Thursday, February 25, 2010

The "Eat What's in Your Pantry" Challenge!

If you're like most people, or most people I know, you buy lots of food and you throw away lots of food.

Because you don't want to eat your leftovers, or your food has spoiled or expired before you got around to eating it.

Like most people, you've probably gotten into the habit of buying more food each week whether you needed it or not.

Honestly, I throw away too much food.

So, I challenged myself to start using the food already on my shelves and in my icebox and to severely limit my grocery shopping.

As you can see, I had stored up a variety of tasty items including: grains, flours, pastas, medication for my dog, honey, and some frosting.

The resourcefulness of my twenties has awakened. A time when I had no money, but still needed to eat. (Thank goodness my mom and dad lived close by.)

Take the challenge:
How much of that food in your pantry and icebox you can eat up?
How few items can you purchase at the grocery store?
How long can you go between grocery visits?

I'm on the 2nd week of my challenge.

It's empowering.
It's survival.
It's fun!
And I'm saving a nice chunk of money.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who Benefits from Your Fears?

Who benefits from your fears?

Because it's certainly not you.

We live in a society that continually bombards us with things to be afraid of...the news is SCARY!

But it's not in perspective.

Yes, bad things happen...but what we see on the news is out of proportion with the good...if you watch the must think that by living in New York, I'm in constant danger for my life...but I'm not...New York City is actually safer than Kansas City... topic.

Reality...great people are everywhere, doing amazing things...and you are safe...statistically...

Here's something else to chew around in your brain...the news is paid for and approved by the are all the television shows...reality and fiction...the advertisers...hear that? The advertisers...if they don't want you to know something, you'd don't...and if they want you to be afraid of probably will be...because if you're afraid...they win...they financially benefit from your fears.

Who would really want 46 million Americans to live without healthcare? But daily we are fed fears of what those people being taken care of will do to hurt the rest of us. It's not reality.

By remembering that all media is bought by an advertiser, I am able to keep what I read and view in perspective. I also do research to find some shred of the truth...this can be very hard. But one well-known example...reality: No one ever found a razor blade in an apple at Halloween...yet, almost all of us had our Halloween trick or treating curbed over that fear.

Live your life...the end result is same for everyone...only the journey is different. Wouldn't you like yours to be free and fearless?

That's what I'm aiming for.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Virtue of Handerkerchiefs

For years, I wanted to use handkerchiefs, but worried that they wouldn't work as well as kleenex or toilet paper for blowing my nose.

I loved the idea of them. They harkened to a time when everything was reusable and thus, time was taken to make them pretty or interesting.

In Antique stores, I admired them, but got caught up in the idea of someone else's snot.

I even bought some new ones, but they just sat in my cabinet for several years until my brain took over and said, 'Just use a handkerchief! Get it over with!"

So, I bought a selection of pretty handkerchiefs at an Antique store and washed them in HOT water.

I'll admit I was nervous the first time I blew my nose on a handkerchief. But once I did, I was hooked!

* No more fingers popping through the tissue when I had an especially wet blow.

* No more tissue melting away as I blew my nose in the rain or snow.

* No more lack of tissue in my bag because I'd already used the one I had and threw it away.

* And best of all, no more used tissues lying around my house, then making their way to a landfill.

My love for the handkerchief goes beyond practicality, they link me to the past.

Almost all my handkerchiefs belonged to someone else before me. Through my nose blowing, I feel supported by their past owners. Okay, sounds icky...but it's actually lovely.

One of my handkerchiefs belonged to my partner Bill's grandfather. Every time I go for a hike, I think of him as I put his large handkerchief in my pocket. I know it will last me the entire day, and if I break an arm, it can double as a sling.

In response to anyone who thinks handkerchiefs are germ carriers, I did some research on the Internet. It turns out they are not. Cloth handkerchiefs dry out very fast and germs need wet to live. Also, you use a fresh handkerchief each day.

And an interesting fact: When it's cold, handkerchiefs are gentler on the nose than tissues which will scratch.

Ahhhhh handkerchiefs! I love you!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Embrace Who You Are!!

I originally selected this picture to go with a blog post entitled:
"What do you Love?" Because I love these kids...they're my nieces and nephews.

As I looked at this picture, I thought beyond the fact that I love these kids to why I love them...their personalities.

Sure, they are all the sweetest, most wonderful people you could meet. Good genes and upbringing. But it's more....they are individuals. Just looking at this photo, you get an idea of their differences.

Now I understand when parent's say they don't have a favorite child. Each child is so different and wonderful in their own way.

Today, I was talking with a group of third graders on writing and illustrating style. About the fact that there are as many ways to do something as there are people. That no way is better than any other, because we all prefer different things.

I continued that the most important thing you can do is to be who you are. Sure we can all try to be someone else. Many of us do for at least part of our lives. But if we're lucky, we figure out that the real gift we have to give the world is being ourselves. We have something to offer that no one else does.

It's taken me a good number of years to embrace my own illustration style. It's easy to compare myself with others, especially illustrators that are getting alot of work. Then I started realizing that styles I couldn't stand were getting work as well as ones I liked. That all creative work is incredibly subjective.

The best thing I can do is to draw free and have love what I am doing...embrace my work...embrace who I the best Susanna I can be.

It's easy to lose sight of this in a world that plays favorites...but really all I have to do is look at kids...the kids in this picture or today's 3rd graders...they all have an individual begins their journey of figuring it out and embracing it.

Embrace that you are a gift for the world. You may not know your gift. We rarely do. But if you are true to yourself, I'm pretty sure you are giving the gift that is yours.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What are You Afraid of?

When I was in high school, I saw my first vampire movie. For the next 3 years, I wore a cross around my neck, put homemade crosses on every corner of my bed, and one on the window.

Obviously, this kid is not a real vampire. Although, he might bite if provoked. Really, it's my nephew Luke at his 8th birthday party.

Over the past year, I've been afraid to send manuscripts to publishers. I wasn't consciously aware of this fear. In my mind, I was just busy writing plays and illustrating books.

Then it hit me, I was holding onto several newly completed book projects. The only reason I could imagine for not sending them to prospective buyers was because I feared another rejection.

Rejection is a BIG part of the creative person's life. This is why it's so important to love what you do.

After a certain number of rejections, I think one needs a break. Now, I've had mine.

This month, I completed a new picture book manuscript. I polished it up and sent it off to my publisher last night. I'm back on track. I feel brave again. I'm ready to work on the next book project and to send out the ones that I've already completed.

Okay, I'll probably get rejected on some or all of these projects, but maybe I won't. I was never actually bitten by a real vampire.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do one thing everyday that scares you."

I'm working to live up to that.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What is Your Carrot?

Just like the person who hangs a carrot in front of the donkey to get him to move forward...I place a bag of cookies on my kitchen table as the motivator to get my work done.

Whenever I have a big deadline, whether a script or an illustration project, I place cookies on the kitchen table...which is about 5-7 steps from my work house is tiny.

I can only take one cookie at a time...

So, let's say I'm working on a script...I write a bit...get up and get a it as I look over what I've written...then write some more...then get up for another cookie...and usually by the time I've finished the last Geneva in the Pepperidge Farm bag...the story is complete...

For me, the cookies are my carrot...they keep me continually moving forward...every time I move to get a eyes get a fresh look on my work because I've focus stays alert because I want to get more work done so I can have another cookie...

I have multiple 'carrot' tricks that I use to get work done...but this cookie way is by far the sweetest.

Okay, time to finish my new book project...better place cookies on my table.

I'd love to hear what 'carrots' work for you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fans are Priceless

It's great when people support what I'm doing and believe in me.

I feel I'm on the right track.

The biggest benefit of having good solid fans is that when I have any doubts about being a writer/illustrator/playwright/etc. ... I think, "If I can just believe in myself half as much as other people believe in me, I can do anything."

I've always had a very hardy sense of power, drive, and confidence, thanks to my first set of and dad.

Yes, you may not know this, but I hung the moon.

But even I get occasional moments of "What am I doing?"

Then as if on cue, the world sends a fan, like my sister Jennifer. Jennifer is my head cheerleader. She should win awards for her over the top cheers and promotion of everything I do.

It's not lost on me that having these supportive voices of family and friends makes my journey to accomplish tasks much easier.

It saddens me that many people didn't grow up with such fans.

Because just like I have supportive voices inside and outside my head encouraging me, these people have negative voices.

The good news is that with some work, those negative voices can be replaced with new supportive ones.

It's important to surround yourself with people who believe in and support the great things you can and want to do.

Everyday, I meet new people. And everyday, I am in awe of what these people are capable of. But almost every one of them totally underestimates their gifts.

My hope is that I can be a supportive voice to others, like others have been for me. That my positive voice will drown out any negative ones.
To everyone reading this..."You are capable of great things! Believe it."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Resist the Temptation

In the interest of complete disclosure, I must admit 'I love television,' especially BBC Crime Dramas and old movies.

However, it has not eluded me that I get MUCH more work done if I don't turn on the television.

Sure, I can think, 'Oh, I'll just turn it on and find something I don't need to watch, so I can have some sound.'

Right. After 15-20 minutes of searching channels over and over, I find that there isn't anything on that can be my background sound. And many times in the searching process, I've gotten sucked into some show that I didn't plan to watch.

And let's just say I did find that background show...invariably, I have to stop what I'm doing off and on just to watch a 'little'.

On the days that I leave the television off, I get so much work done that by 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon I feel like it is late in the evening...but it's not...I still have hours before I need to go to bed.

Today, I left the television off.

Because of that, I got through most of my to do list...#1 being 'dust the television.'