Blog| When It’s Too Much

I live a busy life. It’s a recurring theme in everything I do. If you know me as a friend, you know you need to ask me a couple weeks ahead of time if I’m free and if it’s last minute the answer is probably no.

Once upon a time, I didn’t have a social life. I’d go to work, go home, read or watch TV or play games or paint until 2am in the morning, and then go to sleep and do it all over. I’d always find a reason to cancel plans or bail out of something and stay home.

Things changed and now I’m constantly on the move. The days when there are no events or things to go to feel unreal because I feel like I forgot I’m suppose to be somewhere. After October, I realized I still had a bunch of events to do.

We had the gallery and Ladies Night and my guest speaking event and birthdays and parties and then we had to clean the house, take had Leon’s birthday, the Museum event, etc. And then I got sick on Halloween. And then I stayed sick for like a week. And then I got food poisoning.

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I also had social media I had to keep up with. Moderating groups and taking care of issues and fighting people about why no, I don’t have a lot of hope for Justice League.

Lo and behold, I got overwhelmed. I almost broke down and cried in the bathroom at work. I had a headache for two days straight before I realized I had stopped taking my medication. My voice was raw and shot for over a week and I wanted to lay down and sleep and not do anything. I had to go home early from work one day and I passed out for like 3-4 hours immediately.

I wasn’t taking care of myself and that’s a slippery slope when you have anxiety and depression. I rely on my support system and routine. It keeps me grounded and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by all my events and to-do list.

I need to get back into it, calm myself, and focus. A relapse is a sure fire way to kill any momentum I have from Inktober and with the holiday season hitting, I need that momentum.

So what are some of my routines?


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1.  No Staying up Past Midnight

I am not someone that functions on little sleep anymore. I use to be but now I get headaches and am cranky and have an awful time getting up in the morning. Ideally I should be in bed by 11, but what can I say? When I get more sleep, I find I’m not hitting the alarm twelve times and throwing my hair in a bun in an attempt to look presentable. The more put together I look, the more focused and professional I feel at work. Fake it til you make it. I’m an adult baby in a big girl job who has a vague idea about what she’s doing but I can at least act like I know what I’m doing.

Making sure I get enough sleep also keeps me from wanting to nap and drink a ton of coffee with a lot of sugar.

2. Clean/Deep Clean the House

If the house is messy, clean laundry piled up in a basket, dog toy scraps all over the floor, and dishes are covering the counter then I get stressed and don’t want to work on anything. I also have little desire to fix it the worse it gets. See, depression is weird. By keeping up with it before it gets that bad, I keep myself from using it as an excuse to not do anything and also keep it from being an unmanageable mess.

Deep cleaning is also very very helpful. I go through these periods where I want to throw EVERYTHING away and just list a minimalist life, but that doesn’t quite work for me. I try though. Yesterday, to distract myself from working, I went through my whole closet and pulled out any ill-fitting or old clothes that I know I don’t wear. I organized my drawers and swept and hung stuff on the wall and put away ALL the laundry. The room ended up looking nicer and I felt a lot better now that there wasn’t so much clutter.

Clutter can make you feel claustrophobic and stressed so sometimes you need to do a clean sweep and toss out anything you don’t really love or use. And if you don’t think you can do that, get a giant tub and put it all there. In a couple of months, if you don’t miss it or need it then you know you can get rid of it.

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3. Eat

I don’t mean like binge but when I’m relapsing then I forget to eat or can’t bring myself to put in the effort to make myself food. Make toast for breakfast. Eat a salad for lunch. Cook pasta for dinner and eat the leftovers for the next few days. Make sure you are eating every meal.

Lethargy is a killer. It saps any will to clean, do work, or just enjoy things. If you don’t eat, it’ll just feed that lethargy by making you cranky and irritable and feeling sick. So eat!

4. Take a Time Out

A lot of the work I do is on social media. Managing the Artist Collective, events, and posting my art means I’m constantly checking notifications. Is anyone asking me a question, are people debating civilly and not name calling, is traffic to an event picking up? It’s constant. But that also means my energy gets sapped pretty quickly. I can’t tell people off because I’m irritable and they’re annoying me. If I don’t check the notifications, what if I miss something?

It’s not fun and gives me anxiety. So sometimes, I let people know I’m outty and if they need me then they can text. I read or watch TV or nap or clean. I break away from the screen and disconnect because being connected is exhausting.

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5. Write Stuff Down

When I’m overwhelmed, writing down everything I need to get done can help immensly. I’ll write down all my deadlines, figure out which ones are the most pressing, and work on those first. If there’s something that can wait, it goes on the bottom of the list. By making an action plan, things tend to look less daunting when I’m done.

Having a planner or journal also helps. I had a Life Planner but found I didn’t like how big and cumbersome it was. I read about Bullet journaling and grabbed a small notebook from Target and started using that. It takes a while to get use to, but I can take it with me and write down all my events, reminder lists, keep track of habits, and keep a budget. Being able to write stuff down and have it all in once physical place keeps me from feeling stressed about not knowing what I have coming up or if I lost my grocery list, etc. I know where to look to find the info.


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These are just a few things but it’s a start. Routine is good and healthy. And some days it’s okay to just nap on the couch and not do anything. But too much can be bad and you have to recognize the signs before it gets worse.

What do you do when you are stressed or overwhelmed or feeling depressed?

-Sam <3

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Blog| Social Media Free Weekend

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I’ve been seeing a lot online about these digital detox challenges and camps. Essentially, You spend a weekend to a week without social media, your phone, or television. Pretty much any electronics.

I will admit: I am addicted to my phone. Mostly because I handle everything through it. Events and business contacts and the different things I’m in charge of are all handled through Facebook, Messenger, or Email. I’m a control freak so I need to constantly be able to be reached at all times.

Yes, I am glued to my phone and usually have it in my hand all the time. Which isn’t great. Notifications give me anxiety so I always have to check them to make them go away (turning them off just gives me anxiety that someone is contacting me and I don’t know). I have two laptops and hardly use them because I have my phone! A few minutes can turn into a few hours and more times than not, my productivity goes down the drain with my battery life.

So I thought maybe it was a good idea to try one of these “detoxes.” And even though no one was forcing me, boy did I make a lot of excuses. I couldn’t do it this or that weekend because I had events or meetings and what if someone tries to get a hold of me??? Rarely do I have a weekend where nothing is happening. I was just going to have to suck it up.

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Saturday

I compromised and instead of nixing out all digital devices, I pledged no social media (and email/games) which is what I use a majority of time on my phone anyways. No Facebook, Instagram, Email, or Snapchat. I don’t really use Twitter or Tumblr and I made an allowance for Youtube (on the TV only) because we don’t have cable.

My routine is I usually wake up and mess around on my phone for an hour or two before I get up. This morning was the first day we actually got Fall weather. It was cool and cloudy and rainy and the dogs were snuggled up with me. I ended up sleeping until 10-11. Yep. Good start.

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Instead of grabbing my phone, I grabbed one of the many books I had on my bedside table that I’ve been meaning to read. I had started Alias Hook forever ago and hadn’t gotten very far so I picked that up again. I think I got about a third of the way in by 1pm and then we had to get up and get ready.

First on our agenda was our friend’s pagan meet up at the park. We finally got to throw on some layers and were all set to go….except then we accidentally locked ourselves out the house without our keys.

Our house has two different locks. We always lock the bottom one as we leave and then lock the top deadbolts with the keys. Naturally, I turned the bottom lock and shut the door as we left. Rony hadn’t grabbed the keys thinking I had them and I hadn’t because I thought he had them. And the backdoor was locked.

So, naturally, I picked our front door’s lock with bobby pins. I’m not even lying or exaggerating. Rony was upset because we were going to be late and were going to have to call a locksmith and I figured it didn’t hurt to try to break in ourselves. I had seen different videos on picking locks (for writing purposes!!) and if that didn’t work, I was going to try the credit card trick. Luckily I had a few bobby pins in my purse. I stripped them, looked into the key holes at the tumblers inside and somehow managed to get it unlocked in five minutes.

Rony was impressed (so was I, to be honest) and we are now going to make sure those other deadbolts are locked at all times because holy shit it should not be that easy to get into our house.

The pagan get together was nice and we had a good time chatting with people and eating snacks. We didn’t get to stay long because I had an art meeting after that and Rony had to drop me off.

When he picked me up, we got Starbucks and food and snuggled on the couch while he watched the news and I kept reading my book. I am a fast reader. Always have been. I finished that book in one day. It was about 11 at night when I was done and cleaned a bit before bed.

At the end of the night, I had 57 freaking notifications and it was kiiiiiiiilling me.


Sunday

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Sunday was another lazy morning, snuggling with the dogs. Rony totally forgot about the Magic Prerelease happening and was going to do that at 1pm and I was determined to get the house totally clean by the end of the day. We did all the laundry, put the animals away and let the kittens out of the room to play in the entryway and let Mae Mae roam the house, and swept and mopped the dinning room and kitchen.

I took breaks to start reading Basic Witches and we ate cereal for breakfast. The dogs ran around the house and as Rony was getting ready, we finalized our 31 Days of Halloween movie list. I sketched out Inktober ideas in a new sketchbook he had bought me and drank tea and it was surprisingly very relaxing.

Yes, my phone went off all the time. I had to put it on silent. I almost just straight turned it off, but then I had anxiety that something would happen and no one would be able to reach me.

That was really the hardest part. There was so much anxiety from not checking those notifications, even though I knew none of them were important or pressing or needed immediate attention. I have an admin team now for the Artist Collective to take care of things, people could get a hold of Rony if they really needed me, and nothing was life or death.

Did I want to Snapchat or Instagram my day? Absolutely. Did the world fall apart because I didn’t tell everyone immediately my feelings on Basic Witch as I read it? Nope.

The house got cleaned, we were productive, I spent time with all the animals, the house smelled WONDERFUL (seriously, Bath & Bodywork’s Fall candles are the best), and I didn’t feel this claustrophobic cluttered feeling from my surroundings anymore. The laundry even got all put away.

We hung out at Rony’s work for a few hours and I did more sketches in my notebook. I filled up about 5 pages in it and figured out my Inktober theme for the month. My planner got filled in and updated and I felt a little more prepared for October. I even packaged up some orders I’d been meaning to fulfill.

The weekend was over and all in all, I had 107 notifications.

And wanna know what? NONE of them were important. None were life or death and I didn’t miss out on anything just because I waited a whole weekend to get to them.

I think that helped. It had been a while since I was able to have a nice, relaxing weekend just with myself and a book and Rony and the animals. I felt relaxed and productive and realized I didn’t need to be attached to my phone all the time.

So will I do it again? Definitely. I think a break is needed from social media every now and then, especially with how it is now in days. It’s a break from the comments and arguing and constant need to post post post. I don’t need to check up on other people’s lives when I have my own to live.

-Sam <3

Blog| Fall Equinox & Changes

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Fall Equinox has come and it’s officially the best time of the year!

I thrive in Fall weather. I always get too hot in the summer and freeze in the winter (Spring doesn’t exist in Texas), so Fall is the perfect middle ground for me. And by some miracle, we actually are experiencing Fall weather right on time! It’s rainy and chilly and I can wear sweaters without dying!

And with the Fall Equinox, comes a bit of introspection. It’s been a hard month. Getting Leon back felt like a tipping point. I was working on so many things and as soon as he disappeared, everything stopped. Once we got him back, I thought we could go back to how it was but things had changed. We’re always so busy that I felt it had been ages where I could just sit down for a weekend and breathe, watch a movie or play with the animals.

We’re constantly going from event to meeting to event all the time and being so busy, we were neglecting not just our house but also the animals. I wanted to be able to go and hang out with friends without it being an event I’m hosting and go to the movies and attend galleries because we want to, not because we have to.

We have less than a year left in Lubbock. This is our last holiday season and it’s always busy and flies by so fast. I love what I do, but I also need to realize that I need to take time for myself and live and appreciate everything before suddenly, it’s time to go.

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So what does that mean?

Well for starters, I unfortunately dropped 365 Project and #52Selfies. When Leon went missing, I stopped doing them and I don’t think it’d be right for me to just continue as if there isn’t almost a month’s gap. I’ll have to attempt them again January 1st.

I’m cutting down on some of the events I do and was planning. I’ve had to turn down a couple of galleries so far just because it wasn’t worth killing myself trying to get artwork done so fast to meet the deadlines. I want to enjoy my artwork and the process and the pressure isn’t always the best at making it a fun experience. That’s the opposite of what I want. It’s suppose to be a stress relief and that’s less likely if I’m being forced to do it.

I’m also cutting the blog down to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays instead of Monday-Thursday. That’ll help me put out better content and get my shit together, honestly. I love my blog but I don’t want to just put out crap for the sake of something getting put out. Taking the photos takes a while and I’d love to have everything written out ahead of time.

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Processed with MOLDIV

October is almost here and it’s a huge month. I’m laying out my plan for Inktober and we’re attempting to do the 31 Movies in 31 Days challenge, on top of making plans for Disneyland, parties, traveling, animal costumes, and our Halloween Instagram. October kicks off the big holiday season for me and it doesn’t stop until March so I need to get prepared. I do not want it to become this overwhelming chaos where I need to drop stuff.

There’s also the kittens. Two have been adopted so far, but we’re taking care of them until they’re a little bigger and when we have time to take them to the new owners. We still have to find homes for Stripes and White and Mae Mae. We’ve been letting them roam the house every now and then and the kittens have turned into crazy little monsters, getting into everything and playing with whatever they can find. Plus they go through a tooooon of food and litter.

Unfortunately, we recently found out that Mae Mae has miscarried and will not be having anymore kittens. It happened this past week, her due date week, and it’s been a hard thing to process. We went from preparing to help her give birth to making sure she and the other kittens are okay. They said sometimes it just happens or she could have had a parasite or any number of things. Whatever it was, it was out of our hands.

It’s topped off a pretty crappy month and hit us hard. For now, we’re focusing on getting her well and taking care of the kittens we have. We’ll be getting her fixed and will be adopting her out as well. She’s a complete sweetheart and loves people and pets and attention. If we didn’t already have 5 animals, I would love to have kept her and one of the kittens. But they’ll be very good pets to someone.

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Things are going to get crazy soon and I don’t want a repeat of last year where I completely overwhelmed myself and knocked myself back into depression. I’m getting help from people and delegating and making plans. I’m not getting rid of galleries I am holding or our Fall Ladies Night, but I am stepping back a little.

Am I anxious about cutting things back? Definitely. I have this fear of irrelevancy that if I’m not out there all the time, everything I worked or will fall apart. That’s the control freak in me. But the thing is, is it worth it if I’m missing out on things myself? I can do what I can to better the community, but there’s always going to be work to do. There’s no point in killing myself and making myself unhappy.

I’m doing this for me.

The Autumn Equinox is about balance and self evaluation and rebirth. It’s the time to reclaim your power and put yourself back on track to being who you are meant to be. My favorite part of the Equinox has always been tied to mythology.

In some older versions of the story of how Persephone came to be Queen of the Underworld and in my favorite version, Persephone is not kidnapped but wanders into the Underworld herself, either out of adventure or to comfort the crying souls herself. She is adventurous and merciful, but confident. She chooses to be there and is not a pawn in a game. Her choices are her’s alone and the balance of 6 months in Spring and Winter is her choice. And so now we celebrate the Fall Equinox,  the time when night and day are equal and when Persephone descends back into the Underworld and reclaims her spot as Queen and reclaims her power.

I love Persephone and I love what she has come to symbolize. It’s my favorite story and I see her as a figure of confidence and growth and coming into yourself. And maybe it’s time I take a page out of her book and find a balance for myself and become my own Queen of the Underworld.

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-Sam <3

Blog| September Goals

This has honestly been the worst month in a long long time. Between being sick for two weeks, having a tooth pulled and being in a ton of pain, and then Leon going missing I just couldn’t get anything done or focus on anything. Nothing mattered while Leon was gone and so everything got put on hold.

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We’re slowly getting back into the rhythm of things and I’m hoping to try and give myself a fresh start but it may take a while. Crossing my fingers.


August Goals

Personal:

  • Restrict non-essential spending to $100 for the whole month- Nope
  • Pay attention to what I eat and allow myself only some treats- Definitely not. Hardly even ate while Leon was gone
  • Go to sleep by 11-1130- Between sleeping too much when I was sick to not sleeping at all while looking for Leon, nope.
  • Take the dogs on a walk once a week or take them somewhere- Hahahahaha, they’re never leaving the house again.
  • Take care of your dishes every day- Our house and the new car became Search Party HQ so it’s a mess. That’s a nope

Work:

  • Paint TWO things not for an event- Didn’t even get to do one
  • Finish Wonder Woman Read Through- Nope
  • Update Etsy shop and list items on Society6- Nope Nope
  • Try to nail down a location for the 24 hour lock in- Not even sure this is gonna happen now
  • Update resume and portfolio- Noooooope

Projects:

  • Art Coffee Night
  • Garage Sale- Had to be pushed back because I was too sick to do it

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Like I said, nothing got done. There’s a few orders from Etsy I have to get done, but August was a trash month and I’m glad it’s over.

I’m still not 100% but I’m getting there. The house is getting cleaned and the dogs are home and I’m still taking medicine. Let’s try to do better this month!


September Goals

Personal:

  • Get back into eating healthy and not surviving off coffee
  • Budget budget budget
  • Go see a doctor
  • Get at least a couple of the kittens adopted
  • Give yourself a break to rest

Work:

  • Figure out deadlines and work on one a week
  • Get back on schedule with blogging & #52selflies & 365 Project
  • Sketch anything and plan out Inktober
  • Start setting date for Ladies Night

Projects:

  • Halloween Instagram
  • Garage Sale

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October is also the beginning of our 5 month busy season so I want to get refreshed because all the crazy starts. On the plus side, Halloween decor season has started! Downside, I feel so behind on everything that I need to not overwhelm myself with work.

But this is a start.

What are your September goals?

I’m linking up with Nicole from Writes Like a Girl blog so be sure to check out her goals and everyone else that has linked up!

-Sam <3

Blog| Curveball

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It’s been a bit quiet here. For those that don’t know, I’ve been sick for a bit over 2 weeks which has completely blown apart any plans I had for this month. At first I had a toothache which turned into a severe infections which wiped out my immune system and ended up with me sick. I was on a cocktail of medication to help with the infection, fever, severe congestion, and then I ended up scratching my eye because the medications dried me out. So my eye swelled.

The tooth was pulled and it’s been a long, hard week of trying to recover. My mouth hurts. I still can’t breathe through my nose. I just want to sleep all the time.

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To top it all off, we took in a little stray kitty we named Mae Mae. She’s been super friendly and we’ve been feeding her outside, but today we take her to the vet and start trying to introduce her to the other cats. She’s pregnant and so we’re going to foster her and her kitties and try to re-home them all. I’ve never had a pregnant cat or dealt with something like this so it’s all new, but I’m excited to help her with her little kitties. She’s a complete sweetheart.

I’m also redoing my office and clearing a bunch of junk out of it. I feel like I go through periods where I just feel claustrophobic and I just want to throw everything away. So I’m tossing my desks and looking into just getting one long desk or building one. I have some plants in there now and I condensed everything to my art shelves. It’s looking nice but still has a bunch of work.

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Being sick, I haven’t been able to do much. I’m still doing my 365 Project, I just need to upload all my pictures and post them. I need to work on a bunch of paintings with deadlines soon. My goals for the month are shot to hell. Maybe this week I’ll try to do a catch up post.

Next month is going to be busy. I’m headed to Dallas for my sister’s gender reveal party, Staple in Austin the following weekend, Hub City Comic Con, and then we’re taking a weekend trip to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. Almost every weekend is busy.

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And then Halloween season is fast approaching along with Inktober. I need to catch my breath before it all starts and I need to avoid overwhelming myself again like last year.

We’re staying busy and these will all be great experiences. I’m getting better. I just need to get organized, get focused, and get back into my rhythm.

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So look out for new posts, but give me a bit of time to get back into things. I’m gonna try and do some more art posts, I have a style post in the works, I’ll do one about Mae Mae, and Pride Fest is this weekend.

All the pictures in this post were taken by my sister when she was down to visit us. Tabby had a lot of fun playing with all the cats and we managed to wrangle the dogs to take an updated family photo.

Be sure to check out her work at Amanda Raylee Photography and follow her on Facebook.

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Until next time

-Sam <3

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| I went Vegan for a Week

My sister and I like to give each other challenges to do. One, it’s a way for us to bond and do fun things and two, we like to brag when the other starts losing.

I challenged her to do the 365 Project and she challenged me to do a week of being vegan.

Guess what I’m doing now?

Goal: Eat vegan from July 24th to Ladies Night on July 29th and see what the effects are on my body and if I won’t die of hunger.


Day 1:

I was not prepared. At all. We got back from Ruidoso Sunday evening and I went straight to a dinner party then passed out. In the morning, I was tired and exhausted and went to grab something for breakfast only to find nothing I could eat.

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I drink my coffee with cream and sugar so I couldn’t have it and had to drink sweet tea instead. I was starving. Went home for lunch. Finally found some rice and a bag of steam-able veggies to eat. It was the saddest little meal I’ve had. After desperately searching the house some more, I realized the garden veggie Pringles chips we just bought were vegan.

I think I downed half the can.

After work I went to the grocery store and got some fruit, salad stuff, fake vegan meat, chips and salsa, and almond milk so I could eat cereal. I forgot pasta sauce since the sauce we had already was four cheese, to my dismay.

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I ate a salad for dinner, snacked on chips and salsa, ate a cup of Special K cereal with almond milk, and drank V8 fruit blend. I had a headache, was tired, cranky, and couldn’t seem to feel full. Day 1 was awful.


Day 2:

I was exhausted! Seriously, I slept through my alarm then had to run and throw on clothes and eat some more Special K for breakfast. My stomach felt like a black void and I had the worst headache. It’s the kind that feels like your head is split open and makes you nauseous.

For lunch I went crazy because I was starving. Tomato soup, slices of bread, chips and salsa, and the veggie Pringle chips. I gorged myself because I was so hungry and just wanted everything in sight to get into my stomach.

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After work, I was still starving. I snacked on baby tomatoes and homemade pickles. Ate another cup of cereal. I was also exhausted and the headaches were persisting. I spent a good amount of time just laying on the couch with my phone, trying not to take a whole bottle of pain medicine.

For dinner, I wanted to try something beyond rice and veggies. I had bought some meatless vegan chicken strips and googled how to make your own teriyaki sauce. With some modifications (because I didn’t have everything and I was too lazy to go to the store), I made the sauce with some steamed stir-fry veggies and added the chicken. All of it went on top of some white rice and boom, dinner.

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Surprisingly, it was very delicious. The chicken didn’t taste just like chicken, but close enough and the texture was kinda similar. But the sauce was good and I even ate the vegetables I usually hate.

I passed out early for bed and dreamed of cakes and cream cheese and everything I couldn’t eat.


Day 3:

I was less tired in the morning but did wake up starving again. I realized the food I was eating just wasn’t lasting that long. I made the effort to get up, fix my hair, eat a big bowl of cereal, and take some fruit to work. Since I’ve had to forgo coffee and I forgot to make more sweet tea, I drank water at work.

The headaches were still ongoing but I looked it up and it’s apparently my body detoxing from dairy and meat. I chewed some gummy vitamins for good measure and drank more water.

I started to dislike Almond milk less, though I wouldn’t drink it straight. It was a weird tan color I just couldn’t get passed. In cereal it wasn’t bad, I’ll give it that.

Lunch was tomato soup again since we ate all the leftovers and I didn’t feel like salad. After lunch I was fading fast. I could not. stop. yawning. I drank even more water and finished off my Pringles to keep myself awake.

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Marisa was supposed to make a vegan dinner, but ended up losing her debit card (RIP debit card) so I settled for a spinach and tomato salad with Italian dressing. I’m starting to notice that certain flavors are starting to be overpowering. Certain things are too sweet, the Italian dressing was overpowering and too much. It’s strange.


Day 4:

Today was the first day that I didn’t get awful headaches and didn’t feel like I needed a nap every other hour. I ran out of cereal but found out the “butter” we had was actually vegetable oil spread and I could eat it. So I made toast with jam.

I’m drinking more water and more fruit. A lot of bananas and peaches from the store, snacking on tomatoes. Vegetables I hated and would pick out of my food I’m just shoving into my mouth because I’m hungry and don’t wanna hassle myself with picking them out.

Lunch was a dull affair of leftover tomato soup with bread and veggies. Most of my lunch break was spent cleaning up the dogs’ kennels since Almond had an accident due to an upset tummy.

I snacked on salsa and chips, finished my tomatoes, cried over my forbidden donuts and Lunchables.

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For dinner I decided to cook again. There was some gnocchi in the cabinets and we had another bag of meatless chicken. I cooked them up, threw some steam-able veggies into the microwave and then mixed it all together and made vegetable and chicken gnocchi with plain pasta sauce. It was pretty good and very filling! I actually liked it a lot and say of all the vegan stuff I bought, I liked the meatless chicken the most.


Day 5:

No headaches! It was a miracle! I ate toast again for breakfast and had some tea and found I was less tired for once. My sleep schedule was still all crazy and I ended up staying up too late coloring my coloring book, but I wasn’t dead on my feet so that was good.

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I ate leftover gnocchi for lunch and decided to cook meatless ground beef tacos for dinner. Honestly, it didn’t taste that much different from regular meat. I seasoned it like normal and topped it with tomatoes and spinach instead of lettuce and put a little salsa on it. Rony and I both ate them all and agreed that the meatless beef was pretty A+. 10/10 would buy again. I think next time I’ll try and incorporate it into other dishes and see how it holds up.


Day 6:

Saturday was the last day of the challenge. I had to get all the way through Ladies Night and then I could stuff myself with pizza and donuts and anything I wanted.

We were crazy busy so I ate cereal for breakfast in between running around. Around 2, it finally settled down enough that we decided to go out and eat. I wanted to try and see how easy or hard it is to order vegan food at a restaurant so we went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants. All I could think was that I was pretty sure most of the noodles are made with egg and I’d have to suck it up and get a fully vegetable plate and this was going to suck.

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I got lucky. My favorite dish, Lard Na, was made with rice noodles and they had a tofu option so it was all vegan. I’ve never had tofu but Rony recently got won over by it so I figured I would try it to.

During the whole week, I was surprised by how less picky I was getting. Usually I pick out cabbage and any weird vegetables I don’t like. Sometimes I was too hungry to care and shoved everything into my mouth, everything tasting like pure gold in my mouth from starvation. I was less anxious about the tofu at that point. And it was actually not bad. The gravy had soaked in and it didn’t really taste like anything and the texture reminded me of a less chewy version of tripe in menudo which I love. I was pleasantly surprised.

Rony got tofu as well but it was fried. I tried his and it tasted like weird egg but I’d eat it. It wasn’t bad. I ate my whole plate and felt full and happy. I was proud. It was my last vegan meal and I had expected the worst, but the whole week was better than I thought.

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Ladies Night came and I survived. I did ALMOST ate a cookie on accident though. Tabby had picked all the M&M’s off hers and I didn’t want it to go to waste and had put it in my mouth right as I realized it wasn’t vegan. So I spit it out and almost cried. I would have been so mad if I ruined my whole week in the last hour.

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We all went to my house and ordered pizza and played games and drank to celebrate Ladies Night and me ending my veganism. The taste of cheese pizza had never tasted so good. I ate chips and bread sticks and dip and hung out with my friends. I even drank the cold brew coffee that had been sitting in the fridge.

We laughed and listened to music and stayed up until almost 3am. It was a good end.


Final thoughts:

I will tell you, I threw a fit when my sister gave me the challenge. I couldn’t survive without dairy. It was gonna be awful. I was gonna die. This was too much work. Even Rony was like “hell no” and didn’t want to do it.

But I genuinely surprised. Yes, the first few days were hard as I figured out what I could or could not eat, figured out my intake, and suffered through dairy detox. I was miserable and tired and grumpy and just wanted to shove donuts into my face. After I got groceries, tried to cook and got things I could eat then it actually wasn’t bad.

I noticed I started to crave dairy and cheese less, I ate less sugar and caffeine, and cooked a lot more. I started looking at labels and taking vitamins and eating less processed food. The few times I seriously craved foods was in places like the mall and when everyone but me had junk food.

Were there downsides? Yes. I’m going to be honest. I had gas all damn week. It was crazy. Everything gave me gas and I hated it. I was also hungry all the time, ranging from “maybe I should snack” to “holy shit I’m going to eat paper if I do not get food.” I would have to eat very filling lunches to last me from breakfast until after work when I would eat fruit or something small to relieve the hunger pains before dinner.

I was tired, fast food was almost completely out of the question, and the groceries were slightly more expensive for less items. Lubbock is a small town and does not have that many vegan/vegetarian options and I hated spending so much on groceries.

But at the end of the week, I was super proud and it’s made me think a lot about my diet currently. I gave up red meat, but all of the meatless options were just as good as actual meat. So now I think I may be giving up poultry eventually and just eat fish. When we go to Seattle, we’ll be able to get fresh, local fish and that way I don’t have to feel guilty about the meat/poultry industry.

It’s weird to be making all these dietary changes but I have to admit that I did feel good at the end. I didn’t change weight, but my body felt healthier and I had to consume so much food that was plant based that I wouldn’t really have to worry about overeating. If I had worked out this week, I’m sure I would have saw some changes.

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So how have things changed almost a week later?

Monday I drank two sips of coffee and felt like my heart was going to explode from caffeine. I hate some chips and a cookie and felt sick all day. Cheese is almost unappetizing to me and I can’t go back to regular dairy milk. So far turkey meat doesn’t make me queasy but I essentially can’t go back to a regular diet without feeling nauseous and worse than I did at the beginning of the vegan challenge.

I won’t keep being a vegan, but unless I want to feel like crap for a whole week, I can’t go back to eating how I did. So I’ve cut out coffee and soda and a lot of sweets and dairy. If I do eat junk food, I can only eat a tiny bit or else I feel awful.

But I’m kinda okay with it. Yes, I would like to go back to eating whatever I wanted but in the end, I understand that it’s my body telling me it does not like it. So I’ll be like a weird lenient vegetarian.

In a month or so, I’ll let you know how it goes :)

-Sam <3