Somethings She Taught Me

Holidays

(I wrote this a year ago, and edited it this year for this event. I still think it holds up somewhat.)

I was surprised to hear a couple people referring to me as an entrepreneur. Or having entrepreneur skills, or entrepreneur spirit, or just something. I was pretty-dumbfounded by hearing it, because honestly, I never saw myself as one. I always thought I just had my head in the clouds and no real tactics to survive in the real world. I’ve always been a dreamer, and realizing that certain small day to day tasks need to be accomplished, so that I can reach those dreams, has never been my forte.

But after some thought I realized why they saw this in me.

Whatever amount of entrepreneurism I have is not coming from my own self. I believe though, that it came from my mom. And I don’t mean it came in the genetic sense, because genetically, or by nature, I feel I have none of it. But I mean came as in she taught me that.

I clearly remember, ok maybe not so clearly, but I remember this.

I was drawing on the dining room table, or maybe I was reading, or doing whatever dumb stuff I did on my computer back then. The light was warm flooding in from the open windows of our house. And it felt like my house. Whenever I think of my house, it’s that time of day that I think of it.

Now that I think of it, I was probably looking at some incredible artist’s video on YouTube. And what happened pretty often is that I either felt really great about becoming an artist, or I felt miserable. Like suddenly seeing how capable they were, and how incapable I was, revealed to me how impossible it would be the road ahead. How much I lacked in talent, and skill and knowledge. How I had no idea how to get a job or make money off of this. How probably I WOULD be sleeping under the bridge after I graduated. And that’s what was all going through my mind at the time. And my mom passed by, and somewhat jokingly I must’ve asked her how was I ever going to do it. I’m pretty sure it was a semi-joke, because I somehow also still thought I could be the one to brave the dark water of creative artistry. I mean part of my whole narrative behind choosing art is just the sense of glory, adventure and unknown that it carries with it. But anyways, after I joked, she sat down, right next to me, pen and paper in hand.

“Ok, Andrew. What do you want in life?”

“To be an artist, question mark?”

“See. That’s already the wrong mindset. You can’t relay yourself to just a ‘stand-in’ name. When you choose a career you’re not choosing an identity. You’re choosing a path to travel. One from which you can always move out, and jump on the other one. What you have to understand is what you want to do. Now here, you have a variety of talents. What other careers have you considered?”

“I’ve thought of writer, artist, psychologist, pastor and missionary.”

“Now what you have to understand with all of those is that their not essential. They all vary in the way they happen. There are a thousand ways of being a write, or an artist, a psychologist, pastor or missionary. And in the end of the day it doesn’t matter which one you choose, at the end of the day with all of these what do you want to do? What’s your goal?”

“I don’t know, moooom,” inset teenager eyeroll here “Why are you complicating this so much? I just want to know what to do with my life.”

“But, Andrew, what do you want to do? Because if you think about it, writing and being an artist, even a pastor is all about communication. Transmitting ideas, thoughts, feelings.”

I acted unsurprised. But when I think back to this point, I was very blown-up. I believe I did the common teenager move of kind of completely disregarding what she was saying, but not actually. It stayed with me. No matter what I did, that was indeed what I wanted: to communicate, to bring together, images, words, ideas, feelings, and people. To show things under a new light. And up until here everything was pretty unpractical advice she was giving. My mom tends to do that. She likes to go deeper, and dig for a root causes, root problems. I had never up until that point realized how fluid a career can be, and how one isn’t necessarily relegated to one position, one name or career choice. Giving me that, was giving me freedom, one that I felt I never received at school. And it was necessary then, to close in on the specifics if I did want to go towards the path of a visual communicator.

“I do. That’s I want. I want to be a visual communicator of sorts, open to different paths.”

Once I admitted that, she felt safe then to nail down a plan.

“OK. Now is then when we can go ahead and think of how to get you there. So, who are the people that you follow? Who exemplifies what you want to do?”

I listed them off.

“Okay. How do you get there?”

I recounted several ways that all left it up to chance and luck to get there.

“No, no, no. You’re thinking of the impossible. That’s too far. What are small steps you can do to get there? What are things they would be doing at your age to be getting there?”

I told her of all the artists’ I saw that did commissions, an did events, and created ways to make money.

“So what do you need to get there?”

And we talked about all this. It was all about breaking down my BIG dream, into manageable parts. Small things I could. It was about revealing that the dream wasn’t that big after all, it was just something that had to be built up to.

But I think what was left with me from that conversation, besides all the practical stuff I needed to get on to and learn, and start the journey on, was one remark she said. Or maybe she didn’t say, but it became prominent in my heart. One of the biggest problems I have to work on.

Because, I’m still here. I’m still trying to hone my craft. I’m still trying to figure out ways to grow my audience, and how I can reach them. I’m trying to figure out how to make money and survive once I graduate. But what has shown to be one of the biggest struggles is just trying to figure out what I have to say. What I, a regular human person, have to share with the world that matters?

And as much as I can become a great art-business person, and find the necessary means to make a living from art. Does it really matter if what I’m creating isn’t adding something meaningful to the world? We see so much these days through all our different social media channels. There’s already so much creative work being done in the world. What can I make, that’ll be good and meaningful?

A visual communicator, without a message, isn’t a communicator at all.

Our Skin is Our Freedom

Illustration

dealing with procrastinationThe shower tells me to slow down. It’s the end of the night. It’s time to calm my soul, dress it for sleeping. But I can feel my body still longs in desire for anything that tells me, “you’ve done enough today.” Earlier today I didn’t finish editing that image. The animation is still in the same state it was last week, as are those two emails that are sitting in the drafts folder. I didn’t start on any of the three illustrations I have due soon. I took a nap midday, before I even had lunch. And forgot about half the other things that are on my list of to-dos and to-dreams.

anxiety and self-care
My hands are scratching at the walls that contain me, my skin. It’s so limited to its own time and space. Joined with the warm droplets that are supposed to soothe, but only excite irritation.

My hands don’t stop. I circle in the shower, feeling everything, everything tearing apart, doom imminent, knocking at the door.

skinfreedom2

My eyes dart around thinking about everything that I didn’t do that day. In every corner of the stall, associating with each crevice my eyes can find, a different disappointment for the day. All the dreams I wanted to start on, the assignments, tasks, and small self-imposed habits that today were proven that they are indeed not anywhere close to habits.

My hands don’t stop, my eyes don’t stop and my breathing joins in. Anxious, it is breathinbreathingbreathing. Beating to the rhythm of hopes, dreams, pressures, expectations, and fears. Shame and guilt arise in a chest that already feels like it’s drowning. And drowning is not where you wanna be at right before sleeping. And you want to sleep because tomorrow will be an early start. And you can’t stop it. Stop your hands, your eyes, your breathing.

skinfreedom3

You stop. For a second your breath stops, holding itself saying: “I’m done. I’m exhausted, tired, done.” And then it lets the breath seep out, with it your whole body slips into that air. You leave with exasperation in the flow of air through your lips, and you come back in with relief.

skinfreedom4

You didn’t accomplish everything you wanted today. But you breathed, and you walked and lived. It’s all in that breath, that gives up, it lets go, and everything opens up.

skinfreedom5

Your eyes relax, and the eyebrows that were before lifted, finally rest on the knowledge of safety. Your hands stops scratching and decides instead to lay by the side of your thighs. Your breathing is breath, and it is stroke, and it is freedom, and acceptance.

your skin is your freedom - mindfulness
It is there. You’re there. Your skin is your freedom, and your body your temple.

I wanted to do them all

Sketchbook, Uncategorized
image of a cage
It’s hard to be realistic on our goals. I mean. At least for people like me? People that dream, and see so much opportunity everywhere, so much that can be. Everything is another road, another path that could be traveled. Trying to be realistic is like asking us to cage the bird, to kill the fire, to drain the energy, imprison the free spirit.
So why do you ask me that? Why do you ask me to be realistic?

New Year’s Resolutions (2019)

Holidays, Illustration, To Keep On Dreaming

new years final

So I did one post that was more on the sad side of things. Reflecting on some of the harder parts of my life. But I also wanted a blog post that was slightly more hopeful?

Last year I also had a list of resolutions. I didn’t reach many of them, but I was still happy that I had the list to which I could compare myself. It was a good way to assess where I am, where I was. I feel like there was growth and change. So this year I decided to do another list of goals. I’m trying to keep this one shorter. It’ll be 10 things for me to focus on this year, and try and get nailed down. Are these realistic? Probably not. Am I writing them down? Yes.

Art Career

  1. Start streaming on Twitch, and have 50 followers there by the end of the year
  2. Have three videos posted on YouTube
  3. Find an illustration agent
  4. Finish 10 personal commissions
  5. Grow my Instagram following to 1,640, double of what I currently have
  6. Write more, post on my blog twice a month?

Personal Life

  1. Go to a psychologist to figure myself out
  2. Go to church at least twice a month
  3. Exercise 3 times a week
  4. Eat a portion of salad once a day

 

A Year is Past…

Holidays, Illustration, To Keep On Dreaming

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It was a year.

So often I had no clue what was happening or going on.

I barely remember most of it, though I could remember more if I tried.

It felt like a year of fog and unknowing more than anything else.

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I miss many pieces of myself. Parts of me that were left behind. In the hurry I forgot them above the sink, under my bed. Two bags of fifty pounds can only carry so much. Damn my poor planning skills.

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I learned that I really don’t know what I want from life.

It’s funny, because as soon as I chose “art” as my career, it felt like maybe I knew what my future held. How it would play out:

I struggle through college, gaining a degree I don’t necessarily need, yet it’s still great. I find someone, date, marry. We go out into the world knowing we’ll be poor, yet still determined to conquer it. To make the best out of our situation, and make art.

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But today, life is a fog. I will graduate at the end of the year, 2019. I’ll finish my degree, but I don’t know what I want to do with art.

What art do I want to make? What is my voice? Why would people want to hear what I have to say? What do I want to say? What are things that matter to me?

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I also know nothing of relationships. Flung by my emotions between so many different dreams for my future.

Dream 1. I will find a man, it will be love at first sight. Our lives will mesh into each other’s, and somehow the beauty of our relationship will move my parents to accept that relationship.

Dream 2. I will find a woman, it will be love at first sight. Our lives will mesh into each other’s, and the difficulties I face from my sexuality won’t impede me from loving her authentically and truthfully.

Dream3. I will remain single, but I will create an adopted family. An intentional community, where everyone feels welcomed, included, as their full selves.

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These dreams aren’t dreams actually. They represent my fears. They all breathe my fear of loneliness. The fear that I will be only with myself. An individual, singular I, lost in a world of couples, families, communities, who have found each other. Who have found places they belong, who create a space for themselves to be with each other.

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While most of what I feel is lost, disoriented and unsure, I still hold onto hope. Hope of better. Hope of growth and change. Hope that life is more. It has always been more, than the doings and undoing of my brain. The world exists outside of me, and everything is beautiful. So here’s to another year of uncertainty. Let uncertainty be filled with beauty.

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People are important to me.

Thank you for being here.