Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sketchbook-a-Week Challenge in August

Honestly, I'm a bit reluctant about this challenge. It's super ambitious. (But also kind of exciting!) I picked up a book from my library called The Sketchbook Challenge, which offers prompts and technique ideas to help spark your creativity. Even before reading more than 5 pages of the intro, an idea hatched in my brain: fill 1 sketchbook a week, for 4 weeks in a row.


My idea is to completely immerse myself in drawing/writing/doodling/listing/collaging in my sketchbooks to the point of delirium. Then, after the challenge is over, my hands will automatically grab a pen and flip to a new page in my sketchbook to start thinking through drawing. I'll have done it SO much, that I just can't help myself. The habit is stuck. Right?

That's the idea, anyway.

It could also go the opposite way in that I completely hate doing the pages. I struggle daily, angrily scribbling something meaningless page after page, just to fill my quota for the day. But could I hate it, day after day? Rarely am I mad at something for more than a couple of days. Usually (sometimes slowly), I get over my stuckness, and release whatever is dragging me down. Wouldn't I also do that throughout the weeks of this challenge? Isn't that the point?

My relationship with sketchbooking is rocky. I've almost always kept written journals, and even when I take a long break from writing I still return to it pretty regularly. Sketching is love-hate. It's always been an assignment in art classes. It's advice I hear again and again from artists and other creative people: "always keep a sketchbook!" "I can't live without my sketchbook!"



I love sketchbooks. And I love all my old sketchbooks. But there's a persistent block I have when it comes to actually making marks on paper. The pages are too clean, the book is too precious, my ideas are too unimportant, my dreams too crippled to be recorded, my hands and mind too distracted... But I see their potential, and I believe in their power. It's like knowing that eating vegetables is good for your health and body, but instead passing on the veggies in exchange for junky potato chips. You know better, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do better.

Lately, I've started watching all the old episodes of Project Runway from the beginning of the show. They push those designers, over and over again. It's a fashion designing marathon for the duration of the show. Yeah, they struggle with every challenge. They come close to having breakdowns, they second-guess their vision, they tear the garment apart and start over again, and run into creative problems at every turn. Yet, the designers who push through and are persistent and work hard to listen to their gut and deliver again and again, are the ones who win.

I guess this is my Project Runway of sketchbooking. In the end, there can only be one winner and it can only be me. But I'm not guaranteed a win unless I keep up on completing my pages each week. My plan is this:

Fill one sketchbook per week. In order to fill the book by the end of the week, I divided up a rough page count per day that I should aim for. It's about 20 pages per day. Um, yeah. This is why I'm reluctant about this challenge.

I have 4 sketchbooks. One is brand new (minus a few pages in the front), and the other 3 are old and have been sitting in storage for years. YEARS. I figured this is a good time to try to fill them up. And if I completely tank and spew a bunch of pointless crap on the pages, well, at least they got used instead of staying blank forever. Even drivel is more interesting than nothing.


For experimentation and variety, the books' dimensions vary. And their page types are different: 2 are lined, 1 is gridded, and 1 is bare. I prefer bare, but we'll see what happens with the lines. In a way, having it be lined helps me overcome that "block" a little bit (instead of seeing pristine pages). It feels less like an expensive, fancy artist's sketchbook and more like a kid's crappy, boogery school notebook.

"Creativity is not a talent. It is a way operating."
~John Cleese


This quote sums up what this challenge is all about. How can I expect myself to be creative, day after day, if I'm not in the habit of one of the most basic of creative activities? It's not about being perfect or producing amazing pages; it's about showing up. Keeping a sketchbook and downloading my thoughts and ideas into it daily is a tool I'm confident I can wield successfully and that will only help to enrich my creative life and work.

I start Friday.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Get EXCITED Fridays : joy

To start us off on this installment of Get Excited Fridays: this EMT Driver Voguing video is funny and guarantees a smile on my face whenever I see it... so much joy!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Motion Sickness Tips

As a sufferer of motion sickness, I know how much it sucks. I've been experiencing car sickness, airplane sickness, and general nausea and malaise from too much motion since I was young. I've puked on myself in other people's cars, had to pull over to try and throw up on the side of the road, and felt crappy from riding rollercoasters, boats, airplanes, and metro trains, and even felt nauseous from sitting in the ocean's waves on a boogie board. There's really no limit to what will make me feel motion sick. It sucks.

My motion sickness prevention arsenal. 
Motion sickness is caused by conflicting senses between your eyes and the liquid in your inner ear. Your inner ears can feel your body moving, but your eyes aren't seeing the same thing. I always think of this video that explains why it happens. The leading theory as to why vomit when this happens? is that it's a remnant of evolution: if early humans had a mismatch between what their ears and eyes are feeling, it probably meant they had consumed a neurotoxin, so the body's response is to puke it out!

Vomiting often makes me feel better, but I try to avoid feeling that pukey feeling in the first place. My overall strategy is:
  1. long-term prevention: take magnesium supplements daily.
  2. short-term prevention: limit food intake immediately before motion activity.
  3. drugs: take motion sickness pills before and during activity. when in doubt, take another.
  4. non-drug layers of protection: for added prevention that won't interact with the drugs.

Here are a few techniques I've used and had different levels of success with:

  • Dramamine / dimenhydrinate / meclizine - I've used Dramamine (or generic dimenhydrinate) for years. It seems to work on preventing motion sickness, but not always. Recently I've been trying generic meclizine instead, and it feels more powerful and seems to be a tad more reliable.
  • Seabands - I tried Seabands acupressure bracelets on a whim after feeling motion sick while hungover. The pharmacist at Wal-Mart said he recommended them, and that his mom and sister both loved them. I puked in the car on the way home. But these are really easy to wear while traveling, so I always do. I don't know if they help.
  • MotionEaze - I bought this herbal oil stuff as an added layer of motion sickness protection. It smells good, but it's really strong. If I don't remember to apply it (behind the ear) before I get on the airplane, I avoid it because I think it's too stinky. I don't know if it helps, but it's an additional layer that isn't medicine. This is probably a good solution for kids, since it's herbal and is applied to the skin.
  • Magnesium - My ear doctor recommended that I try taking a magnesium supplement on a daily basis to prevent both migraine headaches and motion sickness. I was all magnesium'd-up before flying to Hawaii in May, and I didn't get sick. But when I traveled to Paris in June, I hadn't been taking my magnesium supplements regularly and I did get sick. Based on this impromptu and totally un-scientific experiment, I think magnesium is important.
  • Ginger candy - Supposedly ginger can help calm your stomach. If I'm feeling sort of yucky but good enough to eat something, I'll chew on these ginger candies. I don't know if they help.
  • Sleeping - If my eyes are closed and my mind is elsewhere, I can't get sick, right?! That's what I tell myself. I've successfully avoided feeling sick at all by sleeping my way through the ride. It really works.
  • Keep calm - If I start to feel sick, sometimes I freak out and it only makes it worse. To keep calm: close your eyes or watch the horizon, listen to music or distract yourself in some way, breathe extremely regularly, fresh air or a cool breeze, shed a layer so you don't get too hot. Most important for me is to breathe. I've had instances where I'm about to puke and start freaking out and my hands start feeling tingly and my fingers start cramping up into fists. It's super weird, uncomfortable, and makes me feel like a crazy person. Not good.
  • Puke bags - This isn't a remedy, but a save-my-dignity item. Sometimes getting motion sick and puking just happens. But I always have a puke bag within reach, and extras in my bag in case one isn't enough. (I snag them from airplanes.) I have quietly thrown up into puke bags on airplanes and once in a cab, both without my seatmate or taxi driver realizing or saying anything to me. Win?

Good luck to you, pukey traveler! If you have any tried-and-true suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Project Life 2014 : Weeks 14 - 18, up to Hawaii

Feels like we're still getting back into the swing of things after our vacation/wedding in Hawaii! Here are my Project Life spreads for the month leading up to our trip. I plan on creating a special Hawaii-only spread or two for just pictures from those days. Because we took a lot.

- faux fisheye app
- see my time lapse video of the fireworks here!

- made Vegan Chocolate Muffins with Tofu

- see all my cherry blossoms photos in my album



Next time: Hawaii!
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