Zentangle with me? Maybe?

Zentangle with me? Maybe?

I’d like to invite you to Zentangle with me today. But first, an update for everyone who’s morbidly curious about the woman with the brain tumor: I’m still here. 🙂

It’s 46 °F in Urbana right now, and it’s supposed to be cloudy and rainy for the next couple of days. I checked the weather app on my phone just to be sure I wasn’t lying to you all about the forecast, but just know that my body already told me yesterday we were in for some crappy weather.

I took my last dose of weed chocolate (a chocolate peanut butter indica candy bar) last night to quiet the loudest of the aches and pains, and my pain level is still tolerable this morning. But I know that will be wearing off shortly. I can already feel the future settling in.

I have some oils and a couple of loose joints, but they are just not as effective as edibles for me. I really wish the dispensary would go back to curbside service right now. I can’t describe how badly I do not want to be inside the dispensary. Not only do I not want to brush my pandemic hair, put on actual pants, and increase my chances of being exposed to Covid-19. I just don’t want to do people-ing today.

Might they bring my order to my car if I call and ask nicely and explain that I’m a med patient? Yeah, maybe. But I hate the phone, too. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m going to be using up my vape and tincture remnants because I’m having trouble shaking off this depressive mood.

So let’s talk about something else instead. Like my YouTube channel. I didn’t post anything for the entire month of November because my creative resources were entirely drained after Inktober, but I’ve posted twice so far in December. Go me!

One thing that motivated me to start drawing and recording again was buying the first-ever Archer & Olive subscription box. (They gave me a referral link. Use it to get 15% off if you’re in the market for some premium bujo goodies: http://archerandolive.refr.cc/emilysuess)

The subscription box is a limited-supply quarterly thing (you can watch me unbox the contents here) that cost about $70. I would normally feel guilty about spending that much money on notebook and stationery supplies, but 1.) I just deserve to be happy sometimes, and 2.) I am confident it’ll help me grow my YouTube channel.

So anyway, the unboxing video didn’t perform so well. I actually had a net loss of subscribers the day I posted it. And that bummed me out. It’s not that I need every video I make to do well, but because the video was outside of my usual it took me longer than usual to edit it. Plus there was a voiceover with it, and that adds about 4 extra hours of work. There’s definitely something deflating about putting all your very limited effort into something that you’re super geeked about only to have the world be like, “meh.”

(But don’t feel sorry for me. I posted 9 Easy Zentangle Patterns for Beginners – Organic and Botanical Patterns a little over 48 hours ago, and it’s doing really well.) It features the patterns Kiss, Floral Waves, Fungees, Pearl Pod, Anooka, Flory, Flos, Alcatraz, and Dicentra.

I plan to keep doing the bullet journal videos, though, because bullet journaling is what’s going to help me organize the rest of the content I produce. I figure I might as well have to camera rolling while I’m doing it. The #bujo community on YouTube is huge, and it seems like such a great fit with Zentangling. Anyway, I’m excited about it, even if no one else is at the moment.

Anyway, there’s a new Zentangle-only video up today for Patrons (tomorrow for everyone else). If you could use some simple, cheerful art to brighten your day, you will probably really enjoy this one featuring the pattern Alcatraz by Diana E. Marshall. In it I draw the Zentangle art at the top of this page. It’s not an overly intricate tile, so it’s a good Zentangle to try if you don’t consider yourself artsy but still want to Zentangle with me.

TGIF, folks!

My Inktober Zentangle Post-Mortem

My Inktober Zentangle Post-Mortem

I did something I’m really proud of last month: I posted a new Zentangle video every day in October. It wasn’t always easy, and the drawings weren’t always good, but I persisted until I accomplished the thing: my Inktober Zentangle 2020 prompt list.

Inktober was something I really wanted to do despite the various things in the world that were working against me: cancer, Covid angst, election angst, roofing contractor woes (that’s a whole other blog post, folks. I can’t even with that right now.)

Before I even started the Inktober Zentangle series on my YouTube channel, I warned Dan of my intentions. I told him to expect me to be pretty much useless to do anything else for the entire month. Because if I know me—and I do know me pretty well—setting aside the time for drawing and editing every day meant stealing it from something else.

That’s because I already triage essential daily tasks like eating, cleaning, showering, and managing cancer as a matter of course. Whatever things I reprioritized to make space for Inktober, they were going to be big-ticket essentials. And “reprioritizing” for me doesn’t mean “I’ll get to it later than usual today,” it means, “I will not get to it at all.” Things don’t move down a to-do list this short, they move OFF the list. Permanently.

So, probably a big “DUH” here for folks in the know, but October was a challenging month for both Dan and me, what with us perpetually negotiating our respective diseases in the midst of my “vanity” project.

The most notable problems we faced: eating and cleaning. On the average, we eat OK. We do not go hungry, which I am deeply thankful to be able to say, but what some people might eat as a treat or a convenience because time’s limited makes up a large part of a disabled person’s diet OUT OF ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.

And moving past eating to the cleaning stuff: Nothing got cleaned beyond a couple of necessary loads of laundry and the evening running of the dishwasher. Every time I look at my surroundings right now and see what needs to be done, my heart breaks and my stomach drops. I will probably have to raise money and hire help eventually, but no one’s coming in our door while Covid numbers are spiking again anyway. So I whisper that line to myself about being able to accept the things I cannot change.

Some evenings during Inktober I’d be on the verge of tears from the exhaustion saying, “Don’t make me do the GrubHub order tonight. I can’t.” And “can’t” was never an exaggeration. If my energy levels are depleted that far on a recurring basis, what manifests outwardly is an overtired 7-year-old girl in a 40-year-old woman’s body. There are breakdowns and meltdowns and outburts. These are not self-indulgent, whiny fits. These are biological things humans do when their bodies and brains “just can’t” anymore.

I imagine what I experience as a woman with disabling brain cancer is akin to a neurodivergent child being forced into an abled child’s classroom every day. The exception being that I’m generally extended a lot more grace because the “C” word is harder to sweep under the rug.

Tangent. Sorry, not sorry.

Anyway, I also knew that when I finished my last Inktober video there was going to be a really hard crash for me at the end. It was worse than I had anticipated though. So far I spent the first three days post-production (I was working 2 days ahead of the calendar the whole time) in various states of distress. It started with exhaustion, progressed to a migraine (complete with aura, numbness in my right arm, heightened noise and light sensitivity, nausea, and aphasia) and then turned into a sore throat, head congestion, and low-grade fever.

My fever broke overnight, but I feel like an absolute trash pile of skin, bones, and pajamas still today.

Because when I am that rundown, my already chemo-blown immune system is powerless to even sneeze at a mote of dust. What my pre-cancer body would have fought off virtually undetected, my post-cancer body is forced to entertain for days—sometimes weeks—at a time.

Coincidentally, this is why at-risk members of the population are absolutely disgusted by the selfishness of the anti-mask wearing crowd during the pandemic. We, people whose lives are already hanging by assorted threads of questionable strength, do not have the time or the energy for the tender care and keeping of some uneducated, overinflated ego.

Fighting cancer is equal parts maneuvering around the disease and dodging other people’s selfish bullshit. And believe me when I say that I’m not living with brain cancer AND smiling while Joe Bob McTrumpster pretends his right to spread diseases to me is more important than my health and safety.

I am not your inspirational cancer porn warrior on Sunday
and someone you can spit on Monday morning.

I’m putting the world on notice: don’t make me make room for your shenanigans. If I put schooling you on my to-do list instead of, like, eating, you are not going to like it.

Ahem. Guess I had some things to get off my chest, there. But let me just sum up this entry by saying that doing a Zentangle every day this past month was rewarding despite my challenges and limitations, and hearing back from people who enjoyed them gave me the strength to keep going. Thank you.

Why I Quit Therapy

Why I Quit Therapy

So when we left off last, I was wondering whether I wanted to continue therapy. It turns out, I didn’t. I cancelled both appointments I had in July, and I never rescheduled them. If you’re curious why I quit therapy, read on!

As I was evaluating the pros and cons of therapy, I realized that therapy like all kinds of treatments, has side effects. Some of those side effects are minor, or at least would be if I was living in an alternate timeline where Covid wasn’t a concern and I didn’t have a disabling brain tumor.

As an introvert, I already spend a lot of time inside my head thinking and overthinking everything. Therapy intensified that for me, and at least for the time being, that’s not doing me much good. (Every session also means another medical bill to pay, so unless it’s something I see as necessary for my health and well-being, I’m not likely to keep forcing it on myself. Medicare actually pays less than Medicaid, but after two years of disability it’s pretty much your only option.)

I’m veering off course. Surprise!

Anyway, when I wasn’t in a therapy session, I was overthinking an upcoming session. I was ruminating about what to bring up and how to make that time productive, as I do for every medical appointment I have, and I was trying to knock back that same pre-appointment anxiety I always get a couple of days before seeing a doctor. It was weighing me down.

Not that there was no benefit for me at all. After my first session I initially felt unburdened and was bolstered by having someone on the outside say to me, “This is some heavy stuff. I’d be surprised if you weren’t dealing with these things right now.” But the returns diminished with each successive appointment.

That’s not therapy’s fault, though. I want to be really clear about that. I would consider going back again at some point in the future if my circumstances were different. And, of course, I would never discourage someone else from seeing if it helps them. There’s no way to know if it’s going to help than to give it a chance.

It just wasn’t good for me right now. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this here before, because I say it a lot: adding anything new to my routine means giving up something I was already doing. And cancer-related fatigue ensures that I never have enough energy to do all the things that need to be done. And I have to be careful about not cutting things from my day-to-day life that I enjoy because I see them as frivolous or whatever because going down that road is a fast-track to a major depressive episode where the little goblins in my head are like, “Why bother with anything?”

The price of therapy for me was being too exhausted and disinterested in things to Zentangle, and there’s a month-long gap in my YouTube uploads to drive home my point. Zentangling and my making videos for my channel are things that distract me from cancer, disability grief, the pandemic, and the general terribleness of a living through the age of Trumpism. So I’ve been doing my best to prioritize drawing simply because I like doing it.

If you missed any of my recent videos, I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Here’s my most recent Tangled Talk episode for those you who enjoy hearing me yap about stuff and things:

And here’s a more relaxing music-only video where I practice some basic Zentangle patterns. Enjoy!

Oh, one last thing! If you’re a Patron, get ready for the next Chapter of Who You Gonna Believe. It’ll be posted here on the blog Sunday morning.

Zentangle Folk Art: Day 41

Zentangle Folk Art: Day 41

About Zentangle Folk Art

The penultimate lesson for One Zentangle a Day is now complete! The lesson for Day 41 was to create Zentangle folk art using folk patterns. You can see those patterns in the art I created for the video. It includes wolf’s tooth, primrose, and pussy willow patterns plus a couple of others. All of them have symbolic meaning in traditional folk art.

I finally got my hands on a Helix circle and angle maker this week. My intent was to use them on Zendala art, but I was so excited to see how it worked that I just had to use it on this video. I can tell it is going to be my go-to tool for making Zendala (Zentangle mandala) tangles, and it only cost $5.

Shop Zentangle Essentials

But back to this Zentangle.

I also tried using my artist’s pencils for shading instead of the stubby little pencil that came with my original Zentangle kit. In the interest of time, I didn’t go all-out trying to make gradients for the Zentangle folk art piece, but I did enjoy working with a full-sized pencil. The brain tumor has impaired my fine motor skills enough that I really do benefit from have something substantial to hold on to. My hand cramps less and doesn’t fatigue as quickly — both good things for video making!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this tangle. Let me know what you’re creating these days.

Check out other posts in this series.

Materials Used

Some links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may make a few cents at no extra cost to you.

9 Goals for 2020

9 Goals for 2020

Happy New Year, everyone. Historically, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have not been very big deals to me, but I felt like celebrating today with 9 goals for 2020 if for no other reason than I’m feeling a little optimistic. (Note these are not resolutions I’m doomed to fail, just little nudges for making 2020 more fun than 2019.)

Stream a video game on Twitch

My brother Ryan and I live a few hours apart, but we still manage to get together virtually once a week or so to play State of Decay 2. He and my sister-in-law brought up streaming on Twitch several months ago. The idea has been percolating in my brain for a while, and I want to give it a try. No commitments to anything more than seeing how it goes.

Write a crossword puzzle

With my brain being what it is, I do word and logic puzzles almost every day to try and keep the neurons firing. Recently while working on a crossword with a really weird answer to a horrible clue, I wondered if I could make a better one. Now I’m obsessed with noodling out how to create the pattern of squares, make a functioning grid of words, and write good clues.

Grow marijuana

Though I’ve had a medical license to consume marijuana for about three years, Illinois just made recreational use legal. The govenor is clearing thousands of convictions as we ring in the new year. (Halle-freakin-lujah! More criminal justice reform, please, Governor Pritzker!) We can now grow up to five plants for private, personal use. I have several seeds in my position, and intend to give it a try. No biggie if I fail, but it has the potential to help me save a lot of money. This is one medication that is 100% NOT covered by insurance.

Complete a 100 Things post

I started my first blog on AOL Journals circa 2006, and I made a ton of online friends through that platform. I still keep in touch with many of those bloggers to this day. In fact, AOL J-Land (as we affectionately called it) is how I met my husband Dan.

One of the fun things that swept J-Land back in the day was writing a 100 Things post. It’s where you cobble together 100 facts about yourself and post the list. It’s like an ice breaker for bloggers. I recently and randomly stumbled across the Twitter account of a name I recognized from the AOL days, Kelly Sedinger of Byzantium’s Shores. I saw he still had a One Hundred Things About Me post, and got sucker punched by the nostalgia.

I’m going to post a new one soon. Honestly, I’ve been working on it for a few days already, so it seemed like a good addition to my 9 goals for 2020 list. (Yes, I’m one of those people who writes shit in her to-do list that’s mostly done just so I can experience the pleasure of crossing it off.)

Make new Zentangle videos

It’s been a few months since I’ve created any new content for my YouTube channel, because life is just that way sometimes, you know? But the meditative aspect of creating the art and then watching the time-lapse playback is so good for me. It also seems to be something that others enjoy, because my channel keeps growing. I can’t commit to a schedule for health reasons, but I can promise myself to just make “more.”

Track Swagbucks for a year

Swagbucks is a cash back slash survey website where you participate in polls, submit receipts, watch videos, participate in special offers and other junk, and then earn “Swagbucks” which can be converted to gift cards and PayPal cash. The catch is that they collect your data and make use of affiliate links. But you know, data privacy is for the financially privileged, anyway.

Last year as a casual user, I earned about $150. Which isn’t much, unless you’re broke. In that case, it’s a tank of gas and Christmas presents for the family. This year I want to track how much I make in a full year from January 1 to Dec 31.

For reference, I’m starting today with 355 SB (roughly $3.55 when redeemed). If you want to try it, use my link and we both get 300 bonus Swagbucks if you reach 300 SB in your first 30 days. (FWIW, I got to 355 in just 3 days, so that is very doable.)

Learn Krita and make a printable coloring page

I gathered up the Amazon gift card money I collected and finally purchased this stylus for my computer so I can do some Zentangling and sketching without killing trees or using up all my Micron ink. Krita is the free drawing program I will be using, but it’s pretty complicated and will require setting aside some time to learn. It’s kind of like Photoshop. Except it’s totally free.

I think it would be really fun to draw a coloring page and maybe host a cheesy virtual coloring contest sort of like those ones I always participated in at the grocery store when I was a kid.

Reach 100 Patrons in 2020

My goal for Patreon this year is to reach 100 subscribers. I currently have 29. I chose a people-based goal as opposed to a money-based goal because despite our dire financial circumstances, I really just want to find and connect with people who want to read Who You Gonna Believe and watch my Zentangle videos.

Reach 1,000 YouTube subscribers in 2020

Speaking of those Zentangle videos… 1,000 subscribers seems like a lot, but I’m giving myself a whole year to get there, and as of this writing I’m already at 485. The One Zentangle a Day series I did in 2019 really helped me establish my channel. This year I want to focus on producing higher quality videos. It should be doable now that I’ve got some of the basics sorted out.

So those are my 9 goals for 2020. What are yours? What are you looking forward to in the new year?

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