Blog| The Comparison Game

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If you’re not aware, I’ve been sick for the past few days which would explain the lack of a blog yesterday. Our house is full of sick people and animals at the moment between Demo getting his arm amputated, Almond not feeling good, and me getting knocked out by a severe cold.

How do I spend my sick days?

Mostly by scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos. Like most artists, I follow a ton of other artists as well. My YouTube is filled with speed paint videos, studio vlogs, and all sorts. On Facebook I see video features and articles about other local artists and projects and all of their art.

And then I started to feel bad about myself. I am surrounded by artists so it’s hard not to compare myself to them a bit. I see their amazing works and galleries and projects and my mind goes, “Why can’t I have any of that?”

Comparison is a double edged sword. Most artists do it in some way. They look up to other artists and take the styles and techniques they love and try to emulate them in some way. It can be healthy to do this. A lot of artists learn through emulation and there’s nothing wrong with that (as long as you’re not passing it of as your own and selling it.) We do it all the time, taking qualities we like and inheriting them.

Advice from Facebook:
“You do you. Every artist, regardless of medium, find fault in their own work, so having the balls to put it out there to the world is huge. You are not anyone else, and no one else is you. Be you, do you.”– Emily H

“I would say everyone’s art journey is different. Don’t compare your work or how you approach being artist to other artists. Your story will be unique to you. In addition to that, don’t look down on other artists if they don’t follow what you consider the proper way to go about being an artist.” -Kendra M

The problem gets to be when you do it too much. When it no longer is about growing yourself, but looking at your growth and diminishing it because it’s not as good as someone else’s. Comparison tends to lead to jealousy and envy. It’s a struggle not to do this. Humans are competitive and that permeates the art world, especially with the surge of social media. It’s a battle for followers and likes and shares.

That’s when comparison can become mostly a negative. It’s a fixation of “Why am I not selling pieces? Why can’t I get my own gallery? Why don’t people want to feature my work anywhere?” Artists put so much of themselves into their work that it gets personal when they see another artist they think had an easier time get more of a spotlight; it can lead to resentment and jealousy.

Advice from Facebook: 

“It’s normal to compare your efforts to the works of someone whose talents you admire. The trick is to compare without criticism.” -Billie A

” The world is full of different tastes so even though you might like and admire someone’s art, you shouldn’t push yourself to be too much like someone else because plenty of people will like YOUR stuff.” -Ana H 

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms. ~ Zen Shin” -Lisa M

We’re all not immune to it. I’ve been doing art seriously for 10+ years now. I’ve done small galleries and group shows and now help run one. I am not immune to it at all. I watch these videos of artists being able to work full time in their art studios and create all day while I have an office job and barely get the time and energy to work on my own pieces. You look at everything and wonder what you’re doing wrong.

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Here’s something not a lot of people know.

A year or so ago, my depression was on and off and I seriously considered giving up pursing art as a career and resigned myself to boring office jobs. I hadn’t sold anything after putting hours into my paintings and watched as my friends sold piece after piece and got commissions and invited to do cool events and workshops and everything while I was struggling. I thought there was no point. Everyone said they liked my work but it wasn’t showing.

I had spent years in the art community and had gotten no where and was tired of being passed up. I wasn’t in galleries, no one knew who I was. It was pointless.

Advice from Facebook: 

“Stop that shit!” -Todd G

” Let your light shine.” –Greg F

I love art. I need art to keep myself sane and balanced but comparing myself to everyone else had put me in this dark pit that I couldn’t get out of and I wanted to quit. I was so tired of fighting and climbing uphill. It took Rony to talk me out of it and keep going. Things got better. I stopped focusing so much on everyone else. I took the time and focused on what I wanted to do.

I do both original fine art and fan art, but not solely either or. It puts me in this weird category where since I don’t do constant fan art I don’t get the recognition for that but because I do fan art, I don’t get the recognition for my fine art. I’m in limbo. It was one of the reasons why I’ve been trying to make the Lubbock Artist Collective galleries so diverse. I want to allow room for both fan art and fine art you can be good at both.

The artists I follow online are in the same category as myself, but it’s hard locally. Lubbock is small and the art community is tight. Even surrounded by artists, I feel like an outsider.

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There are times where I still get bouts of jealousy and self-deprecation. It’s hard not to, but I’m working on it. Now when I see others succeed, I have to remind myself it doesn’t affect my own journey and I should be excited for them. I look at my Instagram feed and the Youtube videos and use these glimpses into other artists worlds to inspire me rather than put me down. I use it as motivation.

Seattle will have more opportunities. I’m growing my own opportunities here for now.

It’s not easy and it’s never going to be easy. Paintings don’t sell and pile up, you email galleries constantly looking for a place that will accept your art. Opportunities go by while you see your friends get more and more. It happens. But you have to keep going. The hard work pays off eventually.

Advice from Facebook: 

“I know art is cathartic for a lot, including me, but remember it’s fun and that it’s okay to just make stuff that isn’t great sometimes, so long as you enjoy it.” -David P

“We’re our biggest critics. Focus on your work and what you want to do. Don’t compare to others, because they’re on their own journey and see things through different eyes than you. We’re all human and have a tendency to be too hard on ourselves and think the next person is better. More often than not, that person you think is better, is probably thinking the same thing about someone else.” – Natasia M

So remember, no two people are alike. Each person grows differently. Some fast, some slow. It’s okay to look up to other people, but don’t diminish your own growth and put yourself down. Comparison can be good in small doses to motivate and inspire but you are one of a kind and can’t be anyone else. You’ll get there. Just keep going.

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What advice would you give someone? Have you struggled with comparing yourself?

-Sam <3

Blog| A is for…

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Personal territory here. Be advised.

Self-discovery is an ongoing thing. You never really finish learning but sometimes you don’t question enough things that seem concrete and settled. I’m learning that. Things I thought about myself aren’t as permanent as I thought. The things I want change and the things I like as well.

I never thought I’d change my diet, be in charge of big things, drop out of college, etc. But I did. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, a year ago, a few months ago.

Self-discovery is weird but good and can come at unexpected times.

IMG_0606IMG_0602During a discussion, Rony joked a while back and asked if I was sure I wasn’t Asexual. I laughed but before I could think I said, “Maybe???”

Maybe I was. I’d never thought about it, but it kinda made sense.

Asexuality is the lack of or complete non-existence of a sex drive. You just aren’t interested in sex. There are different types of asexuals like graysexuals and demisexuals where sometimes you have to be in a specific circumstance to feel those urges or where you feel them, you just have no desire to act on them. Sexuality is a crazy wide spectrum of differences and nuances and not everything has a name, but it exists.

And no, it’s not that they just haven’t had a good experience, aren’t doing it right, or haven’t found the right person. Asexuals just don’t desire sex and that’s okay.

I’ve never questioned my sexuality. I’m a straight, cisgendered woman of color. That’s it. Nothing more. Permanent fact. But I don’t think that’s so anymore. I fell into a hole of research and Googling and questioning. Was I actually Asexual or just someone with a low sex-drive?

 

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I’m not new to the LGBTQIA community. My grandmother is a lesbian. I grew up never realizing it was anything different. It wasn’t until I was a bit older and got weird looks when I talked about my grandma and her girlfriend that I realized it wasn’t the usual. But that didn’t matter to me.

Most of my friends growing up were queer. Lesbian, gay, bi. They were wonderful people and why shouldn’t they love who they wanted to.

I just never thought to question MY sexuality. But then again, this whole relationship stuff is still new to me. Rony is only my second long term boyfriend and the first was an awful on and off relationship in high school that ended after less than a year and we had never had sex. How was I suppose to know if I was Asexual? Sex was never a priority for either of us and I was new enough to dating that I wasn’t going to throw it out there.

I attributed my lack of interest to uncertainty and never thought twice.

 

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There’s a heteronormative expectation on people. Most people are straight and cisgendered. it’s the “default” to a lot of people. I didn’t question it, never thought I could be queer or something was different with me. But as soon as the question was proposed, the straight label didn’t fit.

So what am I?

I don’t know. I’m new to this whole thing and still learning. I think I’m Graysexual which means I get urges but never feel like acting on them. Am I straight? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. I always attributed my lack of sexual attraction to anyone not a man as me being straight but maybe it was just being asexual. I was expected to like men so I equated romantic attraction as sexual desire. It wasn’t though. I’m attracted to a lot of women, I just don’t want to have sex with anyone and I equated that with not being interested in women period.

It’s weird and confusing but that’s another thought and conversation.

Am I LGBTQIA? Yes, I think. There’s the whole argument if Asexuals should be part of the LGBT and it’s confusing and I’m just trying to adjust to one thing at a time.

It seems to be the hardest thing to wrap my brain around. I’ve always associated being queer with my friends and family but never myself. I was an Ally, that’s mostly it. Now I may actually be asexual and bi or pan romantic? Who knows. I certainly don’t. Not yet at least.

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What does that mean for me? It’s an adjustment. I feel more settled into my own skin but talking about it is still weird because it has nothing to do with my romantic inclinations, just my sexual and that’s a weird conversation to talk about with other people besides my partner. Luckily, Rony has been very understanding and supportive. It’s not that big a deal to him and he’s learning. I’m learning. We’re learning together.

Is this me coming out? I think so? I’ve never had to come out before. Yes, I think.

In one part of my brain, this whole thing is just not a big deal. I’m asexual. Cool. It doesn’t affect my life and my goals and art all that much. On the other hand, it does. Something that I thought was wrong with me isn’t and this guilt and confusion I’ve had is gone. It’s an understanding that hey, something isn’t wrong with you. You’re just wired differently. It’s a part of me so I should tell people. But it’s still weird.

I have a lot to learn still. I want to learn more. There’s a lot of adjusting in my brain and I’m still wrapping my head around it. Permanent facts are no longer as permanent and the foundation is shook, but I’m settling in now.

If you’d like any information on Asexuality feel free to read these!

http://www.whatisasexuality.com/intro/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexuality
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_asexuality
http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/02/what-is-graysexuality/

And look up more if you’d like! We can all learn together :)

Thanks for taking the time and reading about me having an existential crisis!

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-Sam <3

Blog| Zero to a Hundred

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I do a lot of events. Like a lot of them. Two to three years ago if you had told me I’d be planning and organizing events and galleries, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was shy and had a hard time emailing or calling businesses and people, much less being in charge. But here I am.

When things slow down for me, my brain starts to overwork and fixate. It’s a good and bad side of my brain that tends to cause me anxiety. Someone suggests or jokes about one little thing and my brain will fixate on the idea until I end up either doing something drastic to my hair, the house, or coming up with a new project to focus on.

That’s what happening now. I did two of those three, but we’ll talk about one of them later.

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A year or two ago, Rony did a design event in Albuquerque called Createathon where he and a bunch of different graphic designers were assigned a project for some non-profits and were given 24 hours to work up logos and marketing material and sometimes website. They did a lock-in and worked from like 11am to 11am the next day. I drove him and some of his coworkers to it so I could drive them back safely and let them sleep in the car.

He tweeted about it the whole night and I followed along while I stayed in the rental house. A lot of good work came out of it and it seemed like a fun idea.

I have no clue what made me think about it again, but it kept bouncing around in my head. I wanted something new to do that would be interesting and push artists to create. I wanted to do a 24 hour lock-in for art and maybe we could display the work and donate part of the proceeds to charity.

When I started Ladies Night, all I had to do was email Robert at Star Comics with the idea and it somehow came together. We set a date, I did art for the flyer, Rony put the flyer together, and the rest was trial and error. Geek Girl Brunch is a collaboration with the other officers. The Pokemon Art Drops were trial and error but easy overall. And the galleries came from experience and brainstorming.

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Everything I’ve done so far has been simple in concept. Previous events give me inspiration for new ones and the experience to push myself forward.

I’ve somehow become an event coordinator and have learned how to market and push events to get the attendance.

This is different. This is harder. Even with the Star Wars charity event we’re doing in December, that’s pretty easy since I have help.

Where do I start? Who do I contact? What are the details?

I’m been thinking about it all week, talking it over with Rony and friends on Facebook. I’m emailing galleries and looking up places that have done stuff like this before and seeing if we can rent churches or gyms and what about live streaming the event? We need a place to hold the actual lock-in, need a place to display the art, need a date, need to figure out requirements for participation, figure out snacks and food and necessities to supply artists for 24 hours, advertisement, what charity are we giving too, do we need to write up proposals, etc etc.

It’s a lot, but the thing is: I don’t mind it. My mind is being kept busy. I’m working on art which sometimes is a mindless task for me. Art just happens and flows and I don’t have to think too much when I’m in the zone. But I like events because they’re a challenge.

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I like making a difference. A few years ago I didn’t have any information or places to display my art or things to participate in. I want to provide those opportunities for new artists and help them get involved.

My problem with fixation isn’t always great. It can lead to big, impulsive decisions but sometimes it works in my favor to keep me motivated and growing.

I’ll figure out how to make this event work. I always do. And one day, maybe I can do events as a career and be able to make more of a difference. But for now, I’m busy, I’m happy, I’m covered in paint and I’m working to make the art community a more fun place. I think that’s pretty good.

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-Sam <3

Blog| Anxiety Depression Self-Care

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week! Today I wanted to talk a bit about my own experience and my routine to keep balanced and healthy.

Processed with MOLDIV

I’m pretty open about my battle with mental illness. For the longest time, I kept my problems to myself until I realized it did more damage holding it in. I talk about it candidly in the hopes that other people struggling don’t feel alone and can feel comfortable enough talking about it and will eventually seek help if they need it.

I mainly deal with Anxiety, Depression, and Excoriation Disorder (or Dermatillomania) which is the fixation of picking at your skin. That means I fixate on small things like bumps, pimples, or scabs and will absentmindedly pick at them even if it hurts. This can lead to scarring, bruising, and infection if the wounds aren’t treated. Unfortunately for me, I tend to fixate on my chest and shoulders and so I have a lot of scars there.

It wasn’t until recently that I got medical treatment for the Anxiety and Depression due to being mugged, but for years I had a careful routine to keep myself stable and in check. The fear of being on medication was larger than my fear of my illness, but over time I’ve realized that there is nothing wrong with medication and finding help.

This past October I overdid myself with events and ended up completely exhausting myself to the point where I got severely depressed. I did three events in one weekend, went to Seattle for a week, left my job and started a new one, and did two galleries along with attending a bunch of different events and having art everywhere. Plus Halloween.

I crashed. The main things I realized was A, I didn’t stick to my routine and thus became severely unbalance and B, this wasn’t me being sad but a chemical imbalance and my body trying to figure out how to cope with said imbalance.

It took a few months to get okay again and sort myself out but I’m healthy and know that overdoing it can set me back a lot more than just taking a break. Breaks are easier to deal with.

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So what are the signs that I may be going through a depression fit? They differ for each person but these are the ones I experience most and help me identity when my mood is turning:

  • lethargy
  • loss of motivation
  • lack of hygiene routine
  • lack of appetite due to loss of motivation
  •  not wanting to socialize
  • increase picking at scabs or any bumps on my skin
  • feeling alone or like a burden on friends
  • not wanting or seeing no point to working on any of my projects

My anxiety is an ongoing thing. I don’t get days off from it though the medication has helped to tone it down. I don’t have panic attacks anymore but new situations still makes my heart rate shoot up like crazy and sometimes I feel like I have trouble breathing. Phone calls are the worst.

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How do I manage it? 

Routines are the best for me, but sometimes I still get occurrences of depression. But if I can at least know the signs that it may be happening, I can do what I can to re-balance before it gets bad.


  • Don’t overbook myself. 
    • I give myself at least one weekend to do nothing and try not to plan too much during the week since I do have a day job. We dog sit but we tend to keep it to one dog a week and will have breaks in between them. Besides that, I try to only do two events a month.
  • Eat healthy and regularly
    • Sometimes when I get busy or if I’m working on a project, I forget to eat or take breaks. Rony will help me remember or make me food or I’ll set an alarm to remind myself to walk away and make myself food if he’s not around. Cutting down on junk food has helped too as I’ve realized the more junk I eat, the less good I feel about myself and too much junk can actually make my mood crash
  • Sleep
    • Allowing myself to take naps and get a good nights sleep does wonders. I have this thing where I feel like I’m wasting time if I sleep and will run on very little if I’m busy. It’s good for you though and I’m actively trying to change the way I think about naps! Turn your phone off or put it away an hour early and try to get some extra shut eye every now and then!
  • Get sunlight
    • If your house or room is dark, open the curtain and try to get as much sunlight as possible. Go to the park or go lay in your backyard for a while. Just five minutes of sun can do so much for you

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  • Exercise
    • Do what you can. Go on a walk, jog, run. Do some push ups or crunches or yoga. Your body has a lot of pent up energy that is pooling inside of you. Getting your heart rate going can release that while also releasing chemicals to lift your spirits a bit. If I’m feeling really awful or frustrated, I work out
  • Try to talk to a friend somehow once a week
    • I am awful at keeping up with friends and family. I get busy and I forget and I stay in my bubble until someone makes sure I’m alive. Even if it’s only to touch base, make a point to send someone a text or Facetime someone at the least. Getting out of the house is even better. People need socialization even if sometimes you aren’t in the mood
  • Spend 30 minutes working/reading/relaxing
    • If you have a passion project but are starting to lose motivation or feeling lethargic, force yourself to spend at least 30 minutes on it every other day. If you have a hobby, do it for 30 minutes. Depression is weird in that the things that help you the most are the last things you want to do, but if you want to get better you got to push through. It’s incredibly hard
  • Let yourself have time
    • Sometimes my fits come because of exhaustion. And so I let myself experience it and live it for a week. I’ll lay on the couch and take baths and sleep and watch TV and not do anything for a week. That’s okay. But if I do that, I make myself a deal that at the end of the week, I need to slowly start doing things again. I won’t be 100% instantly but if I ease into my regular routine it’s a lot easier and doesn’t seem overwhelming

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  • Checklist
    • I have a checklist on my fridge that I get to color in when I do basic things that are good for my health. Brush my teeth, drink water, take my medication, eat something. It’s good to have this list as a goals list. If I get almost everything colored in, I can treat myself. The goal is to eventually consistently filling in every thing for days in a row until I don’t need it for a while.
  • Journal
    • Logging your moods and thoughts is a good way to think over what you’re feeling and sort through them. Self-care is all good but getting your thoughts in order and working on it goes a lot farther than tea and bubble baths. Write out all the negative thoughts and then think of things you like about yourself and your life.
  • Meditation/Breathing Exercises
    • If my anxiety is growing, there’s a few meditation and breathing apps you can download on your phone that help me calm down. I’ve even found this GIF to be really helpfulmdm5ndyxmgjmmcmvd1czrurszgxoc0frm016wmztz0e4vfnrvwq0ps9maxqtaw4votawedkwmc9mawx0zxjzom5vx3vwc2nhbguoktpxdwfsaxr5kdgwks9odhrwoi8vaw1hz2vzlm1pyy5jb20vznh1nwxjngh2d2rsexdwymdobdu2ynv2zgp1a2vqbxd5ynhpzxyx
  • (For Picking)
    • If I’m starting to pick at my skin more, I first make sure to trim my nails which makes it harder to find edges on scabs. I’ll put Neosporin or Lotion on any scabs or scars and if there’s one I keep messing with, I’ll cover it with a Bandaid. Any scabs on my head I’ll put my hair up tight where I can’t easily get to them. It’s not easy and I feel stupid covered in Bandaids, but it’ll keep me from messing with it and risking infection
    • If the urge is really bad, I’ll get hot glue and glue droplets onto cardboard or something stiff and will pick at it while I’m working. It’s something I do without realizing it and this way is healthier than tearing off scabs. Backup idea: I pick apart stress balls. It’s very satisfying.

Of course, there’s the self-care you see all over the internet. Bath bombs and pajamas and cuddles and all that. There’s a place for that and it’s good in small doses, but the things that actually help you are a lot less glamorous. Mental illness is ugly and hard and can feel like this invisible disease eating away at you. It needs treatment just like any other illness, but there is a way to feel better.

Don’t be ashamed of what you’re feeling and your mental illness. It’s not easy living with this and it’s not easy taking care of yourself. You can do it though. There’s help out there and there’s people going through the same thing.

What are the routines you do to help deal with your own mental illness?

Processed with MOLDIV -Sam <3

 

Blog| Fresh Start

I’ve gone through a lot of blogs. I was part of the Xanga craze, Livejournals, Tumblr, even the journal section of DeviantArt. Blogs aren’t new to me. I’ve always needed some form of written release, being an introvert and all, and blogs are ways I can word vomit and get it all out.

Raicodoll is my art, my videos, my events, but most of all it’s me. So let’s get to know each other a bit better. Blog I shall. If you just like seeing my art and or going to the things around town I host, that’s fine. The News section has my non-personal stuff. That’s cool. But if you don’t mind a bit of word vomit and venting, then read on!

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In October, after the weekend from hell (that is, the three event weekend where I attempted to kill me and fellow artists with exhaustion), me and Rony spent a week in Seattle for a conference he was attending. Seattle had been on our list to visit for a long time. Companies we loved were located there, it rained all the time, it’s a very artsy town and it wasn’t a desert.

Visiting Seattle was magical and we fell in love instantly.

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Cut to this year. You can only grumble that you miss a place so much before finally just saying, we should move there. Before, moving to Seattle was kinda a lofty dream we would say when the weather was too hot and the wind threatened to take the fence down the block. But after a few google searches and some research, it wasn’t impossible.

We made a plan. Two years max we’d move. After some re-budgeting, it was cut down to one year. We’d move in one year.

And that’s the plan. We’re going to get rid of all our non-essential things, save a ton of money, and pack up all five animals and a trailer and move everything up north! Which is wonderful and exciting but also terrifying.

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I’ve lived in Lubbock my whole life. My whole family is in Texas, at most 5-8 hours away. Moving across the country is a brand new experience. Plus I’m a natural worrier so yes, I am already preparing for this move over a year in advance. Everything feels final. Final birthdays and holidays and events. Things I have created I now have to figure out what the future holds for them.

It’s a bit daunting. In the end, I think it’s a good decision for us. Sometimes you just hit the limits of your growth and have to move to a bigger sandbox. It’s scary and uncomfortable but it’ll make you better.

This weekend we’re having a garage sale to start getting rid of the junk we’ve hoarded over the years. I’m purging what I can and deciding what makes the cut to stay. It’s refreshing, like de-cluttering your life. Everything will be a new start and I think I’m excited for that. As much as I love what I do, it’ll be so nice to start over back at zero and not have any pressures.

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For now, I’m going to enjoy life here, doing what I love, and making memories. There’s a lot planned for this year and if I’m gonna leave, I want to leave while things are good.

-Sam <3