end 14

I have to say, that 2014 has been quite a learning experience, and one that I will never forget. I probably say that every year, but I know that this year certainly had some curveballs, filled with emotions that I never expected to face. The concept of a fresh new start seems to have a sweet message to it; to pick up the pieces and clear out the clutter. I may have done so, literally, by getting my studio ready for some long nights of concentration and focus. It's on... actually, right now. After Effects tutorials to ring in the new year. Woot! Hold me back!

I spent a good portion of this year in a state of reflection, and I feel it was needed. I had a lot of catching up to do. I've had a lot of space and time to myself, and feel that it's certainly okay to take as much as I need, to get things done. I have a lot to do, and even more to look forward to. It's time to take what I learned, from here, and carry it with me into the future of so many possibilities. Eeek! 2015!? Seriously crazy. The things to come.

To be completely honest, I'm a bit scared. Not in a bad way. I've had some small moments of panic, excitement, anxiety, etc., but I'm reminded not to look too far ahead, so I don't lose out on the moment. It's nice to admit that the moment is something I don't want to miss out on. I feel welcome, accepted, comforted, adored (by some), inspired, and supported for all that I do, by the people around me. You guys, you choke me up. It has been a long time since I've felt so at home, and so grounded. Right now is so good.

To be clear, I don't have only one dream, and I'm not just depending on landing a gig at Disney. It's just part of the dream, and it certainly is one of the biggest ones on the list. I still sorta laugh at how big it really is. I'd rather laugh than let it intimidate me. Who knows where this experience will actually take me when I put it out there? It may not take me anywhere, and I'm okay with that. That's when I realized how happy I am to be where I am. It's cool. Remove the fear of failure, and anything is possible. Failure disappears the instant you try. Profound. Man, facing your dreams is crazy. I recommend giving it a shot. Fuck it. Right?

If you're here, and you're reading, you know you're a special part of my life and what it is right now. Thank you, for realsies. You guys... you keep me going. Clink your glasses.

Ready. Set. New Year!


in my head

So, what's the deal with this animation? 
I thought I'd take some time to write a bit about it, before I get lost in the throes of putting it together. I'm pacing myself not to overdo it, but I'm also getting ready to jump in and get completely lost for a while. It might turn me into a sleep deprived, comatose, glazed donut for a bit, but I have a deadline to keep up with. There are no excuses. So long as I keep it fun, and focus my energy on the right things; we're laughing. I'm sure there will be tears in there too. Nothing challenging is ever easy.

I've structured my story, my characters, my environment, with room to make things visually interesting. I want to make a bit of a dream sequence, that also illustrates the way that my mind functions with imagery, because it's quite elaborate and abstract. A great friend of mine (Andrea, illustrated above) asked me to describe a day in my head, and I spent weeks trying to figure out how to put it into words. I started to draw it out, and from there, it sort of led the path to shaping my story into something even more personal. I don't really know how to explain it without the visual. It's an interesting place, for sure.

As a kid, I was a very active dreamer. So much, I had moments where my teachers would almost have to literally shake me out of my fantasies. A word, a color, a shape, a voice, a person's gait, the color of their sweater; anything could take my thoughts into a different world. Many of my parent teacher interviews involved talk about my "trips down the yellow brick road" because my imagination knew how to get in the way of learning. While most of my teachers appreciated the drawings I did for them on my tests, there was a lot of conflict with my wandering mind. 

For years, I thought that I had some kind of a learning disability, because I struggled in all of my classes that weren't creatively driven. I managed to make something out of Science, Human Anatomy, and Psychology; because I was able to memorize things through drawing diagrams. Had I realized that this was my learning process, I probably could have applied it to all of my classes and done really well. Instead, I honestly thought I had a problem. Not even kidding. The concept of what is right and wrong can really fog one's view of themselves. For years, I thought I was seriously stupid.

Being creative is far from being stupid, and I had to teach myself that in order to accept my skills as something more than just drawing dreamy pictures. Creativity is a different form of intelligence, that I feel more of the world could use. The way I see the world, and even my own life, is quite emotionally driven. I get caught on so many different things at once, sometimes I will even rush home to jot them down so that the idea doesn't fade away. I don't know if I'd want to trade that for anything, because being a sensitive artist allows me to see a unique sort of beauty in practically everything. I'm hoping I can illustrate this into my animation. My life is one big dream sequence.

I still have so much to share on this topic, and even more on how I have grown to love animation; and how it has affected my life. Sharing these emotional sides of myself aren't the easiest to put into words, but I'm doing my best to focus my energy in doing these posts, as a reminder to keep going because I have something big to share. This is a lifelong passion of mine, an incredibly lofty dream, and a huge piece of my heart. Now that you have an idea of what goes on in my head (sorta) maybe this animation will be just as special to you, as it is to me. Thanks for joining the visual journey with me. Let's keep going!


christmas spirit

It seems strange to admit that this Christmas, I didn't cut out one snowflake, hang one light, make any toys, or watch any Ralphie Parker(!) It feels kind of odd, yet at the same time, it was nice to take a break from everything, and do it entirely different. There aren't any rules to how you celebrate the holiday season, right?

I spent Christmas Day to myself, and though I got a number of invites, and even some voiced concern toward being alone during the season of gathering around with loved ones; it is what I wanted. I needed time to reflect and ask myself what is missing, if there is actually anything missing; or if maybe things have changed and I'm totally okay with it. To figure it out a little,  I decided to conjure up some Christmas spirits, to see what the holidays really actually mean to me. 

The Ghost of Christmas Past
It's true, there's no place like home for the holidays; and my concept of home is what always keeps me grounded. I've lived in 19 different homes in my lifetime, so I have learned how to create a place of comfort and stability no matter where I go. Still, there's one place my heart will always visit during the holidays, and that's where I started out; with family. It has been a long time since my -blood- family has gathered under the same roof for the holidays. Despite their differences, I am grateful for the positive memories we got to experience, before they disappeared from tradition. 

The Ghost of Christmas Present
I didn't want to admit it, but I sorta felt like a bit of a Grinch this year, because Christmas has started to remind me of a two month long, birthday countdown. It's one day, and yet we hear about it the instant Halloween makes its exit. I'm always going to have my opinions about marketing, because I find 'things' to be very low in importance in my every day life. (Funny, for a girl who works in marketing). With all of the lights, music, charms, sparkles, and noise, I sorta zoned it out until it showed up. That is what happened to The Grinch, was it not? Similarly, my heart is huge with gratitude for the people who make up my life, today.

The Ghost of Christmas Future
I feel like, overall, my thoughts are most interested in the approaching new year. This may be why I didn't quite acknowledge the holidays while they were present. Change is constant, and I love to pick up the pieces as I go, and see how they influence my future. 2015 is going to be interesting, because I'm going to make sure of it. Who knows where it will take me. Change is both exciting and terrifying in its own way, which is why I can't stop fixating on it. This spirit is sticking around, and it makes me very curious. Where will I be this time next year? I suppose we'll have to wait and see. Eeek!

What does your Christmas spirit look like?
Happiest of holidays, to you and yours. 


my special friend

I need to exercise my writing muscles, because I'm having the worst time getting the words out, as I work on my project. I have a lot of catching up to do, over here. Blog Land, I have lost touch, thanks to Instagram. It's my visual diary/scrapbook without the clutter. Love it. Gonna try harder to pay more attention over here. Focus is on. Just for something fun, I thought I'd write a simple post.

The 10 Things I Love about Breakfast Jones:

He's.... special
He's not your typical cute dog, but there's something adorably ugly about him. Like a black and white Pac Man, or a pig in a tuxedo, that face makes me laugh on a daily basis. He melts my heart.

He's a gentleman
Well, a gentleman, in a tux, who farts on your lap. While he may be a bit more of a boy than a gentleman, he has some impressive manners when we socialize with strangers, on Whyte. I'd say it is the most common adjective he has received. My favorite statement has been, "look at the well behaved Boston Terrier." Yeah, he's got some manners.

He's a playa 
Breakfast loves to play with whatever he can find. His favorite thing is being outside in the grass, wrecking balls. It's my favorite, too. Wait, that sounds wrong.

He's lazy
While Breakfast might have the energy of a hyper-hypo, he is equal parts lazy. The warmer the blanket, the more likely he is to wrap himself in it. Sometimes, he goes missing because of blankets. He is also known to sleep in later than me, on the weekends... because of blankets.

He's a boy
Part of what I like about boys is that they're kind of gross. Breakfast farts all the time. We all know how I am with farts. I, like Breakfast, am a 5 year old boy on the inside. It's funny, the sounds he can make. We won't discuss the smells. That part is gross... like boys.

He's tough
He has a big bark, that often scares people away, and puts big dogs in their place. Funny thing is that his only defence, once you say hello, is to smother you in French kisses. The bark/growl/hair standing up on his back is all a front, but sometimes, I let him have his Kevin Costner moments of thinking he's my bodyguard.

He's young at heart
People always assume Breakfast is a puppy, because he has so much playful energy. He seriously loves to play. I don't know if it's the snorts, his body language, or his stupid face, but he always manages to get other dogs to play along. 
...even the old crabby ones. 

He's my muse
I swear there are times when he is actually posing for me. There's something about him that I find absolutely lovely. Maybe I have a problem? He inspires my eye, and I'm not about to stop taking photos of him. I'm not sorry if it's excessive. Doesn't help that he's black and white, like some of my favorite designs. Art dog.

He's a sunshine boy
Is it weird that one of the names I'd considered, before Breakfast became a thing, was Sunny? He loves to be in the sun. We walk for hours, we lie in the grass, we melt. I miss the summer, and so does he. It's our best time together. He's totally not a Sunny though. Always Breakfast.

I don't often give him cred for being as smart as he... can be. He has never wrecked anything of mine, doesn't have accidents in the house while I'm away at work; he follows my commands (often without words), he sits politely and waits while I put his food down, holds still when I trim his nails, jumps in the tub on his own, appreciates my singing... I'm pretty impressed.
Listening to me when I call him? Well, that's a work in SQUIRREL!

He's the best way to start the day
What's great about my relationship with Breakfast, is that only he and I know about the bond that we share. He is one of the main reasons I get out of bed in the morning. He has helped me through some really interesting times, and we have both grown together in so many ways. It's neat to look at him, and see age in his eyes. I could get weepy about how far we've come... but that's for him and I to know. It's just sorta neat to see that I got myself a really great dog.

POOT! I love this guy... so much I found 11 reasons instead of 10.


note to self motivation

I find that one of the biggest challenges in pursuing personal projects, is maintaining self motivation. I'm going to dive into a bit of a therapeutic post here; to 'up' myself, to share myself, and to just let it out... confidence is necessary. I think a lot of us could use a shot of it.

I am quite insecure, to be honest, and from what my friends and family tell me, it doesn't make sense. I'm (words provided) talented, inspiring, witty, smart, kind, funny, thoughtful, pretty, sensible, crafty, curious, rad. It's one of those things, again, where the words matter most when they come from yourself. Compliments are more than just adjectives, and people don't just say them for fun. You really have to value these words, and understand them, to grasp what is really being said. Take the time to say thank you, maybe jot them down and look at them. Repeat them to yourself. Eventually, you may just believe them. It's like having your own personal Charlotte's Web.

To get a little personal for a second, this is my first time, in almost half of my life, where I am not in a relationship. I won't lie, when I say that it feels like I've come off of a certain drug, which I still crave and question in its absence; because I truly enjoy loving people and sharing with them. The trouble with my previous relationships, unfortunately, was that I wasn't quite offering that same love to myself. Oooh, profound, right? It's true though, and man, life is too short to deny yourself of the same sort of care and devotion that we can so easily offer to others.

Photo by, Andrea Beca. Instagram:@contessabessa

I have the tendency to feel quite alone, at times, and it's often during those moments when I seek care, love, comfort, or even just to hear the things that keep me going. I seek help when I need it, far more than I have through the years, and I also ask more of myself; to be kind and fair when I need the maintenance. Step by step, I'm inching each day toward achieving an incredible goal I never even imagined I'd think to pursue.. on my own. When you can enjoy your own company, you begin to see that it's okay to take those times to be with yourself and remember that you're not alone in this big world; even if it seems that way.

I had a bit of an uplifting moment, when I thought of a high school teacher who gave me the nickname "Talent." He told me, it was simply all he could see in front of him, and that I was going to make something out of it, without a doubt in his mind. I only recently recalled that memory, when I was looking for words to define myself. It's also when I started to consider the idea of waking up the next morning, as someone else. I asked myself what I'd miss or want back, and talent was one of them. It's pretty nice to admit that to myself, that talent is a part of who I am... maybe in more ways than one.

But, why is it that we don't always acknowledge our strengths so much as we acknowledge our weaknesses? And why don't we encourage those strengths, or even express them so openly as we probably should? Being proud of yourself is far from being arrogant, and I think that's what makes confidence so tricky. Some people see it as a target to shit on. Let them shit, because it probably means you're really good at what you do, and that you might even make it look easy. Not everyone is going to be your number one fan, and that's why it's important to be one of your own. For real, above everyone else. It makes a world of difference to cast it aside, and focus in the right direction. It's all you, and you are so not alone.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this post, but I thought maybe I needed to lecture myself a little in the field of self love and personal motivation. It isn't an easy task to stay consistently on top of your game, but it is an enjoyable challenge when you get the knack for telling yourself that you have something really incredible to share. It may not be with anyone in particular, but so long as you're showing yourself that this is what makes you who you are, it doesn't matter. Love what you do, do what you love; the fluffy stuff will surely follow.


passing the inspirational torch

After reading Scream Queen B's blog post, I thought I'd join in, by saying that I am -also- INSPIRED. Like the monkey from The Lion King said, "It is time!"

I was jotting down some thoughts, for a post, about how I stay motivated and inspired, and how creatives require the brains and souls of other creatives to keep those wheels going. Example: It won't be productive to sit down with your (Accountant) Uncle Glenn, and ask why you can't get your dinosaur painting to look right. He'll hand you numbers to calculate, and last time I checked, numbers don't work with creative motivation. I have never been a fan of guessing for the right answer. That's the roadblock.

I feel that most of my roadblocks present themselves in the fashion of trying to decide what others might think or expect from me; especially in regards to the process, and how it sometimes takes time to shake it out of your system. Do you know how badly I'd love for a technology to connect with the brain, by using a simple little button that says "print" just so thoughts can be presented the instant they show up? Imagine the possibilities.. and the piles of thoughts that would take up my living space. Maybe this is a good thing it hasn't been developed yet.

Reason keeps me from focusing on my natural process. I have had many moments of hearing a nagging voice in my head that says to me "You've wasted so much time." Truth is, there's no such thing as wasting time when you're learning in the process of reaching your goals. I have a number of projects I've put on hold, through the years, simply because I don't feel it's their time yet; like writing a children's book, or building stuff, or making a stop motion animated short of some kind. It's something I want to do one day, but not now. Does that mean I've failed? Maybe to Uncle Glenn, because he can't think past equations and finding the one and only solution. His opinion doesn't matter, though. It's all you, and what works for you, right now.

Being selfish is what brought me back in touch with my work. I've learned to say no to side projects, because I feel like my time is valuable. I work full time already, so when I add work on top of it, I fry out. I decided to start saying no to freelance, so I could make room for personal projects; which is important to a creative mind. We have to let it out, and face our own challenges, and express what's lurking in our complicated minds. That's why I started daily/monthly challenges, like daily moustache and @sketch_dailies. It's there for me to keep my creative muscles moving, and to also make habit of taking time for it.

Not every day is miraculous though, and I feel many creatives need to be reminded that taking breaks is necessary. I've been drawing for 300 years, and even I have days where I can't do at all what I want. "You call that a hand?" I have been paying more attention to when those days hit me, and it's usually when I'm mentally/emotionally and even physically tired. Sometimes I'll keep working, without realizing I'm drained, which is when I catch myself becoming outwardly frustrated. I need creativity in my life, but I can't force it down. Be fair to your brains, treat them like batteries and give them downtime to recharge. It's senseless to drive yourself into pouting fits. Creatives are sensitive and emotional beings. We just want to make stuff ALL the time, but we can't.

And now that my computer is on its way, I feel like I'm stretching my running muscles, to get ready for the biggest race of my life. It's going to be a very interesting challenge, with metaphorical hurdles that will want to get in my way. Whether it's the nagging voice, Uncle Glenn and his mind numbing conversations about numbers, or creative dry spells, I need to remind myself constantly... You're a creative, and you will always make amazing things so long as you take care of yourself. You just have to be fair, reach out to those who know how it works, and just let it out into the open.

Be INSPIRED and share your gift with the world. It just might inspire others.


it happened

I bought a shiny new computer today. It arrives in a few days. Thank you everyone who helped me make this face. I'm smiling hard on the inside, really. Shit just got real. 



It's a pretty big deal to hear that my stepdad, Doug, successfully told cancer to go fuck itself. 6 years, and cancer free. Happy Movember, Suzie! 


pinch pinch

I have tried to write this about a dozen times, and I think the trick is to just get it down; before I decide to press delete or save to draft. Truth is, I'm over the moon, and it is such a struggle to get the words out properly. So many thoughts at once. I just want to share all the words. Where do I begin?

Moustache month. Nacho Libre. An inspiring character when it comes to determination and self belief.

If I haven't already said thank you enough, I feel I still need to make it clear how incredibly grateful I am for the endless support from everyone around me. Since my story aired on CTV News, I've been receiving a massive amount of Go Fund Me donations, as well as messages of encouragement, praise, and delight for what I'm doing. I'm not entirely sure which one I have most trouble accepting, as I still feel terribly modest about the entire situation. I am overwhelmed, you guys. In the best way possible. Didn't expect this to be what it has so suddenly become, today. It hits me in waves of stomach butterflies and surprised eyes. It's happening.

My face when I saw my Go Fund Me goal had been reached, and exceeded. 

I'm trying to record the process, not only for myself, but for the people who have taken the time to voice their personal gratitude for being inspired by my strength to pursue what I believe in. The truth is, I'm prone to weakness just like anyone else, and I didn't fully recognize my strengths, until I answered a very important question, that I jotted down in my journal. If you woke up tomorrow as someone else, what part of yourself would you want back? What would you wish you had done, while you were you? I took some time to think that one through, and came up with a surprising list. Perhaps we need to do these sorts of things for ourselves more often. Personal strength and confidence is a constant work in progress. Know what makes you rad, write it out, and then share it with the world!

I'd say that from this experience, I'm realizing that while the cheering team around me keeps me fuelled and motivated, it is my internal cheering team that needs to keep up with the demand of taking this on full tilt. I'm my own worst critic, and I have to be careful not to push myself too hard and into a corner. I'm human, and not every day is a forward boost. I know when to take breaks and step away. Forcing it down steals the fun out of the experience, so I just go with it. When you stop overreacting, and start giving the right things your full attention; the negative forces grow tired and get bored. They'll leave you be and find someone else to bother. Just be aware of when they try to creep back in and mess up your vision.

Was taking notes, and it turned into Busta Rhymes. 

I've been exercising my creativity for months, by making my art my hobby again. The snobbiest of artists would throw their berets in disgust at this word, when it comes to describing their work and creative passion. A hobby can be seen as something simpleminded, like bird watching, collecting stamps, or making a scrapbook; but a hobby is something we do for leisure. This is where my work began, so I'm going back to my roots of doing it entirely my way. Bringing the fun back into the swing of it has helped me immensely. Get back in touch with your hobbies, it'll become your job when you're ready again. It's surprising what happens when you do what comes more naturally, than what you're expected.

One of my Sketch Dailies made it into Conan O'Brien's online gallery Coco Moca. Crazy.

The whole point of this challenge isn't set up to be the definition of success, by landing a gig at Disney and nothing else. My goal is to try, and just see what happens when I do finish up my project, and hand it over to the guy with the mouse ears. I'm not setting myself up for any sort of disaster through expectation. If anything, I'm making myself become more curious about the possibilities, by simply taking each day as a step closer to reaching a goal that I've often seen as completely unrealistic. It's just so big! I've never taken it seriously, and still have a hard time talking about it without laughing awkwardly. It's big, super big. You don't just hand over your sketchbook and say "hey, I like Disney movies, and I can draw Simba pretty good." Or maybe that's all there is to it? Maybe I'm going about this all wrong.

I'd say if you have a dream, pursue it, without relying on it to happen instantaneously, or look at all the way you might see it in your head. I have no idea what to expect, and that's part of what makes it fun. Where will I be this time next year, I wonder. If I've learned so much in only a matter of days, how big will my brains be a year from now? Pretty big, I hope.

To keep from rambling on forever, I'm going to leave by saying that I'm doing my absolute best to believe in the words of those around me and really absorb them for what they are. For years, people have said to me "you're going to be famous, don't forget the little guys, your name is going to be in the end credits of a Disney movie one day.." and my reaction  has always been to laugh it off, nod, or smile in humor of their fantasies. I've only just begun to take in those words for what they are, and realize, I have something in me that people notice as something worth sharing. I may not see my name in lights, or experience my loved ones pawning off my drawings on eBay to make a fortune, but I do see that if I don't try.. I'll never know. Go try out a dream or two and see where it takes you.

Seriously, you guys. Pinch me.


winter time

It's blanket season, which means sharing an armchair becomes even more challenging, for me. Breakfast insists on touching, when he sleeps, or else he'll sit and stare at me. While I try to appreciate the extra heat he provides, it's amazing how something so small can't take up so much space.


yo october

I've been really enjoying October, for a variety of reasons. It's the season of change ... and dying things? The leaves are almost done falling, the memories of summer have passed, and the air is getting noticeably crisp. Winter is coming, which means it's almost time to get into heavy concentration mode and crack down on this massive personal project of mine. Remember, Disney? Eeeeeeeek!

Sketch Dailies topic: Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
Looks like Mads Mikkelsen.. because I became obsessed with the Hannibal series. 

To warm myself up, before the snow falls, I have been doing a variety of daily projects; for the sake of making a routine out of being creative, without running myself dry. Sitting on a computer all day can be tough, so I've been taking time away from digital, to get back into traditional forms of execution. It has also been so nice outside, I have been taking my sketchbook everywhere with me. Gotta enjoy it while we can, right?

Instagram: #screamqueenhalloween Topic: Halloween mask. Did you know that Michael Myers is a William Shatner mask, painted white?

In October, there's something called Inktober. It's an excuse to pick up the pens and make stuff. Fortunately, with Halloween content, it has been super fun. I almost forgot that I like to fiddle with the dark and sinister, and drift away from the cutesy. It has been a nice reminder for me to get back in touch with my sketchbook, and learn to love the imperfections of doing things off screen. I'm going to take this habit into November, for sure. 

Sketch Dailies topic: Edward Scissorhands

For months, I've been keeping up with the Sketch Dailies, when I can. It's probably one of my favorite forms of social media. There is a wicked amount of talent out there, and I always enjoy seeing what sorts of ideas people come up with. Also, I've 'met' a lot of incredible artists this way. I wish we could just all get together and draw! Such an inspiring crowd to be a part of.

October also marked our second Crafternoon. I threw together some Halloween treat bags, met up for some warm beverages and waffles, and had a nice giveaway prize for those who showed. It's becoming a monthly thing, so I look forward to getting to know all of the wonderful crafty types that live in this city, especially during the months where we're forced indoors. Don't make stuff? Come along for a warm beverage and conversation. We have coloring books! Hooray, Crafternoon!

Instagram: #screamqueenhalloween Topic: Favorite Scary Movie: Silence of the Lambs. 

Instagram: #screamqueenhalloween Topic: Play Dead

I've also been participating in an Instagram daily challenge, for the month. This one involves different Halloween themes, from your favorite scary movie, to playing dead. I've had fun with this. I like daily creative challenges. I highly recommend them for getting into the habit of making stuff. Thanks for the Halloween fun, #screamqueenhalloween !!

Happy October!