Blog| Brown Girl

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I have brown skin.

Specifically I’m Hispanic. When I was born, I was dark, hairy, and chubby with dark brown eyes and brown-black hair versus my sister who was light skinned and light haired and who looked almost Asian.

I’ve always been dark. If I’m in the sun for longer than half an hour, I turn 10 shades darker. I tan rather than sun burn and I have jokingly referred to myself as the color of a burnt cookie.

I do not know Spanish and growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of cultural ties. My parents didn’t cook a lot of Mexican food, we didn’t go to church that often, never celebrated Cindo de Mayo or Dia de los Muertos and we only went to Mexico once for like a day and came back.

My grandmothers were the ones that cooked a lot of Mexican food and made fresh tortillas and made me menudo. My parents had us young so my grandma on my dad’s side essentially raised my parents and us and my aunt and uncle all at once on her own. She named me Samantha and taught my parents how to take care of us while working full time and helping my aunt with her kids and my teenage uncle.

All in all, I didn’t realize that being brown was any different than being white when I was young. Until I started consuming media.

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I never really had representation in the media growing up. It was hard enough to find women role models much less Latina role models so I grew up with a skewed beauty standard.

I remember seeing all these beautiful women and thinking I wasn’t pretty because I was too dark. Being into the “goth” aesthetic didn’t help that any. Everyone was pale white with sharp black hair and blue eyes. I was a preteen the first time I heard about bleaching cream and wondered if there was a home brew version or if I could sneakily buy some without my mom knowing.

Growing up, I avoided the sun to be pale. When I learned makeup, the first shades I got were too light. I didn’t like the way bright colors looked on me because I was darker than they were and it looked weird to me.

Being curvy and top heavy did not help at all to fit the thin, willowy, pale ideal that had formed in my head.

I was about 20 when I finally gave up and just accepted that this was how I looked, but it’s still stuck in my head. I don’t like the sun and I still don’t wear bright colors. I went “blonde” for a year and hated that the coppery color was the same shade as my skin.

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I think about this often, this warped idea of beauty I’ve developed. It’s not my fault and I know it. Years of being shown skinny, pale skinned women with little to no representation have cemented the idea in my head. But instead of discarding it all, I’ve used it to show the problem.

I’ve been arguing and talking about representation in comics and the media for years now and I think it’s because of this brown shame I have. Seeing superheroes like Miss America Chavez, Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes, and characters like Sombra from Overwatch shouldn’t be so rare that it gets made to be a big deal. We should have more than a handful of fictional characters that we claw to our chests because it’s all we have.

If I had had that representation when I was younger, things could have been different. I wouldn’t have had to know what bleaching cream is and worry that I couldn’t dress up as my favorite character because I wouldn’t look right.

But it’s still a problem. I remember hearing Tim Burton’s lame excuse for why he only really casts white people and feeling hurt because my skin color didn’t match his visual aesthetics enough. Then there was Marvel’s excuse that the reason their sales had dropped was because they had too much diversity and female lead titles. Like having a brown character is so distracting to the status quo.

We have work to do. I don’t want a little girl growing up and thinking she doesn’t matter because she doesn’t see herself in the faces on TV or in the comics she reads. This kind of stuff does have lasting effects and even now, I’m fighting to not be ashamed of who I am.

I’m brown. Deal with it.

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-Sam <3

Blog| One Month of Natural Hair

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I’ve talked before about how my hair is naturally curly. My mom has really tight curls and my sister, at most, has slight waves. I landed more on my mom’s side with half-wavy curls and coils. I’ve never been able to figure out how to deal with them and of course, coloring and bleaching my hair doesn’t help.

But I want to try. I figured that straightening and hot ironing my hair every day isn’t exactly the best for it and if I want to move to Seattle I’m going to have to learn to deal with it. There will be no escape from moisture there.

So I’m going to keep my hair naturally curly for a whole month.

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Right now it’s in the extreme frizz phase and I hate it. It doesn’t look good and I can’t shower in the evening like I normally do or else I’ll look like medusa in the morning. My morning routine takes 30 minutes in the morning and I like it that way. Now it’s going to take longer.

I think that’s a big reason why I straighten it. My curly hair just never looked tidy and put together. I always looked like I was crazy. I think there are ways I can make it look better but I’m going to need to get some things. Like mousse and probably a hair diffuser. Who knows.

No, seriously, who knows? I need help.

I’ll keep everyone updated through my hair journey and hopefully at the end of the month, I’ll have learned to love my curls.  Hopefully.

Do you have curly hair? How do you manage it? Let me know below!

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Blog| First Tomato!

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Rony and I decided this year we would try and grow a garden in the front. Last year we had a few pumpkin plants given to us by a friend, but all three died and we weren’t sure what went wrong. This time, we tilled the ground by our stoop and planted a whole pumpkin patch from seeds, got a few tomato plants, and slowly began collecting plants like white strawberries, pepper, and carrots.

The pumpkins are growing like crazy (I’ll do a post about them later) and I’ve already plucked our first red and white strawberries, but I’ve been most excited about the tomatoes. I LOVE tomatoes. Like I can eat them like apples. I had a tomato plant briefly in Dallas before I moved back to Lubbock and it was the best thing.

So in our effort to be healthier and a bit greener, we’ve wanted to grow our own veggies.

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This one had been doing good and went from having one baby tomato to one big one and two new babies. It took a while but it finally went from green to red. I really need to get a cage for it since it’s getting weighed down, but so far it hasn’t been too bad about leaning to a side.

I went ahead and washed it off since some birds like to poop on the plants and we had used a plant food on all the plants to help the pumpkins vine. The tomato popped off really easily and was really firm. I don’t remember what kind of tomato it is since we have three different kinds, but I think it’s a beefsteak?

There was some black little holes along the bottom so I got really worried the tomato wasn’t good. I honestly would have been heartbroken since at this point, it’s the only veggie that has gotten to full size. Both my strawberries ended up being really small and hasn’t gotten any new berries. But I sliced off the bottom and it was pretty much perfect!

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Honestly, it was one of the best tomatoes I’ve ever had. It was firm and kinda salty versus kind of soft and sweet like most store bought tomatoes are now. It didn’t mush and had so much flavor! I tried a bit and then Rony some. I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe me when I told him it was amazing, but watching him take a bite and he was blown away too.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables and plants is incredibly gratifying. One, if the plants keep producing then we won’t have to buy them and two, you know exactly where the food came from! Plus it’s very rewarding and you really feel proud.

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We have about four more tomato plants and hopefully they’ll start producing veggies soon. My two babies are doing good and I’m excited!

Have you grown your own food before? Let me know!

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-Sam <3

Blog| June Goals

 

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I’m just going to admit it right here. I failed on like most of my goals. And I would say that it’s because I got busy but really I got busy and lazy at the same time. No excuses. I straight up dropped the ball.

So a goal for my goals this month is to actually stick to them!

Let’s recap last month’s goals and see where I bombed hard.

May Goals

Personal:

  • Cut junk food down to only twice a week Yeah, this didn’t work. I think we actually ate out more this month than previous months because of how busy we got. But somehow I lost two pounds from my last doctor’s visit??? That like never happens but maybe it’s the medication.
  • Clean the house for at least 30 minutes a day and put away at least 20 things The garage sale and con prepping destroyed the house. It is not fit for human and animal habitation. Please send help and flame throwers.
  • Read 2-3 comics/or a few chapters in a book every weekend at least I finished two books! But they were audio books… I haven’t touched my comics.
  • Work out once a week (home or gym) lol no
  • Get up earlier and leave the house by 7:50 am   I’m going to give myself this one because I am getting up earlier and I’m leaving the house by 7:53-55. Which is a lot better than leaving at 8 am when I’m supposed to get there at 8 am.

Bonus: Take puppies somewhere once a week nope. Almond got sick and hurt and we got too busy dog sitting to take them anywhere. But a puppy day is in order before Leon gets fixed and then he’ll be stuck in solitaire.

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Work:

  • One sketchbook painting a week I did do this a couple of weeks but got too busy con prepping to keep up.
  • Blog once a week at least Not only did I do this, but I’ve been blogging at least 3-4 times a week! Yay for me!
  • Re-Open the Etsy Shop by the end of the month I cut it real close but I’m happy to announce that the Etsy Shop is open again as of last night and I’ve listed most of my new art and prints and sketchbooks!
  • Finish printed Inktober Sketchbook Boom. Got that done, had it available at the convention, and now you can get it online here
  • Upload two videos this month I really tried, but I got distracted and editing the house tour is a pain in the ass.
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Post-con. I fell asleep in my Batwoman cosplay while hugging my new Pikachu

So 4/10 of the goals were done. Not the best but not the worst. Most of the ones I completed were for work so that’s something, but it pretty much proves that I need to get better focusing on myself and not only the business.

Luckily things will be slower this month. The Wonder Woman gallery is tomorrow, there’s only a few events but nothing big, and I have to work on only one new piece for the July gallery. That leaves me wiggle room to paint whatever I want and manage the shop and work on my personal goals.

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June Goals

Personal:

  • Rearrange bedroom
  • Clean a bit of the house every day
  • Drink at least a bottle of water every day
  • Yoga/workout once a week
  • Get Leon fixed

Work:

  • A pic a day on Instagram
  • Sketch or paint a non-gallery piece once a week
  • Restock jewelry
  • Order 6×9 & 8×10 prints
  • Scan and make print copies of all paintings

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I don’t think any of the goals for June are too far reaching. Like I said, this month is far less busy and I do want to get everything back in order. The house is a wreck and we’re getting a new mattress soon and Leon is getting a bigger kennel so I want to make sure the bedroom will fit everything (Almond’s kennel is huge and takes up most of the room.

The business is getting back into shape but still needs some cleaning up. I want to make sure everything is in stock that way I’m not scrambling to fill orders and I want to get back into the rhythm of making and posting art regularly. If anything, the hardest goals may be the drinking water and working out ones. I’m AWFUL at remembering to drink water during the day.

June should be a good month. I’m excited to kick myself back into gear and tackle new projects!

What goals do you have for June?

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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.

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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?

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