What’s Really Wearing You Down?

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I am tired a lot. Worn out, exhausted. Not all the time, but often depending on the week.. One would assume it’s because I work two 40 hour a week jobs. Of course that is part of the reason. I am blessed with roomies that help me by managing the house, doing the accounting, sharing the chores etc etc, but that much work can wear anyone down. But this idea.. that maybe work isn’t the real reason that I’m tired.. That maybe a big part of my energy drain is in not being myself. That I’m wearing myself down on an almost constant basis by pushing down who I am inside like trying to keep a beach ball under the water..

True, then, that the work is tiring on my body, but maybe not necessarily for the reason I was thinking. Lack of sleep between shifts sometimes, yes, but what about all the time I spend, all the hours I work, trying to be “appropriate”. Trying to belong in the workplace with all the other people. Trying to fit in, so work feels “easier”.

I used to think the true self was hard to find, that it required a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to unearth, like buried treasure on a rocky beach. Now I know the opposite is true. The true self is like a beach ball we push beneath the surface of our lives. The true self is designed to float—it wants to rush upward and outward.

The effort to keep it pushed beneath the waves can wear us out.”

Revealing self is a hard thing to do when you learn at a very young age how to be a people pleaser for protection. It’s not a conscious effort made to be false. I’m not trying to be fake. I’m just trying to feel safe. My arms have become so accustomed to the work of holding that beach ball down that they do it without me even trying. Sometimes I let a little of it surface, the parts that I think people can handle.. the parts that maybe won’t be rejected. But it’s scary. It’s part of why my besties are people that I’ve known for about 20 years. They’ve been a part of my life through more than half of it at this point. They’ve seen me at my highs, at my lows, broken, inspired, in love, abandoned, running away. They know more about me than anyone in my life and they’ve been by my side as we’ve grown and expanded together, becoming people today that our 20 year old selves would likely not even recognise.

They are two people who I know I can trust. Who I can put my faith in. And who I know love all of me, even the parts they maybe don’t always like. At least with them I don’t have to fight to keep that beach ball buried. I can feel safe being all of my self.

How do I bring that to the rest of my life? Obviously, I’m not saying that I should just reveal everything about myself to every person I meet. But it would be nice if I could just be authentic. Maybe I can’t reveal everything, but I could start with peeling off the manufactured layers weighing it down..

We confess because when we cage up a part of us, it’s exhausting. We confess because there is joyful relief in letting the beach ball rush to the surface. We confess because parts of us need to float, to be seen, to be known.”

~ Seth

italicized portions from “Why It’s Exhausting To Hide” by Dr. Kelly Flanagan, which inspired this post.

Scrap Kittens! It’s a thing!

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Say hello to Markette! He’s my very first Scrap Kitten!! He’s still a work in progress but I couldn’t wait for you to meet him. I really couldn’t have been more excited when he came to me. I’ve been thinking about trying some other aminals as I wade through my scrap fabric piles but I hadn’t had anyone speak to me yet so I’ve just been waiting for one to really show up and here he is! Bowtie and all!

I’ve also got a couple of Baby Scrap Dragons that I’m working on but since I finished the frantic push to finish the awesome Nightvale hoodies I made for the live show we went to, I’ve just been working casually. Did I mention that I had been working on Nightvale hoodies? OMG I DIDN’T?! *failselffail* So yeah, that happened. I will get some pictures taken to show them off because I am beyond happy with how they turned out! I did upload some work in progress pictures to my Instagram, so if you’re following me there you probably already saw those. But I will force the besties to model theirs for me so I can share them with you.

~Seth

How Do You Land Your Plane?

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This idea comes from Robert Ohotto – who I’ve mentioned more than once and is completely brilliant! He talks about needing to “land your plane”, meaning to take a break. What do you do to relax? To just take a breath and settle? Do you sink into the couch for a marathon of your favourite show or a great comedy? Some of my faves are “Community”, “Big Bang Theory”, “Modern Family” and “How I Met Your Mother” – tho it’s been a bit since I watched HIMYM due to unforeseen reality in my show. I also LOVE My Little Pony – the new Friendship is Magic version, which, yes I did try oh-so-hard to hate when it first came out but one episode in and I was like “okay fine you win it’s awesome and uplifting and so so much fun”. Do you hike or run or swim? Do you do yoga? Tai chi? Dance?

The point is that you have to have something to bring yourself in for a chill every once in a while. As Robert says “no one can fly forever”. At some point you have to land that plane or it’s going to run out of fuel and you’ll crash if you just try to force yourself to burn hot forever. Are you guilty of this? Do you push yourself for more and more productivity until you just crash into the ground? Does it manifest as an illness that hits you out of nowhere and you’re sleeping 10 hours a day, curled up in your blanket burrito and your exhausted body and spirit is just reveling in the comfort and rest?

You’ve got to find that thing you can land your plane with. That hobby or show or activity that lets you just un-think for awhile and relax. Not thinking about the next project or all the plates you’re spinning, your to-do list, your daily planner gods.

Besides watching comedies and My Little Pony, I also love working on simpler projects because I like taking the plane-landing time to just play instead of creating anything specific. That’s where a lot of my baby scrap dragons come from. Play time. They are mismatched and imperfect and adorable. That’s what I love about them.

So what is your thing? How do you land your plane?

~Seth

Attention Yaoi Fangirls!

Since I specialize in boyfriend plushie sets, I have decided to offer “Boyfriend Bundles” in my Etsy shop. Purchase both characters and get a discount!

2014-10-junjou-usagi-misaki 1140x1340                                                   Usagi and Misaki from “Junjou Romantica” are available here 

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Mashiro & Shuujin from “Bakuman” are available here

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Papa & Stein from “Soul Eater” are available here

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ALSO I have added Pinterest to my list of sites and I have a board (Where The Cuddle Buddies Live) for pictures of my Cuddle Buddies who have been adopted to show off where they live now in their forever homes. I’ve only got a couple of pictures up at the moment but I would love to share more photos, so if you’ve adopted one of my little plush darlings and would like to show them off please email me your pictures and I’ll be sure to get them posted!

AND AND I just put the finishing stitches on two brand new baby scrap dragons! I will get pictures of them soon to share with you. :D

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~Seth

If You Don’t Create It, Who Will?

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It’s important to my artist soul to remember that there will never be another person to create the things that I create. My artistic gifts, my artistic vision, is mine only. So if I don’t finish my project, it won’t exist. What a sad thought: that there is magic and joy that I am not allowing to spread because of my own self sabotage. I am not only getting in my own way, but depriving others of my special brand of joy and creativity. What if the one person whose soul my work was meant to touch and inspire them on their own path never sees that drawing? That plushie that makes them want to start creating with their own hands?

I know that my biggest self sabotage is with the Perfectionist. I am working to discover another way for the Perfectionist to be. A way that healthy rather than destructive. Maybe as an efficiency expert when I’m wasting time on something but don’t see it, or as a brilliant organizer. I will find a way to befriend and love the Perfectionist… eventually.

How do you sabotage yourself creatively?

~Seth

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Art as Therapy

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Intuitive creating for me would be about just moving with the inspiration – not plotting out color choices or designs. I used to just play around with a sketchpad and markers when we were listening to a radio show or Nevi was reading. Making “doodles”, but a lot of artwork and ideas came out of those doodles. It was just playtime, just drawing whatever came to mind. Flowing.

When I create from the heart, there is a visible joy in the work. Before it’s even colored, the drawings dance on the page.. They have life and energy. Making plushies and sewing is a joy, even when there are time-consuming little steps that have to be done, I’m happy. I’m having a good time feeling the fabric textures under my fingers and the excitement of watching all the little pieces becoming a whole thing. It becomes an escape from everything around me. My happy place.

When I create from my head, I become impatient and irritable when even little things aren’t “right.” Things that probably no one but me would notice if I don’t point them out. My artwork often comes out looking stiff or the poor little schwoopies look frozen on the page.. Creative expression doesn’t make me happy when I’m over-analyzing it. It saps the energy out of me and all the joy from my work.

The act of creating has to come from the joy in your heart or it just doesn’t work. There are days that I want to create, but I’m “having a bad day” or I’m stressed out and so I get nothing done. “I can’t make happy things when I’m unhappy,” I say. But that seems backwards. I should embrace artwork as therapy. Digging into the soul of that joyful self expression could be the therapy that brings me out of the un-happyness. This is the goal and I will keep working at it.

How about you? Are you able to use artistic therapy to bring you up when you’re down?

~Seth

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You’re Doing Art Wrong

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This is the first post in a series for the FLOW #30DAYJOURNAL project that I’m taking part in. Lisa Sonora Beam is always a great source of inspiration from me and (even though I admittedly can suck at journaling) I knew her Creative Flow journaling project was for me. It’s so perfect to exactly where I’m at right now, I just had to! I won’t be posting every day about the project, most likely, only because journaling is very private, but I will share my insights whenever I think they might serve others as well as myself. :)

Thinking about my creative beginnings… I would have to say that I really started to come to life creatively in high school. I played around here and there before then, but it wasn’t til high school art classes that I started to really express myself through my creativity, to open up a little of me into my work.

I was bullied a lot in elementary and junior high school by the same group of girls every year at school because I didn’t look like I was supposed to, wasn’t wearing the right brands, didn’t have the right hair. I didn’t grow up in the kind of house where we could afford name brand clothes and shopping at the mall. I found that the easiest thing for me to do was try to be invisible. It didn’t always work, but the last things I wanted was to draw attention to myself or show them any cracks. But when we got to high school, it was a whole nother world. They had to find their place in this new food change of hundreds just like I did. There were, of course, other bullies (aren’t there always?) but I was free of crush of those same voices year after year digging into me. It was a new school with so many new people and I made a lot of friends, which is something I never had much in the years before that.

It was truly a new beginning for me and I finally felt like I could start expressing a little of who I was inside. I took every art class I could in high school and the very first inklings of what my style would become years later are there when I look back at what I made. My work got decent grades (I always did hate that you get graded on your artwork – like someone has the right to decide who made artwork “right” and who didn’t) but I was never a star in the class. My stuff was always too cartoon-y. But there really wasn’t a path for illustrators in high school art class, so I didn’t know why I couldn’t paint and draw like everyone else, why all my work looked like coloring book pages and two dimensional. I understand now, so many years later looking back, that there wasn’t anything wrong with what I was doing and the stars in the class weren’t better artists than me. They were just a different kind of artist than me.

~Seth

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2014 Awesomeness Review

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Where to even start reviewing 2014… there was a lot going on this past year. Definitely. It was not necessarily an easy year by any mark, but the year brought an abundance of learning and new understandings.

I discovered so many new things:

  • Welcome To Night Vale – If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s this brilliant and creepy podcast about this little town of Night Vale in the desert. It’s… kinda hard to explain, really. But it fast became an addiction in my house and it’s sparked a lot of new creative ideas about writing, artwork, plushies..
  • Cards Against Humanity – Which is such a wrong, messed up, hilarious game. We have taken the original cards and added tons of fandom-inspired cards we’ve found online, plus added in a bunch of personal jokes. We die laughing every time.. and lose way too many games to the Faceless Old Woman..
  • Pirate Sentai Gokaiger – The original Japanese version of Power Rangers. (I know, right? lol) We were introduced to is ridiculousness by some friends we made at Nijicon in October and we’re totally hooked. The Gokaiger season is actually the 35th anniversary season and we’re probably going to end up searching out a bunch of the other seasons because the team has the power to transform into all the older teams and we keep wondering “Oh what team is that? They look so cool” or their leader will show up to teach the team something and then we want to know more about his team.. Also the 35th anniversary coincides with the 10th anniversary of “One Piece” and the team members were inspired by the OP crew members, so we were predisposed to love it.

I also celebrated this year the return of one of my favorite bands after a 3-year break up, Fall Out Boy, who came back with the best album they’ve made yet and a whole new energy. They’ve got another new album dropping this month and I can’t wait! So inspiring to see a band you love come back so much more alive and seeing what happens when they really come together as a band and give respect to what they all love to do.

Speaking of music, I love all these crowd-funding sites where I can help some of my favourite under-appreciated bands and musicians make the album that they want to make and enjoying hearing that love and freedom in their finished albums.

It’s been amazing watching all the victories in the Marriage Equality fight add up, for me and especially for my best friends. Seeing so many stories of couples who have waited years, lifetimes even, to have their life together respected and recognized. I just pray that we can keep the momentum moving in the right direction.

I finally worked my first convention this year (two actually) which I was so excited for. While I did enjoy part of the experience, I’m still left with mixed emotions about whether it’s something I want to do on a regular basis.. It seems like the convention environment is changing and maybe it’s not as good for independent, small business artists as it used to be.. which is really a shame.. But there are other ways to be seen and I’ll keep working at it.

I helped my besties at Hermit & Star Books rebrand their “Parliament of Twilight” series into something even bigger and better than it was before, kind of like crossing “Game of Thrones”, “Supernatural”, and “Queer as Folk” into this amazing, scary, brilliant epic story playing out across all these characters’ lives with intertwining plot lines.. Book Two is in the editing stages right now and they’re writing Book Three. As their editor and number one fangirl I can tell you they are just getting better.. or worse (depending on how much abuse you like your characters to have).

Creatively speaking, I learned to embroider eyes for my Deluxe Cuddle Buddies this year and they just look incredible. I’m so proud of the work I’ve been doing. I love comparing my creative progress to where I started, old plushies to new. Hard to believe I’ve only been making them for four years.. like this – the first Dr. Stein plushie I made to the one I made just a couple months ago.

Wow.. the difference is just crazy to me. And I tried something really new for me – my Usagi and Misaki plushies are made totally out of felt, clothes and all. They turned out SO CUTE! I think I’m gonna keep that style with the button eyes because it really suits them. Unless, of course, someone requests the embroidered ones. Gotta make some more baby ponies so I can see what they look like with the embroidered eyes.. so, so many things I want to work on!

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Like I said.. it’s been a very busy year! I’m sure that I’ve left something out but there was just too much going on.. and I’m hoping that 2015 will be just as busy, amazing and enlightening!

So how was your 2014?

~ Seth

Finger Pants

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Just finished these cute little gloves tonight. They started out as those little flip-up mittens but the mitten part wouldn’t fit my fingers so I cut it and the fingertips off, then went for the felt and buttons. I wish the colors were showing up brighter – the lighting sadly isn’t doing them justice.

Just a little downtime project while I’m taking a breather around the holidays.

~Seth

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Not only am I God’s love unfolding into life Always, but so are you.. and so is every other person. I’m trying to take this thought in for myself. I’m trying to feel this in my heart. This understanding that we are not separate from God, but part of God ourselves. That we are God and God is us. I can sense an opening in myself for this idea.. but I find the understanding that every other human being is also part of God harder to take in. Only because there are so many “bad” people in the world choosing to do bad things. Part of me understands the logic that God’s intention in creating me was no different than in creating them, so they must come from the same place that I do. They must also be part of God. I just need to find the space in myself to let that understanding in. Logic isn’t always very effective where the heart comes into play, let’s be honest.

Robert’s show today was about the archetypal message of the Crucifixion. “Can you meet others in this understanding that you are God’s love unfolding into life always, but so are they?” He asked. “If not, what do you need to sacrifice to get there?”

That is the part I’m still working on. As always, with Robert’s shows, this is something that I have to spend some time thinking about. Journalling about. Robert’s good for that – finding openings for new perspectives.

~Seth

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