I know I’ll never lose affection

#TheBeatles

As you may know, I’ve taken on the task of decluttering my teenage room while I’m staying at my parents’ until the end of June (I’m in between moving countries).

One of the things I loved as a child – and when I say loved, I mean LOVED – was stuffed animals. Until now, my room’s been covered in stuffed animals, big and small. Some of them I’ve had since I was a 2 year-old!

As I emptied my shelves of DVD cases and CDs and my room started to look emptier, I finally noticed the extent of stuffed animals I had in my room.

It reminded me of the time my aunt (who’s 15 years younger than me, long story) was visiting. She must’ve been 3 or 4 at the time, and when I told her that we could go to my room and play with my stuffed animals, she looked at me wide-eyed and said:

“But old people don’t have toys.”

Arrow through the heart.

This was a good 10 years ago.

I grabbed some bags, climbed onto a chair and threw all of my stuffed animals down onto the floor. I filled three large bags and gave them all to a neighbour who’s part of a church group and she distributed them to those who couldn’t afford toys for their children.

In the end, I didn’t feel remorse or anything of the sort. I kept a few stuffed animals, of course, I’m still not over my obsession – especially after spending a year in Japan, land of cute stuffed animals – but they all fit in a little corner of my room.

I’m not sleeping in the middle of a stuffed animal petting zoo anymore.

I know that if I told hardcore minimalists that I kept some because I might want to give them to my children one day, they would have told me to just man up and throw them all away. That keeping things just because of what might happen is idiotic. But hey, to each his own, right?

Here’s a sketch of Chat Noir. Anyone familiar with Miraculous Ladybug? Really cool children’s cartoon. When you feel an artist’s block coming, it’s good to draw in someone else’s style to get past it.

chat noir pencil

 

The Sardine

 

 

 

 

And I’m feeling good

#NinaSimone

Clearing all the crap out of my humongous desk hasn’t been easy.

My desk is really long. It can even open up so it can be even longer. My parents bought it for me because I was very enthusiastic about art and wanted a lot of space for drawing.

My desk has cabinets both under and over it. They’re completely full of stuff. I couldn’t tell you what they have inside them with certainty if you asked me. But I can assure you that most of it I’ve kept for sentimental reasons.

My desk is the centre of my life. It’s where I work, where I write, where I draw, where I leave everything that’s important and where I dump all my trash. Clearing out my desk means clearing out my entire room.

It was daunting just to start.

But I rolled my sleeves up one morning and got to work.

The first thing I did, as I’ve mentioned before (check it out here), was to clear out all of my old sketchbooks and unused art materials, which was a heart-wrenching experience. But at the same time, getting rid of my past so-called achievements was something I think was nevessary for me to move on.

Then I tackled the mountains of paper, receipts and documents that I’d left on top of it. Now they’re all sitting neatly inside a folder on the bookshelf or have been dumped in the nearest recycling bin.

I then tackled my stationery, computer wires, old chargers, loose CDs, DVDs, notebooks, etc.

I leave a lot of crap on my desk.

But the thing is that, when tackling the stuff on my desk I either had to find a new and better place for it or to throw it away. And as I threw away a DVD case that was on my desk I just had to do the same with all my other DVDs. So I did.

Then I copied a CD to my external drive, which gave me the idea of giving all my CDs away as well. So I copied all my music to my external drive.

All of this was very time consuming.

It made me wonder if it would it ever end?

This decluttering of my teenage room has left me feeling both raw and light.

Ripping the posters off the walls and emptying the shelves of old books, DVDs and CDs has been sentimental, but it has also given my room a new look. A look that feels more creative and liberating. Like I’m shedding layers of the past and growing a new, albeit fragile, skin.

It’s been difficult, but worth it.

Here’s a very time consuming sketch.

スキャン0001

The Sardine

 

 

You can go your own way

#FleetwoodMac

Lately I’ve been trying to be more present.

When I read in the living room I don’t turn the TV on. If I’m with my friends or relatives I don’t look at my phone (or try not to).

But it’s difficult to be completely present all the time. Especially when I’m teaching.

I’m a teacher, by the way.

When I’m teaching my thoughts often wonder. Whenever my students are completing a task or writing I’ll catch myself thinking about other things, especially if I’ve been writing that day. I go through plots in my head or have ideas for a blog post and then I find myself wishing for the lesson to be over so I can start working on that.

It made me wonder if teaching was actually something that I was passionate about.

And before I finished writing that question in the tiny notebook I carry with me all the time I already knew the answer: yes.

I love teaching. I love getting to know my students and watching them get better with each lesson.

I love teaching, even though sometimes I can’t be bothered to work.

Being passionate about something doesn’t mean that you’ll always enjoy doing it, there’ll always be moments when we don’t think we can keep going. Being passionate about something means pushing through those moments and not giving up on what you’re doing, on what you know you love.

I don’t know if teaching is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but why do we have to put ourselves under that much pressure? Why not just enjoy what we’re doing at the moment and if later on it doesn’t interest us as much we can always focus on something else.

There’s no such thing as lifelong positions or careers. That’s a concept from previous generations that doesn’t work anymore.

Let’s stop living under the outdated notion that to be happy we have to get a job, buy a house, get married and have kids.

Let’s make our own paths and see where they lead us.

Here’s a sketch.

DSC_3710 (2)

The Sardine

 

Comfortably numb

#PinkFloyd

I’ve got a confession to make.

I’m an extremely lazy person.

When it comes to work I work as hard as I can and have the motivation to keep going until the job is done. I like going the extra mile.

But when it comes to my free time, I’m hopeless. I can spend the whole day in front of the TV and not even want to move out of the couch.

Sometimes I justify my laziness. I’ll draw at the same time as I watch yet another episode of Hannibal, I’ll write notes as I rewatch The Prince of Egypt for the millionth time and I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something that day.

This is what I did last Sunday, by the way. With all this talk of making choices and using my time in a more meaningful way, I haven’t really fixed the problem that the weekend brings for me.

The difference was that last Sunday I didn’t feel completely fine about spending the whole day in front of the TV. At the end of the day I thought to myself: yes, I’ve drawn something and yes, I’ve written a bit, but if I hadn’t been watching TV at the same time, I would’ve drawn and written a lot more than what I did.

If I had been more productive, maybe I’d have written a new chapter for my story, or drawn a lot more, maybe even gotten my watercolours and ink out and started that sketchbook that I didn’t throw away in the hopes of getting back into sketching (see previous post).

Could have, would have, should have.

I can’t change how I spent my Sunday, but I can change the Sundays to come. I’ve made a list of things that I should spend time on over the weekend. I haven’t made a schedule for them as I usually do, and I’m not saying that I have to spend a certain amount of time on them no matter what, but that I should consider doing them instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Making lists and making schedules is a thing that I love to do, but when I miss out on a day I just give up on the whole thing.

So here are the suggestions:

  1. Draw digitally and on paper.
  2. Write for the blog and for my story.
  3. Spend time with friends or family.
  4. Go out, either to walk or to do something educational / cultural.

And I’ve also decided to try an experiment similar to my no chocolate week (see previous post), I’ll be having a no Netflix week, starting today.

I know why I sit in front of the TV for a whole day and don’t budge. It usually happens when I’m feeling down. It’s very difficult to motivate yourself to do anything if you’re depressed. But maybe if I ask myself whether or not I’m using my time in a meaningful way I might nudge myself into moving.

At least I’ll plant a seed of doubt in my brain, and that might grow into action.

How do you pull yourself out of numbness?

Here’s the drawing I made in front of the TV.

Classy

The Sardine

Any colour you like

#PinkFloyd

The more I throw away, the better I feel.

However, I’ve found that finding a new home for my things feels more rewarding than throwing them in the bin. Of course, not everything can be given or donated, some things do belong in the trash, but if you can make people happy with the stuff you don’t need, that’s a victory in itself isn’t it? After all, someone’s “trash” can add value to someone else’s life.

Yet, with all this decluttering we tend to forget that that isn’t what’s going to solve our problems. Having a less cluttered house will definitely help with getting you more time and reducing stress, but if you don’t do anything with that extra time then you’ll still feel like there’s something missing.

More important than decluttering your home is prioritizing your life. What do you want to do with your time? What are you passionate about? What are the healthy habits you want to adopt? What habits do you want to lose?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself. We keep thinking that when we finish a certain task or buy a certain thing that we’ll finally be happy. That also includes thinking that when I have a decluttered house I’ll be happy.

The thing is that we do feel happy, but that feeling won’t last. We’ll always want to do more, to get to the next level, to conquer the next challenge. But we have to accept that happiness isn’t only about achieving goal after goal. We need to learn to appreciate the small things and to make choices that work for us.

I’m not a minimalist, I’m not an all-together person, far from it. But as long as you keep trying to grow and be a better, more present person, then I think you’ll be happy in your own personal way.

What kind of changes would you make to your life if you could? If nothing could stop you?

Stop saying you’ll do them someday and do them now.

Here’s a sketch.

Little_Girl

The Sardine

I don’t belong here

#Radiohead

This is a tricky subject.

I’ve been thinking about my relationships recently and how they affect me or how I affect them. From friends, to family, to your partner, people can really improve your daily situations or really bring you down, even if not on purpose.

The thing is, we should be spending more time with the people we love and really try to be present when we are with them – meaning, let go of your phone! Really listen to what they have to say and take the opportunity to get to know them better.

At least that’s what I keep reading. And reading it really did spur me into action and I made plans with friends and made the effort to focus on them.

It didn’t quite go as planned.

I’m an introvert.

When I teach, it’s like I’m playing a role, so I’m not shy or quiet. I’m loud and move around a lot and laugh. If I told my students that I was shy, they would probably laugh it off as a joke.

My closest friends know I can be awkward around people I’m not comfortable with, but even they probably wouldn’t say that I’m an introvert. With them, I’m comfortable being as loud as I want. As weird as I want.

There are others that I can be comfortable with on certain occasions. And unfortunately it wasn’t on one of those occasions that I ended up in when I was so convinced that I needed to be a more present friend.

It was an awkward afternoon. I didn’t say much, which was bad because we were only three people. When I got home I was very let down and blaming myself for the whole thing.

How do you get over your shyness?

How do you make a connection?

I’ve got friends I don’t have anything to talk with. Is that weird?

I’m trying to improve, but it’s very tempting to just look at my phone during an awkward silence. It’s just so easy.

I guess we need to power through these little awkward moments in order to grow.

I’ll keep on pushing myself.

Here’s a sketch of my parents’ dog.

caco.jpg

 

The Sardine

 

 

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

And good riddance to bad luck! #AC/DC

There’s a cupboard in my room that I very rarely open.

It’s full of all the sketchbooks that I filled when at university, final projects, art materials and fancy drawing paper. Just looking at it made me feel a little bit nervous. Like something evil was going to pop out of it.

With all these changes I’ve been making in order to get back into drawing, I felt that it was going to be necessary to open the doors and pull out all those reminders of how I’m not an artist like I thought I would be.

And so I did. I flipped through all my old sketchbooks and only kept the ones that I really liked and felt would inspire me, as well as the ones that were barely used so I could rip out the old doodles and maybe start getting back into sketching. Out of 20 sketchbooks I kept 3.

I asked around to see if anyone wanted the almost unused art materials that I know I won’t use: oils, acrylics, pastels, huge paintbrushes and old pots of ink. It took me 2 hours to find a home for everything.

The day after, I loaded my car with everything I was going to throw away and drove to the big bins up the road.

The more sketchbooks I threw in the bin, the more anxious I felt. Instead of relieved, I felt the way you feel when you’re exercising and you know you only have to hold on for another 15 seconds to finish the set. Do it, do it, keep going, just a bit longer!

When I threw the last one away I didn’t feel I’d been freed from the shackles of my past. I felt like I was going to cry.

Now I realise that I was mourning. Mourning for what could have been. For all those dreams and expectations that were left disappointed in the past.

I needed a minute to say goodbye to the hope that I was still clinging onto, even now, 6 years later. I’ll never be the artist I was. I don’t want to be the artist I was.

I want a fresh start.

And now I feel capable of doing just that.

And good riddance!

Here’s a sketch.

Sitting

The Sardine