As time went on it seemed forever

#TheRamones

As some of you might have noticed, I’ve been in a bad place recently. My thoughts were drifting towards more negative thoughts and I’ve been feeling extremely anxious all the time.

I feel like I’m getting better now. It’s always the same. Every month there is a time when I feel like everything is negative. It’s related to my menstrual cycle and it’s extremely frustrating because it doesn’t matter how my life is going, I always feel horrible.

Now I finally feel like I’m back to normal, thank goodness.

The thing is that when I’m feeling down I can’t draw at all. All the insecurities I’ve been fighting come rushing back and I don’t feel strong enough to push them back into the small box I keep them in and stash away in the back of my mind.

All the fears come crawling back to the front. Fear of the blank page. Fear that if I start a drawing it won’t be as good as others I’ve made. Fear that I’ll never be as good as the artists I admire. Fear that this will never amount to anything more than a hobby. Fear that I’m just kidding myself.

When all those feelings disappeared and I felt like myself again, I started to feel frustrated because, even though I felt more confident, I still couldn’t bring myself to draw.

Then one day, as I was scrolling down my Pinterest homepage, I came across a picture of an obi belt. The pattern was beautiful and an image immediately popped into my head.

I rushed to my room and sketched it out.

I inked it in and decided it would make a great birthday present for my mum (it’s her birthday tomorrow) if it turned out OK.

I decided to change the colours so it would better suit my mother’s taste, so I grabbed the Japanese colour dictionary I bought while in Japan and looked for a colour scheme that I liked.

I slowly coloured it in, being extra patient and letting each layer of colour dry before I added the next one (I mostly use watercolours, and I didn’t want the colour to bleed).I got scared sometimes, especially because I was choosing colours and making decisions on the spot, but I soldiered on. I kept asking my boyfriend to give me his opinion because he’s an artist and has a good eye for colour.

When I finished, I was so incredibly happy with the end result that I almost ran and showed it to my parents. I can’t wait to see my mother’s face when I give it to her. She always gets a bit emotional when I show her a drawing because she knows what I went through after university.

I’ll only post it online after she gets her gift, just so there’s no risk she’ll somehow stumble upon it. But let me tell you this: when inspiration comes, don’t wait until later. I honestly think that if I had waited, those fears would’ve come back and stopped me.

Inspiration is something fleeting.

I’m not saying you should wait for it, either. I know that doesn’t work. You’ll end up waiting forever. Keep drawing, something will come out. But if you do have an idea, don’t wait. Do it.

Here’s a sketch. No. A finished drawing, that I’m quite proud of.

Fox Shrine (2)

The Sardine.

It’s the terror of knowing

#Queen/DavidBowie

Lately I’ve been feeling extremely anxious.

So much so that the usual pain I feel in the muscles around my neck has gotten so bad that I had to take some muscle relaxants.

All because I suddenly found myself without time.

It’s funny how that sneaks up on you, when time didn’t disappear or fast forward, it’s been moving at the same pace all along. I just hadn’t prepared myself mentally for the string of changes that’s going to happen in the following months.

When you’ve got your next few months completely planned out, it can feel like your life has become a line of dominoes just waiting to receive that push that will make them all fall one after the other.

Revision for tests. Tests. Reports. Going to my summer job in the UK. Going to Sweden for a week. Coming back to Portugal for the summer. Finish emptying my childhood room. Selling my car. Moving to the UK. Teaching course. Coming back home for Christmas. Finding a job in London.

That’s my life until January next year.

I’m excited about it, of course, but at the moment I feel unprepared. Like I’ve wasted all these months I’ve been in Portugal when I should have been getting ready.

I thought I was looking forward to all of it. And I am. I just didn’t realise it was going to make me feel this anxious. Anxious to the point of twisting my back muscles into knots, to the point of having acid reflux, to the point of having light panic attacks.

I’ve been trying to make myself relax. I’ve written lists of the things I need to do and pack, which made me feel more organised. I don’t have to follow them religiously – if I don’t tell myself this, I know I’ll get even more nervous – but at least I’ve thought about it, and that makes me feel more prepared.

I’ve arranged a day when I’m going to get rid of all the books people didn’t want from my collection, as well as CDs and DVDs. I’m putting everything I don’t want in bags, rather than piles. I’ve booked all my flights. I’ve started to divide my things between “Stuff I’m taking to the UK” and “Stuff I’m leaving behind so I won’t have to pack a suitcase when I visit my parents”.

Yes, I’m still feeling anxious, and I don’t think that’ll go away until I start my summer job when I’ll be too busy for thinking. But at least I’m not panicking anymore. I feel ready and mentally stable for the changes about to come.

I look forward to what the future brings, and am in no rush. Each thing will happen when it’s supposed to happen and I’ll make sure to enjoy each second of it instead of worrying about what’s next.

Here’s a sketch. No. A finished drawing.

_20180523_165819

The Sardine.

 

 

I’m stepping through the door

#DavidBowie

Throughout my life I’ve had dozens of diaries.

It was a popular gift to give to a young girl, so every Christmas I’d get a shiny new notebook and was told to write about my day-to-day there every evening. On the first of January I’d be so excited about starting my new diary that I wouldn’t even wait for the evening!

I’d open it up, flick through it’s blank pages, grab my favourite pen and start writing about anything that popped into my head.

Unfortunately, as with anything, I’d grow tired of having to write in my diary every day, especially when I had a lot of homework to do and didn’t have the time or the energy to write anything.

None of my diaries lasted longer than a month.

However, I’ve recently started writing my thoughts down. I’m not calling it a diary. There are no dates or templates, it’s just a small A6 notebook where I’ve allowed myself to write about anything.

Sometimes I write small stories, sometimes lists, other times I write about random thoughts that have popped into my head. And I’ve come to realise that writing about my problems helps me to get over them.

When you write about something that’s worrying or bothering you it can be very therapeutic. For one thing, you let all your frustrations out onto paper, and that’s always a weight off your chest. Then, you analyse it in a calmer state of mind.

I find that after writing about whatever is upsetting me I tend to ask myself questions about the problem. By asking myself those questions, I resolve my problem or am able to find a better way to think about it.

Here are some examples of questions I ask myself:

  1. Why am I feeling the way I am?
  2. Is it really worth it spending time agonizing about this?
  3. Is there anything I can do to solve this?

Writing in about my problems is what I imagine talking to a therapist must feel like.

My notebook is my personal therapist. So is this blog in a way. They’ve helped me overcome a lot.

What do you do when you have a problem?

Here’s a sketch.

Thinking

The Sardine

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