Tuesday, December 31, 2013

27 things (365 days, holidays, a new year, etc)

Oh by the way,  I had the pleasure of writing up a little bit for the 27 Good Things blog, here's my contribution (three things to read, three things to watch, three things to use.) If you are ever, ever sitting around wondering what to do with yourself, GO PERUSE THAT BLOG. It's a wealth of really cool, entertaining, and useful ideas of just really great stuff (plus, some of my dear friends Andrew Romine, Wendy N. Wagner, and Paul Weimer have also contributed and they are the coolest folk ever, put their suggestions on your list for next year and all will be well with you. I promise.)

Ah, and it's last day of 2013. There's some impulse in me to encapsulate the year neatly (one year it was 365 days of drawing) but then this morning I woke up and read my friend Gerry's post about trees breathing and now I just want to go for a hike and find beautiful trees.
tree, on top of mt lemmon

However, here, a few personal highlights from 2013 (in no real order): I have run almost 900 miles this year, including a marathon with my partner and friend. One of my illustrations was accepted into the Spectrum 20 art annual. I won the Hugo in the Fan Artist category. I've made huge strides in getting a handle on record keeping and budgeting as a freelancer. As a family we have gotten a much better handle on record keeping and budgeting. In fact, for the first time in, well, quite a long time, December, usually our leanest and most difficult months, has been kind and gentle and we still have a savings.  My kid turned 10. I turned 39. A few relationships that were on the brink have made strides towards healing. I read not as many books as I was hoping, nor did I finish any personal art projects this year (2013 was the year of the client, and that has been just fine by me.) I'll keep those on the to-do list for 2014.

There's more, I'm sure, but I'll leave it at that for now, I have a few illustrations I was hoping to have finished by year's end so, yes, ducking out now to get to work.

But here, I stumbled on this by Tim Minchin yesterday and it was just what I needed. (I've struggled to like the holidays lately, this helped. Quite a bit. And all proceeds from downloads of this song for the next two months are currently being donated to the National Autism Society. Very Worthy.):

Okay, that's all. See you next year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lily Myers "Shrinking Women" Poetry Slam

"...I have been taught accommodation..."

"...I never meant to replicate her, but spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits... a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled..."

"...I asked 5 questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word 'sorry'..."

"...a circular obsession I never wanted but inheritance is accidental..."

Thank you lily.

And now I just saw this on FB. Had to share because it's EXACTLY RIGHT. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

valuing time off

Oh. My. July was a beast of a month.  But it's August now and my kid is back in school and i'm scrambling to pick up the pieces of stuff strewn back through the summer that I had hoped to have wrapped up by now but aren't quite yet.

And so these three recent posts really got me thinking.

 Being Okay With Where You Are. by Wendy N. Wagner:

"A few weeks ago, the very wonderful John Anealio wrote a great blog post about getting out of the success grind. What he said made a lot of sense. Sometimes your ego makes the artistic experience painful and miserable, and it’s stupid to turn the joy of our lives into torment. Sometimes you have to change your relationship with your ego to make good art.... Sometimes I absolutely loathe myself for writing so slowly–after all, if I was a “real writer,” I’d be cranking out the words.... But only sometimes. Mostly I remember that holding a Hugo award in my hand can’t possibly feel as good as that moment when I’m lost in a story and there’s no time or space except the stuff I’m unfolding in my head."  ~read more
Taking Time Off From Social Media. by Amy Sundberg: 

"I hadn’t unplugged myself so thoroughly for quite some time, and I found quite a lot of value in it. Space to just be. Time to think about whatever I wanted to think about. Permission to be in my own present moment, whatever that happened to look like. And perhaps most refreshing, a break from most external stress.... When we hate a thing or secretly resent it, we aren’t going to be doing our best work. A grudging connection has a different quality to it than one that is celebrated." ~read more

(For a totally different angle, but related,) Periodization Traning. By Sandra Wickham:

"Periodization is a principle used in may sports. It involves planning your workout year into smaller segments to avoid overtraining while consistently making improvements.... A week of active rest will gives your body time to recover, and helps you refresh mentally. Take it easy that week. If you’re lifting weights, lift at about 50% of what you normally do. If you’re swimming six days a week, back it off for two or three easy swims that week. Whatever your activity, you can apply the 50% per cent rule to give your body a rest, or take the entire week off."  ~read more

All that stuff I'm trying to pick up, the pieces of projects left trailing behind me? It's the stuff I'm thinking about. And my family. And my friends. And my active life. And my private creative life. 

Anyhooo, in other news, That Amanda Palmer tarot deck that I created the 10 of Swords for several years ago... it is FINALLY BECOMING A REALITY! Go check it out!

Friday, June 14, 2013

talking to people of faith.

A few things.

First, this article by professor Michael J. Stevens on his studies of elevated passive aggressive behavior in Mormons raised on the Wasatch Front:

"As I began to teach my usual rotation of courses using the BDQ, I noticed a striking trend with my students along the Wasatch Front—occurring with undergraduate and graduate (MBA) students, and with males and females. The preference for the avoidance style of conflict resolution was surfacing at a significantly higher rate than I had seen in the Midwest and Texas... Passive-aggression is the least common response option to conflict among the U.S. population at large and is typically viewed as an inadequate and unconstructive strategy (at least over the long term). It is generally used by those who would prefer that the conflict simply go away... In its milder forms, passive-aggression will manifest itself merely as polite and innocuous attempts to steer clear of uncomfortable topics or encounters with others. However, in its more insidious forms, passive-aggression can rise to a level of interpersonal hostility and contempt that embodies a “whatever” response to the views and opinions of others... The presence of significantly elevated levels of passive-aggression among the LDS population born and raised along the Wasatch Front deserves some analysis." ~read more

Then in the SFF community, This open letter from Nancy Fulda about feeling discriminated against for being Mormon:
"In a recent conversation with other authors who are practicing a religious faith, it became apparent that many of us feel social pressure to hide our beliefs. I’m not talking about common politeness and self-censoring during conversations at conventions and on the internet. That’s a no-brainer. I hope anyone who’s met me in person can testify that I’m not the kind of jerk who goes around rubbing other people’s noses in her opinions. I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about feelings of rejection because of who we are and what we believe — independent of any specific actions we have taken. Feelings of invalidation and dehumanization. Fear of being ridiculed or publicly dogpiled if we allow our religious affiliations to be known..... I realize that many people within SFF have had horrible experiences with members of organized religions. I am not those people who mistreated you. Please do not treat me as if I were. Once we have gotten to know each other, you may conclude that I am a despicable person, or you may decide that I am actually quite reasonable. I can deal with either option, but please do not reduce me to a stereotype." ~read more

A response from Keffy Kehrli:

"Basically, it’s religious intolerance unless I remain completely polite in all instances, no matter what someone says? It’s religious intolerance if I emphatically distance myself from any single tenet of what someone believes? Fuck that.....If you want to start dialogue with, “I want to discuss this but refuse to change any aspect of my faith,” then why the fuck should I participate? What’s in it for me, except a gradual wearing down of my defenses until I smile pretty and agree that why yes anything you say is totally acceptable regardless of any potential harm it may do to others?... Wow, it must be really nice to be so privileged that as long as nobody raises their voice, you feel welcome and comfortable. That must be fucking amazing. You know what makes me feel unsafe in a space? When someone rolls out some bullshit about queers and then nobody SAYS ANYTHING BACK because we’re all just being nice here and arguing isn’t nice. Fuck nice.
" ~read more

The other side of that argument from Christie Yant:

"In the vast USian social, political, and cultural arena, we as atheists, agnostics, Jews, pagans, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Baha’ist, Wiccans, B’Nai Noach, Sikhs, etc. often feel excluded and as if the majority were living in a completely different world than we are....And then we find SFF, and the majority is like us. Or at least, not Christian. It is a tremendous relief–we can breathe....We forget that there are people among us with deeply held religious views, who believe in a higher authority and in mysteries that don’t require proof. We start to talk about religious people as if they are stupid (they are not). We don’t understand why or how anyone could think the way that they do. We openly mock their beliefs in our conversation, our shared popular culture... People are afraid to mention that they went to church, or that they pray, because they are afraid that they will be derided and treated with contempt. They have good reason to feel that way. I know exactly how that feels, and I should know better than to do it someone else... I don’t assume that an individual necessarily agrees with every aspect of their church’s doctrine (and am often shocked when I learn that they do agree). There are Catholics who use birth control and Mormons who support marriage equality and Jews who oppose circumcision." ~read more

Yesterday was the memorial for my Grammy, my mom's mom. Our family is so rife with religious tension; I've gotten used to feeling isolated and excluded for having left the Mormon tradition to become an atheist but I tend to forget, my mother joined the Mormon church in her twenties, earning her isolation and exclusion from her extremely evangelical Christian family, causing protracted tensions and religious arguments that have lasted decades.  Yesterday's memorial had distasteful elements of the Evangelical crowd using a eulogy to target and exclude the Mormon contingent in the family. To target my mom. (Who at times has barely been able to speak to me because of my own choices regarding faith. Well, and vice versa, I admit.)  Wow I wish I had a better way to wrap this all up nice and tidy with a great conclusion, but I don't. I'm too guilty in too many ways and just want move on and get to work.

Monday, June 10, 2013


April, the day after the Boston Marathon bombing, I used a ball point pen to cut deep gashes in my sketchbook. I was angry at everyone. Hurting for people I didn't know.  Stressed, trying to keep on top of work, to take care of family, struggling quite a bit to train for a marathon I was signed up for. "Just tried to run, didn't make it 10 yards" was an entry on that cut up page. Another: "realizing I will not be able to complete my training for the SD marathon.

May was better. Running was better, work was better, I wasn't angry at everyone.  Then a friend died. Unexpectedly. Distressingly. I got the news as I was walking out to door to go running, but it took days and days to slowly seep in and become real, a recurring hurt that kept cropping up. Then my mom's mom, Grammy, was put into hospice as the reality of her situation became apparent, after emotionally draining discussions about end of life plans as those close to her struggled to accept the inevitable. Family gathered. People I had not seen in years and years. A celebration, a commemoration, hugs and songs and vigils by Grammy's bedside. She lingered, made comfortable by steady pain medication and not ready to quit the party. She continued to linger, for days and weeks. It was easy to forget that there was an end drawing near while I got on with work and family and travel and the last few weeks of marathon training.

June 1st, the day before the marathon, we are picking up our race packets. As I look around at all the other participants it crosses my mind that I am not ready for this. I do not feel fit enough and strong enough. June 2 the race begins and by 6 miles in I am tired. By 18 miles in I have started to walk intermittently, just wanting to be done. If a shuttle had come by offering an out, a freebie to the finish line, I would have taken it. Somewhere between mile 20 and 21, I got the text message that Grammy had finally passed away. She had lasted so long, been so tenacious. I had forgotten, for the moment, that she was on the brink of passing. There was 6 miles left. There was the humiliation of walking past cheering crowds. There was the running coach at mile 23 who reached out and grabbed my hand as I walked by and said "you got this" (I cried a tiny bit, then started running again.) I finally ran the last two miles crossing the finish line almost an hour slower than my first marathon.

In reality the marathon was just a few difficult hours in a weekend that was otherwise enjoyable and full of friends and family. Today, a week after the marathon, I finally ran again. Just a quickie. My legs still feel like lead, slow, sluggish. Today's run put me at 500 running miles for this year. Tomorrow, I'll go out again.

It was a disappointing marathon, but a good time to hang out with people I love, a good time to be alive and moving, no matter how slow. That's good enough for now. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More awesome women

This time about health and body image stuffs.

First, Kendal talks about gaining weight, losing weight, being healthy and getting strong and removing all the taboos that have been placed on food and loving herself no matter what size.
"This weight loss story is different.  I don’t hate the pounds that I shed.  I don’t think I have “let myself go”.  This isn’t a punishment.  It’s a revelation.  Time to get moving." ~read more

Then, Haley Morris-Cafiero writes about photo-documenting how strangers react to her in public places, the dismissive way people interact with those around them who are overweight.
"I suspect that if I confronted these narrow-minded people, my words would have no effect. So, rather than using the attackers’ actions to beat myself up, I just prove them wrong. The camera gave me my voice." ~ read more
Finally, Sandra Wickham's most Health Ally post: Guilt (What is it good for?) Absolutely Nothing. Can't even tell you how much I needed to read that this morning.
"Don’t let one missed workout or eating something you know you shouldn’t have sabotage the rest of your efforts! Here’s what happens. You feel the guilt, you feel terrible about yourself. You feel like you failed. You get down on yourself and sometimes give up, permanently....OR we try and overcompensate. “I ate that food I wasn’t supposed to, I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables tomorrow.” That never works out and isn’t good for you. “I missed a workout, I’m going to do two workouts tomorrow!” If you actually do both workouts in one day, you end up over trained, extremely tired or injured and that interferes with continuing to your goals." ~read more
Just had to put these all in one place here mostly for my own benefit. I've been dangerously underweight and I've been significantly overweight. I'm currently training for a second marathon. I rock climb every week. I eat healthy.  I like good food. And I struggle, a lot, with body image, and wonder if that will ever go away. Just one of those things.

Friday, April 12, 2013

awesome women

(just a random collection of awesomeness I've recently run across.)

Theodora Goss blogs about magical women:

"...They make the world more magical, show me the parts of it that are magical, in case I’ve forgotten... To the arts in some form, specifically to the mythic in arts, and to arts that change the world. I think it takes a great deal of courage to be one of the people who tries to change the world in some way — I’ve heard too many people say that they’re not trying to change the world, that they’re just trying to entertain (particularly in their writing). But that’s the point of that? If you’re not trying to change the world, what are you doing, and why? I mean, doesn’t the world need changing?" ~read more 

Shanna Germain talks about turning 41:

"You climb to the pinnacle of this mountain. There: You’ve learned something about yourself. How to love or be loved. How to let go. How to hold on. How to dress. A little confidence. How to hold your heart in your hand and give it to someone else. How to ask for help.
Down the other side. Broken. You forget what you’ve learned. You sit in the shade of the valley for a long time. Wet, cold, hungry and pissed off. You’re trying damnit. Why doesn’t the world make it easier? Fuck this.
Eventually your ass is wet and you get up again. Start up the other mountain. Those things you learned join you like torpedos, like jet packs, like best friends, like the perfect tools. You learn, you discover, you ask with the echo of your voice through the sky and sometimes you get answers." ~read more

Rosalind Robertson discusses 21 things to help keep you shit together when you're depressed:

No. 5 is "Pick up a paintbrush, a pencil, an activity you got joy from in the past and re-explore that.  Or, sign up for the thing you always wanted to try. There is a long history and link between depression and creativity. It’s a bright light of this condition, so utilize it to your best advantage."

No. 18 is "Simple exercise, if you can. It can be something as simple as taking the stairs up a flight, or walking around the block. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t have to involve climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Baby steps." ~read more 

Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin designed an invisible bike helmet.

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Finally, this is an old one. but I love it. Amanda Palmer, in my mind

Monday, April 8, 2013

"The Thing About Things" (AFP)

Amanda Palmer has a new song out. You can listen to it here, (lyrics here).

This part~>

"i can carry everything i need in one collapsing suitcase
i can carry everyone i love in one phone application
built to optimize the facetime with the ties i’m bent on making
actually i want to be alone
to mourn the loss
of what this cost
i collected you but now you are all lost" ~more

That part hits close.

(And this....

"the thing about things is that they can start meaning things
nobody actually said...
and if you’re not allowed
to love people alive
then you learn how to love people dead" ~more
 Struggling, lately, with being able to feel much.)

But then there's this:  a murmuration of starlings. (And I do start to feel something.)  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

women praying in Gen Conf.

So. this is kind of crazy. A woman praying in General Conference.

I mean, it's been due for a long time. Seriously, like forever. And was specifically the topic of a petition earlier this year (tho church leadership merely titters about prayer assignments were given way before that. Silly petition-signers.)

My sister-in-law texted me this morning, so excited when Elder Utchdorf announced the name of the individual giving the benediction. I just smiled and said "I know :)"  But it actually brought up all sorts of conflicting and intense feelings for me.

I've mostly removed myself from Mormon issues.  Ceased banging my heart against a monolithic organization, unhitched my hopes and dreams from the proclamations of a quorum of octogenarian men in suites. I have better things to focus on now than weeping in joy over baby-step crumb-throwing. (Yeah, that sounds bitter. I know.)

Just last week I received the double good news that some of my art would be featured in the upcoming Spectrum 20 annual. And also that I was nominated for a Hugo award in the fan art category. The collection of geek erotica that I helped put together is fresh off the presses. And I am two thirds of the way through a training program for my second marathon. In other words... there's just other stuff I think about more right now.

I am honestly happy about the steps any group takes towards equality. I am happy that there are Mormon women out there with a bit more hope (or relief, or validation) in their hearts now because of that 1:57 min prayer.  I'm glad to still be in a position to be somewhat aware of these events when they happen.

This used to be such a huge thing for me.  I hope that it's some sort of progress (or something) that I just no longer feel any personal attachment to these events.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

asking for money

Over at my art blog I just posted 4 items of interest to me regarding creative individuals asking for money.

Also,  recently, I stumbled across this video that visually graphs wealth distribution in america:

I do not have a whole lot more to say about this right now, just stuff on my mind, currently.