Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Schedule Alone Time

Stress is a constant complaint of many overworked people.  I find the best method is to have time alone to gather your thoughts, process your emotions, and sort out daily drama.  I cherish my alone time.

I like to put classical music in my ears and go to place with no TV or other distractions.  Many times Starbucks will do.  Other times I just go to the park and feed the ducks.  Either way, it feels like the stresses of life and confusions that threaten my sanity just fall away. 

Sometimes I take my camera and take pictures of interesting things, lightings, trees or flowers, just for me, not for work or assignments.  Sometimes I will take my tablet and pens to just sketch whatever I see.  This is one of my favorite unwind methods.  Many people like to just doodle to clear there thoughts.  Why not?  Whatever works.

Alone time can look like any number of things:  Actual getting away to the beach or the mountains; an hour away from the family in a quiet room; bath time complete with candles and aroma therapy.  Whatever your method to de-stress, it needs to be scheduled like any other event in your week.  I find unless you carve out money for something it won’t be there.  Unless you carve out alone time, all your time will be spoken for with the minutia of life.

Going on and on with no unwind method in place can be unhealthy and can even cause or contribute to high blood pressure, or even stroke.  With the holidays upon us and the added drama and sometimes unpleasantness of families, not to mention the stress of financial burdens, carving out time to unwind is essential.  Do it for your health.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pencil Extenders

I have found a great way to extend the life of drawing pencils and colored pencils without having to buy expensive extenders for each pencil you own.  You can buy pencil extenders for about $6.  That isn’t bad, but when you have dozens of pencils and you don’t want to share just one or two extenders… well, the cost adds up.

I found that old disposable pen bodies work very well for pencil extenders.  Some disposable pens are made with very thin bodies and they are inappropriate for extenders.  However many of the name brand disposables are large enough in diameter to be used for extender purposes.  Even so, some have to be warmed at the ends and stretched immediately by shoving a pencil into the hollow tube.  You won’t need to stretch all pen bodies but some need it.  Once the pen’s ink is dry you would have thrown it away anyway.  This way we are simply recycling part of the pen for other purposes.

You will need:

Old used cheap disposable pens of a certain diameter
Pliers to pull out the old disposable ink cartridge
Stove or heating element to warm the plastic for the smaller tubes
Short pencils to place in the extenders as soon as they are warmed

Step one:

Pull out the old ink cartridge and discard. 

Step two:

If the hollow tube left over is too narrow to fit a pencil comfortably, warm the end over a stove element or candle flame for just a few seconds.  Plastic is flammable and will catch fire quickly so don’t let the tube touch the heating element.  After a few seconds, quickly shove the pencil point side into the tube.  If it stretches enough to house the pencil down about ¼ inch, pull it back out and place it into the extender from the blunt end.  If it didn’t stretch sufficiently, reheat the tube rotating between your fingers so it heats evenly on all sides and shove the pencil in again.

Step three:

Enjoy your pencil till it is too short to sharpen.  I use these for my drawing pencils, charcoal pencils, pastel pencils, and colored pencils.  I must have dozens and save old used disposable pens to make more.

Occasionally the old pen tube will become brittle with age and crack.  That’s when it is time to finally toss it and replace with a new extender.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

After Thanksgiving

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, it is time to think of the future:  Christmas, winter, the New Year.  Besides decorating and shopping, this time of year I like to buy a new weekly calendar and plan my goals for the following year.  I feel like unless I make time for things on purpose, I will never get around to it.  It seems like mundane chores and just living gets in the way of doing the things I really want to do.  I want to make time on purpose to create, to paint, to explore new mediums and to work on book ideas.  How can I squeeze those things in if I don’t do it on purpose?

I decide first how many things I would like to accomplish and I usually think conservatively.  For example I’d like to paint 36 new paintings next year, that works out to 3 paintings per month.  However I know that, although that would be lovely, I just won’t be able to carve out that much time for painting.  So conservatively I’d like to paint 12 new paintings; one per month is more manageable.  Also I’d like to complete 3 new books next year, but I will be happy if I can complete and self-publish one new one.  Books are time consuming if you want to do it right and make sure there are no errors before you go to press.

What do you want to do with your year?  Is there purpose to your planning?  Think about it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


There is something very healthy about being thankful for what you have instead of regretting what you don’t have.  A positive outlook makes you feel better all over.

Yesterday, I found out that my cell phone number, which I have had for about 8 years, was given to someone else’s device and my number/my phone is no longer working.  Everyone at the service carrier tech department were very apologetic that this happened but no one could fix it.  I was going to have to go to one of those stores and get a new sim card or a new plan.  I simply didn’t have time for it right before the holiday.  I started thinking of having to call or text everyone who has my number and try to give them a new number and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I started crying.  That is my normal fall back when bad things hit me.  However within about half an hour, it struck me that praying might be a good idea.  My faith is very important to me but I don’t always think of it first.  My bad.

Anyway, I realized that the cell phone wasn’t essential to life or love.  It was given to me as a gift many years ago and has been one of those things that has continued by the grace of God all this time.  I have hardly ever had to pay for it.  God has provided a way all along these years.  If it is time to give it up, that should be okay with me.  He gave it and he can take it back.  It has been a luxury that I didn’t deserve or even earn.  Also, we have other methods of communication to fall back on, so we aren’t without contact with the outside world.  As I started to think about all the blessings I received and for almost nothing, I realized that I should be happy.  I didn’t really deserved to have it in the first place and I could have been without one all these past 8 years.  So really I am blessed.

In a few days, after the holiday rush is over, I will probably go to a store and get it all straightened out.  Until then, I have a lovely peace in my heart about the whole situation.  On the plus side, none of my “needy” family can call me and beg for this or that.  I don’t have a phone.  No more creditors or telemarketers can call me right now, I have no phone.  What a peaceful few days I have ahead of me.  I am very thankful.  This will be a great holiday.

Blessings to everyone.  Especially those facing difficult family situations.  I’m thinking of you and praying for you.