Surviving February

Hi Everyone!

If you are in the U.S. right now then there is a very good chance that you have had enough of February. Most of the country is either under snow, flooded with rain and/or experiencing sub artic conditions. Power outages are not helping. We are expecting a major ice storm when you are probably reading this. I’m trying to get it posted in case we lose power. Supposedly we will have sunlight on Friday. I’m not sure my eyes can handle it after weeks of gloom.

I never do well in February. It’s only a marketing ploy that the calendar says it has 28 days. In reality it is 90 days long. We did slosh our way to South Carolina over the weekend to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and hang out with my favorite almost 2 year old. The weather there was just as dreadful, but staying in your pj’s and playing with Legos, PlayDoh and crayons with a toddler takes your mind off it somewhat. We had a great visit and DD and SIL got to go out to dinner for her birthday without the kid for a change.

The rain and gray yesterday almost did me in. Cabin fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder are real and I battle them every February. I was restless, cranky, sleepy, unmotivated and stir crazy. I really couldn’t find much to help. All my go to’s, knitting, artwork, baking, candles, reading, sewing, were letting me down. I finally resorted to watching YouTube videos in tropical places. Ugh, not exactly productive.

Last year when the lockdowns started I was so thankful that it was March and we were having an early Spring so I could be outside. Though we aren’t in a complete lockdown right now, the state of the world is pretty gloomy along with the weather and from what I’m reading and hearing, I’m far from alone in this mental mud. I have been pondering if there is anything I can do to help. Over and over I see where creativity has been the saving grace for so many people during this pandemic and I understand why. Focusing intently on a problem (creativity is problem solving) takes your mind off everything around you. Flow it’s called. Shutting out the world. When I am in the flow a tornado could hit and I would be oblivous until things started flying.

I think I am going to try and post a few drawing tutorials here and see if there is any interest. I do not consider myself a teacher even though years ago I taught a few classes to adults and children. As an artist it is always a good idea to revisit the basics every now and then so it would be good for me too. Drawing, like writing, has been proven to be excellent therapy. Drawing doesn’t require any special or expensive materials. A #4 pencil and some copy paper work just fine. I may make some suggestions for other materials, but even now I will sketch something on any scrap of paper that is laying around.

Now, I don’t want to hear the “I can’t even draw a stick figure” excuse. Yes, I was born with the ability to “see” how objects actually look and draw or paint them. You might have been born with the ability to understand advanced mathmatics. Trust me, that is just as a mysterious ability to me as drawing might be to you, but even I was able to learn enough algebra to pass the class. I think I even used algebra ONCE outside of a classroom. You might need to draw something one day that will help you in a crisis. You are in a foreign country possibly, don’t speak the language and need to find a bathroom! Toliets are not hard to draw.

Right now I’m planning for Lesson 1 next week. If you have hung out here with me for any amount of time, you know that life is very fluid in my world, but if I set a goal I usually am stubborn enough to make it happen. Let’s see how I do with a few lessons and if you happen to know people who are having a tough time right now with life and think a distraction might be good for them, please send them my way. If it helps someone have a break from all the stress swirling around out there then it will be well worth my time.

Let’s all try to keep our heads above water (or snow, or ice) for a few more weeks and hopefully the sunshine will break through soon.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo of ice on plants by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Hygge

I hope all of you had a wonderful week!  We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with most of our families. A few missing kids & grandkids that had other obligations that we should be seeing for Christmas though. I got some quality time with my son while he was home. There are plans in the works for after his graduation that could take him far, far away for a couple of years so I am trying to squeeze in as much time as possible with him.

The impending graduation and possible time abroad for my son set off a new wave of empty nest issues for me last week. Coupled with the onset of winter, the past week or so has been an emotional roller coaster.  I suffer each winter from a medium to serious degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  In other words, I endure winter and not happily. Those who live with me, endure me and probably not happily.

During my recent wanderings on Pinterest I ran across this… hygge

It seems that this is how the Danish people get through their long winters without succumbing to cabin fever. You can do your own research on the subject (and there are a few naysayers online), but I like the idea of sanctuary, community, coziness, WARMTH, celebrating and well-being (without resorting to pills).

Since I very recently had a weeping spell over my lost honeybees, I also need to work on letting go of the whole mothering thing now.  Not that I will stop being Mom to my kids, but let go of the need to mother everybody and everything that breathes.  The bees are capable of working out their survival with minimal help from me the same way my kids are now too.  It’s time I look after myself for a change and of course my husband (who does a good job of looking after me when I don’t look after myself very well).

So, I am lighting candles, putting warm, fluffy blankets everywhere, trying to get back to a regular yoga practice, dragging out the long thermal underwear to use for walks in the woods and stocking up on good novels for the winter.  About February, when the worst of the SAD sets in, I will try to remember to give you an update.

**As I am writing this, I just had a text conversation with my son, who suffers from insomnia like I have all my life.  Of course I am giving him suggestions and trying to fix it for him.  Twenty-two years of mothering is a hard habit to break.  Are there 12 step programs for empty nesters???

 

Photo credits:  Hygge photo credit unknown.  Pug photo by Matthew Henry.

 

 

A bad winter attitude

Where does a week go?  I need for them to slow down a little.  What the heck am I saying? I am in the middle of a major winter blues episode.  No one around me wants time to slow down.  I am cranky, depressed, edgy and any number of other bad adjectives.  This happens every February and lingers until there is sufficient sunlight and warmth.  I NEED FLOWERS!  I NEED SPRING!!!

I will try to get through this post without unleashing any of the bad winter blues on you.  Just be thankful you don’t live with me.

Here is the project I was working on this month.  They decided to reveal the shows this week so I can show the illustrations now in all their glory.  I work for a community theatre and do the show logos for them.  These are for the upcoming 2016-2017 Season.

MASH was fairly cut and dry.  It was somewhat boring until I added the texture.MASH logo low res

Route 66 was my challenge.  They wanted a 50’s feel with neon or a jukebox, but it still needed the sign incorporated and had to be readable.  I had to go look for a tutorial to learn how to make neon in Photoshop.  Who knows if I will  ever need that skill again, but I pulled it off once! This has been the favorite of the four.  Guess the time involved paid off.Route 66 logo low res

Tarzan was the most fun.  I haven’t played with watercolor paints in a long time.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.  I should spend more time with the watercolor paints I think. Tarzan low res

And last, but not least was the Velveteen Rabbit.  A watercolor illustration was requested for this.  Originally I just had the rabbit, but they wanted the boy included.  I will admit that I get intimidated painting people in watercolor.  Well, any paint for that matter.  I am much more comfortable drawing people than painting them.Velveteen Rabbit low res

So those are my most recent projects.  They have been time consuming to say the least and have taken up most of my creative time this month.

As March rolls in I’m afraid my most creative project is going to be tiling floors.  We just ordered 500 square feet of tile last night.  D.H.  is trying to finish the barn and since I am the detail person (and am not capable of lifting rafters on a roof) I will soon be up to my eyeballs in mortar, tile and grout.

As I promised last week, I am starting a little environmental project to add to the end of each weekly post.  I need a name for this.  Any suggestions?  For now, here is a link to a blog post I found interesting this week.  I have been recycling for almost 20 years now, but this made me more aware of little things we overlook.  I am giving up plastic straws at restaurants now and am paying extra for paper plates over styrofoam plates for out wedding reception.

“Why I Don’t Recommend Recycling Plastic”

I am going to go buy myself some flowers and margarita mix at the store today and combat these winter demons.  I hope you can find some sunshine and have a wonderful week!