One (or, foundations)

As of August 1st, it has officially been one year of Luna Moth Life! I’m starting to notice a trend, at least in the last two years, that I get a wave of motivation at the beginning of August (and last month of the summer). Last year, I started this blog, got very organized, and started building better habits. This year, I’ve been making sure to stay on top of my to-do list and I’m busily approaching the end of a year of yoga teacher training.

I find that my productivity comes in waves like this. I’m not a very go-go-go person, to be honest. It almost feels like a scandalous thing to admit that in America, where the culture encourages the opposite of slow living. I’m pretty laid back and like to do things in bursts, but I think I underestimate the amount of things I can take on with just a little better time management. I’m trying to hold on to the momentum of doing a few tedious but important things each day, and I want to start scheduling time to rest and do things I enjoy just like I would schedule an appointment or class so that I can be better at focusing on work and not just doing fun stuff to procrastinate and then always feeling slightly guilty about it. Sometimes I forget how few responsibilities I actually have in my current life…I don’t have kids or a full-time job, I’m just a student living with my parents with a pet rabbit and a blog at the moment, so I need to keep building my foundation of good habits while I can.

This morning I had a private handstand lesson with a fellow yoga teacher trainee who runs his own gymnastics gym as a skill-trade for recently helping him review the Ashtanga sequence we have to lead. I’ve been able to do a handstand since I was 13, but I was the last one in my ballet conditioning class at the time to get it as I had only done gymnastics briefly when I was very little. It’s not easy to stand on your hands, but it’s not necessarily hard, either. It’s like standing on your feet, you just have to take all those automatic forces that keep you off the floor and push them out your hands instead. It’s one of those things that just takes practice, and then it’s like riding a bike, it never really leaves you. When I was 13 and finally got the hang of kicking up against a wall on my own, I made the habit of coming home from school and immediately going to the wall in my bedroom and practicing kicking up a few times every day. After a year, I could finally kick up with reasonable control and hold a handstand against the wall for a minute.

With all the yoga classes I’ve been attending regularly as part of teacher training, I’m in a lot better shape than I was as a teenager and my handstand form is better than ever. But I still can’t quite kick up away from a wall without a spotter because that bit of fear of falling holds me back. Today, with Jose, I worked on better kick up technique (I keep using “kick up” here but that’s a slightly incorrect term because for best control you should be aiming to hop up from the bottom foot, not kick with the leading leg, just fyi) and we also practiced bailing out (how to fall out of it with control and without hurting yourself). Because Jose has his own gym, we had lots of padding to practice with, but the goal is to practice cartwheeling or tuck’n’rolling out of the handstand enough that you have the control to land softly on any surface.

I do have a point to this post besides recounting my handstand lesson. You see, I’ve been learning that you need to be able to eliminate the fear of failing (falling in this case, same thing) in order to progress with anything you’re working on. Often, the fear of failing makes us more likely to fail because we don’t learn how to fail gracefully, instead we panic and potentially end up hurt. But you have to train your instincts to be able to handle things going wrong in order to eliminate the fear. Fear is blinding, but learning to overcome it will often lead you to finally have the strength and confidence to avoid failing at all, and that’s where you start moving forward. You’ll still inevitably fail again at some point, but you will be prepared for it next time, and you’ll land softly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, and remember not to hold your breath, and exhale when you’re falling so you don’t get the wind knocked out of you…does this still fit my metaphor? I’ll let you decide…haha.

Just aim to build a strong foundation. Practice until you get it right, then practice more until you can’t get it wrong, and if you do go wrong, know how to bail yourself out with the confidence that you made it all those other times before. Nobody knows what they’re doing, but the people who understand this can confidently make it seem like they do know what they’re doing because they know it’s okay not to know. I hope you followed all that, haha. I feel like a lot of this is stuff I’ve talked about in my posts all year, but it really is the key to adulthood and not getting overwhelmed and burnt out. So I figured I’d sum it all up. Happy Birthday Luna Moth Life, I’m gonna keep working on ya to build up the foundation for my next life ventures.

National Moth Week 2018

If you’ve been following along on instagram, I’ve shared a few moth week posts and even got to spread the word outside of my typical range of followers with an illustration featured on drawing app Paper by fiftythree‘s page.ย Sometimes it’s just fun to geek out over something, you know? I love finding little niche interests to dive into, and while random knowledge about moths doesn’t necessarily serve a major purpose in my daily life, I think it makes life a little more full and interesting to learn about all that you can.

I think that’s part of why I dream of writing and illustrating children’s books. Kids are always so eager to learn about little things like bugs and such and I think sometimes we lose that wonder as adults. Bugs become just bugs. But there’s so much to learn about the simplest creatures. Like how the tails of luna moth wings confuse bat sonar in flight to allow them to avoid being eaten. And the reason moths leave “dust” behind is that their wings are covered in tiny scales which can be shed freely so that if they fly into a spider web, they don’t stick andย can escape. That’s also the origin of the name for the order that encompasses butterflies and moths: Lepidoptera, from the Greek “lepido” (scale), and “ptera” (wings).

I don’t really want to go on here because just summarizing facts is no fun, haha. But I would love to give you a few links for further reading if you want some great moth resources to check out. ๐Ÿ™‚

7 reasons moths are amazing

National Moth Week official page

LepSnap: Free, universal field guide for Lepidoptera

Facts about Lepidoptera

New children’s book about moths

“As an educator that’s what I was really all about, is to get people to see things that they don’t normally see, that have been there all the time. And you go, ‘Oh my god, how could I have overlooked that?’ […] That’s what it is really, a sense of awe and wonder”

Loved this other moth illustration shared by FiftyThree

Electron micrograph image of moth wing scales

So, since tomorrow is the last day of National Moth Week 2018, maybe go out “mothing” or just wink at the little guy you spot fluttering by your porch light, because moths are cool and you know what’s up. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Peace out, moth week.

Renew

I have a chatty post today interspersed with a fun little gallery of creeping phlox photos for your enjoyment. (pics taken in May with my Fujifilm xt1, 18-55mm lens)

Welp, it’s official–I’ve renewed my domain here at lunamothlife for another year! Or rather, I let my hosting service auto-renew. The blog isn’t quite a year old yet, but it’s coming up quickly, and it’s crazy how fast that year went by. I remember setting it all up, unsure where this blog would take me in its first 52 weeks of existence and thinking it would be such a long time before I even had to think of renewing. Yet, here we are, seemingly just a few blinks from last July despite the fact that I know so, so much has happened in all those days since.

My blog has definitely seen very little growth as far as views and comments, but it has been immensely valuable to me for the reason I started it, which has very little to do with outside engagement anyway. Despite my wavering consistency, I have connected with a small community through my blog account on instagram, which has been nice for a start. Plus, I receive much more frequent batches of spam comments to delete, so that must mean I’m getting somewhere? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I know my posting has slowed down a bit in the last few months, but believe me when I say I’m not going anywhere…I’m still just getting started and recently built up the itch to experiment more. I’ve been delving deep into “youtube university” this past year and I tend to only be able to consume so much of a certain creative medium before I want to try it myself. I don’t have any major intentions of starting a youtube channel as I’ve always preferred to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, but I have been realizing how satisfying video can be and I think it would be fun to try making a short film or two just to experiment with creative B-roll-type shots. I have a slight ulterior motive that filming little things I do throughout a day in creative ways might motivate me to be super organized and productive for a change, haha. Plus, it would serve as a fun dynamic visual journal entry to look back on…if a picture is worth a thousand words, video can finish the story.

Those are my little thought processes of the moment…now for an announcement: you may have never heard of this before (I hadn’t until last year when I was in the beginning stages of establishing this blog), but this upcoming week (July 21-29) is National Moth Week! Since this is Luna Moth Life and I always enjoy learning more about the science behind living things and our environment, I thought it would be a fun tradition to take advantage of, so I’m going to try to put together a few interesting posts celebrating our inspiring furry lepidopteran friends. Follow along here or on instagram next week for all the cool moth facts (and opinions probably, this is a blog, not an academic journal guys). Thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

Go with the flow

Go with the flow has been a sort of unconscious life mantra of mine for a long time. I remember realizing in middle school that I was holding myself back by being too anxious and self-conscious, and I needed to change. I had been starting to notice the qualities that stood out in the people I really enjoyed spending time with vs. a person who I didn’t get along with. I’m not sure people-pleaser is quite the right word, but I’m definitely the kind of person who likes to get along with everyone, so in the rare occasion where I find someone I don’t particularly like, I try to understand why.

In this case, I found that the qualities I especially admire are a certain lack of self-consciousness and a more free-spirited, spontaneous, and up-for-anything attitude. The person who just enjoys having fun without caring about how they appear. Self-awareness is good, but self-consciousness can be a real buzzkill, for the self-conscious person and the people around them. Before, I was hyper-conscious of wearing the right thing, doing the right thing, saying the right thing. Now, I’m still a thoughtful person, but not worried about being impossibly perfect all the time. It’s human to make mistakes and look silly sometimes and it’s healthy to not be so afraid of it.

It’s been a decade since my middle-school days and I’ve come a loooong way, but it’s taken that long for this mindset to become second nature and I still sometimes have to remind myself not to try to control everything. In the early days of implementing this, when I was just a few months into high school, I was blindsided by a falling out with my previously lifelong best friends. It was a conflict of these very insecurities, where suddenly my friends wanted to branch out to new friends and climb the social ladder a bit, and I was too shy and complacent in what was familiar for their ambitions. I had been a much more outgoing kid than I was as a teen, and this was my wake-up call that that shift had been noted by others. In a matter of weeks I had confronted the conflict, officially took my leave from that friend group, switched lunch tables and subsequently felt very lost for a long time.

It was a classic high school scenario that I never expected would happen to me, but looking back it was the perfect catalyst to force me to take the leap for this self-improvement goal I had quietly set. I wanted to be more outgoing and better at making new friends, but I couldn’t get there using extroverted old friends as a crutch. There are no hard feelings, especially because being more or less forced out of my old comfortable habits allowed me to fully become my own person and grow independently. In the process, another old classmate of mine who had done her own share of independent growth became a true best friend once we realized how much we had in common, and is the one friend from high school that I still communicate with daily.

This was the first major lesson in my life that what may feel at the time like a door slamming in your face, leaving you in a dark and stuffy room, might actually be a door slamming behind you, forcing you outside into the light and fresh air. It just takes time for you to really open your eyes and look around.ย So, when I was trying to think of an encouraging quote to paint for that previously mentioned best friend for a college graduation gift, I ultimately remembered that simple old affirmation that made all the difference in my life. It’s also appropriate because we have an inside-joke sort of thing that she is a mermaid, so “go with the flow” is the perfect mermaid-associated advice. I happened to need to harness that advice during the making of the painting as well, because I actually painted something else originally that I just really didn’t like! Haha. See, it’s okay to make mistakes or do things you’re not happy with, just paint over it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ That applies to art and life, of course.

Now, I think I’m in a place in life where I could comfortably call all my friends mermaids– they are all deep-divers in this often-shallow world. I find that all the people I spend time with nowadays really share some important values of being empathetic, compassionate, smart, resilient, and not complacent. They all work hard to improve themselves, achieve goals, find their purpose, go with the flow, and make whatever large or small positive impact they can manage in their lifetime. And having friends of all ages and backgrounds and perspectives with these few significant core values adds so much depth to my life.ย Isn’t it lovely to have friends that are mermaids?

I’ll leave you with this quote that I firmly believe in…

โ€œThere are no chance meetings: either God sends us the person we need, or we are sent to someone by God, unbeknownst by us.โ€ โ€“ Fr. Alexander Elchaninov

Creativity

Sometimes I feel that creativity is like when you have a word “on the tip of your tongue” and can’t quite think of the one you’re looking for. It’s like I’m constantly having these fleeting visions and flashes of things I’d love to make happen but when I sit down to do it I’m grasping at wisps and clouds of ideas that blend together into a haze and dissipate. And sometimes, the word you’re looking for comes back to you right away. And sometimes those ideas materialize how I was hoping. Other times, a lot of potential options come to mind, but none of them feel quite right. Some of them take a lot of painful searching, or never come back at all.

I’ve written in the past about getting out of your comfort zone, but in creativity, sometimes you need to keep one foot in that comfort zone to get over certain bumps in the road. For example, I love drawing with chalk on a chalkboard. Typically I would say pencil and paper is the most natural and easy medium for me, but I honestly think chalk might be it. There’s something about that white on dark background, erasing with the swipe of a finger, that always feels good to me. Plus, it can look more polished or finished, whereas sometimes a pencil sketch never graduates from a sketch, or the lines don’t erase as cleanly.

Of course, another artistic comfort zone for me is wildlife. Plants, animals, anything of the sort is a subject I can (and will, probably) draw forever. However, sometimes I get too stuck in my “favorites,” where every time I go to draw flowers I draw the same few ones in the same style. This is when it’s fun to go outside or even browse pinterest for different wildlife examples so that instead of the same old basic leaf or the flowers in my garden, I can discover some new or more exotic examples to interpret in my art. That’s what I did for this illustration today; combined a few different flowers and plants that I’m semi-familiar with but had never really drawn before, with a go-to luna moth ๐Ÿ˜‰ as the focal point, and using chalk because all other mediums seemed too complicated for what I was going for. Another fun thing about art is that you can make up your own plants or draw several that would never be naturally found together.

It can be helpful to also search illustrations of wildlife and such to see other artists’ interpretations of things to try in your own style, however it does tend to stifle your own inherent originality if you’re constantly looking at the work of others. We were taught in one of my design classes early in college that “curation is creation,” which is very true, because your own taste will lead you to combine things in a way that no one else can, but if you are aiming to create your own fresh art, too much curation can overwhelm the doing. I find that sometimes I consume too much art and illustration just out of a love of seeing beautiful things that people are making and then get lost in that feeling that every good idea has already been taken. This is of course, absolutely not true. People are making new, original, lovely things every day, which means you can too! But that’s where it becomes important to separate yourself from all that virtual “inspiration” and just try to find inspiration from your own life and environment, because you will always be unique as your own person with your very own experiences.

That applies to pretty much everything in life: you always have a unique and valuable perspective to offer. In this rat race of a world we live in, especially for those in college or starting a new job or career and facing potential failure or rejection, that can be hard to remember sometimes, but that’s the one true thing you will always have to leverage: there is no one else who is you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Blank

Life is like a series of blank notebooks. You open one, and the pages are lined nice and straight. It has a pretty print on the cover. You write in it. You go outside the lines a bit, maybe scratch out a word or doodle. You abandon that one after just a few pages. Put it in the bottom of a desk drawer. Maybe you find it again years later. Maybe you tear out those first pages and start new, maybe you leave them and enjoy looking back. In the meantime, you’ve gotten a new sketchbook. This one doesn’t have any lines at all…the pages are a crisp, off-white, blank canvas. The cover is leather-bound, so it feels more special. You struggle to make the first mark. It feels like it needs to be significant. You stick with this one for a few years, only occasionally making progress through the pages. Eventually, you get better about just using it and not trying so hard. You know you’ll keep this one forever, because it taught you a lot, filling it with all those ideas.

After a while, you realize you’ve accumulated quite a few notebooks over your life. The ones from when you were young are scribbled in with abandon. The ones from your adolescence are a bit more careful, but with pages torn out and discarded, and usually only a quarter of the way full. Now, in adulthood, you’ve gotten a lot better about using your sketchbooks. You don’t buy new ones all the time just because they’re pretty or cheap. You make sure you approach them with purpose, but you don’t stress about it anymore, because they’re for working through things, making lists, drawings, rough drafts, doodles, and plans. Some of them get a little beat-up from lots of use. You realized a while ago that you maybe didn’t like the ones with too much structure, and prompts, and lines, and decorative designs. Maybe you like the blank ones, but the dot-grids are a nice middle ground. Some structure is good.

Can you picture this metaphor? Are there “notebooks” in your life that you regretted buying, tore pages out of, look back on fondly, passed along to a friend, actually completed and felt really good about? Replace “notebooks” with projects, experiences, lessons, seasons, etc. Every notebook that comes into your life is a blank canvas, sometimes completely, sometimes with a few guidelines, and it’s up to you to use it the best way you can. I guess this is a good metaphor for the beginning of a new month as well. It’s another new sketchbook to start with 27 more blank pages ahead. Happy May ๐Ÿ™‚

Photography

I got my first “real” (interchangeable lens) camera for my birthday and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve always liked taking pictures and had an inexpensive digital point-and-shoot as a pre-teen, then a better quality point-and-shoot with more manual options as a teen, and now an iPhone. Despite my love of photography as a hobby, I’ve never really had aspirations of doing it professionally, so my mindset has always been “convenience/accessibility is key.” Phone cameras may be rendering point-and-shoot cameras obsolete, but for good reason: the wonderful convenience of being able to take pretty decent quality photos without needing to carry multiple devices on a day-to-day basis. Of course, it does beg the question of what is really worth documenting on the daily, and now we probably all have thousands of excess photos that we’d be better off without, and there’s certainly the issue of getting so caught up documenting life that you forget to be present, but I won’t get into all that now.

Because now, I’m putting a bit of that convenience aside and loving the experience of getting back to “slow photography” as I’d like to call it. Tapping a couple times on a screen to take a photo can make you forget how satisfying it is to look through a viewfinder, adjust settings and dials, hold a lens and press down to activate the shutter. It’s like creating an illustration on a computer vs. drawing or painting, or listening to a spotify playlist vs. putting a record on; neither is better or worse, but I think in this digital age, sometimes you just need to experience the analog version. It’s more psychologically satisfying, probably (I didn’t research that statement so don’t quote me haha).

The camera I got, after a brief but thorough research session, is the Fujifilm X-T1ย with the 18-55mm kit lens. It’s an older model with many favorable reviews from professionals and hobbyists saying they still love using it even alongside the newer version. The last time I bought a camera, mirrorless technology was still in its early years, but I knew that this time I wanted a mirrorless because I’m just not the type of person who would want to lug around a bulkier DSLR for hobby photography, plusย I love the classic film camera look. Mostly, it feels good to have the option to take high quality photos, especially for potential future trips. I’ve heard good things about the pancake lens, so that’s next on my wishlist as it seems like a great option to make the camera even more compact and travel-friendly. So far I’m super impressed with the quality of the kit lens and how quickly I’m learning to navigate the camera controls (it has dials on top for all the main stuff so there’s no need to go through a bunch of menus, which is really nice and adds to the tactile appeal). I still love my iPhone, but it sort of feels like getting a new pair of glasses with a stronger prescription and everything is way more crisp and clear.

Also, it reminds me of my grandpa, always with a camera around his neck from the late 1930s to the ’00s. I have several old “toy” cameras from his collection on my bookshelf and I think he’d appreciate how many of his grandchildren wound up loving photography. Most of us seem to have inherited the affinity (or perhaps deep-seated need) to document our lives. I also perhaps inherited my favorite color from him (always comes back to green), and a love of nature, which is my favorite thing to photograph. Now if only more blooms would arrive, they’re running late this spring and I am anxious to have more subjects to practice on. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Earth Day (and birthday, in my dad’s case)!

Twenty-two

Today is my birthday! My first birthday with this blog, I guess that’s a small milestone of some sort? It’s funny how once you’re past twenty-one, all those momentous years of coming-of-age have pretty much happened and now it’s just a slow roll approaching thirty. Not to be cynical, because I’m very much a fan of birthdays and I think every year feels momentous in a way, but I do tend to have a moment every birthday where I wrestle with my emotions and expectations. Every holiday comes with excitement and the desire to spend the day in a joyful and meaningful way, but a birthday is like a private little holiday just for you, with no guarantee of time off or the participation of others.

Maybe you can relate to these odd feelings. I’m not the type to seek attention, so while I definitely appreciate being appreciated, I find that I enjoy this new kind of birthday that comes with being an adult, the kind where it falls on a Monday and you have your regular obligations and you just sort of go on with your life, though maybe everyone is extra nice to you for the day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always end up feeling super loved, which I’m grateful for, and I really enjoy just seeing that pretty little date everywhere…4/16. My own special significant set of numbers. I do love April as a whole, though, because I happen to have quite a few family members that share this month of birth, so it’s a string of happy little significant calendar dates.

Something that has hit me in the last year or two is not to get so hung up on individual dates, though. Sure, you may have those days on the calendar that make you feel like you have to do something exciting or feel a certain way, but they come and go like any other day, so why not try to value every day instead of stressing over the ones that “should” be important? For me, having a pet oddly helps with that mindset. As far as my little rabbit is concerned, holidays are no different from any other day (except maybe they’re worse because we leave him all alone while we’re extra busy celebrating!) Benjamin Bun doesn’t care that it’s my birthday, he just wants more head pets and playtime like always, and honestly, that’s a really grounding concept to me. We humans over-complicate our lives and could benefit from some reminders of simple living from our small furry friends. Anyway, you know me, I could go on. Another day, another analysis of what lessons I can apply to find more peace in my life.

I do want to check in briefly regarding my resolutions, because technically a birthday is like your own personal New Year’s Day, so it seems like a good time to allow myself another reset. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will say I’m doing pretty well with my personal goals so far! I have a streak of over 100 days of practicing French using my Duolingo app, I’ve been attending ballet class again regularly and improving steadily, and I’ve only bought one article of clothing this year (with a gift card for my birthday), so that spending fast turned out to be way easier that I expected. The ones I need to work on more: being online less, digital decluttering, and actually attempting to illustrate a story. I’ve slowly started going through my hard drive of photos but I haven’t devoted much time to it; as for the illustrating, I’ve done enough miscellaneous practice and need to start working on a concrete project and give myself some deadlines. And to be honest, being online less has not happened at all, I’ve been pretty horrible lately about being glued to my computer for the majority of my spare time, I really need to change that.

So, twenty-two is my new lucky number. I really do think every new year is my new favorite age and I hope I keep up that mindset, because it must mean that I’m learning and getting better, little by little.

 

Simplicity

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of simplicity. I’m a believer in minimalism and less-is-more as I’ve mentioned before. However, when it comes to art, I think simplicity is the trickiest thing. I still generally believe simple is better in art and design, but it has to be done well otherwise it feels like cheating in a way. I’ve been kind of struggling with that lately as I examine the things I create and the works of other artists that I admire. Sometimes when you step back and look at more minimal art, it starts to beg the question of what constitutes art, and whether you can really communicate a vision or higher skill level with something that is not outrageously detailed or complex.

I mean, this is coming from someone who wants to be a children’s book author, so I guess I admire art that is almost childlike in simplicity no matter whether I think it’s a particularly impressive type of art. But still, sometimes I get that little bit of pride creeping in and I think, hmm, I should draw something really detailed and photo-realistic just so I can share something that proves I can do “real” art. Which is silly, because like I said, I’m a believer in simple art as well as complex art, and I don’t necessarily think one shows more skill than the other, because they’re both tricky in different ways.

Ultimately, I find that my favorite artists hit that beautiful balance of simplicity and complexity–there is enough detail in their art to keep the eye moving, but not too much that it becomes overwhelming. I like just enough detail to make an image feel alive but not so much that it feels like reality. Sort of an alive-but-in-another-world kind of vibe, the kind that makes you wonder how it can feel so real and yet so unreal at the same time. The ones that come to mind are all my favorite 20th century children’s book illustrators, such as Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Dahlov Ipcar, Tove Jansson, Ludwig Bemelmans, Maurice Sendak, Beatrix Potter, even Tolkien. Some more detailed than others, but all with an inherent simplicity of spirit. (Beatrix Potter and Tolkien, you might argue, put quite a lot of detail in their illustrations. I would argue back that though more realistic in style, they still maintain some restraint, keeping to simple vignettes with not too much going on in one frame.) All with the alive and otherworldly quality to their images. Modern illustrators that I enjoy following on instagram for the same reasons are Oana Befort, Teagan White, Dinara Mirtalipova, Maggie Cole, Anna Bond, Jon Klassen, Jacob Escobedo, and Rebecca Green.

Now that you just skimmed over all those names, rolling your eyes and thinking “what a geek!!” haha…I must say, it’s true, I’m a total illustration geek. It’s starting to feel like my industry. Just like I admired and researched the innovations of Charles and Ray Eames when I was interested in industrial design, now as an aspiring illustrator I find myself drawn to poring over the work of artists that inspire me, some that captured my eye even before I could read. As much as I feel the need to prove myself by doing a little bit of everything, I think I can’t escape an inherent simplicity in my own work. Is it laziness, incompetence? I don’t think so. I think those inclined to complexity will just make everything complex, and those inclined to simplicity will not be able to go into extreme detail without it feeling forced. Neither one is more “real” art than the other; the opposing style can be a good exercise but it does not “prove” true skill, per se.

I know I’ve hit another slow period on the blog, this is just what’s been on my mind recently, waiting to be worked out in writing, on the topic of art and my future aspirations for my own illustration style. Lots of pondering direction and not enough actual experimenting, which I will hopefully start to change soon, though my calendar is starting to pick up with a lot more events and plans lately. I still have a long way to go, but I’m going to embrace my natural inclination for simplicity, enjoy the journey and note the progress along the way. I’m not sure this post will be all that interesting to anyone not inclined to nerding-out over illustration, so if you actually read this, merci beaucoup, many thanks and kudos to you for supporting my rambling. ๐Ÿ™‚

(P.S. Christ is Risen and Happy Bright Week!)

Fear

Sometimes I write two whole new posts before what I really want to talk about next comes out. I write one, finish, realize it’s something I want to save for another time, save it, start a new draft on a different topic, write more, save it. Then, the next day, realize that once again what I wrote doesn’t quite feel relevant, feels like thoughts that need revisited in the near future…because I’ve realized what I really want to post about, right now. Sometimes I feel like I could find something relevant to say about any topic, but this blog is a lot of figuring out what is most applicable to my life in the very present moment, and hashing it out like a therapy session in mini-blog-essay format. Today’s topic, that I finally uncovered, is fear.

I’ve been listening to The Shins’ latest album a lot (didn’t love it at first, but it grew on me) and one of my favorite songs on it is called “The Fear.” The lyrics touch on that detrimental habit of living in fear of things going wrong instead of just enjoying a happy time while it lasts. I can relate to an extent, because I’ve always sort of been a fearful person. I’m sentimental, I don’t love change, and I occasionally find myself worrying about how I’ll get through inevitable sad and stressful things in the future. I also have tendencies to imagine worst case scenarios involuntarily, dark thoughts that creep in usually just for a second, but it’s enough that I have that sort of inherent fear inside.

Some people are fearless types, those who love challenges and will jump into anything headfirst without considering what could go wrong. But I was always a careful kid. For example, if I was climbing a tall tree, I couldn’t help but have a brief picture enter my mind of losing my grip and plunging down through the branches to the ground. A gruesome thought, for sure, but that is a peek into the head of a non-fearless person, always considering consequences. Luckily, my cousin is a fearless type who motivated me to keep climbing anyway, to an exhilarating view at rooftop height, until the neighbor’s own fear of us falling (on her property) led her to call and ask us to stop.

Year after year of learning to trust myself and continue to embrace challenges has made me more fearless than ever, and I can usually push aside any dark warning thoughts with more realistic, not-so-fatalistic outcomes. Honestly, I’ve always been pretty good at trusting God to keep me safe as well, the fear really only creeps into situations where I’m in control (or, as in-control as I can be). But as the song lyrics say, “this fear is a terrible drug,” a hard one to quit. It still numbs my rational senses with silent panic at times, making me want to avoid things that trigger that I-can’t-do-it mentality. In yoga class, any thought of doing a handstand without a wall or a spotter for security makes my palms sweat. I have fallen out of inversions plenty of times without getting hurt, but that nagging fear is still there. On one hand, it’s a sign that I probably need to get a bit stronger before I can solidly balance in a handstand without some help, but it also kind of holds me back from really closing the distance towards making it happen.

Perhaps the top of the list of fears, though, is that fear of the unknown. The fear of the future that we all have to an extent, not knowing what our decisions will lead to or whether we’ll be able to reach our loftier goals. The fear of failure even despite past failures that turned out okay. All those variables that seem like they’ll never line up the way we hoped. Again, it’s a fear to strive to abandon for faith if you have that belief in God looking out for you as any good parent would, and ultimately there’s nothing to be gained from fearing the unknown, nothing but unnecessary pain and worry and paranoia.

2 Timothy 1:7ย ย For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

See what I said about my posts being like mini therapy sessions? I don’t know about you, but I already feel a lot better about those silly fears I hold on to so tightly. I’m gradually learning to loosen my grip. If you have something that’s been weighing on you, I highly encourage you to do some writing therapy of your own. In a journal or a word document, however you prefer, just get down some streams of thought until you get to what’s really bothering you, and try giving yourself advice as if you were writing a blog post or a letter to a friend. Grammar doesn’t matter, just connect some dots, past memories and current struggles, quotes and stories you’ve read. It really helps, I promise.