Category Archives: Illustration

The Joy of Seeing

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I was sketching randomly today (sort of my version of a warm-up for the final phase of book illustrating, which is like a creative workout) and remembered when a friend asked me whether I’m researching other children’s book illustrators, and I told her that I purposely avoid it. Instead, I look for inspiration in other forms: traditional museum paintings, clothing designs and colors, old school album art, retail store advertisements, interior design, nature, everything. A lot of it has to do with a deep fear of copying. Although I know that original ideas are a rarity and that it’s almost impossible to truly replicate others’ work, I still don’t want to feel like I’m inadvertently taking on someone else’s style.

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I realized, though, that I wasn’t being entirely accurate. I’ve always been thoroughly enamored with children’s books, and I’m certain that my favorite illustrator’s techniques and aesthetics have unconsciously seeped into my own creations over the years. I may not have actively looked to my heroes in the illustration world while I’ve been developing my own artwork, but they’re all there as part of me, resting and clustered on my shoulder like miniature art teachers.

I stumbled across this book by one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Lisbeth Zwerger, and these words pretty much sum up what I was trying to tell my friend and how I try to see the world:

The Joy of Seeing

Joy comes from seeing the beautiful.
A scarf, sweeping from the neck. A puffedout skirt with mysterious
draping. A wallpaper with an intricate pattern. Hats and furniture,
statues and inscriptions, graceful figures and dainty shoes.

Joy also comes from seeing the demonic, the ugly.
A man whose body looks like a fly. A fearsome witch. A ghost
holding his head in his hands. A black spectre.

Joy comes from seeing the fantastic.
Mr. Knife and Mrs. Fork, with blade and prong growing out of their heads. A
dancing camel. A boy climbing into a picture. A fish flying through the air.

Joy comes from the humorous.
A mouse wearing a woolen cover around its long, thin tail. A little
man with a pillow on his head. A donkey and some scholars
wearing the same spectacles. Maids lifting their skirts to hide
their kissing princess.

Joy with the eyes emerges from stories.

- Lisbeth Zwerger, from The Art of Lisbeth Zwerger

 

lisbeth-zwerger

This is a quick sketch I made of Lisbeth Zwerger – portraiture is not my strong suit! This also reminded me of the famous experiment with Joshua Bell - have you heard of it? It blew me away, and the part that affected me most was about the kids. There’s also a youtube video here. When do we lose the capacity to pay attention?

P.S. I’m working on an outfit for myself that I’ll try to share tomorrow!

Unusual Creatures

leafy-sea-dragon

This is a leafy sea dragon. There really is such a thing! I got so excited when I saw it in a book I checked out from the library a few weeks ago – it’s the sort of unexpected, delightful and unnecessary information I gobble up.

I was pondering this lovely creature in the back of my mind, and then when I was running errands at a bookstore yesterday, I saw the same book in the bargain sales section. I’m not sure why, but I took it as a sign to paint the sea dragon. You can see that I took some creative liberty as the real leafy sea dragon is much leafier.

As I put this post together, I thought of how — if I weren’t in the know and was reading this — I might envision that these illustration posts come together quickly, without breaking a sweat. I might assume that I spend leisurely afternoons painting with a steaming mug of green tea and some homemade (healthier, quinoa-filled) sweet by my side, wearing one of my self-made loose maternity-esque tunics and gently contemplating my insecurities. And I might surmise that I’m generating a “body of work” from which I occasionally pluck a drawing to share. Free-floating and unusual, much like the leafy sea dragon.

The reality: After a day filled with prosaic tasks (scheduling car repairs, grocery shopping, helping out at K’s school), the clock strikes 6pm and in between chopping onions and potatoes for dinner, I quickly pull out my paints, brushes, paper and library book. Then K wails about needing help with homework so I beeline for her room. In the middle of deciphering elementary school math, I suddenly remember that I am boiling water and dash back to the kitchen. Crisis is averted so I return to my painting, spend two minutes painting the sea dragon body, then hear the wailing from K’s room again demanding to watch something on the ipad. I tell her to practice her piano or read a book and try to paint the leaves while jumping up every couple of minutes to sauté vegetables, waiting for M to come home.

Over the course of an hour, finally, I have a somewhat edible dinner, haphazardly completed homework, a grumpy child, one leafy sea dragon painting and an olive oil and paint-stained ratty sweater. The scanner is on the blitz and I have no natural light to take photos, but somehow, the scanner reboots and I get images loaded up, this text typed, and whew, we’re ready to sit down to eat. I think about painting another unusual creature after dinner or maybe squeezing in some sewing (it is KCW Spring after all) and decide that I need to reserve my energy for the tumult that is bath and bedtime.

Ah, so glamorous, no?

Happy Friday + Randomness

tolerations-march

Happy Friday! Just a quick tolerations update: March was on the lackluster side. I accomplished the easiest possible tasks such as “Donate bags in car trunk to Goodwill”, “Eliminate K’s shoes that don’t fit” (which were in the bags in the trunk), “Organize pantry” (it’s a tiny pantry), “Clear off bedside tables” and “Move yellow art cabinet to basement”. I’m down from 75 tolerations to 70. Ah well, progress, right?

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K’s take on dreams, which I love:

Mama, dreams are like games in a playfield in your mind. The great thing is you get to wake up when you have a bad one.

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Also, yesterday K’s class went on a field trip to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation…

Me: How was the Gates Foundation, sweetie?

K: Awesome!! We learned about toilets*!

*Apparently, state-of-the-art, cutting edge and sustainable toilets are in the works for developing countries and that was the highlight for the second grade field trip. Those Gates Foundation people know their audience.

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I’m keeping it short and sweet today – have a wonderful weekend, friends!

My weekend respite
will include quiet moments
to dream some good dreams

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

wondering-illo

Happy Friday! I sketched this illustration while thinking about the poem K wrote below. I have it taped above my sewing table, and she also made that “I lov u” note for me using a stencil book.

wondering-poem

Wondering by K

I wonder about the sky
I wonder how birds can fly
I wonder as I watch the world go bye

I wonder about stars
and the planet mars
I wonder how I last
and the wonders of the past 

 

Isn’t she a wonder? I love that she included that little rhyming aside, “Have a good time with rhyme!”. KCL are her initials, by the way. I know I am repeatedly posting these little notes by K, but I’m just in awe of her developing writing skills.

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Relentlessly, the topic of my chest keeps coming up. As I leaned over to tuck K in the other night:

Mama, I don’t want a perfect view of your boobies. Put them away.

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Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend, friends! On our agenda: lots of snuggling, our weekly brunch at the local cafe, an American Girl Doll birthday bonanza for one of K’s friends.

It’s the final phase
I need to complete my book
Diving into it*

*So I always say that I might be scarce here, but I just like to put it out there to make me feel better in case I do miss a post here and there. If there’s one thing I love more than creating picture books, it’s blogging.

 

Giving Back

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My first job out of graduate school landed me in jail. The brisk and humiliating body search. The clang of the barred door. “What have I done?” I thought, numb and disoriented.

I’d committed no crime, at least none that I knew of, and certainly none that would put me in the slammer. Somehow, though, at age 27, face covered with adult-onset acne, I stood toe-to-toe with glaring, orange-clad inmates.

What I had done was find employment with an arts non-profit in the Bay Area. I’d been accepted into Peace Corps, but at the same time, I got a job offer as a director of operations for a theater company that had made a name for itself with innovative collaborations involving the San Francisco County Jail and at-risk youth, and I just couldn’t pass up the offer. The pay was the pits, the benefits laughable. But I’ve always been a dreamer and overly idealistic, and I convinced myself that I could help more in my own country than in Central Asia through the Peace Corps. And truth be told, living in San Francisco was on my bucket list, and I rationalized that I could go dig ditches in third world countries when I retired.

giving-back1

In retrospect, it was probably the most character-building experience I’ve ever had. Its uniqueness came in multitudes. The non-profit organization was housed in the Center for African and African American Art and Culture (CAAAC as it was known back then, but they’ve since modified their name slightly). The center was in a part of town where people instructed me to never walk alone at night. I was one of three non-black people in the entire building. Clearly, my new employer was hell-bent on diversity, as his other employee was also not of African descent (a Caucasian Yale grad with an amazing knack for grant-writing. A super nice guy, by the way). The vibrant environment resonated with music (including a lot of rap) and dancing and glorious art.

It was also the only workplace in which my boss would show up in a zoot suit. He favored metallic blues and purples, though my personal favorite was the gold one. He wore many hats — sometimes literally — as executive director, theater company head and father figure to masses of displaced children, but most notably, he was a saxophonist and tap dancer. And he performed both simultaneously. In contrast to his wild outfits, he was a reticent and quiet man, pragmatic and kind.

giving-back2

I actually had two bosses, and the other one was a firecracker who kept me on my toes. She invariably burst into rooms, her red hair glowing, commanding attention with her gravelly voice and dramatic turn of phrases. A stage actress by training, she was fierce and bold and inspiring – a lioness. Legions of young actresses sought her out to train under her. Her life mission was to work directly with female inmates, extracting and crafting their stories, then teaching the women how to perform these stories and to heal themselves.

That in and of itself was pioneering, but what raised the stakes was that the performances were held outside of the prison cells at a public venue. The shows starred the incarcerated women themselves, and some of these women had committed murder. Not a group to be messed with. A large part of my role was to coordinate all aspects of this public performance from booking the venue, working with the Sheriff’s department to ensure maximum security, dealing with city ordinances and endless bureaucratic red tape, and interfacing with the women in the jails.

High stress. Funnily enough, one of the hardest tasks for me was to organize the post-performance gala. We had no budget so this required soliciting for pro-bono help and free food. Basically, I had to beg. I begged one of the moms of the afterschool program I oversaw to cater the event. She looked at me dubiously and asked, “Did you say 200 people? How you gonna pull this off with $100?” Somehow I convinced her, and I went around imploring restaurants, shops and bakeries to donate food. I beseeched stationery stores, florists and party shops to lend us decorations and platters and champagne flutes. My love of Trader Joe’s started then because they provided almost all of the ingredients and beverages for the gala, gratis. I am a woman filled with pride and begging is antithetical to my nature.

In the end, the performance culminated in success. Many tears were shed, excellent reviews written up, and all the rest. But the gala was my pride and joy, a thing of pure beauty. I remember taking all the foodstuffs to the caterer the day before the event. ”Girl,” she said with a look of wonder, “You NICE, but you ain’t a pushover.” Very few words have made me as happy as those. I hold them dear, as a personal motto. The caterer did a phenomenal job with all the TJ supplies, whipping up mini puff pastries, pint-sized crab cakes, crudites, dips and an enormous array of mouth-watering food. She even made a gorgeous cake and the whole set up was fit for an exquisitely tasteful wedding.

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I wish I could say I had a thriving career as an arts administrator, but I didn’t stay at the organization very long — I lasted about a year. Mostly it was because my heart couldn’t take it, and I was burnt out. I was too young, too naive, too disappointed by the injustice. Yes, the organization and programs helped many people, but it was such a small percentage compared to the constant recidivism, of the endless revolving door of crime, despair, abuse. Mothers addicted to crack would stumble into my office to randomly drop off young malnourished children, barely stringing together a coherent sentence. It broke me seeing and taking care of those kids. I lingered many, many extra hours in the office for them.

I also don’t think I was whole enough myself to withstand the sorrow and distress that my job entailed. At the same time, I was afraid that I would become desensitized, which was something of a commonality in that line of work. Even after I quit, I continued to volunteer for literacy groups and assisted homeless shelters and substance abuse programs, but I knew that these were under the umbrella of “safe” volunteerism, the kind that kept me at arm’s length, away from direct involvement and emotional commingling. I could put in my couple of hours, paint a wall for habitat or tutor a kid once in a blue moon and call it good. The sort of charity work I observed the well-heeled doing when I lived in Los Angeles: the auctions held at four-star hotels, the sunny afternoons spent picking up a few pieces of litter while wearing designer gloves. I’m not saying it’s wrong and I’m not trying to judge, because I think any form of a helping hand is admirable and necessary. In fact, growing up with immigrant parents, my family had very little money and though I didn’t know it at the time, I was a beneficiary of those well-heeled folks on many occasions. And I am grateful.

I guess I just felt like I wasn’t doing enough to be of service after I left the non-profit. Defeated that I couldn’t handle the hard stuff. I’ve been thinking about those days at the theater company a lot lately; I faced adversity and joy and hope and hopelessness and foibles and strengths. Oftentimes all at once. I want to give back again — the dreamer and overly idealistic self is still there and I’ve noticed the void of service acutely these last few years. Sure, I’m trying to juggle family and regaining my health and cobbling together some semblance of work, but I sense that I’m presenting this weird life in which all I do is sew pretty clothes and draw cute pictures and compose dorky haikus and talk endlessly about myself. Can I contribute something worthwhile and do those things? Well, wouldn’t that be grand? I’m not sure how to make it happen yet, but the idea has lodged into my thoughts…

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P.S. If you’re curious about the organization I worked for, it’s still around! Idris and Rhodessa are amazing!

Happy Friday + Randomness

bluejay

Happy Friday! Last week, I found a note K had written, crumpled and forgotten in a corner. I love it to pieces and its sweetness bowls me over. It inspired me to digitally paint a bluejay, but I think her rendition is about a jillion times better:

bluejay2

*That last line is “I can hear my neighbor playing music” – gah, it kills me.

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Have a spectacular weekend, friends! Yesterday was the first day of spring. Can you believe it?

O cherry blossoms
flittering amid the winds
a carpet of pink

Happy Friday + Randomness

plants

Happy Friday! More digital painting fun: I got this visual dictionary of plants from the library and have been admiring the shapes of leaves. So many variations exist, and I love examining the details.

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On the way to piano lessons yesterday:

Mama! I absolutely want to be a singer when I grow up no matter how much stage fright I get. I love it! Listen to this song I made up:

“We want to be wild and freeeeeee // Please don’t bother meeeeeee….”*

*one of the first songs that K composed which we think would be a runaway hit went something like this: “go away, go away, never, ever, come back…”. Judging from the lyrics, I wonder if she’s feeling oppressed?

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Just a very short note today to wish you the loveliest weekend. Cheers!

Deadlines! Deadlines! Ack.
Why am I painting plant leaves?
Must get back to work

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

fox-on-leaf

Happy Friday! With daylight savings beginning this weekend, it feels like summer will be rapidly approaching and this, of course, turns my thoughts to vacation planning. We don’t actually take very many vacations. Mostly it’s because M’s work schedule is unpredictable and this makes it tricky to plan trips. One of loveliest family vacations we took was to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island with M’s parents a few years ago. We rented a cottage that K called the “trip house”, and the atmosphere as a whole was a lot more upscale than we’re comfortable with — it sort of felt like the Pacific Northwest version of the Hamptons. Despite the nagging sense that I wasn’t clad in appropriate designer brands, it was wonderful to spend time truly relaxing with loved ones. During one of our treks, we explored a nearby beach and encountered a small red fox. It was a scrawny thing, wild and famished. I found it beautiful: the shaggy auburn fur against the grey backdrop of the San Juan straits. K wanted to pet it, but we feared rabies and held her hand down. The fox gazed at us for a few moments, and disappointed that food scraps weren’t forthcoming, it turned and loped away, its tail held high with dignity. I thought of that fox while drawing the one above.

The trip house looked a little like this, but I think it was yellow. Mmmmm….vacation….

house

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M and K continue to come up with weird nicknames for each other:

K: I love you, Buffalo Burger.

M: I love you too, Buffalo Chips.

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Have a fantastic weekend, friends! Here in Seattle, cherry blossoms are blooming.

We’ll lose an hour
This means longer days to come
So so excited

 

Criticism and How I Got a Book Deal

birch-treesI started and stopped several light and easy posts for today, but I’ve been stuck on this idea of criticisms so I decided to just go with it even though it’s neither light nor easy. It’s also not a short read, so I’ve inserted random illustrations I’ve been painting these days to break up the text.

When I was in my early twenties, I quietly mentioned to someone I respected — a much older woman — that I might want to be a writer or a “creative” of some sort. She leveled her world-weary eyes upon me, and told me in a matter-of-fact way that I should never try to write or make art as a living because I cared too much about what other people thought. She meant to be kind, and was certainly honest. I’ve always been a people-pleaser and overly sensitive to external input and it struck a nerve that she called it out so bluntly. “People will try to crush you, you know,” she said, and I nodded meekly. I tucked that information away in the recesses of my mind, and applied for graduate schools that year. As much as I hated to admit it, her words had resonated. Oddly enough, I didn’t take her statements as a putdown about my thin-skinned-ness. I had grown up with an artist mother; I knew the uncertainty of that life intimately and because of that I’d fought hard against my artistic grooming. Even though a part of me wanted very much to make things, a bigger part of me wanted to be responsible and I was accepted into several graduate programs — I felt smug that I had evaded the tortured artist’s life, that I was carving out options of the practical variety.

I also remembered that when I first started this blog, I was at a coffee shop as usual and ran into an acquaintance who is a marketing guru. He accidentally got a glimpse of my screen and asked what I was working on. At the time, I only had about four posts, and I was pretty embarrassed, but I admitted that I started an illustration blog (sewing was still a few months away). “Huh,” he said, “it’s very…accessible.” Not a criticism per se, but definitely not an enthusiastic response and I almost shut down my WordPress account. It was very uncomfortable to see such a lukewarm reception to something I’d put so much care and thought into.

citrus-y

Last week, I remembered these words as I worked feverishly on the cover art sketches of my book that is slowly taking shape. I tentatively showed the sketches to M, and though I was proud of them, I was also scared.  His job description as my husband requires that he be encouraging, of course, but he was also curious. “What are you going to do when you get criticism?” he asked. That nerve twanged yet again. I don’t handle negative comments well, but I’m not sure that anyone would say “I love me some criticism!”

Criticism is unavoidable. Someone’s gonna hate, no matter how much heart and soul you pour into your…whatever. Graphic design. Music. Sewing. Your faith. Your new pet grooming business. Whatever you identify as your truest you. Sometimes the harshness won’t even be about you, but what the other person is going through (inadequacy? jealousy? a bad taco causing an upset stomach and foul mood?). Sometimes the criticism will be genuinely constructive, given from a compassionate place. And sometimes all you’ll get is indifference, which is horrible in its own way. I’ve been incredibly lucky that so far, I’ve been floating on positive and supportive vibes here in this space and with all the new ventures I’ve been trying of late. I’ve found the sewing and creative community to be warm and accepting. But the flip side is coming. I know it. And I am ill-equipped.

As a preemptive measure, I started googling articles and watching a lot of youtube self-help videos on how to handle criticism. I’m a little bit ashamed of this. I’ve always been wary of the whole “self-help” genre, despite my obvious love of the topics commonly covered in the self-help section. I guess I feel like I should know how to deal with this sort of thing by now, since I’ve been on this earth a long time. That I should blast forth my sunny, unshakeable belief in myself and poo poo the naysayers without catchphrases and “experts” telling me what to do.

I think it’s safe to say everyone wants to be healthy, financially comfortable and fulfilled in their work (however you define work) and relationships. And most of all, we want to feel okay about ourselves. No one likes to be reminded of their shortcomings or mistakes or general uncoolness (very few people, I’ve discovered, actually think they’re cool). Because of these very basic human wants, there is a thriving and explosive “personal development” industry. My goodness, there seems to be a direct correlation between life coaching and yelling — I had to keep turning the volume down. Most of the videos left me feeling puzzled or confused, though I did find a few that I liked.

In my helter skelter research method for how to deal with criticism, I came across this series by Jonathan Fields called the Good Life Project. I saw that he interviewed Brené Brown, who is fabulous, and I wound up watching about 15 GLP interviews. Not all of them hit the mark for me, but I loved the basic premise of his project. Don’t we all want to live a good life? And what does that mean? Jonathan Fields talks with people deemed successful in various fields, though he’s partial to entrepreneurs with a spiritual bent. From fashion designers to venture capitalists and artists and writers and bloggers and academics, the stories were eclectic but all involved overcoming a personal struggle and taking some sort of risk. He always closes his interviews with the question, “What does a good life mean to you?” He assumed that he would get the same answers repeatedly but discovered that everyone defined a good life differently — and that made me evaluate what I consider a good life.

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So what does all this have to do with getting a book deal? I’ll get there, I promise. I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk about it because it’s the number one question I get when I mention I’m working on a book. “How did it happen?” And the subtext is, so often, “How can I get one too?” Because I’ve been there. I’ve thought the unasked question.

The short version would be: I knew someone who became an editor for a local publisher and she asked me if I was interested in publishing a book. How lucky, some might think. How unfair, others might mutter.

But that’s not the whole story. I’ve known the woman who would become my editor for over seven years. T, I’ll call her, is friendly and vibrant and absolutely lovely. She worked and still works at a small independent book store, and through the years, she became my go-to bookseller — her specialty is in children’s books, but she reads everything. Her house is filled to capacity with books. Every Christmas I send books to my in-laws, and every year, I would roll into the store during the holiday season, seeking her out for recommendations. T has never failed me and her recommendations are always spot-on. With her help, I selected the first books with which K learned how to read. We gushed over young adult novels (a deep love of mine), and T and the shop represented everything good and right about a local book shop.

Now, I keep yammering on about how little I talk about this here blog to people in my day-to-day, but back in the old days when I had my first blog (RIP), I barely told my family. Very few people knew about it. It was truly out of character for me to tell T about it, but she’s the sort of person you can tell these things to, so I did.

The store, sadly, closed in 2012, a couple of months before Christmas. I was bereft (who would help me choose books for the in-laws??) and remember desperately and ridiculously buying 10 books at once in the small hopes that it might help the store keep their doors open just a little longer. But it was the fate of independent bookstores everywhere; big online retailers gobbled them up left and right. The writing was on the wall. However, in a stunning reversal of fortunes fit for an inspirational Lifetime movie, the neighborhood rallied and found new owners, re-hired the employees and the doors re-opened in 2013.

I didn’t know this. I had gone through my traumatic job loss, I had finally gotten my health under control, and I was on a mission to save money so had cut down on buying books. But one day, I passed by the store and saw the new sign and how could I not go in? T was there, and she said, “I’ve been thinking about you!” She told me about her new job as editor and asked if I’d be interested in illustrating books. Then she asked if I had any book ideas of my own to write and illustrate — I nearly fainted.

It wasn’t as though I automatically got a book deal though. I still had to go through the proposal process, create a storyboard, and work with T to pitch the book idea. There was no guarantee that the idea would be accepted. It took many months. It was hard work, and I didn’t sleep much while working on the storyboard. When I finally got the email from T with the multiple exclamation marks, it felt as though I had been working on the book for years already.

So at the face of it, it seems simply serendipitous and yes, there’s a bit of that. But I think it’s important to remember that I went out of my comfort zone to share my old blog (which literally had two readers) with T many moons ago, and that, for my fragile, criticism-averse nature, was a huge risk. Also, for years, I’d been dreaming and secretly accumulating ideas for children’s books, and I had been unwittingly preparing. I was ready for the serendipity. And every day, by posting something personal and wholly about me or made by me on this present blog, I am continuing another kind of risk – of collective public eye-rolling or criticism or who knows what other terrifying things. It is also a training of sorts for me, a new kind of preparation for projects I haven’t even dared to articulate yet.

What’s that quote everyone always cites? The Nelson Mandela one: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” After all the awkward self-help videos and myriad of articles I read about coping with criticism, it essentially boiled down to realizing that I will never handle criticism well. I’ll always want to please people and will care too much what others think. Yes, there will be dream-crushers and hope-killers. But there are also people who will buoy and uplift you, providing the balance and support you need. Unlike my younger self, I’ve stopped ignoring the part of me that wants to make and make and make. Most of all, my fear of criticism doesn’t mean I’ll stop plugging along, or stop putting myself out there or stop seeing if I can make unimaginably wonderful things happen. In my own way, I am trying to create my version of a good life.

 

 

Alternative Exercise

yoga-ish

I’ve been slowly incorporating yoga into my exercise routine. I can’t say that I’m a complete convert yet and K likes to mock me while I attempt the different poses (“You’re doing it wrong, Mommy!” screams my yoga coach from the sidelines. It does dampen the serenity a bit), but I’m definitely warming up to the whole concept. When I made my 2014 list of non-resolutions, my aim was to do yoga at least once a week. Surprisingly, except for one week, I’ve kept it up. Some lovely readers recommended various apps and dvds, so I’ve been trying different ones out. I’ve been rotating this app, and this one, and this series on dvds. So far, I’m liking the flexibility of the Yoga Studio app the best (some are as short as 15 minutes), but all of them have many merits. Trudie Styler‘s methods are supposed to promote weight loss, which would be a nice side benefit, but I can’t vouch for whether it’s working since my main goals are to increase flexibility and bring in some calmness into my crazy schedule with yoga. Barbara Benagh’s series is set on a beautiful beach, and there’s a lot of blanket folding involved. The sequence of poses meant for addressing insomnia actually put me to sleep! I’m thoroughly enjoying that I can just roll out my mat in the comfort of my own home, and that I can stop whenever I want to. No pressure! No fear of people judging my bare feet! It’s wonderful. Thank you for the recommendations, Xenia, Marit and June!

juggling-runner

After I dropped off K at school yesterday, I saw a woman running while juggling. Juggling! In the rain, no less. I loved it. I wouldn’t have the coordination to manage such complex maneuvers, but the woman’s innovative spirit was a highlight in my day.

metallic-juggling-balls

And this reminded me that I finally made juggling balls for K. After much beseeching on K’s part, I pulled out some pleather from my stash and made some metallic ones for Valentine’s Day. I made five, but when I went in search for them to take photos, I could only find two. They’ve been in heavy use since I made them, though again, not much juggling seems to happen. They’ve been tossed around in some makeshift game K came up with her friends involving plastic golf clubs. But here are the two, and I wish I could find the silver ones that I sewed up perfectly. I don’t say this lightly friends, since I’ve found these juggling balls challenging to get just right. No fault of the impeccable Oliver + S instructions, but completely due to my usual slapdash approach to sewing.

The pleather is super thin and from here. I can’t find it on their site, but I have the copper, nickel and silver colorways. It also came in a silvery blue, which I should have snagged. Soft as butter and effortless to sew, this is synthetic magic. I want to make more things with this great fake leather.

Are you a yoga enthusiast? I’m always open to more suggestions! And would you consider juggling while jogging?

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