downtown

This was the song I sang (quite poorly) to myself today while I was trying to figure out what to do with that extra hour we got from Daylight Savings time or as I like to call it…the “the only reason I am on-time for work this week” time.

Since inktober ended I’ve been catching up on sleep and (finally) brushed my hair. I sketched a little over the weekend and thought about creating a series of wonderland works…maybe including prints/printables. This is the time of year I usually start thinking about diy (giftable) projects, calendars and my holiday cards. We’ll see, still feelin a little sleepy.

Went to Target yesterday to peep the Hearth and Hand collection by Chip and Joanna Gaines (Fixer-Upper/Magnolia Journal). I loved everything, I’m such a sucker. I’ll probably get this Galvanized Metal Tree Collar and a couple of their mugs – I’m still looking at moving out of the tiny townhouse (away from downtown) by the end of December though. I’m focused on getting rid/editing my belongings – trying not to add to the mess, you know? Some of the other Hearth and Hand seasonal items I loved I’ll include below for your perusal. ♡

 

made it!

emily-corpsbride.jpg

Inktober is officially over! We made it to NOVEMBER! Only one month left in the 2017 Hurricane Season! (Hurricanes, BOO!)

Speaking of boo, last night I attempted to give out candy for Halloween. It was the first time in a while (ahem, 6 years) and I had a “perfect” plan for participating without having people knocking on the door and completely freaking out my poor beagle (also, if you don’t answer the door there’s no murdering…I mean they’re safe from me and I’m safe from them, this is commonly excepted, sound hermit logic.) Back to my plan…

STEP ONE: BUY CANDY, MAKE A SIGN (see below)

treats.jpg

I got some decent candy, you know,  stuff I already like in case nobody shows up and I “have” to eat it all myself. Kidding, sorta.

STEP 2: ATTACH SIGN TO BOWL, FILL BOWL WITH CANDY

I didn’t put ALL the candy in the bowl, it was a modest sized Trick or Treat pail that I removed the handle from – to discourage traveling…

STEP 3: TURN ON LIGHT, LOCK DOOR (recheck locked door, check window 16 times)

That’s it! I quietly sketched my very last Inktober drawing while listening to small children and their parental units read the sign and choose their candies (perfect!). Some complained that they could only take one, some were clever enough to note the cheeky (okay, two!)…I sat there, Ghostbuster’s DVD playing in the background, feeling mildly proud of myself for finding a way to keep the dog calm AND give out candy to possible murderers but probably mostly costumed children (sigh).

TEENASAURUS REX

Halloween lasted about 30 minutes, my friends. The first group of teenagers that showed up grabbed the entire bowl and ran. Yeah, I wasn’t shocked, but still, it was a little soul crushing. After that, I personally handed out candy to a few more groups of tiny humans while the dog screeched from behind my front door.

Once the candy was gone, I went inside to finish drawing and console my beagle. I’m proud of myself for making the effort, quite frankly. Teenagers are actual monsters though. But, I’m sure you already knew that. ♡

 

artwork/images © Aimee McEwen, if shared please link back to this post

catnap fever

scribble-blink

Wow, I’m tired! It’s my own damn fault for staying up too late, working on drawings and fighting with the cat. I’ve slacked off a bit on Inktober this week, recharging my brain I guess. Tonight I’m going to try some ink washes instead of just the ink pen…I’m hoping I’m just a bit tired of the pen.

Thinking about moving out of the tiny townhouse, for real this time, I mean it! There’s so much to get done before I can move, though. I have accumulated a lot of crap stuff over the last 12 years. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what I should let go and what I should keep. I do love dropping boxes and bags off at Goodwill. Decluttering will be good, healthy even! Speaking of which, I’m on an antibiotic this week (don’t ask) and I’m worried the meds are stifling my creativity. Is that a thing? Can that be a thing now? Maybe it’s just affecting my mood/attitude.

Do you ever feel like not getting excited about things because you could “jinx” it? Like, don’t get your hopes up because you don’t want to be super disappointed when it doesn’t “happen” or that you stop wanting things for that same reason? Feels that way right now and I’d like to think I don’t have a habit of feeling that way, I’m not a superstitious person…so maybe it’s just this round of meds messing with me and next week I’ll be my old positive-thinking self. Maybe?

In a couple weeks things will get sorted. I’m afraid to say it, but I am looking forward to a fresh start…Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, don’t jinx it! ♡

battered not broken

batterednotbroken

It’s not unusual for me to take a break from this space in August but this break has been longer and more difficult than usual. Most of the difficulties have to do with Hurricane Irma – which we evacuated from. It’s heartbreaking to see all the damage the storm has done to Florida and the islands south of us. My neighbors were flooded, there are trees down and damage everywhere you look but Jacksonville is slowly putting itself back together.

We fled north west to stay in a hotel, out of harms way – we thought – but the storm tracked more west which meant so did we…frightened for our loved ones that decided to stay – wondering how far we’d have to go to get away from this giant hurricane (how many days could we afford to stay at the hotel?), hoping we’d not run out of gas or break down or get in an accident and essentially stranded in the storm’s immediate path. I’m still not sleeping very much, even though I’m back safe and dry in my own place, in my own bed. I’m thankful for the support system I have here in Florida and for my Mom and Sister who talked to me about evacuation, even offered to come and get me themselves…and for the kindness of a friend’s uncle willing to shelter us – including my furry children; we were actually told “no” by another family member…if you can believe it. I would NEVER refuse shelter to someone fleeing from a natural disaster.

“You can evacuate from the single largest hurricane in the history of ever to our house but you can’t bring your children.” See how stupid that sounds?

Since returning from evacuation I’ve been dealing with my usual stress-related inflammation and fatigue – emotional and physical. Yesterday I learned a former co-worker/friend committed suicide. A wonderful, caring, loving person is gone and I’m gutted, I cry then I go numb then I cry again; wondering how this year has gone so, so wrong. Yet, still, I refuse to lose hope – I’m going to eat, sleep, work and get up and do it all over again until the darkness lifts or the light finds me. It’s all we can do when life stop making sense.

Be extra kind to people in your life – even strangers. I’ve made that my new daily goals. We could all use more love right now, so be THAT person. Okay? ♡

 

September is National Suicide Prevention month.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Crisis Text Line Text 741-741
If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

 

image ©Aimee McEwen

 

 

work weekend

mishaw

August is my busiest month of the year for contract work. Nothing very creative, just nuts and bolts of book layout and such. The day job has been pretty hectic this month as well with projects I didn’t expect and pressure I really don’t need. I’m worn out, burnt out, and a feeling resentful. Working this hard and still wondering if you’ll be able to pay all your expenses is demoralizing. That and I’ve not done laundry in WEEKS.

It’s not all bad, of course. To cope with things I’ve been painting, sketching and making stuff. Small stolen moments of distraction. I post some things to instagram. I posted something to Facebook a couple weeks ago and the next day a co-worker wondered “Why (if you can draw like that) are you working at THIS place?”

I’m not sure what that means, but it did bother me a little. I mostly like my day job, I’m good at it and I have health insurance. It’s a comfort zone thing. Creating for myself is a stress reliever so I’ll continue. The cat is a thief though so today I’ve got to make a trip to the art store to replace the things he’s made off with (then I’ll probably locate his stash and have two of everything.)

There is a virus going around at work and I’ve made it my mission not to catch it! Which might be futile considering I worked 60 hours this week and sleep has been scarce. I’ve just now sent off the final proof of the book and I plan on getting my laundry (okay, fine – half the laundry) done today, then it’s art store (cue the harp dream sound effect) and straight back home to tidy up and probably eat or something.

I know, I’m so glam.

 

slow weekend

I’m not even exaggerating…it took me two years to break out my “new” watercolors and paint something with them. Study above is from last weekend. I’ve not touched the watercolors since. I worked almost 60 hours this week at the day job. Yesterday (Saturday) I slept almost the entire day and today my inflammation is up – my motivation low.

Back on the computer now though…because I have a 500 page project to finish and it’ll probably kick my ass but I worked hard all week just so I’d have space to work on this monster. Aside from the tiredness, I’m not feeling terrible. About this time each year I work on a book project and it takes about 35 hours (aside from the 500 page monster, I mean).  That’s time on top of my full-time job and it’s rough on me, but the pay is decent so I can’t turn it down. Not with ER bills piling up due to the rabies vaccination episode in April-May.(oh-my-life)

The usual deadline for my 35-hour project got pushed up a week, so I’m psyching myself up for a lot of late nights. My office is a mess right now. There’s art supplies and paperwork and half-finished projects…I started reorganizing a couple months ago. I don’t usually leave things in such disarray. I’m slipping a bit this year, I suppose.

I’ll work on the 500-pager for a while then paint something(s) maybe read a little. I downloaded a few e-books from Project Gutenburg. I can’t remember how I found the website, but I’m sure I was wandering around the internet and just ended up there…I’m reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion, you know, in my “free” time. (half-hearted LOL) ♡

 

 

41

Over the last two weeks my inflammation flared and I’m exhausted. Dealing with pain doesn’t make for the best birthday but I’m not letting it consume me. I was able to get a few projects done this month, in spite of myself. Planted, painted, reorganized, started reading a new book.

Sometimes during a flare up I get really negative about the future. Chronic pain will do that to you, it messes with your head…makes you think you’re defective, that you’ll never be whole…it leaves scars.

“Nobody wants to be with a sick person, Aimee.” my ex-husband’s voice will echo against my skull during the weaker, more desperate moments.

Scars fade you know. I’m learning how to stop hiding behind mine. I feel grateful for 41 years in which to learn how to take better care of myself. Still learning, always.♡

Cheers to 41!

 

 

 

let the rain fall

100LIFETIMES

It’s been a very stormy day, I woke up to thunder and heavy rain and was glad. I like it when the weather matches my mood.

Sometimes it seems like we’re rushed through our sadness or, worse, encouraged to ignore it altogether.

Isn’t it better, though, to recognize our sadness for what it is?

Sadness is a natural response to loss, regret or hardship. Only when we make space for our sadness can we move past it, adjust, and affect positive change in our lives – not doing so can lead to anger, bitterness, avoidance and depression. All of which effect our overall wellness (emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual) and stifle our personal growth. Give yourself permission to feel sad and find ways to express that sadness. Journaling, creating art…or just letting yourself cry can be extremely helpful.

You are wild, wondrous, and worthy – feel your feelings. ♡

credits:
Artwork ©Aimee McEwen.
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.

dark wings

gift

My Father was intelligent and funny, he played guitar for us and sang. He took my sister and I on adventures through the woods to hunt for berry bushes and pick apples. He’d build a fire in the backyard and we’d make “toast on a stick” or “potatoes on a stick”…any food you can burn on a stick, really. He was silly and enjoyed teasing Mom about pretty much everything. It’s not easy to get a laugh out of Mom, so making her giggle made Dad feel victorious.

He’d put iodine on our cuts and scrapes, baking soda paste on our bee stings, calamine lotion on the poison ivy we got from all the berry picking. Me and my sister brought an abandoned puppy home once. When he saw the pitiful little thing he dropped to the floor almost immediately and loved and squeezed on that puppy until I saw tears streaming down his cheeks. Dad was sensitive.

Being sensitive can mean several things…I consider myself to be sensitive but it doesn’t mean I fly off the handle, cry easily when embarrassed or hold grudges. My Mom would say to nearly total strangers: “She’s my artist, she’s sensitive.” As I grew older, she’d sigh heavily and remark, “You’re just like your Father.”

I always thought that meant I was logical and smart…but she meant sensitive.

What being sensitive means, to me, is that I pick up on things. My therapist actually called me a “noticer.” She once changed out her chair…it was the same antique wooden chair as before (with pink floral cushions) except it had arms. “Did that chair have arms before?” I’d asked about fifteen minutes into one appointment. She was amazed and said it was the same as the other chair only it had arms. Another time I noticed a pillow on the settee had tassels…she laughed saying she’d only recently added the tassels. I catalog my surroundings and behaviors of those around me; it’s all tagged, color coded, evaluated for safety and filed away for future reference. Where does this even come from?

Perceptivity isn’t a superpower, it’s instinctual; a survival skill I honed while learning to maneuver the ups and downs of a mercurial parent. My Father had a quiet violence about him. I’d try to stay a step ahead of the darkness, watching him for the slightest shifts in mood; a way of giving myself the illusion of control so that I could keep everyone safe. Even though there were moments of light, darkness seemed to loom over my Father. I was 17 before he would finally get a diagnosis (manic depressive/bi-polar disorder).

Remember the things that the darkness taught you.
It’s by learning to overcome our personal trauma (navigate the darkness) we become nuanced and enlightened individuals capable of empathy, forgiveness and love.

Forgiveness is key, forgive others, forgive yourself. From the darkness I learned to pay attention to my gut (intuition), to expect nothing (good or bad) from anyone except myself, to accept responsibility for my own emotions, to respect the grief, pain and love of others. I learned to look for the light and appreciate it while it lasts. ♡

What has darkness taught you? Do you struggle with forgiveness or does it come easily to you?

credits:
Artwork © Aimee McEwen. Photo: Annie Spratt
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.

sweetie

weekend

Mac, ma petite puce (my little flea), went to the vet for a recheck and got a B+. My final rabies shot was over a week ago so at this point I’d say we’re both “out of the woods.” Between the cat attack, my rabies vaccinations and Mac’s skin/ear problems, I’d like to avoid the need for any more doctor’s visits for a while.

We’re back to going on walks around the neighborhood but we steer clear of the street where it all went down. Mac is definitely feeling much better. He’s eating and playing and getting into trouble. He’s being a little bit of a baby and bossypants though, I’m sure he got used to the extra attention over the last few weeks.

I cut myself some slack this weekend and avoided chores. Sunday I was out “window shopping” with a friend, then we stopped for ice cream and it started storming outside. We watched the heavy rain roll over the parking lot while we inhaled our chocolate sundaes. We’re glad to see the rain, we hear thunder and our eyes widen gleefully; with all the wildfires in Georgia and Florida right now we really need a few more heavy downpours.

Tonight, I plan on having some quiet time, picking up the house (I made a wicked mess of it over the weekend), reading my new Magnolia Journal, with a big fuzzy blanket, some tea (Yogi: Bedtime) and my notebook. Maybe I’ll even do some (brain)stormin’ of my own.

How are you doing lately? How was your weekend? Were you able to get things done you’ve procrastinated or carve out some time for self-care?