A most righteous Mass Effect DIY

Ok, brace yourselves, guys. You know how I told you I’d show off all my holiday crafting, but then left you hanging like a tease? Well, the wait is over!! This project was my pièce de résistance, the most amazing-est project I’ve tackled in a while. My crafter-friends might know what I’m talking about: don’t you just love taking on a project that turns out to be a bigger bite than you think you can chew? No, not the part where your anxiety levels go through the roof, you lay awake at night terrified that you won’t meet your deadline, and everyone around you starts worrying about your sanity… No! The part where you rise spectacularly to the challenge, and your end product turns out more awesome than you thought you could have ever done!!

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That’s this hoodie, all the way!

My wife is a HUGE fan of the epic video game, Mass Effect. It’s pretty stellar – you play as an elite marine in a futuristic army, and turn out to be pretty much the only hope standing between everyone in the galaxy and utter annihilation by a race of AIs hellbent on starting everything back at square one. It’s a seriously amazing trilogy of games, and I never get tired of watching her play through. 

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Anyway, so the main character, Commander Shepherd, is a member of an elite branch of humanity’s army, called the N7s. The N7s have an iconic set of armor, cuz they’re real trend-setters like that. My wife has been jonesin’ for some N7 gear from Bioware’s Official Online Store for months, but da-yum, that shit’s expensive. So y’know, since I Make The Things, I figured I’d try my hand at making her Christmas Dreams come true. 

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(and also, this wallet!)

I can’t tell you how stressed that made me! The stakes were high! Either she’d get the best Christmas haul ever, or she’d open her gifts and give me the grimace that every crafter knows and dreads: the “Ohhh, what a nice thought…” grimace. The face that says, “I’ll only wear this in front of you once before I try to get the dog to ‘accidentally’ pee on it so I can finally throw it away…”. 

Guys, that was not the expression on her face. I pretty much owned Christmas this year! I don’t mean to brag or anything, but Santa totally asked if I could teach a webinar for his elves this year. Yeah, it’s like that.

Anyway, I may post a more detailed DIY on the process in the next month or so. Would anyone be interested in reading something like that? I’m still trying to find my Blogging Groove. DIYs are definitely in the works – I’d love feedback on the kinds of things you’d enjoy seeing here.

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In which I see an Omen

January 1st 2015 ’twas a dark and stormy night, and no one in their right minds should’ve been out in that shit. For serious. But gossip is gossip, and since juicy tidbits are best shared in person over drinks, my sweet sister-in-law bravely faced the elements. Startled by a visitor at such a late hour, I opened my door to find her on my front stoop, bundled against the cold, but drenched. My wife rushed her inside, and urged her be warm near our roaring fire space heater. As I turned to close the door against the storm, I shouted and ducked, for something large and entirely too FLAPPY barreled into the foyer, and up to the second floor.

My heart pounded and my mind raced, for it seemed too damn cold out for anything as innocent as a Moth of Monsterous Proportions to be hanging around. What dared breach my threshold?! Who waged battle against my hearth and home??!

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GUYS. A FUCKING WREN BROKE INTO MY HOUSE ON NEW YEAR’S DAY. How cool is that??!

My face pretty much sums up how I felt about the situation. NATURE HAPPENED IN MY HOUSE. My house, guys! Aside from being a delightfully amusing situation, and a bona fide Magical Moment, hosting this guy at my New Year’s Fairy Tea Party (he politely declined refreshments, asking only to go back out to see his girlfriend) was an Omen. My first Good Omen of 2015.

Humour me as I wax a bit philosophical here… I absolutely believe in signs and omens. I believe in unseen forces helping to guide our lives. I believe that if you can manage to look at the events in your life with a sense of almost childlike wonder, you can see common threads that guide you along your path, like a friendly current in a babbling stream. Fighting this current is human nature – we like to imagine we control more than we actually do. But learning to relax and enjoy the ride has only ever brought me good things.

Wrens are symbols of Joyfully Embracing Change. As a (usually) migratory bird, these little guys rarely stay in one place for more than a season – but that doesn’t stop them from making themselves right at home in whatever situation they might find themselves. They are playful and social creatures, and create strong bonds within their little family units.

I can’t tell you how perfectly I feel this sums up my life right now. Deciding to jump into this self-employment thing hasn’t exactly made parts of my life feel more stable. In fact, I spent a good portion of 2014 fighting those changes and feeling sorry for myself. Honestly, the only thing that’s helped keep me sane have been the bonds I’ve been nurturing within my Framily. In the last 6 months, I’ve challenged myself to look on the bright side, to stop holding so tightly to all my problems, and to stop imagining that I’m alone. I’ve surrounded myself with supportive, loving family, and I’ve found that no matter how many things shift and change, no matter how unrecognizable my life becomes – I can still feel at home, because Home is in my heart.

So thank you, Mr. Wren, for your timely visit. Before you dropped by, I’d been pondering the New Year, wondering if I was on the right path, moving in healthy directions that will align with my values, goals, and purpose. I needed the reminder that this new path I’m forging, this new perspective I’m nurturing… it’s all setting a strong foundation for the life I’m creating for myself.
Blessed Be.

In which I break my Holiday Silence

Hey guys! Sorry for my radio silence. My holiday season was jam-packed with family, festivity, and food! Some of my favourite “f-words”…!

Every year, I commit to making a few handmade Christmas presents, and every year I forget how stressful that is! I was worried that things might not get finished in time (what with my Holiday Craft Show at the beginning of December, and more items on my social calendar than this introvert usually has in 6 months!!), but I managed to get everything done, with a little time to spare. And by “time to spare” I mean “wrapped and under the tree on Christmas Eve”. Don’t judge me! So I work well under pressure…

So after I came down from the final celebratory sugar coma, and the wrapping paper carnage was properly stowed, I needed a flippin’ break … which I didn’t get for another week or two. Did I mention my birthday is one week after Christmas? (It was delightful, by the by. I have the best wife and family!!)

Anyway, all this is to say, I missed you! I know I only have about five regular readers (Hiii, mom!), but I’ve really grown to enjoy updating a blog again. (I used to LiveJournal like a fooool back in the day, man). Here in the next week or two, I’ll be sharing some pictures from the projects I’ve been working on – both the gifts, and the new stock for my etsy shoppe. I’ll also likely share an obligatory New Years Resolutions post, because I actually really love that shit.

If anything tickles your fancy, I’d love to hear from you! Comments are Love, guys. Never forget that blogging with zero feedback is like screaming into a vacuum. Nature abhors it, and so do I.

Smooches!

a little reminder

… in case you were wondering …

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Coming up with fresh content week after week can be quite daunting! Bloggers really put their heart and soul out there – we love it when we hear from our readers! Even a simple hello can make our day. So keep that in mind, especially this time of year, when we’re all trying to spread a little joy.

*Muah!*

On reluctantly becoming more Organized

I’m an extremely contrary person by nature. Most of my early twenties were spent pinpointing societal norms, and finding creative ways to Not Do The Thing. But as the big Three-Oh looms ever closer, I’ve found I’m mellowing a bit. I still pretty much thumb my nose at authority, and keep finding ways to live an authentic life Outside The Box (entrepreneurship for the win!) – but more and more frequently, I am shocked to find I’m becoming … organized.

Shudder.

This was a really hard thing for me to accept about myself! Can you imagine? I’ve spent more than a decade carefully cultivating just the right amount of creative chaos. This level of character-flaw-cum-eccentricity isn’t accidental. My counterpointed jig to the rest of ya’ll’s drummer took practice. Planning a month in advance? Responding to voicemails in a timely fashion? Maintaining a tidy home? I used to think that shit was for the birds. 

The thing is, when I started working from home, I thought I could keep on keepin’ on in that fashion. I thought, Hey! This small business is built upon my Love of Making The Things. I need to keep things the way they are, so my muse never goes hungry. This’ll be awesome!

But see, that only worked for a while. It didn’t take long before I started realizing that my disorganized life was really just a symptom of a disorganized mind (and even a scattered approach to life), and it kinda hit me: if I’m really going to make a successful Go at being self-employed, I need to set goals and plan out how to get to ’em. And that might be a little easier if I know where my craft supplies are … or don’t have to worry about the monstrous pile of dishes that are threatening to take over the kitchen … or know what day I can’t craft because I’m going to be too busy updating my blog.

It still feels a little weird. I mean, I know what work and social obligations I have for the next 40 days, for cryin’ out loud! Does that make me feel a little like I’m selling-out? Well, yeah, sometimes. I’m not always sure I like feeling like such a … a grown-up. But I also can’t deny that organizing my life a little has helped me a lot. And more and more, I’m beginning to think that maybe it wasn’t the chaos that fed my Muse, as much as it was the spontaneous sense of Play I almost always had. And that doesn’t have to go away, just because my house is tidy! I still spend afternoons kicking up fall leaves, or doodling and daydreaming with a tasty Chai Latte. Making sure I carve out time for play is part of what keeps me sane in this sea of organized productivity. 

So, since this has been on my mind lately, expect to hear me harangue you about the various tips and tasks that help keep me organized and motivated. If you’re reading my blog, maybe you have a morbid fascination with getting a handle on your creative chaos too. I hope so. It’d be nice to hear I’m not alone. 🙂

Why I practice Gratitude

For the first year and a half after moving into our new home – joyous, momentous life event that it was – I was horribly depressed. I like to imagine that I know a lot, about a lot of things. For instance, I knew that maintaining a house that was 4 times larger than our first apartment wouldn’t be too hard. I also knew that it couldn’t possibly cost much more on a monthly basis, for utilities and repair. And, sure, grass grows really fast… but I knew that mowing the yard as an almost-thirty-year-old wouldn’t be any different than my 16-year-old-self sharing lawn duty with her two teenage brothers.

That first year taught me a lot about what I didn’t know, and it wasn’t a something I took gracefully, or with much dignity. In fact, I fought the Universe tooth and nail on just about every point. Those who know me might not be surprised to hear this: I am a stubborn sot.

But as if Being Stripped of All Preconceived Notions weren’t enough of a trial, I was also dealing with Unidentified Chronic Pain, Being Far Away From my Framily, and Trying to Maintain The Household on One (Small) Salary. If there’s any validity to the addage that It Never Rains But It Pours, this period could have been called Kathryn’s Suburban Monsoon of 2013. (Thankfully, there were no casualties. That’s probably why you didn’t hear about it on any of the major news networks).

I was upset! I was angry! Indignant, even! This was more than any mere human could be expected to cope with! Everything sucked! And there was no end in sight! I was a wreck – but worse, I felt absolutely validated in my high levels of anxiety, anger, and lost-ness. Feeling validated, while also being open to solutions, is an amazing thing. It can fuel personal empowerment, and help you connect with your support group. Feeling validated, while simultaneously looking for more reasons to feel upset, is like adding gasoline to a fire. Not my wisest move.

I’m happy to report that there was in fact a turning point. At first, I started getting tired of my own bullshit being angry at everything, all the time. That’s a very tiring way to live! From then on, though, the change was more gradual. It took me a while, but I started realizing that Yep, for the time being my circumstances weren’t going to change… but maybe my perspective could.

I was sitting on the bed last August, blubbering into a sodden wad of toilet paper. Money was tighter than usual, and I was terrified. Plus, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Until this last setback, I’d been feeling a little better about things. This just wasn’t fair! How was I supposed to roll with this??

Well, here’s a funny thing about your Subconscious. If you ask it a direct question, it’ll always answer. Seriously, try it! If you find yourself stuck on some problem, stop saying, “I can’t possibly…!” and start asking, “How can I…?” Then create quiet spaces in your busy life in which your quiet Inner Voice can break through, and hear what it has to say.

So, I asked, and I got an answer – beautiful in its simplicity. “Feel thankful”. That was it. It hit me powerfully, but there were no trumpets, no angels singing. Just… feel thankful. So, I looked down at the wad of toilet paper in my hand and said, “I’m thankful we could afford toilet paper this month”. Yes, out loud. And then I felt thankful that no one else was around to pass judgement on how much I resembled a Crazy Lady just then.

And that’s where my Journey of Grattitude began. It seemed small, and even silly, at first – but it really was a dramatic act of defiance. In the face of all the negative emotions my depression was trying to heap on my plate, I said No More. I said, Sometimes all that crap is true, sure, but you know what else is true? That I have good things in my life.  By feeling thankful (truly feeling it in my bones, not just rattling off a list like a worn out catechism), I was stealing ammunition from my Depression’s arsenal, to be used against it.

Noticing the good things in my life hasn’t magically erased all the crap. Money’s still tight, bits of my house are still falling apart despite our best efforts, and I still get (insert unsavoury emotion here) from time to time. The ways Gratitude has changed my life have been more subtle than that… the bad stuff doesn’t feel as awful when I remember that it’s not the only stuff going on. That in turn helps me realize that not everything is worth getting upset about. And I’m more prone to looking for solutions, when I’m less stressed out by what I choose to deem the “little things”.

I challenge you, dear Reader, to practice gratitude frequently, all year long. You’d be surprised how much such a seemingly small act can ease depression.