Can you believe it? Fall is here, and before you know it, so will the holidaze!
I am NOT ready for this. This is NOT ok! Wasn’t it just blazing hot 2 days ago?
Alas, ready or not, here it comes!
As an introvert, I tend to be in my head a lot. Lucky for me, I am, married to an extrovert. Left to me, I’d probably never get around to actually inviting folks over, even though I love company. I’m just much better at asking a friend to meet for coffee, or Pecha Kucha.
Around here, we’ve been doing a bit of entertaining after a long hiatus. The Mr. had a horrible work schedule for a while which didn’t allow for weekend entertaining. I am happy to report that his schedule changed, and we are back in the swing of things. I love having folks over just to hang, talk, chill, and, ahem, drink! In this day and age, as we develop more and more ways to be in touch, true connection just seems to be getting more and more difficult. It is still so desperately needed.
I am so happy that we have managed to create warm oasis of good food, good company, and good atmosphere in our little corner of the world. (Personally I think it’s all the printed fabrics, and the warm ambiance of my old-timey christmas lights that we keep up year ’round).
I am planning some very awesome workshops for the near future, so look out for the emails! I have pinned down some dates, just waiting to confirm a location, and we will be good to go!
In the meantime, be well, do good work, and keep in touch, my friends!
I’ve been really thinking this week about laser-focus and the art of doing things well.
I’ve been witnessing how lovely it is to be intentional, present, and laser-focused on your craft, in your life, in the moment.
In this day and age of multi-tasking, constant busy-ness, and round the clock distraction, it becomes increasingly more difficult to laser focus on doing less, doing it well.
It’s even tougher when you have a bad case of shiny-object syndrome like I do.
I just realized I’m not Superwoman. And I don’t want to be.
This week I have had the privilege seeing what life could be, if I could let go of doing it all by myself. I got to be around, and work with some people who, who just being around them made me want to be not just better, but EXCELLENT.
They were so awe-inspiring and motivated to excel, that you just could not help wanting to be as good as them, if not better.
(By the way, who were these magical creatures? They are my fellow educators. By the way, those who teach…are magic. I dare you to say different.)
I noticed that what made them so gosh darn awesome, was that they are know the difference between 1. what they are good at, 2. what they do not know how to do, and 3. what they have no interest in doing. 1, 2 & 3 were crucial to their mission, but their expertise was in 1, and 1 only.
So what to do, what to do…
They did something that I have been really trying to master. They pass 2 & 3 to those who do those things, not just very well, but do it BEST. (Me being one of the minions, of course). This freed them up to focus on doing what they do best, #1.
When that happens, the result is pure Magic. I dunno about you, but I could use more magic in my life.
I know that this is not a new idea. It’s not even new to me. But somehow seeing it in action this week really drove the point home like never before.
Since I’m gifted with the ability, talent, and curiosity to do a lot of things, I try to do EVERYTHING. While I generally succeed with most things, I would be better served to stop trying to do it all myself.
Letting go of control is never easy, and I don’t yet know what it means for the future, but I’m open to finding out.
How about you? What amazing phenomenal thing could you excel at if you let go of the less important?
I promise, the very next post will be about screen printing with latex paint. I promise, no more detours.
This post struck me out of the blue as something I really needed to write. If you are wondering where I’ve been (or not), I have been busy scraping myself off the floor from exhaustion and maybe even (undiagnosed) depression.
It sounds so lovely doesn’t it? Like, “excuse me miss, might I trouble you for a sandwich?” (in a british accent of course). This term conjures up delicious images of the most decadent fillings, pressed together by a yummy glorious bread…oh great, now I’m hungry for carbs…
Anyway, this quaint little term is what we use to refer to people like me: balancing parenting and household responsibilities, full time work, part time business, AND taking care of our elderly parents, while trying to maintain the highlight reel that is our social media presence. Oh yeah, that last one is a recent phenomenon.
My father was diagnosed with Dementia a few months ago, although we have suspected it since he moved down from Alaska into our town 4 years ago. His legendary shenanigans just seemed to depart of his personality quirks. He has always subscribed to magical thinking, especially about money. When he started to lose money to scammers, I knew something wasn’t really right, but he seemed lucid most of the time so I was not sure what to make of it.
Of his 4 children (2 of them teenagers), I am the only one that lives locally, and the only one saddled with the responsibility of caring for, and managing him. If I don’t seem overjoyed about this task, it is because our relationship was difficult and awkward prior to this. Despite our awkward relationship and my resentment of his irresponsibility, I find that I cannot just let him wither away with no one to advocate for him. I manage and care for him out of a sense of duty, not because I really want to. I have long ago divested myself of any guilt.
In the last 2 months he has recently taken a terrible decline, taking me down with him.
With his decline I have been slammed head-first into the reality of the indignity of old age when you have a lifetime of regrets. Those same regrets fuel your delusions, causing you to torture the people who are tasked with caring for you. That is a fate I will do my very best not to repeat.
A wise man once said, “Every man thinks that his burden is the heaviest.” I know it could always be worse, but from where I am sitting, it is pretty bad.
I feel like I became a world-class champion at ‘rising above.’ I rise-above all day with my students, children, father, and husband (who by the way, still wants my attention too). It feels like everyone is constantly pulling at me, and all I can do is rise above and give a little more of myself.
Then I started to I notice that I was getting sick with more frequency. The day before the last Third on Third Market, I was so sick that I could literally only lie down on the sofa all day. I still did the show the next day because, the show must go on, right? I am still recovering.
I was getting sick because I was not taking care of myself.
I was not getting enough sleep because I was burning the candle at both ends.
I was getting more eye infections because I wasn’t resting my eyes enough (that’s my theory anyway, but could also be due to all the germs I’m around as a teacher).
I was getting fatter because I was not exercising and I was (am) eating my feelings (ice-scream daily, anyone?)
A sista was (and let’s be honest, is) tired! After dealing with crises all day, the last thing I want to do is put on a fake happy face for social media. So I have kind of dropped out. You may have noticed that I have been less present on social media. I’ve mostly been consoling myself with lots and lots of beautiful Pinterest pictures.
I was trying to do everything equally well at once, and failing miserably at most of them. I couldn’t catch my breath.
So I decided to just let it go.
Let. that. shit. go.
I have chosen self-care. I have decided to start getting the 8 hours a night of sleep I have heard so much about. I have even started breaking out my Yoga mat again, even if it’s just for a quick 5 minutes before bed.
I have accepted that I can not do it all. I simply just can not. So I have to let some things go for a little while.
Unfortunately, the things I had to release (just a little) are the things I would rather be doing.
None of my obligations are going away anytime soon, but yay for summer break! With summer break starting in a few hours, I hope to be back.
If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me ‘you’re so creative!’ I’d be rich…or whatever.
Little do they know that me ‘being creative’ means I make hundreds of quick mental calculations all day, just to figure out how things relate to each other.
I guess growing up in a time and place where there was no excess will teach you that.
These days it seems like there’s a solution for every single problem that we can imagine.
This past fall I asked my kids to help rake up the fallen leaves in the back yard. My request was met with some major balking, so I explained to them the importance of learning these practical skills for when they became homeowners in the future.
I was promptly informed that they would never need to such menial tasks when they get older since their robots would take care of it.
Well, shut the front door!
You’d best believe, they raked every leaf in the yard, to my satisfaction.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that we live in such an age of abundant options. Having these options readily available also means that we are conditioned to go out and buy, buy, buy. Which means we start to lose the ability to think of creative ways to use what we already have.
I’m guilty of this sometimes. If I really want to, I will invent a need for a (not so) quick run to ol’ blue and yellow . In the heat of my desire to visit the land of beauty and order, I will quickly forget that I have way too many storage knick-knacks that I don’t use.
I will then later suffer from buyer’s remorse as I go through yet another big purge.
In my old age, I am learning to slow down and think through my purchases.
A wise man once said (and by wise, I mean I don’t know who) that being creative is being able to see the connection between 2 seemingly unrelated things. By the same token, [tweetthis]living creatively means seeing connections between 2 unrelated things.[/tweetthis]
Here’s a look at my thought process when ‘being creative’.
Consider for instance, plain ol’ boring clear Contact Paper (aka shelf liner). Did you know that this thing is magic?
You can use it as a privacy film on your windows. If you’ve ever looked at ‘privacy film’ in the store, you will realize that it is essentially the same vinyl material. Sometimes there are designs on the surfaces. So go a step further and cut out some designs into the contact paper for a clean modern look.
(Apologies for the sideways photos…there is some sort of glitch.)
Use that same clear contact paper as a screenprinting stencil. Or use it as a wall, paper or fabric stencil. Like this smart lady did here. So, screen printing huh? You really just need something to make a mask on a piece of fabric. That something can be the self-adhesive contact paper. Perfect.
This same contact paper can be used to transfer a vinyl design that I have cut on my silhouette machine to the wall or any other surface. I told you that lady was smart. Why? well, have you looked at the transfer paper sold for the Silhouette machine? It’s really the same thing, but with slightly less adhesive. Remove some of the adhesive by sticking the contact paper onto another surface first.
Laminate without a laminator with the same clear contact paper. Contact paper repels water. That is its sole reason for being. So repel some water off that printed paper!
De-Lint your clothes with it in a pinch. Hey, you could do this before doing number 3, killing 2 birds with one stone!
See? for as low as $1 (dollar stores carry the stuff), the humble contact paper goes a very long way. You are welcome.
So next time you need something, think about what you already have that you can substitute. Sometimes you may have to walk around the house with a dreamy far-away look on your face while looking at all your stuff before it comes to you. Your family will think you are crazy, but hey, you’re saving money!
So I’d love to hear from you! What are some things that you use in outside-the-box ways?
Last weekend I attended Midwest Craft-Con, the conference for crafters and makers in business. The conference was held in nearby Columbus Ohio. I was super-excited to find out that there would be a Crafter/Business conference only one hour from me…these things usually take place in bigger cities, far, far away. I registered pronto, and eagerly awaited the conference.
What a fun, relaxing, and inspiring event it was! It was really nice to get away for one weekend to hang out with a community of makers. Not only did I get to hang out with some of my crafty friends from Dayton, I got to meet so many people, and learn so much!
I got to meet one of my illustration idols, Lisa Congdon, who gave a very inspiring keynote. One big takeaway I got from her speech was to ‘Sail your own ship’.
I love this so much. In this age of instant access to literally EVERYTHING, it is so easy to get caught up in what your competition is doing. If you are busy focusing on your own journey, There’s no time to worry about what another ship is doing.
I also got to meet Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of the Craftsanity podcast. I have been listening to this awesome posdcast for about a year, and have learned so much and discovered new aroosts, makers, and business resources. In fact, I first learned of the conference whole listening to an episode of the podcast.
With Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of Craftsanity.
Jennifer is a fellow printmaker, so we clicked instantly. She recorded several interviews from the conference, one of which is mine. Stay tuned, you may just get to hear me in a future episode. Our conversation also spurred a project I am embarking on. You’ll hear more on this later.
If you are not familiar with this podcast, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, or anywhere else you listen to your podcasts.
I really enjoyed Mei Pak’s seminars. Mei Pak is the founder of Tiny Hands Jewelry, which is a line of scented food jewelry (I know, right?!) She is also the founder of Creative Hive Co, a craft business consulting firm. Her seminars were jam-packed with very useful practical information for social media and content marketing. And she’s just so cute!
Mei Pak, photo courtesy of creativehiveco.com
Last but definitely not the least, I got to attend a seminar with the great Abby Glassenberg of Whileshenaps. Her session was also jam-packed with useful and practical information. She continues to provide valuable information (as well as her cute sewing patterns) on her site.
There were so many different seminars I wanted to attend. One (tiny) pet-peeve I have about conferences is the format of simultaneously having 3 sessions going on at once. I understand the reasoning for this however, I wish that there was a way to have the different seminars offered more than once, so attendees could have a way to attend them all.
I know, I know, I’m being greedy, but….conference organizers, if you’re listening, this would be a great way to improve your conference.
All in all…
The Midwest Craft Con was well organized and informative. I left feeling like I’d received an enormous amount of information, and needed to brain-dump. I met cool new people and found a renewed sense of purpose. I look forward to the next one!
After much thinking and questioning, I have decided to return to the AfroMartha.
Back at the end of 2014 when I decided to shutter the blog, I thought that was what I had to do. A lot’s changed since then…I’m older, my hair is shorter, my dining room is now the lovely dark gray you see behind me…
Honestly, I have missed it, and you (those of you still checking in 🙂 Things just never felt quite right without all the other parts I felt that I had to cut out.
I find that I have a lot to say, and I look forward to saying it here.
The blog will be part art/print-making, part tutorials, part decor/diy, sometimes food, and hopefully always inspiring.
In my effort to be a more effective Illustrator and Graphic Designer, I’m brushing up my doodling skills. Most of my designs tend to feature abstract whimsical geometrics. I really enjoy those, but I’d like to develop my skills to include other motifs. Seriously, don’t laugh at my sketches…
I generally prefer to use media where my mistakes can easily be erased, i.e computer sketching. If I mess up a line I can just ctrl +z out of it and redo it. Not so with hand drawing. This intimidates a lot of would-be drawers, because after all, you are forced to look at your mistakes. Because of this I end up starting my design on computer a lot of the time.
While effective, the computer is only a tool to carry out your ideas. It is not a replacement for skill. The drawback with drawing exclusively on the computer is that you don’t really get to think through your design, which usually leads to wasting a lot of time in front of the computer without having anything to show for it. At least if you sketch the old fashioned way, you may have a lot of goof-ups, but you also end up with a body of work for your time, and one of those goof-ups may have a kernel of a good idea that can be developed and refined.
So I’m facing my fears. I’m starting out with recipes (like cooking, no?)
Most people who don’t make a practice of drawing generally take one look at a finished drawing and decide that they can’t do it. The idea behind recipes is to break up each drawing into short, sweet, do-able components. Like So:
from the book: “Craft-a-Doodle” by Jenny Doh.
You might initially take a look at the final Owl drawing and feel like you could never draw that. But if you can break it down to small lines and shapes (what I call small victories) the next thing you know, you’ve drawn a sweet little owl.
Here’s my rendition, in my signature imperfect style
The point of the exercises is of course not to just copy, but to develop your own unique style after you learn how to build basic shapes. Even though I followed the recipe, my drawing does not look like the example, though it looks like an owl. It looks like an owl that Yetunde (and nobody else) drew.
So, I encourage you to bring out your inner illustrator. Everyone can draw, you just need practice.
Here are the books I’m using:
“Craft-a-Doodle – 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists” By Jenny Doh
”Zen Doodling” by Carolyn Scrace
”Creative Lettering, Techniques & Tips from Top Artists” by Jenny Doh
It’s been all rain, rain and more rain in my neck of the woods. So much for lazy days spent at the pool or the park. I must confess, I secretly love the not-sticky-icky-muggy summer we’re having. If the weather could be like this year round, that would be perfecto! We did have a few moments of the sun peeking through…like this picture perfect day last week when we met up with some long lost friends…
Although I’ve been light on projects, I did a few small things around la casa… I hope to show more of those later when they actually get completed. The best projects often happen by serendipity, like this one, which my FB & IG folks seemed to really get a kick out of:
Putting curtains in that doorway is something I’ve thought about on and off for the past couple of years. I never actually did it until I need to block sun glare while making an upcoming video. I put the curtains up and I loved it! So, I didn’t actually use curtains, I used Knoppa twin flat sheets from ikea that I’ve repurposed over and over. I didn’t actually put up a rod (although I plan to in the future) I just tacked them up with thumbacks. I especially love the look of the tie-backs. I used some strips of leather cording that I already had. So as you can see, adding some drama and flair doesn’t have to cost a fortune!
I’ve been light on projects because I’ve been focusing on the AfroMartha Studio upcoming workshops! The next one is coming up on August 1st, so if you’re in the Dayton Ohio area, make sure to come! Get your tickets here.
So I hope your summer is going well. I’d love to hear all about it!
“Be Kind to yourself,” said my Interior Design professor, regarding overcomplicating my first project of the semester. That saying stuck in my head like a whisper. It was there to remind me every time I would disappear into the rabbit-hole that is sometimes my mind.
“Be Kind to yourself” I would hear in the back of my mind, as I was racing out of the house to run yet another series of errands after having only 3 hours of restless sleep the night before.
Each and every time, I would bat that thought aside. ‘Ain’t nobody got for that!’ I would counter, thinking about all that I (thought) I had to do that day. I thought relaxation and self-care was just for women of leisure.
Why is it that we wear busy-ness as a badge of honor?
Why do we race from place to place, cramming way to much into our way-too-busy lives, yet feeling guilty for not doing more? Why do we feel guilty for taking time to rest and relax?
These are questions that I’ve been pondering in the last few weeks. This has come on the heels of me being diagnosed with Anemia and High Blood Pressure and being dehydrated.
Last week I made myself do something that terrifies me. I actually went to see a doctor for a check-up. I’ve always been pretty healthy. Up until about 8 years ago, I took my relative good health for granted. I looked forward to going to the doctor because I just knew there was no cause for alarm. But as I’ve gotten older, and actually developed the kind of scars that come from living life, I’ve gotten to be terrified of any kind of check up.
Why? Because finding something wrong means I now have to change my life. I must now tend to what is wrong. I will no longer be able to flit about, following my impulses. In short, life will no longer be normal.
Yes, I’m well aware that finding something early means a better chance of successful treatment. But nonetheless I was terrified of going to the doctor.
So I ignored the dip in energy levels…the climbing blood pressure readings…the persistent itchy rashes…the worrisome headaches…the muscle spasms in my neck…My husband telling me I don’t get enough rest, and that that I do too much unnecessary running around.
Then 3 weeks ago I got what I can only assume was the flu. And I was knocked flat on my ass. I could do nothing but lay on the couch and feel like death. I binge watched my Hulu queue, listened to some audio books, coughed and sneezed. A lot. Heck, I’m still coughing and sneezing…
Where was I racing to all the time? Apparently to a stroke or heart attack.
Why did I feel pressure to do so much all the time?
Why do I let guilt force me to try to be EVERTYTHING to EVERYONE, EVERYTIME?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out and correct. So now I’m re-evaluating the path I’ve been on, trying to control what I can, and manage what I can’t.