conditions that make life interesting - to say the VERY least. Part of my discomfort stemmed from the fact that I didn't consider myself an artist. Artists painted, sculpted, drew, made masterworks. I saw things in my mind but couldn't get them out. The other discomfort came from the fact that "morning pages" are an integral part of the program. I don't journal. I never have. I can't. It is quite literally impossible. There's no amount of cajoling or prompting that can make me journal. Part of it is psychological, but the other part is physiological. You can give a pig a pencil, but you can't make him write. I did give the group my best shot, but it was very much a square peg/round hole situation.

Over the years, I had attempted (in no particular order) diaper making (fail), apron making (fail), scrapbooking (fail), papercrafting (fail) and more. I was searching for my creative voice with little success. The one bright spot in this series of unfortunte events was Stephanie. When I threw my hands up in disgust at getting frustrated with sewing aprons, I sent her the only one I finished. It was a vintage pattern done up in vintage fabric. With that gift of an apron, two things happened. The first was blessing someone and encouraging them to learn to sew. The second was relinquishing the need to find-my-creative-voice-right-now. I like to think I'm Stephanie's "apron godmother".

I hadn't found my voice yet. And I had pretty much given up trying. During my short stint with the Artist's Way group, I found out I was pregnant with my third child - a boy. Early pregnancy for me is never easy, so I used my "all day long sickness" to gracefully bow out of the group. That's not hard to do when you're not able to move without being terribly ill. Something I contemplated while I spent weeks laying perfectly still on the sofa, not daring to move, was clothing for this child. I had two girls already and to borrow from Prissy from Gone With The Wind, I don't know nothin' 'bout no baby boys. Once my health improved for me to be mobile, I began making baby clothes. I made a christening gown, shorts, tops, his outfit for going home from the hospital, you name it. I sewed like there was no tomorrow. While my fervor was high, my skills were not! But each piece saw improvement. I was learning to speak with my creative voice.

Hospital to Home Outfit
Christening Gown

As my son grew, I kept sewing. I didn't like what passed for most little boys' clothing back then and so I ventured into more complicated clothing territory. Eventually, I began making costumes in addition to clothes. They weren't great, but with each one, I learned. I learned about fabric quality. I learned to pay attention to the type of fabric a pattern calls for. I learned how to skip some steps to streamline the construction process. The next year, I was even more ambitious. I created costumes from self-drafted patterns based on reference photos. I was creating things that didn't yet exist - including costume footwear. One of the costumes even won an award. My vocabulary was growing. My creative voice was getting stronger.
Ariel Warrior Princess


In subsequent years, my daughters began participating in pageants. To keep costs low, I made their dresses. The first few looked like it too! There were a few missteps, but with each event, I learned something. The ore I sewed, my confidence grew. Costumes I designed, constructed and styled began to win awards. Especially at events with a "themewear" division. In fact, my daughters' themewear has consistently scored high enough to win at almost every event.

Angel On Top Of The Tree
A Very Special Gift

Throughout this journey, there were many times when I was discouraged. I thought I wasn't good enough because I wasn't a "real artist" and I doubted I ever would be. I can see now that it's like a child learing to talk. First with nonsense sounds and babbling, then words only parents can understand, then finally fluent speech. Don't get discouraged if it feels like you'll never find your own creative voice. I started really searching for mine in 2005. It's now 2013. I can finally say...

I AM! a costume and clothing designer.
I CAN! see it in my mind and then MAKE IT HAPPEN.
I WILL! continue to hone my skills at every opportunity.

I have also learned that creating and sewing - even the most tedious of tasks like hand beading or matching plaid(!) help to soothe me when I get overwhelmed by the world around me. Finding my creative voice was more than an expression of who I am. It became therapeutic. It made me be myself - only more complete.

*ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder; SPD: Sensory Processing Disorder.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Manga Monday - Princess Tutu

While not strictly Manga, I'm including it because it's one of the most lovely anime I've ever seen. It's a big favorite here. This is not the full song, just the opening to the series. The full song is 4 minutes long and is just as lovely as the short bit used here.

Text: (Romaji)

yondeiru koe
saa me wo samashite
nakigao nugutte
mabushii hikari kigi no tsuyu umareru

dare mo shiranai himitsu no mizube de
odore inochi no pa do du
kyou mo yume miteru
sore wa yasashiku
hageshii nagare ne

doko made tsuzuku rabirinsu
watashi wa yukou nigirishimeru yume

yonde iru koe
watashi ga hitsuyou?
kanashii no mayou no tobidatsu
tori yureteru hana

sayonara namida anata wa suteki yo
odore inochi no pa do du
ashita o yume mite

watashi ga yuku wa sono te ni watasou
egao hitotsu de hora ne konna ni atatakai

dare mo shiranai himitsu no mizube yo
odore inochi no pa do du
asu o yume miteru

sore wa yasashiku
hageshii nagare ne shiwase sagasu
rabiribsu watashi wa yuku no yo

Text: (English)

A voice is calling to me
Now I open up my eyes
Wipe the tears from my face
A brilliant light and the dew on the trees is born

At the secret place by the waterside that no one knows of
Dance the pas de deux of life
and im dreaming again today.

So I find myself gently
drifting in a tempestuous current.
Just how far will this labyrinth take me...
I'll go along, and hold on tightly to this dream...

The full series is available in Netflix dubbed in English.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Manga Monday - Keroro Gunsou

To follow up with Friday's video of Afro Sargeant (Afuro Gunsou) from Sgt. Frog (Keroro Gunsou) I'm sharing with you my oldest child's renderings of the Keronians. May I present to you:
Keroro Gunsou - Sgt. Frog

Corporal Geroro

Sgt. Major Kululu

Lance Corporal Dororo

Private 2nd Class Tamama

If you want to draw your own Keronians, check out this video: