On juggling creative projects.

It seems like I either take on too much these days (my Etsy shop slogan/business card motto is "a finger in every pie" for a reason...) or that, perhaps, the older I get, the less I can fit on my mental plate at one time.

That said, it's amazing how my brain still insists that I can and should do 35 things at once. I decided just a few minutes ago that I'd continue on a little felt project I started the other day, and immediately, my traitorous brain whispered, But remember how you have those circular knitting needles you got for Christmas eight years ago and you've never once used? Maybe today's the day you should learn how to use them!

What? Whoa! That sounds fun; I have been knitting a lot lately... Wait a second. Shut up, brain! That's not even remotely on my miles-long to do list!

Hey, also, you have that embroidery project sitting on your desk 40% finished. You should really work on that... it's probably been three years since you last stitched on it... 

But, BRAIN! I am BUSY right now! YOU KNOW THAT!

This happens to me constantly, particularly with writing projects. If I'm doing one, my brain flat-out lies to me by giving me the nagging desire to work on a different story instead. I am fully aware that I will not work on the other one, even if I do switch over to it. It's just my brain's way of wandering restlessly, certain that the grass must be greener in that other Word document.

My to do list is always hugely long. I keep one for which I am actually accountable on HabitRPG (I recommend this site very much -- I've used it for about a year and a half!) but my mental one is like a cartoonishly long scroll. It's got things I really want to do on it, but it's also cluttered up by real life demands. I'm often halted by the harsh reality of not having time, energy, drive, money, whatever.

In terms of juggling projects, it's sometimes difficult to decide what I want to do... what I really want to commit to. for the sake of finishing it, sometimes versus what I actually feel like doing.

The Spoon Theory comes into play here. My eyes are often way bigger and my brain more ambitious than my actual stamina can handle. I have to really work up a lot of gumption to get supplies sometimes, or to slog through learning how to do something. I have to do projects in manageable bites.

Perfectionism is also in play. Kailey of Mermaidens has talked about this recently, but it's easy to procrastinate when you feel like you're not doing something well. It's easy to say, "I'll do this later, because surely later, my skills will have improved, I will be more confident, I will have more time to focus on it, and I will do it better then. So it just makes more sense to wait to do it." Keep waiting and you'll never do it -- you'll never fail or make something that isn't up to your personal snuff, which is very, very hard for people with perfectionist tendencies. I'm a perfectionist about some things and want to do the best possible job I can with them, but I'm not like that about every single thing I do, so it's a mixed bag.

Sometimes I am really in a specific gear and I really want to think about/do one particular thing, even if I have other projects languishing. At times there's internal pressure I'm putting on myself to do something, a sense of guilt that I have so many works in progress... and other times I feel an external pressure because I'm a people-pleaser. That pressure makes my brain jump right into that avoidance mode I was talking about. It starts suggesting a bunch of other things that sound more preferable to me right then.

Now and then I have so much that I could/should do that I end up stymied, unable to tell what I should focus on, and then I wind up playing Spider Soliltaire for hours instead of doing anything productive.

Note: Giving yourself a break and doing something mindless like playing games or watching TV is restive and even therapeutic, so it's not a bad thing to dink around playing Dragon Age or fall down a YouTube rabbit hole. I'm not knocking my beloved Spider Solitaire. I just also genuinely enjoy being productive and always want to be working on a project! That's why I have so many!

I wish I had the precious resources of endless time and energy, endless drive (and patience and focus) so I could do everything that I want to do all the time.

I have to remind myself that it's okay to work on whatever I'm in the mood for. And that I am not obligated to ever finish that embroidery, or keep making YouTube videos if doing that becomes a stressor, or finish projects quickly in one or two sittings.

I need to find the right balance between giving myself permission to follow my heart as it oscillates around, wanting to do so many different things; forgiving myself when I use up all my "spoons" and have to put something down for a while; and pushing myself to finish up projects so I won't have so many unfinished projects cluttering up my mind.

Did you notice that I just magically avoided working on my felt project by writing this blog post instead?

We found Wonderland.

On our "beach day" during my trip to California, we stopped to pick up my cousin, who lives in an apartment complex where the entire front wall is lined with figurines and miscellaneous stuff I can't begin to explain, let alone really capture. One of the tenants has been putting this stuff up for years and it's very colorful, cluttered, and crowded. I was reaching for my camera and plucking Fey up for a photoshoot immediately. What a freaking sight it was! I was full on Precious Moments Chapel giggling.

My aunt followed with her Love Me Linda and we took pictures in one of the sections that appeared to comprise entirely of a garden gnome collective.

The look on Fey's sweet face!

You can't even tell this is just the front of an old apartment building. It looks like an enchanted forest.

Further down the line, there were groupings of owls, some rabbits (?? I think?), penguins... I took pics of Linda and Fey in front of this cheesy but color-compulsory sign. Beyond the penguins, I can't even remember what else there was. Somewhere along the way there was a section of ceramic teddy bears that sorta began to creep me out, because it seemed more like a child had abandoned them there than the more nature-esque animal figures.

I have to say, it was fun taking pictures of a different doll... my aunt kept saying I didn't have to concern myself with Linda, but I took a bunch for her because she won me over. Her face is winsome. And I love cheesy stuff like this. California lady who created this wall of kitsch, you have my gleeful admiration!

I dunno about you... but I'm feeling 122.

Another birthday, come and gone. It was last week. My birthdays are just about as low-key as you can possibly get (no party/gathering, no singing, no watching me open presents), but my mother always sets a table for me. It's always pink. It's like she knows me, or something.

Not to be tacky in posting pictures of the presents I was given... but they were very pleasingly color-cohesive!

I cannot wait to get to either of these craft stores I received gift cards for. I have a list of stuff I need to get, including glossy varnish, spray paint, fabric, and as always, yarn!

Most excitingly, I have bought my dad and I tickets to go see "Weird Al" Yankovic in a week or so.  (Retitle of this post: "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 12.")

It'll be my second time seeing him, although I rarely go to concerts of my own volition. I might not go see him, but I got the notion this could be something for my dad and I to do together. Oddly, my dad has always liked Weird Al. I mean, I shamelessly think he is a genius and always have and always will. I enjoy going on Weird Al listening sprees.  I have b-side-level favorites (when "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" comes on I'm all, "THIS IS MY JAM!").  But my dad liking him is funny to me. He loves "Amish Paradise" -- which is legit great, of course, but still, on some level it tickles me that my rather stoic dad has a fondness for Weird Al.

I don't think he knows any of the songs Al has more recently parodied but I know the live show consists at least half of his well-known hits, so you know "Fat" will be in the mix.

Mostly, I just really want to spend time with my dad, and "Weird Al" is probably the one concert we could ever go to together and enjoy almost equally.

videos: Blythe Wardrobe Decluttering -- Separates and Outerwear

Here's the video series I'm currently working on: Blythe Wardrobe Decluttering!

I love watching decluttering videos (oh, and room cleaning videos... I watch room cleaning videos just about every day!), seeing what people decide to keep or get rid of and why, and actually filming the process is a really great way for me to really take the time to go through my Blythe stuff and weed out the stuff I'm not using. So far I've done two.

I was on vacation recently, as you know, and it took me several days to recover. Then it was a triple whammy of my birthday, my mom's birthday, and Mother's Day all in a row! But I'm going to get back into it this week! I also want to do another Dolly Dress-up video (that's the name someone suggested for my "Get This Doll Ready With Me" series) soon!

California adventure, part one.

Last week I took a trip to California to visit some relatives. I mostly went to escort my grandmother, who is 82 and doesn't like to travel on her own, but I had never been out there, so!

After some hemming and hawing, I brought Fey with me. One of the reasons I did is because I know my aunt had a few big-eyed dolls and I thought she would "get" my Blythe. I for some reason thought she had a Susie Sad Eyes, so I bought a dress from sleepforever after asking if they would fit Susie Sad Eyes. What a dummy I felt like when I got there and my aunt actually had a Love Me Linda collection! Way bigger than Blythe.

Still, my aunt had... I'm not sure how many Love Me Lindas. Somewhere from eight to ten! She keeps them packed away because they creep out my uncle, but we got out her childhood Linda to stand with Fey in the room I was staying in. Look at that dress!

I won't post boring family pictures and stuff; it was a chill vacation with a lot of sitting around visiting and eating.

A huge amount of the time I was there we spent singing -- mostly karaoke, because my relatives have their own machine and about 1800 songs. We karaoked two days in a row. We sang a ton so I've forgotten everything I did, but I recall singing "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift, "Chantilly Lace" by the Big Bopper, "Every Morning" by Sugar Ray, "No Rain" by Blind Melon, "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette, "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf, "The Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin, and two Meat Loaf jams: "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light."

Almost everyone knows the latter song, but it's a duet... and it has that whole middle section where there's the baseball announcer... and no one knew it well enough to sing it duet-style with me, so I did all the parts in a massive tour de force. It's also at least eight minutes long, so after that, I was pretty winded!

However, my aunt also has a guitar, so she let me play it while I was there. My grandma and I sang simple folk songs together, and that's always fun.

On day two we met up with my cousin and went out to the beach. Fey came along because I wanted to take some pictures of her. Fey was such a trooper, sitting in my camera bag for hours!

I had to find a shady spot, since all but two of my girls are shiny-faced, and also, we went to a pretty crowded beach. So much respect for people who take the time to really pose their girls in the sand...!

I have more doll pictures to share. Later this week!

In memory of Gryphon.

A few weeks ago, I saw a post going around on Tumblr featuring all this cute pet portrait art done in sort of a classic tattoo style, and as the portrait prices were extremely reasonable, I decided to ask the artist for a portrait of my sweet departed rattie boy, Gryphon.

Pictures from 2009-2011.

I've had lots of various small pets of the rodent variety in the past. I've had dwarf hamsters and mice as well -- but once I'd had rats, I never went back.

I love rats. I loved having rats. My dad commented about how much this surprised him, and how he couldn't believe I didn't mind them crawling all over me, but I really don't/didn't. Many people are creeped out by them -- especially by their tails, it seems, because of the "segmented" sort of look they have going on. But rat tails are very soft and warm. Gryphon had a kink at the end of his tail because a cage door shut on it when he was a wee babe.

Rats have very distinct personalities and the ability to recognize you as their human; they don't just see you as a hand that feeds them. I have had rats who were very affectionate and loved being scritched, some who were skittish and preferred not to be held, and also a rat who went blind later in life and was like weird comedy act!

One of my most beloved rats was a girl who loved to be taken into the bathroom while I showered. She would sniff around the bathroom for a while, then get bored and climb into into the shower with me, where she would stand under the flow of water and scrub! The idea of this may weird you out -- I have no idea -- but she very much seemed to realize it was bathtime. Rats are extremely fastidiously clean. She also bruxed at me frequently. Bruxing is when rats are rubbing their teeth together, sort of chattery. It's a bit like purring; it's making noises of contentment. It's very, very rewarding when a rat bruxes at you!

All the rats at the pet store I frequented were girls, so I had seven girl rats over the years. I always had them in pairs, and in one case, three shared space. Rats are social creatures and like lots of interaction, so they do best with a cage mate.

Gryphon came to me unexpectedly in 2009, already eight months old (an adult rat). He belonged to my second cousin's wife's online friend, if I remember correctly. I had not had a rat for about nine months at that point, since my last girl had died. There was a mild conspiracy afoot amongst my second cousin's family to get him to me, which is very sweet in retrospect, although at the time, I had to "interview" with the original owner to adopt him, and the whole situation was very abrupt and stressful, haha!

Gryphon's personality was such that he was very aggressive with his cage mate, so much so that the friend wanted to introduce him to my cousin's rat to see if they would get along; if so, my cousin was going to adopt him. But Gryphon attacked the potential cage mate upon meeting and it seemed very alarming to all involved parties, so Gryphon became mine right then and there, fresh from that scrape for domination. He was placed by his previous owner in my hands and climbed desperately up onto my shoulder. There he stayed for at least two hours, petrified and unmoving. He was absolutely terrified of everything that was going on!

For those two hours, poor Gryphon remained a little stone rat on my shoulder, hardly daring to breathe, as I talked with his owners about... well, it's all a blur now. His personality and diet and my previous rat ownership and the vet they used, I think; really, they were checking me out to see if they felt comfortable leaving him with me.

Gryphon's previous owners had named him, and his poor bullied cagemate had another fantasy-ish sort of name that I don't remember anymore. Originally I didn't care much for the name, but I met him as Gryphon, had him on my shoulder for a long time as Gryphon, and I could not conceive of renaming him after that. In the years since, I love his name as much as I loved him.

Gryphon was very well-socialized. Despite the fact that he couldn't have a cage mate due to his crazy aggression, with people he was extremely sweet. He liked meeting people and was very curious about others. Usually boy rats are more chill than girl rats, and while he was noticably more chill than my busy girls tended to be, he was also more alert and energetic than your typical lazy boy rat. In his youth I thought of him as a frat boy, very excited. He would throw unwanted things out of his cage. He would relax in his hammock with his feet up in the air. (So bizarre!!!) He was excited and curious into his old age, too. However, if I set him on the floor, he would come back up to me and jump up my leg and either into my lap, or up onto my shoulder. He knew he was safe with me.

It's unusual to keep only one rat, so Gryphon was dependent on me for all his entertainment and interaction. In the pictures above, you can see how much time I spent in my bed with Gryphon, letting him run around in blanket tents I made with my pillows and various stuffed animals. I would often find him peeking out at me from under the blanket waiting for me to tickle him so he could play-attack my hand, and to this day, looking at the picture where he is doing so makes my heart swell and seize and makes me miss him so much.

He never once bit, he never once chewed through anything, and when he got older, he boggled at me a few times. Boggling is intensely weird! It's essentially when a rat is bruxing so hard their eyes vibrate, so it's a sign of extreme comfort and happiness. Look at this video and you'll see how funny it looks. My girl rats would brux at me, but Gryphon was the only rat who ever boggled at me.

Gryphon was my last rat, and died of old age in 2011. I would like to have another rat or two someday, although they are commitments like any other pet, and can take up time, space, and money. But I bonded with Gryphon particularly strongly and that is why I wanted to get a portrait of him.

Thank you, Dobby Doodles! The artist is wonderful and ever since receiving this art I have been thinking of Gryphon so much.