Sunday, September 23, 2012

Choosing Choice

With so many changes and transitions happening in my life in the past few months there were a lot of times when I felt like dissolving into a puddle on the ground.  I felt so out of control of my life and powerless as external forces moved the trajectory of my life around.  I felt like I was on a string being yanked every which way and I had no choice but to follow.  Somewhere in the midst of all the craziness I remembered this rhyme by Dr. Seuss that I had seen somewhere on the internet months before:

You have brains in your head. 

You have feet in your shoes. 

You can steer yourself any direction you choose. 

You're on your own. 

And you know what you know. 

And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go

Just reading this made me feel so calm.  Try saying this to yourself replacing the word "you" with "I".  Don't you feel better?  It made me reflect back on all of the times I let other people make choices for me when I believed I had no choice and all of the times I stood up and made my own choices for my life and where it took me.  We are all so responsible for our own lives.  We are as responsible for the choice of believing we are powerless and let other choose for us as we are for the choice of taking charge of our own lives and living a deliberate life where we choose our own paths.  Either way you are responsible for the outcome.  Be powerful or powerless, it is your choice but it IS a choice.  It is easy to slip between the spectrum of the two back and forth, and I think that this is how most people live their lives.  It's certainly what I used to do.  But I just can't afford to do that anymore, the stakes are higher now and I just can't risk my future in anyones hands but my own.  I get to choose where I go and what I do and who I spend my time with.  And if I make a bad decision then the responsibility is on me and I can't blame it on anyone but myself.  And if I make a good decision then I can own it and not say "well I was lucky...".  I know that my life is exactly the way it is because of my own doing.  Because of this somehow it makes me able to be as proud of my bad decisions as I am of my good decisions.  It feels good to own up to something and take responsibility, fixing it if it is bad or reveling in it if it is good.

So there's that.  Do me a favor, next time you feel helpless say this Dr. Seuss thing to yourself.  See if you can find a choice for change in your life where you didn't think you had one before.  When you do discover the power you have in your own life you will feel amazing, I promise.  Choose Choice.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Celebration of Failure

I have failed so much in my life, both publicly and privately, professionally and personally, in any way you can imagine I have failed at least once but most often multiple times and more than once making the same mistake over and over again until I learned from it.  I have no doubt that I will continue to fail in the future.  This fact used to be upsetting to me and something that I would instinctively want to hide and deny.  Many times when I failed I felt like I couldn't even admit it to myself, instead making justifications as to why other variables out of my control had set me up to fail and that I was just a victim of circumstance, and even then I still managed to beat myself up about it. 

This is a topic I think about a lot, and I have been meaning to write about it for so long.  I think because of that I find it hard to write this post.  My relationship with failure is such a huge part of who I am now and I can only hope to articulate it well enough.  We all have our own unique relationships with failure.  I'm just here to share mine.  

"Failure is not an option"

I think we have all heard that one before, and I think we have all said that to ourselves.  Well guess what?  Failure actually is an option!!  And it's actually a pretty great one.  When I started drawing again I just wanted so badly for my drawings to reflect what I actually was seeing in my head.  This was easier said then done and after so many failed attempts at this I became so fearful to draw because I knew I would fail.  I froze every time I saw something I knew I couldn't draw.  This led to much self loathing.  It got so bad that everyday I would just totally freeze up and find myself staring at a blank page for minutes.  Finally I had enough and one day I looked down at a blank page in my sketchbook and said to myself "This page is for failing".  I gave myself permission to fail, and I made it my main directive to fail and only fail on that one page of my sketchbook.  Suddenly I felt like I had been freed and I drew things that I never would have attempted otherwise.  I wasn't frozen.  When it became my goal to fail I felt so free and I drew so horribly and it meant I had succeeded!  By giving myself this freedom I stopped being scared, I stopped beating myself up.  Self loathing ceased and was replaced by encouragement.  I kept giving myself permission and the goal to fail weekly.  Eventually my "fail" pages in my sketchbook became the ones with the most energy  and the best drawings.  Now when I look at a blank page the permission to fail is automatic and I think that this was the main key to my improvement in my drawing over the past year.  

This is just one small way in which I have embraced failure in my everyday life.  So in honor of this I thought I'd share a page of my sketchbook that I think is just about the worst!  I'm not ashamed of it, I know that this one page doesn't define me and I also know it is an important and successful step forward.  

GO FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!

I actually wasn't expecting to fail on this page but after I drew it  I was really not happy with how it turned out!  So here it is, a failed page.  

When I saw this couple I felt apprehensive about drawing them, but I gave myself permission to fail and I went for it.  I ended up really liking this drawing.  Technically it's nothing special but theres something about the energy of it that I feel like I captured successfully   

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Growing Pains

Well this post has been a long time coming.  Crazy changes have happened and I've been physically and emotionally all over the map.  After SF fell through I thought about my options.  To make a long story short I ended up getting a spot animating on Robot Chicken in Burbank.  It's been crazy amazing and the studio is fantastic.

I've still been drawing every day and thank goodness for that.  In this time of my life that seems to be full of constant transition and change, drawing has been the one consistent thing that I can count on.  It is the one thing that after being laid off, with no job and few friends in SF, gave me a reason to get up in the morning and get out.  Every time before this time I knew when I would be unemployed and I was able to plan for it.  There would be an end date on my contract that I could prepare for it.  This time around it came out of nowhere and I wasn't prepared.  If I hadn't started drawing again so long ago I literally would have had nothing to fall back on.  If you move to a city for a job and then the job disappears, what are you left with?  A city that is indifferent to your existence.  When I am working and living in a city I feel like I am a contributing and valuable part of the community.  Anytime the work dried up in a city I've been living in I immediately feel like I've overstayed my welcome.  To stay longer in SF would have been like being the last person at a party that can't take the hint even though the host is yawning and saying "well it's getting to be that time....." as they load up the dishwasher.  I love Toronto, New York and San Francisco.  I loved working and living in those place.  But once I had no more work those cities seemed to close themselves off to me.  Every day I felt like they were saying "oh, are you still here?".  With no work I am not needed, nobody notices my existence and nobody would miss the absence of it.  This is a strange place to be in.  I had the option of staying in SF longer just to hang out but I left as soon as I could.  It became such an empty place with nothing there for me.  San Francisco is such a beautiful and vibrant city with so much to offer, but I had nothing to offer it in return and so our relationship felt like it had come to a natural (though abrupt) ending.

I suppose that is all there really is to say about that situation.  Now I am in Burbank.  A city that wants me here.  When I arrived last week it was very bittersweet.  I am in a job that I love, but I really hadn't expected to find myself here.  I don't regret anything but I feel like there is still a version of myself in a parallel universe still in San Francisco working on a feature.  And yet another version of myself in Vancouver still working on my short and living quite happily.  The past week when I have woken up it takes me a good few minutes to realize where I am and what I am doing here.

And then I get up and go to work.

I have begun experimenting with markers!  They are a more portable solution than paint.   Stay tuned for more fun experimenting with markers!!