Thursday, April 22, 2010

Change and happiness

"Change is not merely necessary to life - it is life."
-Alvin Toffler

I have been questioning if my blog has turned into a whine-a-thon. A venting outlet of frustration with my clients and general unhappiness with the creatively under challenged part of my life and effective ability to make a living. In case any of you are wondering, despite my power of intention, plea bargaining with God, and candles lit, I have not heard a peep from Google, or any of the other two places I sent resumes outside of the Rogue Valley. My burning desire for a design position is evolving, by necessity into what I have been seriously considering for more than a year, sales.
Volunteering at the Britt selling raffle tickets was one of my most rewarding positions, I loved the people contact and especially outselling my competition by a landslide.
When I first contacted Young at Heart, it was with the intention of selling display ads for them, until the owner saw my design work. After a few months of revising their marketing materials and ad design, I was hired to redesign the publication, which snowballed into planning the content, photography and writing a monthly column. I think it was the pinnacle of personal and creative satisfaction, unfortunately it was also accompanied by a disturbing pattern of non payment and questionable business decisions made by the employer.
I am excited to be working with two new clients in a sales capacity, its taking a little time to get my creative side and my Muse along for the ride, they are throwing tantrums in the back seat like a couple of two year olds.
I am working on a new game plan that will allow for some creativity in other ways, like formulating marketing plans for my clients and helping them decide where their advertising dollars can be best spent. I am wrapping my mind around the fact that creativity comes in as many shapes as people, and my happiness depends on seeing my glass half full instead of half empty.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The BuG or the WindShield

"well it's a strange old game
- you learn it slow...
one step forward and it's back to go.
sometimes you're the windshield,
sometimes you're the bug"

I can't tell you the amount of times I have been taken in by the seductive lines of a client, the lure of the words: "unlimited budget, anything goes, need it right away".
Thinking I am the windshield I fly, throwing myself into the creative process with total abandon. Days spent immersed, swallowed up from concept sketches to the final designs sent off.
I think this won't happen again, and it does. I am again, a client not paying, not responding to emails, and in the middle a friend who called me initially to help out his son, and now... I am the bug once again.
Not thinking I needed a contract, money upfront, just thinking about their needs.
Ouch, squished again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

American Woman

Randy Bachman explained the origins of this song in an interview with Words & Music magazine, Spring 2005. Said Bachman: "We were playing in a curling rink in Kitchener, Ontario (Canada), and I broke a string. I was up there alone, tuning up my E an B strings on an old Les Paul. I started playing that riff and in the audience, heads started turning. The band got up, and I said, 'Keep playing this, I don't want to forget it.' When Burton had run out of solos, I yelled out, 'Sing something!' So out of the blue Burton just screamed, 'American Woman, stay away from me!' That was the song, the riff and Burton yelling that line over and over. Later, he added other lines like 'I don't need your war machine, you ghetto scenes.' Before America knew it, it was a #1 record and it was a protest song."
Do you remember the song American Woman by The Guess Who? I wore the groove out of that vinyl album when I was in college and knew every song lyric by heart. I was just on You Tube looking for the video to add when I stumbled on a hot Lenny Kravitz version, smoking guitar licks ...and it makes the Guess Who version look like a bunch of overweight middle age geezers at a Tea Party rally. Now you are probably ready to leave and go looking for it so I will have to include a link in order to keep you here, so hang on.
Fact: due to the anti-American lyrics, The Guess Who was not allowed to play this when they performed at the White House for President Richard Nixon in 1970.
I have a new client, she came to check out my available studio rental and while it was not quite right for her we got talking and it turned into a business connection. She does online resource sites, successfully launching three over the past few years out of Denver, Colorado. Her next site is called American Woman and features products and services, yep all made in the USA. Her logo, website design, and social media application art are all in the works and here are two of the four designs for her logo I just completed. Not sure which one will be the pageant winner, but feel free to weigh in on your favorite.
Speaking of websites, I would like to thank Jess the gal who takes my designs and makes my clients' websites happen, not just an excellent html coder, but SEO expert who is a total joy to work with. Responsible for my latest website reincarnation, you can see some of her work linked HERE.
Fact:The song American Woman was featured in the Jim Carrey movie The Cable Guy, where it appears in a Karaoke scene, and American Beauty, where Kevin Spacey rocks out to it while going through a mid-life crisis.
Oh and that Lenny Kravitz video, fasten your seat belt, I WAS going to provide a link to YouTube, but instead the code embedded the video ....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life in the Short Lane

Every vertically challenged individual has seen it all and heard it more than necessary.
"How tall are you?"

"Ahhh.. are you writing a book, or is this just a random act of curiosity and rudeness motivated by needless insensitivity."

The man I have been with for eight years is above average in height, I often see the look, or their eyeballs going from one of us to the other, up, down....yep, we are a wonder to behold, a long tall drink, and a wink.
" Mom was tiny too he says, unfazed by my diminutive stature" lovingly unable to comprehend my insecurity packaged with a closet full of cruel shoes I never wear anymore and a lifetime of double takes, finger pointing and bad jokes.
Pocket size... I see myself through the eyes of others and compare myself more than I would like to admit. I'm so grateful for the love that lifts me up and helps me not take myself too seriously in spite of myself.
Recently there has been a story in the news about a high school girl who killed herself after being terrorized by fellow students- bullying has been honed to a whole new level. Thankfully I look back on my childhood and see a much easier level of emotional boot camp from peers than the current times require. My torturers were the eyes and cruel words from parents of my male friends who targeted me and my DNA, threatened by imperfect grandchildren and potentionaly destroying their future Christmas cards even when dating or kids wasn't even on the table or in our minds.
Why do the hurtful words stubbornly remain when the compliments don't.
"don't get too serious with her, I don't want midget grandchildren"
Forty years later those words still sting, but not like they used to. When you are young and impressionable one sentence from an adult can take you down a path of personal torture unparalleled by your peers.
A gentle reminder to teach your children to love and live as you would want to be treated in an world where we are all perfect, and loved just as we are.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Last evening was the second of a two night gig volunteering to paint signs for the upcoming Earthday celebration in Ashland. Magic Marker fumes aside it was a wonderful experience starting with discovering a fabulous new place, The Ashland Art Center. What a great resource for artists in the area, run by some awesome individuals and showcasing some amazing artwork from clothing to hand painted tiles, so incredibly inspiring.
Working last evening with a dedicated group of artists and non-artists it was a reminder of the power of community even on a small level. Production moved briskly along to some Tom Petty music on the boom box and Marsha Bashfords' support and enthusiasm. Leaving Ashland around 9 PM with the aroma of delicious food in the air from restaurants lit up like Christmas trees, I felt exhausted but delirious. Volunteering has that effect on you, its something you do for others but feeds the soul and returns the effort in an unmeasurable way, and its lingering effects are so richly rewarding.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bird by Bird

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

Ten years ago I read my first Anne Lamott novel, Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith, it started a memorable summer of reading every book she had written. I reserved the best for last, since the last thing I thought I would be interested in, was writing. Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, turned out to be my hands down favorite and had such an impact on me I subsequently ordered 6 copies from Amazon and sent them off one by one to my friends. I raved and also sent one to my main client at the time, David Pogue, editor and publisher of the Missing Manuals books that I was illustrating the covers for, who is now Tech Guru and columnist for The New York Times. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder what he thought, that I was suggesting he could use some writing help... fortunately, I distinctly remember discussing how floored I was by the hysterically irreverant prose and how applicable it was not just to writing, but to the creative process in general- and life. It was a hilarious and inspiring book to say the least, and her ability to be sarcastic and wise spoke to my heart and rattled my cages in more ways than one.
Lately I have suggested the book to two of my friends who I find to be fantastic writers, and have been encouraging them to start a blog. Normally I buy used books on Amazon, and this morning when I logged on, I was shocked to see the limited copies available and ridiculously high prices for the few available print copies for sale there. I did Google, locate and order one elsewhere but in the thrill of the hunt I spotted a link for a digital edition. There was Bird by Bird for Kindle and also a link for reading books on your Mac, the download for which I will link here for my fellow Mac users...Kindle for Mac
I have been researching the online digital publishing sites popping up on the web out there, and I am incredulously impressed with the ease of upload and advance in readability, its truly come a long way, and I think its about to take a giant leap forward with the release of the new iPad by Apple. Take a look at the software linked here, and if you don't have an Amazon Kindle, there is a link in the right column of my blog to check them out and order one. Thanks for reading my ramblings and have a fine feathered day.... click by click.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Intention and Resurrection

I have to wonder, is it irony or divine intervention that Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention just started on our local PBS channel behind my laptop minutes before I hit the button to submit my online application to Google.
A colleague of mine recently rolled her eyes when I mentioned I was considering reworking my website and submitting my resume, "they don't hire old folks", only twentyearolds. "Its my dream job and they have to have a few boomers with experience to balance things out"... I patiently responded.
It reminded me of a transforming conversation a number of years ago, when I told my Mother that I was going to get a computer. Here was her response: "don't bother honey, you will never learn how to use one of those". Hmmm... those kinds of comments, they either paralyze you, or motivate you. Needless to say, I got a computer the following day.
In those days the cost alone was prohibitive, I know I'm dating myself here, but I remember spending over a thousand dollars on my first monitor (that took two people to lift) and a whopping fifteen hundred bucks on the used hard drive. Sharing software was not the politically incorrect sinister act back yonder and with a little help from my friends in that department, I was burning some rubber on my yellow brick road.
I never looked back, zealously encouraged by clients who felt my graphic style of illustration and a Mac would be the perfect marriage, and it was. My workload doubled, within a matter of weeks I had three ongoing jobs illustrating in-house newsletters for both Mervyn's and Pacific Bell, and 3 months later, ongoing illustrated charts for EPRI's quarterly publication rendering visual diagrams of the infrastructure of the internet. Thanks Mom!
I'm sending out two more applications today as well, one local business I would love to work for as a runner up on my wish list, and for a position in Chico ...just so I am not putting all my eggs in one basket. Even if I don't get an interview, I will at least feel I have tried, and that alone is far better than stuffing those random feelings of not following through.
I have never settled for less, or done less than my best despite the obstacles on my path. And just like me and the Mac, I can't help but feel like -Google and moi, well we too are a match made in heaven.
Today is Easter, there is that metaphorical resurrection association with this day and that powered by my intention is expecting the miracle.

Stay tuned ...and please consider hitting the Follow Me button, those five brave souls who have done so are getting lonely, and who knows...things might start to get interesting one of these days.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday and April Fools

I admit I am a serial problem solver, my minuscule engineering molecule that I was gifted with blissfully functioning in a practical methodology-except at 3 in the friggin' morning. Lately I find myself waking from restless sleep far more than I would like to admit, wacky dreams I briefly recapture for dysfunctional clues to what is going on in my sub conscious before falling back to sleep. Constantly reevaluating the waking dream I am living -sometimes becomes a challenge in itself. In all honesty it seems like every fifteen years my gypsy blood rises and wants a change, my life feels routine, my muse desires another palette.
These days I am not feeling creatively challenged enough and I throw myself-ass over tea kettle, into the smallest of assignments apparently unable to determine the clients who want quality results and are willing to pay a fair compensation, from the ones who I become a willing doormat to be taken advantage of. If there is a Cinderella complex for artists I am in the proverbial trenches.
I want to be working with other creatives, part of a team, yes, working a job, with a boss who appreciates the hoops I jump through and the passion I have for the process. I want to get up, get dressed... go to work and create, I want the daily grind to be the job I love, and love the job I do.
I don't want to waste precious sleep time waking with stressful thoughts about money and maintenance around the problem solving molecule in overdrive focused on the solution.
Today is Good Friday and here is what has been good, if not great about it, I finished reworking my website, expanding and updating my online portfolio, and now in earnest I will start applying for design jobs. Top of my list is Google, I know... good luck, I hear they only look at twenty something applicants, but I can dream. San Diego and Austin are also on my radar, another bleak winter here is all I need to send me over the edge, if I pull off a geographic I want it to be to a warmer climate. Hoping, praying and lighting candles in the spirit of write it down make it happen that next year at this time I won't be having another 'Groundhog Day' experience on Good Friday and feeling like another April Fool.