Category: DIY Art School


In “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge resolves, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Is it possible to do the same with Thanksgiving?

And what would the spirit of Thanksgiving look like❓

When I was younger, I remember saying a very LONG prayer to stall bedtime. It’s surprising how many things you can think of to be grateful for when you really try–even at age six.

I’m grateful for night lights. Without them the monsters would have eaten us all a long time ago.

Looking back, I find that I am grateful for the difficult times. The pain in my hands forced me to focus on what I really want to do. I chose art over things like piano or knitting. I found that sacrificing for something helped me value it more.

Negative events really stand out in memories. But I’m thankful for the positive times, too (of course). Trying to focus on and remember the positive relieves stress and gives a more balanced view of life.

Keeping a gratitude journal helps me recall those events and end the day on a happy note. 🙂

I’m grateful for those who read, comment on, or like my posts. Thank you so much! In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one.” ❤️

Finding Purpose

I was talking to some one this week who said that they have been trying to figure out their purpose in life.

I think that’s a fairly common concern.

As I get older, I’ve realized that doors of opportunity are closing, and there are things that are no longer possibilities.

Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, it’s more helpful to focus on what I CAN do.

How do I know what I can do? ? ? ? How will that help me know my purpose?

  • make a list of talents
  • ask trusted friends
  • ponder and pray and listen
  • do a collage while thinking through your questions
  • brainstorm

Even if I don’t know the end result, I can know the next step. I believe there is a plan for each person to follow.

Everyone has a purpose. Everyone is needed.

Challenging Myself

I think I see the most growth when I attempt to do something difficult. I don’t want it to be too difficult, because then it’s just frustrating and I avoid it. But something that makes me stretch just a bit, especially if it’s something that I can do consistently over a period of time, is wonderful for helping me improve.

Challenges can come from many different places. Sometimes I pick the challenge, as I do with what I post on this website, or the resolutions and goals I set for myself. Other times I am given a challenge by someone else, such as a request for a drawing or an article for a newsletter. And sometimes I join in on someone else’s challenge, such as Nanowrimo or Inktober.

All are valuable learning experiences. The last type is especially fun, because then you can compare notes with other people doing the same thing. This is my first year joining in on Inktober, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing how other people interpret the prompts. (See here for rules/prompts: An extra challenge with joining in with others can be to keep going if the people you are working with stop.

I usually try to seek out challenges in areas where I need growth. But, opportunities to grow often come unexpectedly. The trick is to enjoy them and keep going as much as possible. It’s also important to recognize the times when it’s too much and you need to edit your list and do less.

Life can be a balancing act. Sometimes things are really hard, and sometimes it’s not so bad. Growth is like that too. I just tell myself to do my best during the hard times, and whatever I can do is good enough. I think that’s when I grow the most.

Do you try to challenge yourself by setting goals and resolutions? Have you been given challenges by other people? Have you joined in on a challenge? What was your experience?

Avoiding the Task

So often, I find myself avoiding tasks I don’t want to do. Most often, this is dealing with emails. Sometimes it’s writing a story or doing the dishes. Whatever it is, I can find lots of excuses not to do it.

It’s so easy to be busy. I own more books than I could read, and I have enough art supplies to keep me busy for months. On the internet, there is an endless supply of interesting articles to read and instructional videos to watch.

And yet, there are things that really should be done first. If I don’t assign different levels of importance to the items in my to do list, there are things that won’t get done at all. Setting deadlines for important tasks helps too.

Once, when I was struggling with feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I went more than a week without checking my email or phone messages. I felt like I just couldn’t deal with it, and felt like I deserved a break from the things that were stressing me out. It seemed harmless.

When I finally checked my messages and emails, I found out that a close friend had been trying to contact me. Her father had a stroke, and she needed my help. I called her right away, but she didn’t need me any more.

I still feel guilty about that.

I learned that even though I don’t want to do something, that doesn’t mean that I can completely abandon the task. At least not for that long. And I can’t ignore both my phone messages and my emails at the same time. Ever.

There are compromises and work-arounds. Often I can talk my husband into listening to the phone messages. I can skim over the subject lines of the emails so that I can make a note of what I need to read later.

And what if I’m avoiding doing creative work? The consequences for avoiding that seem less severe. It’s not like I’ll miss an important message or have a mountain of dirty clothes or dishes to face later.

However, there are consequences. Not only would I get out of practice, I would be missing out on the mental and health benefits that come from doing art. And I would miss it terribly. As a result, I try to keep creative work as one of the more important things on my schedule.

So, when I find myself avoiding writing or drawing or painting, I do my best to find a work-around or compromise. I tell myself that it doesn’t have to be very good, it just has to get done. I tell myself I only need to finish part of it or it can be smaller or shorter than I originally planned. Bribing myself works too. It is continuing the journey that matters most to me right now, not trying to make the work I do perfect.

Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding creative work? What do you do to keep going? What is one thing that you refuse to skip?

A First Attempt at Visual Note Taking

Recently, I have started seeing examples of visual note taking all over. As someone who likes to take notes and loves to learn new things, I was immediately interested. With conference weekend last weekend, I finally had a great chance to practice.

Conference weekend was ideal, because there was lots to take notes on (ten hours of broadcasts), and I won’t really need my notes to remember the material. All of the talks will be available soon in multiple formats. Perfect!

I still took my regular notes alongside my visual notes. This was nice as I was able to look back at them for points I missed. This was not nice, because by the end of the weekend, my hand really, really hurt.

I learned a lot in this first attempt. First, visual notes are wonderful for review. They are fun to look back at, and really condense the talk into a few key points. In that respect, they are a bit like a comic journal versus a regular journal. I may never reread my conference notes once I have the written copy of the talks in hand. I will most likely look at my visual notes, if only to remember quickly who said what.

Second, it’s easy to take note of something just because it makes a great visual image and miss the main point of the talk. Also, some things that you want to emphasize aren’t easy to make visually appealing. I will have to study this some more and see what other people do.

Third, I watched the women’s session at the church where the lights were dim, so I took regular notes and completed the visual notes later instead of at the same time. I think those notes are probably the best representation of the talks. Creating visual notes that are really useful might best be done after hearing the entire talk, so that it is a good representation of the main points of the talk and what I really want to remember.

I will definitely repeat this experiment. I think that visual notes are a great way to focus on the main points of a talk or lecture and have the information available for easy reference later. It’s also a good method to review what I’ve learned and think about it carefully.

Have you ever taken visual notes? Do you have any advice? Do you have any recommendations of great examples of visual notes for me to study? Please let me know!

Mini Holidays

“Happy Friday,” I tell my kids as they leave for school on Fridays. “Have fun. I love you.”

A few weeks ago, we had tacos for dinner on a Sunday. “It’s Taco Tuesday on a Sunday,” I said. The kids rolled their eyes.

We celebrate Pi Day and Star Wars Day and Banana Split Day and three day weekends (“It’s Friday on a Thursday,” I say. “No it’s not,” they reply. “It’s Thursday on a Thursday.”)

Sometimes it’s good to have something to celebrate, even if that means eating tacos for dinner or wishing each other a Happy Friday. Big holidays are far apart, and they take so much work and planning and expense. While I try to carry the spirit of Christmas in my heart year-round, I don’t think I want a Christmas celebration every day.

Today is a holiday for my family. It’s a little bigger than a mini holiday, but smaller than Christmas. This is Conference Weekend. Twice a year, the prophet and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broadcast messages of guidance and hope centered in Christ.

A sketch from a picture of President Russell M. Nelson

We sit and watch for hours and hours, like a movie marathon. We sing songs and eat snacks and feel inspired and uplifted. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Little expense or preparation or clean-up, lots of joy.

“It’s Conference Weekend!” I’ve said over and over. It feels like Happy Friday, but better. I love little holidays. Simple pleasures.

Does your family celebrate any mini holidays? How do you celebrate? What other simple pleasures do you enjoy?

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