Thanksgiving Vibes

Howdy friends. Happy almost Thanksiving, which is the holiday that grows on me more and more every year! This time around, I'm going to order vegan Thanksgiving dinner, because although I love cooking, I'm feeling like letting the holiday work for ME, instead of work for the holiday. Thank you Kelly for the idea What about you? Do you have major family plans? Major napping plans?

I started off this month with an education in our United States voting process. As a poll worker, I got to see the whole shindig come together. My favorite part was seeing neighbors recognize each other, and kids go ga ga over "I voted" stickers. They're like gold to them.

Then a sweet and talented friend sent along a gorgeous print to me last week. I love her style and I love spooky things, so this was extra delicious. Thank you Zhen!!

annie-ruygt-oc-illustration-zhen

My desk is a bit all over the place as I try to stay grounded with personal projects (still working on the picture book ideas with agent!) and my client work. To help me remember, I purchased some goodies like oat flower essence for recognizing my "calling", and a journal with motivational quotes about being our gosh darn SELVES. They have added a lot to my morning. Just having a ritual in place to work on very specific things that need my attention makes all the difference.

annie-ruygt-art-childrens-illustration

I'm so grateful for the support of my friends, family, and clients, as well as for the opportunity to make art for a living and for pleasure. This life truly is precious, and I hope you go forward through this holiday season recognizing how special our time is with loved ones- heck! even with strangers. All we have are moments, pieces of time. Opportunities to appreciate being alive. Here's to mounds of this. Happy Thanksgiving and lots of love,

Annie

Dancing, Writing, Cooking, Painting, Singing, Watching, Repeat.

I will admit to anyone reading this, I have been in a rigid "funk" lately, where I have pushed myself to "be creative" every day, but really I'm just forcing myself to produce.

And I've been screaming- "there's no milk left! No milk left!" My spirit animal is a cow, did I mention that?

Being creative means being curious. I love that word, curious. When we are curious, don't we follow it without looking back? Don't we feel excited to discover something, and momentarily forget about all the things on our to-do list, or what was worrying us moments before?

I remember when I was about 11 and I'd walk around my old neighborhood searching for things that would claw at my curiosity. Notebook in hand, binoculars round neck, and even at one time a spy microphone, I was set to discover something outrageous about the way the world works. I know NOW that eavesdropping is highly inappropriate, but hey, I was 11 and it was a blast. I don't regret it! I have notebooks full of weird conversations I overheard, or of watching people in their backyards. It doesn't sound that fascinating when you read those notebooks now, but at the time it was thrilling.

Current piece called, "Meditation". I don't usually paint abstract but this idea came into my mind during my practice, asking me politely to work with it.

Current piece called, "Meditation". I don't usually paint abstract but this idea came into my mind during my practice, asking me politely to work with it.

This is what an art practice is all about.

When you sit down to create, there shouldn't be an end goal in mind.  A thread of curiosity can lead you to places beyond expectations, beyond your doubt, beyond the bullshit and worry.  I was making the mistake of pushing aside any thread and "practicing to make perfect" so that I'd be better than I was before.  

Isn't now good enough?  Honestly, it's all we have, so we better damn well appreciated ourselves this moment.

Practice makes.

We don't need the perfect part.  Because practice is what makes us.  Through a practice, we are unfolding, uncovering more and more of ourselves.

My current vision board. Looks different than any other board I've made- no items, no things, just a call to practice.

My current vision board. Looks different than any other board I've made- no items, no things, just a call to practice.

When do I practice?

I have to make time to practice, but I'm shooting for often as possible.  Children do it every day.  I think it's safe to say that we should too.  I think the more we do it, the more we can let stuff go and get down to the real stuff.

It doesn't need to look like one thing.

Reread the title to this post.  All of those things are part of my practice.  I have decided I will not just practice one thing because I am a multisided human being with lots of layers.  Yay!  

Now tell me, what will your practice look like?  Start with this: what are you curious about?  Now go out and follow it.  I can't wait to see where your practice takes you!

 

Beautiful time spent with friends is also a part of my practice- since it inspires my books, writing, and fills my heart!

Beautiful time spent with friends is also a part of my practice- since it inspires my books, writing, and fills my heart!

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Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Sitting Disease

I was in a lecture a few Tuesdays ago, and the teacher mentioned sitting disease.

"Of course, we all have it. And we have to be very careful to move the body more," He said. "Now the next thing we can do to detox the body is...."

I sat there (not helping!) and thought about this as he lectured further. My hips were always tight these days. My metabolism had tanked since I stopped riding my bike to work a couple years ago and began freelancing, thus making it hard to loose weight. I don't have my standing desk any more, too. GOSH. I AM SITTING ALL THE TIME. No wonder things are going haywire.

Just this last week and a half, I took I took time off from work. Today is my very last of this "staycation". I didn't sit down much the last 10 days, instead, I walked along the beach, the pier, around museums, in and around parks. Although I didn't do a ton of vigerous exercise, I moved my body for the majority of the day, and felt amazing.

When I walked up the stairs in my house this morning, I felt a lightness that hadn't been there. My knees and hips didn't hurt! Whaaaatttt???

just-stand-annie-ruygt-illustrator

Since October of last year, I've had some weird issues with knee pain and weak behind muscles. I couldn't figure out why, with all the yoga and sometimes runnind, why my legs were breaking.

This brilliant infographic from juststand.org might shed light on why, if you sit for work all day, you feel crappy like I do. I'm commited to try and sit only 3-4 hours a day, rather than the average 7. My desk is taller as of one day ago (suitable for standing), my chair is a stand/sit combo chair (aka stool) which allows me to use it for support but not for sinking into, and I will march while I watch new episodes of Big Mouth if I must!

I love my hips and knees, and I'm so thankful to feel them loosen up after a crunchy 9 months. I must protect them!

Do you have a walking pracice? Use a standing desk? Take an evening walk every day?

Let me know!

IN OTHER NEWS...

Been working on a pattern for a podcast I recently joined about Disneyland attractions, called The Back Side of Water. In a past life I was a jungle cruise skipper and a mountaineer on Big Thunder Mountain with the other cohost, Alex Stewart. We're making some swag for the listeners. I love painting treats as they are so brightly colored and beautiful, and make my mouth water. Total sugar seduction.

Swag will be available June 15th!

"Sugar Rush" print of treats found at Disneyland.

"Sugar Rush" print of treats found at Disneyland.

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

The Homemade Illustrator- Taking time off to reboot!

I'm heading out for a bit to recharge and have some fun! Line dancing! Sandy beaches! Good books and fluffy pillows!!!

Freelancing makes me worry. I'm getting better, but it involves a lot of thinking and planning, and often...worrying. I'm glad I notice this so I can work on chainging that mindset.

Here's another episode of "The Homemade Illustrator". I hope you enjoy, and always feel like you can share your thoughts and experiences with me.

-Annie

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Fire Magic

I'm a super geek for life's metaphores. I want to draw them, talk about them, and write and write and write about them! So that's what you get today ;)

My dad up and all around Napa Valley and he mentioned to me that on his most recent trek up Mt. George in Napa, there was a fire poppy.

"They only surface after a fire. It's been 52 years since the last ones bloomed."

"Wow," I gawked at the photos of this lovely apple red flower.

Napa took a beating with the fires last Fall. 60 + homes were detroyed, and every month I find out more and more people, I know personally, lost theirs. So many folks have been trying to scramble and find places to live in the valley, so rent prices are high (higher than the normal high) and even more limited options than before. The community has been so supportive, however, and what could have been so traumatic of a situation, showed all of Napa how loving, strong, and ready natives are to take care of each other. I was amazed, and grateful I could be in Napa and witness this.

Now, after all that destruction, a beautiful, rare wildflower has sprung up, reminding us of our strength in the face of fire, and also the beauty and opportunities on the other side.

"Fire Poppy" in Napa Valley, 2018

"Fire Poppy" in Napa Valley, 2018

Recently, I've been in a weird, up-and-down place. When I saw this fire poppy I felt my heart soften, and I realized that I'd been through my own little fire: a breakup from New York, a break up from a man I loved, and just before I left, a break up from old friends and coworkers at a company I'd invested all of myself into. Lots of fire, lots of destruction, lots of change. But see I have a hard time letting go. I hold everthing in my body. I resisted allowing the fires to burn and clear proper space for new opportunities, for new wildflowers. I resisted the fact that things hurt, and I needed time to heal.

No wonder I've been in this up-and-down place!

But when I saw that fire poppy...

They say the first step to healing a habit is awareness. So thank you, Dad, for sharing your pictures and interests with me. Thank you Mom for reminding me what I need is important, and helping me let go in your own way.

And for all the flowers in my life; my family, friends, and new projects.

One of these was a mural in Napa that came up the last couple months as I made my way back to California, and the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, both of which were such great learning experiences, and well enjoyed breaks from the computer.

annie-ruygt-orange-county-mural

Letting go takes time and work. It's the kind of work you do on the yoga mat, or in the confidence of a friend. It's beautiful time spent and never has an agenda.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Meary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be. -The Beatles

And let it be I shall. I'm excited for the new things coming into my life, grateful for the past and its lessons and experiences, and ready for whatever life throws at me next. Who knows? Maybe it'll be a rare opportunity that can only come after loads and loads of frustration and heartache? Cool. I'm good with that. :)

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.