I haven’t been very good at blogging this past week but I’m happy to say it’s because I’ve been really busy ~ and busy is always good. My picture book illustrations are coming along nicely and I’ve got some fun new projects in the works for licensing (getting art ready for my agent to show at Surtex in May). Add on the busy-ness of daily life, track starting for my younger son, and the hustle and bustle of final decisions and trips to colleges for my older son (he needs to commit for football in the next month and it’s going to be a hard decision). Phewww – it’s crazy around here, but I’m enjoying the ride.
To keep my mind clear, my creativity flowing, and my sanity in place, I’ve been finding a lot of joy and inspiration from various places. Here is a peek at what’s been in my world and on my mind lately:
My husband and I are dreaming of travel these days. We can’t seem to get enough of our favorite shows (lately it’s Anthony Bourdain’s NO RESERVATIONS and THE LAYOVER , on the Travel Channel). Another place I love to go to get my ‘travel-fix’ is my niece, Sam’s, travel blog called THE WANDERLUST ADVOCATE. If I could redo my early years of my life I’d follow in her footsteps. Sam is amazing and she’s traveled all over the world already (in her 22 years) studying and experiencing all that this amazing planet has to offer. Currently she’s in Laos teaching english to novice buddhist monks. She posts stories, pictures, and fun short videos about her travels and experiences. Check it out – my travel bucket-list is growing every time I read her blog!
3. GOOD READ: THE FOUR AGREEMENTS by Don Miguel Ruiz *
Academy Awards Day is a major holiday for me! It means my husband cooks for me (love that) while I park it in my favorite chair at 3:00-ish and watch the Red Carpet coverage while giving myself a luxurious pedi-mani! I can’t wait! I must confess I haven’t seen all the nominated films, but I have some faves: I’m partial to Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook (especially Sally Field, Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day Lewis). I wanted desperately to see Argo but never made it to the theater for that one, however everyone is raving about it and I’m guessing it’ll be a big winner. Others I’m rooting for are: Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Should be a great show ~ I can’t wait to see Seth MacFarlane as host, too!
Oh my GOSH – how did I not know about these before?! My amazing and talented friend, Janice, stopped by the other night and delivered this gorgeous and oh-so-warm and snuggly neck scarf she crocheted for me! I am LOVING it so much. My house is super cold in the winter, especially in my studio, and I seem to never be able to get warm. Now that I have my new neck scarf I am a happy camper! If you are talented like Janice, and can crochet or knit, click HERE for some fun neck scarf pattern ideas! Seriously – these things are the BEST!
6. My absolute favorite TEA
Every afternoon around 3:00 I have “tea time” and I make myself a huge mug of this awesome herbal tea! There’s nothing better on these cold late winter days!
7. Daily walks with my dog
8. YOGA Move of the week: DOLPHIN POSE
I love this yoga pose. It’s a wonderful exercise for an aching artist (or anyone who sits for long periods of time). Click HERE to learn more about it.
Oh, side note – re: MUSIC – for a while every day I tune into my “The Buddhist Monks” Channel on Pandora. It’s wonderful music to work to and/or to do yoga to and I find it really clears my “monkey mind” (as Eckhart Tolle calls it).
Over the years I’ve struggled with some aches and pains that certainly are a result of my work; hunched over at my drafting table, working on the computer, holding a paintbrush or pen for hours on end all can make for an aching body. I know that I need to start taking breaks more often throughout my work day – giving myself time to stretch and move, but I don’t do it enough (it’s a New Year’s goal).
Whether you’re an artist or not, during our work day we spend way too much time sitting in the same place and holding the same position. Here are some items I’ve found and tips I’ve accumulated over the years that help me not look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I hope they help you too.
(I’m not getting anything for endorsing these items, only the satisfaction of knowing they might help you)
1. The BED BUDDY by Carex Health Brands
I LOVE this thing! It’s wonderful for an aching neck or to just plain get warm. It can be chilled or heated, but I tend to only use it for the heat. They also make wrist wraps that work really well if you’re having some carpal tunnel issues.
2. The SPORTS PRO PLUS GYRO WRIST EXERCISER by Dynaflex
My husband bought this for me a couple of years ago when I was complaining that my wrist was starting to hurt and I was worried that I was getting carpal tunnel syndrome. At first I didn’t really like it (it takes a few tries, or for me about a day of cursing and getting frustrated at it before I got the hang of it), however, once you get the idea how to use it this is an amazing little tool that helps so much with wrist strength. I love it now.
3. Wear a WRIST BRACE at night when you sleep
I learned this tip from Tara Reed’s blog many years ago and it works! I am able to manage my wrist health throughout the day without needing to wear it as I work, but at night I must do some weird wrist acrobatics while I sleep because if I don’t wear one I really feel it in the morning. This little trick is a life-saver!
4. The BACKNOBBER II by The Pressure Positive Company
Yes, this is a weird looking contraption, but I swear it absolutely works wonders on getting to those hard to reach muscle knots and pressure points in your back and shoulder area! This is another find my husband made, he discovered it when he saw a co-worker using one. I was skeptical at first, but now I’m sold on it.
5. The PRODRAFT ADJUSTABLE DRAWING BOARD by Martin Universal Design
I have to admit something very foolish – for years and years I used to draw on a flat surface. It started in college and I kept it up in my career. I don’t know why I didn’t adopt the elevated work surface, but it was what I knew and what worked for me, that was until I started to develop neck and spinal issues and suffered never-ending headaches. I went to chiropractors and acupuncturists, but nothing helped. Finally my dentist told me how he had had the same problem, for him his job requires him to hunch over people as he works, but for me I had options and needed to start working on a different plane. Seriously, I don’t know why it took my dentist telling me something so obvious, but I finally got this amazing little adjustable drawing board for my drafting table and now my life is SO much better. I didn’t want to buy a full desk that elevates because I like having books and reference materials around me while I work, I also like having the option of taking it off all together when I need to work on a flat surface. This offers all that flexibility and more.
6. YOGA, YOGA, YOGA!!!
Last, but certainly not least, doing yoga has drastically altered my life. There are more pros than I can mention here to the advantages of doing yoga, but in a quick nutshell I have a couple of poses that I use that I can’t imagine myself going a a day without. Here they are:
Eagle Pose: (this picture shows “standing eagle”, but you can do just the arms part for an awesome upper shoulder/back/and neck stretch.
Standing Forward Fold: This may seem like a pretty simple stretch, but when done correctly and with intent it takes on a new meaning. There are a lot of advantages in doing inverted poses, especially midday when you’re getting tired and you need a little quick blood flow rush to your brain, standing forward fold is the ticket. Try doing this pose in conjunction with a half sun salutation or full sun salutation for even more benefits.
Pigeon Pose: This pose is so wonderful, but it can also take some getting use to at first. Stress and stressful emotions such as anger, frustration, etc.. can get locked in our body – especially the hips. Hip opener poses like Pigeon are wonderful for releasing that stress, but they also can be a little harder to get comfortable with when you start out your practice, or are going through a time in your life when you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety. This article has some wonderful pros and cons to the pose (as well as other poses if you scroll down).
Wishing you a stress-free & ache-free day!
I have been practicing yoga for about 10 years now. The first 5 years were all about mastering the basics, understanding beginning sanskrit, and trying to stick with the program when you feel stupid and want to give up. Actually, truth be told I’m still trying to master the basics. Yoga is so much more than an exercise, it’s a mindset, and the littlest of adjustments or corrections to the poses will make everything different. It is called the purest action for mind-body connection, but it is really hard to master when you have a “monkey mind” like I do, and becoming still is harder than any spin or cardio class I could imagine. Some weeks I find that I’m on fire; feeling strong and balanced. Other weeks I am the complete opposite. Lately I’ve had more difficult days than easy. I have learned so much about my body doing yoga. One – is that sitting at a computer or drawing table all day isn’t good for my lower back and neck without it. Two, instructors make it look SO easy. And Three, when you really don’t feel like going is usually the time you need it the most.
Today I went to my weekly class. As often happens, my “monkey mind” kept showing me my many “to do lists” in an attempt to try and distract me from my mission of going. Fortunately I didn’t let it win. My instructor, who is also a friend of mine, has been teaching us Vakasana, or ”Crane” pose for about two years now. When I first saw her demonstrate it I laughed out loud. Not something you do in a yoga class, but I just couldn’t help thinking that this pose would be impossible for me to do. Sure enough, it was. For two years now I’ve watched and waited for her to move past this pose, feeling like I’d fall on my face if I ever tried to fully suspend my legs. It’s been both a laughable and depressing journey for me. For two years I’ve told myself that it just wasn’t in my cards to master it, BUT today I DID IT!!!! I feel so empowered I can’t even tell you! To me this little victory means more about concurring obstacles and moving through them than anything else. It shows me the power of not giving up and being patient with ones-self as good days and bad days pass by. For me this was a victory and I just had to shout it from the mountaintop to you! Thank you for letting me share that! :0)
If you’d like to learn more about Vakasana (sometimes spelled Bakasana) – Crane pose, click HERE.
Below is a video demonstration I found on youtube. This girl is CRAZY-GOOD. I can’t do the flow yet, but now I know what I want to work toward! :0)