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So, my dog has decided that she'd like to help out our environmental initiatives by dragging bits and pieces out of the recycling bin, whisk them away to her house (her kennel) and unashamedly tear them into tinier bits and pieces. We used to get after her for it. But really, she's just entertaining herself. It's winter. There's not a whole lot to do around here. And she just looks so triumphant as she prances off toward her house with a giant cereal box in her mouth.

Her house is in one corner of my studio/office. You'd be able to recognize it right away as our internal recycling facility. The cat bed is in the opposite corner, basically taking over half my drafting table - which may as well be the entire thing -  it's become pretty much useless as a drafting table, also holding my stacks of sketch books and manuscripts.

Over the cat bed is one of the few windows in our 90 year old urban row house.  I've put plastic over the window to fend off the wrath of Jack Frost. Well, that's just a cat's opportunity for a good time. Can I please just show you what the window looks like?

This began the DAY I put it up. I'd been taking the scotch tape to it every morning, patching punctures and tears. But I gave up. Whatever. Cat wins.

And those are the animals I to try and keep up with.

I also have three children. We homeschool. We have SO MUCH STUFF. I can't really lay all the blame on them. I personally have so much stuff in the form of art supplies, fabric and notions and sewing machines and dressforms, and computers and gadgets, and a really large printer,and so many documents and inspiration, and bake wear (I can't even get started on the kitchen), some of which I NEVER USE. But, one day I might. Right?

And I do put effort into de-cluttering. It seems like a never ending process. But it's been in my face, all the clutter, because our home has very little storage. In fact, we had only one closet in the whole house and we recently got rid of it during a much needed renovation. So while de-cluttering is not my absolute top priority, it's in the forefront of my mind many days, and much headway has already been made.

The Paradox.  On one hand, I'd love to have that idealistic, picture perfect, non-cluttered space to live and work in. I imagine how lovely and creative and productive my life will be when that day is here.  However, it seems to take so much effort to get to and MAINTAIN that idealistic space, that the process of maintaining throws a huge snag in my work flow and creative processes. If it were just me I was picking up after, I think I could manage to have and keep that ideal space, but otherwise, managing a kind of Grand Central Station of the coming and going of stuff, I think it's time I stopped beating myself up over not being able to keep up with it all, and accept that messes happens. And they will continue to happen, despite my best efforts. Can I please just let myself press on with what I'm passionate about? I can deal with letting the house go to crap while I lose myself in my work (but, let's be honest, at this station in my life as mom, homeschooler and freelancer, losing myself in creativity happens as often as just plain old losing my marbles).  Losing myself in creativity actually looks more like a deliberate application of myself to the process, not a whimsical moving of the spirit. And that works, too.

Somehow we still have home-cooked meals and treats, and clean clothes, and a good education. So, while it may not look pretty, stuff gets done and training kids to pick up as they go along sticks, some of the time. Closing your eyes and meditating all of the crap away helps significantly too. Free your mind and the rest will follow ....

I'd been living in this beautiful mess, going from self loathing, to whatever-ness, and I read this post by illustrator Holly DeWolf, and was inspired to share my own experience.  And then came this post by author Fran Cannon Slayton, where she talks about mental clutter. Also inspiring.

Do you work from home?  Ahem, is it a little less organized than you would prefer?  How do you keep focused in your cluttered world?

Ah, babies. The chubby little legs and dimply knuckles ... yes, all of my babies were chubsters ... so outrageously adorable.

My babies are all in the double digits now, so I don't do a lot of baby clothes shopping, however, there seems to be a shortage of cute, comfortable leggings for little boys. The girls get all the fun. Except now, there is Little Boy Blue.

Amy Wierks noticed that the market was lacking. She's got two sweet young boys to clothe and couldn't find anything to put them in that was both stylish and comfortable. So, like any good pioneer woman, she decided to make her own.  Her start-up, Little Boy Blue, is a tribute to her own boys, and an answer to all of the parents out there pleading, where are the leggings for little boys!

Amy came to me for help with her branding. Her company name drew all kinds of imagery, some of which I started sketching during #inktober, here and here.

We decided on the lamb and this is the final result:

We maximized economic efficiency (as one is want to do in any business, especially a small business) and created a business card that can double as a garment hang tag. 

So, check out her site if you have any bare bottomed little turkeys running around that you'd like to spiffy up without compromising on comfort. 

Tonight we brine the turkey in preparation for tomorrow - Christmas Day, or Turkey Day as it's known around here (as is Thanksgiving). I'm not much of a turkey fanatic myself, but my husband and two of my children are crazy for turkey. They love it so very much. This afternoon, my ten year old asked me to guess what his favorite thing about Christmas was. Not presents, not chocolate, not joy and cheer and peace and well wishes - turkey. That's it. That's the show stopper right there. 

This illustration depicts a penguin, but as I write this, I realize it should have been a turkey, for crying out loud. Next time. 

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday in what ever way you celebrate. May you enjoy your favorite things, your favorite people and your favorite memories. 

Best wishes. 

I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. Sort of. And though I like having a plan, the fly-by-the-seat part of my personality seems to dictate the outcome of my day.  This usually means that I keep quite busy, but feel like I don't accomplish much.

Flying-by-the-seat is especially helpful during things like home renovations. A certain flexibility is needed, so that I'm available should things come up. Sometimes that means I have to be willing to just clear my schedule and stay put. My house is nearly emptied of food, and my children are starting to make comments like, "um, mom, when are you going to go buy food?"

To be fair, it's not the renovations that's keeping me home (though, today it is - waiting for a delivery of materials), but my kids appeared to have the chicken pox. Now, however, I'm not so sure. All three of them went through the fever/headache/sore throat part (chicken pox doesn't always present with these, but I've read it can), but my daughter is the only one who had any pox marks, and they were few (a dozen or so), and only on her face.

Anyway, as a precaution, we've been pretty much housebound for the last two weeks. This has been great for my to-do list. Sometimes it's just wonderful to not be flexible; to not have the option of going out and being busy.  Yes, we are renovating, so we've been busy at home, but aside from that, I've had time to settle into myself a bit and readjust what I think I want from myself - what I expect from myself. I've had time to work on some projects, and I may even finish that blasted novel revision I've been procrastinating over. I've worked on some graphic design projects, and some research and preliminaries for a greeting card project I'm collaborating on. I've done some reflecting on what I think success really has to do with how I value myself, and I've wrestled with what I actually identify as "success" in the context of my own life.

I've had time to declutter my house a bit. I've been doing this deliberately little by little since summer, but life with kids and animals and seemingly not enough space can heap chaos upon chaos on a person, to the point of immobilization. I really feel like decluttering is key to a more organized head, giving me, perhaps, a greater ability to be creative and productive. My own human condition - clutter in my house and in my brain - robs me from seeing that I can push through my own self imposed obstacles to what I really want from myself. I haven't convinced myself that I'm good enough yet (at what? I'm not even sure). And, really, I don't expect that I ever will. And I don't presume that I'm alone in that feeling of self disappointment. But, the least I can do, is give myself the space to try and get there. This seems to be a common thing among creative-types, yesno?

Also, laying low at home means there has been time for holiday baking. Whipped shortbread cookies, nuts and bolts, caramel corn, sugar cookies - of course, I have a teenager and two almost-teens, so the baking is gone nearly as quickly as it comes.  It's tradition, in this edible form, that delivers happiness to my heart. And my kids aren't complaining about cookies even when there isn't much else to eat in the house.

I've been avoiding my blog for over a month, feeling like I've had nothing to say and no time to say it, anyhow. But I do have something to say, and I'll say it to you.

I hope you find some time to just lay low this holiday season. Lay low and be you. Wrestle with your demons - don't busy them away. Take on one at a time, or all at once, or not at all. Just give yourself the time to find your own value. Find strength in knowing you are not unique in this thing we call self-loathing, or disappointment, or fear of failure. Find some moments to lay low and collect yourself. 2015 is coming. May it be your best yet and may you find more space in it for laying low.

Halloween is, if you are at home, a time of getting up and running to the door, almost as soon as you sit down from the last time,  making it difficult to string together any kind of train of thought that might require concentration. But I love it so. I've been running to the door, opening it super quick and yelling "Trick-or treat!" to the kids, who stand there bewildered for a second, until I say, "Oh dear, that was your line."  The parents always laugh, so that seems to be encouraging this corny habit.

In the intermittent sitting down times, this evening, I've sketched a replica of a 1981 Halloween costume sewing pattern by Simplicity. I'm sure the designer imagined that this is what we'd really dress like in the future.  The future is now, man. Where is your suit?

And that's it for #Inktober!  Find all of my inktober drawings here.
Thanks for following along with me.