Friday, January 28, 2011

My very first digital caricature.... using Sketchbook pro done on my iPhone (that I downloaded a couple days ago). I have just been using my finger to draw because I don't have any touch screen pen to use yet. I have to admit its REALLY fun!
This was done while watching Real Time with Bill Maher tonight...and BTW.. I LOVED his analogy between football and socialism...BRILLIANT.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gotta LOVE those Christmas parties in January!
Here's a picture of the cutest couple from Saturday nights gig....
had a fantastic time talking with them and as you can tell they loved their caricature.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Immobilized by "Too Much".

Its been snowing here....
a lot.
"Too Much" in my opinion.

A couple days ago I started to get cranky.
Then I got REALLY cranky.
Then I noticed that I was becoming mentally numb.
I thought maybe I was getting depressed from the weather (which is very odd for me).
But I just couldn't concentrate on anything.
I felt like I was suffocating.
Then this morning, it reached a point where I couldn't think at all.
My mind felt completely frozen in the snow.

Then it occurred to me, I wasn't depressed,
I was stressed out.

Since I don't often feel stress, I googled it...
and I read something fascinating on

Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:

Foot on the gas – An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
Foot on the brake – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
Foot on both – A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.

I realized I am a "foot on both pedals" reaction kind of person.
That is exactly how I felt.

But I wanted to feel like myself again.
So, I thought "Some mindless labour might help....since I can't concentrate on any drawing right now. I'll clean and straighten up the house, (since I never got to it on the weekend)."

Over Christmas, with the massive purging and decluttering I did, the house has been really easy to keep clean and organized. Even all three of my children have been taking it upon themselves, without me asking, to clean their rooms. (And this NEVER used to happen). Their rooms used to be filled with so much crap and clutter, I couldn't get them to keep it clean. I would go in there and clean it REALLY good, a couple times a year but within a week or two it was back to being a mess.

THAT'S when it hit me!

Too Much of anything causes stress.

Too Much exercise puts stress on the body,
Too Much food puts stress on the digestive system,
Too Much clutter makes cleaning stressful,
Too Much responsibility is stressful for the mind
and then there is
Too much snow.

My kids apparently now have the right amount of possessions
that they each can handle in their personal space
and so "Too Much" no longer immobilizes them.

It must have been SO overwhelming for them to feel responsible for "Too Much" stuff. And since its very natural for kids to make a mess (just like I do at the studio), it would have been very defeating for them to figure out what to do with it all when it wasn't going to be an easy task to put it away. However, now that there is far less stuff and everything has a place to go away to, it takes no time at all to clean it up.
I also think that they understand intuitively how good they feel being
in control of their own space and lives, and that is why they take care of it.

Sometimes, we have "Too Much" of something, like snow, and there really isn't anything that we can do about it, except deal with the situation as best we can, while it is happening. However, there are many "Too much" situations in our lives that are COMPLETELY under our control....
"Too much" clutter, "Too much" work, "Too much" stuff to do, ....etc.

After I finished cleaning the house (which only takes an hour and a half, once a week now), I felt SO much better and I was finally ready to tackle the task of dealing with
too much snow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Everything in life happens for a reason.

You know, I have pretty much believed that statement my whole life.
That is,
up until exactly a year ago,
when my brother in law Danny died of Cancer at the age of 57.
And for the past year now, I have tried to figure out the "reason" for it,
desperately wanting to put some justifiable swing on it,
that could make sense to me, in my life...
I haven't found any.

I ammended my philosophy to

Everything in life happens for a reason,

except for those things that don't.

The one thing I have to say is,
that I think of Danny everyday now,
since he died.
He is a constant reminder to me of just how short life can be,
and how important it is to really LIVE while we are alive.

Perhaps not everything in life
needs a reason for WHY it happens,
but if we can take what happens
and attach some positive meaning to it
and to our own lives because of it...
then maybe it gives it a reason for happening.

This is a poem I wrote to Danny a year ago,
late one night just before he died, because well...
I really didn't know what else to say.....

What DO you say to someone you love who is
quickly nearing the end of their life at 57 years old?

I really don't know.

But scanning in my daughter's drawings
and writing a cheezy Dr. Suess "like" poem
felt right tonight
and gave me something to do
with the waves of sadness.

Goodbye Danny
a "GREAT" bye for you,
(as great a bye as I could do).

Goodbye Christmas tree
Goodbye smile

Hello tears all single file

Goodbye arms that held you tight

Hello memories, shining light.

Goodbye Danny, love you—I do!
Hello heart that's missing you.
Love, Cath

Thanks to my little Piper for all her drawings in this goodbye to her uncle Danny

I miss you Danny.
January 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

Creation is a better means of self-expression than possession;
it is through creating, not possessing,
that life is revealed.

~Vida D. Scudder
Just so you know...
I despise making grocery lists.
I also hate deciding what to have/make for dinner every night and looking for lost school forms or over due library books amongst tons of clutter makes me REALLY cranky.

For a long time now, a lot of my energy has been seeping out the cracks of my ineptly constructed home management system. (Actually, to be honest, there's never been a system...we have just been existing in a state of "coping".) Over the last 5 years, as my art business increased (yet with preschoolers still at home), both Mark and I have just done our best to survive.

I promised myself this past summer, that in January, after my busy fall caricature gig season was over, I would take the time to "bulldoze" what was there and rebuild something much better for our lives.

So...I have been cleaning.
Actually, I guess I should really call it "discarding", "eliminating" or "throwing away" and now the empty spaces where all those objects, clothes, toys, files were, are suddenly filled with fresh new energy.

The next thing I did was create sustainable and maintainable systems
so that it doesn't all return to chaos in a week...

Here are some of the home systems I have figured out:
There are 5 of us —2 adults and 3 kids-13, 9 and 6, living in about 1100 sq feet with one bathroom. (Each child does have their own bedroom.)
(Some of these things may be so elementary and obvious to you but these are all new and exciting discoveries for me....)

  1. A place for EVERYTHING: Every single item in our house now has a place to go away to (a shelf, a cupboard or a drawer), and so it is the responsibility of whomever was using it to put it away. If something new comes in, a spot must be found for it or it must go (or something else must leave). The kids each have one medium sized memory box in the storage room for their special momentos.
  2. School Crap: There is one spot by the front door for all the school things; library books, Friday folders, field trip forms. Its an old wooden mail sorter and works perfectly- with drawers underneath for spare keys
  3. Important Things: There is a filing pocket magnetically attached to the fridge for all the things like tickets, cheques, bills, forms to be signed etc. (bought at Staples)
  4. Laundry: all the kids now have their each colour coded laundry hampers for their dirty clothes and then when the clean folded clothes are put back into the hamper, they are each responsible for putting them away in their drawers.
  5. Meals and groceries: I have prepared a month of menus, divided into 4 weeks, into a word document and each week has a grocery list at the bottom of the page for that specific whomever is going grocery shopping for the week just needs to print off that list.
  6. Family discussion and agreement: all 5 of us have important things to do in our lives and we must work together as a team to meet everyone's needs. So, everyone must keep their personal space tidy (and clean up after they have friends over.)
So now I'm off to establish some new sustainable systems for my art studio business....

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I made no resolutions for the New Year.
The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life,
is too much of a daily event for me.

~Anaïs Nin