Thursday, May 25, 2017

Day 42 #100DayProject Self-Challenge-Creating Structure to Help Me Succeed

 My #100DayProject

Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.

My small task completed today? I re-mounted my Santa Ornament Collection back on my newly painted wall. I still have to complete re-painting my studio, but at least 1/2 of it is done. I'm pulling together my studio to create a welcoming work-friendly environment.

What Level of Structure Do You Need in Your Day?

I'm finding this self-challenge offers me just enough structure to work within, too much structure and my artist-side rebels. I think every professional creatif has a threshold when it comes to working with in the confines of a structured environment. I find I do need structure, but too much structure i.e. rules to adhere by, or an overly rigid time-table that demands my daily output overextend myself and I rebel. The rebellion takes form in abandoning creative endeavors in favor of couch potato activity. I worked hard to get the day-job work out, now I can relax is my state-of-mind. Unfortunately this creates a total lack of structure where I don't just couch potato it for an hour or two, but for the rest of the day. Not good.

 In my former day job, I found this to be true, I worked hard to get a variety of duties done on time, unfortunately, my creative projects often suffered as I came home to collapse on the couch. When I left the job, I was without any structure, and this didn't farewell for me either. I had trouble deciding where to start, what to do. My #100DayProject self challenge has low level structure, enough for me to happily engage in without feeling overwhelmed or that I'm being dictated to-even if it's by me! I know just how much structure in my schedule I can take, how much can you take?

My Reward Work for Today.

As mentioned earlier I and a local friend and neighbor started The Windsor Monarch Project this Spring. In lieu of this town project, I am creating my own Butterfly Friendly garden, and yesterday after receiving my Blue Chip Buddeia, I planted it.

My name is Suzanne Urban I sell my funny stuff as seen on magnet below on ETSY here: SmirkingGoddess and my art here: SuzanneUrbanArt

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Day 41 #100DayProject Self Challenge- Clean Surfaces = Organized Thoughts

 My #100DayProject

Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.

Returning from an out-of-state visit and thus absence from my daily investment in the #100DayProject for five days made my transition back into this challenge hard. Transitioning as mentioned, is hard for those dealing with Attention Deficit issues.


But one thing that's always helped me is clean up an area desperate in needing to be put back to order. It was a no-brainer to start at my magnet/pinback work station. I came back to a few big orders to be full-filled, so printing, and making the order products came first. Tidying up the area came second.


This sounds odd, but seeing order makes me feel balanced, no racing thoughts, no overwhelming feelings poking the edges of my mind wondering where to start, then to ease these feelings, rapidly filing items that don't need my attention right away, only to be forgotten for too long.  My small task today also opened up an opportunity to figure out better studio organization so I can work more efficiently. Every time I clean up my studio, I find better ways to simplify my work space so I can easily put my hands on a tool, or extra printed button designs thus saving me from wasting ink and time printing out an order when I already have the print outs. This is studio Feng Shui 101.


After the clean up and getting orders out, I raced to our local ACE and purchased a bundle of Marigolds to plant around the yard. Flowers, gardening the beauty that ensues from simply inserting colorful flora into one's yard also heals.

My name is Suzanne Urban I sell my funny projects like the magnet to the left on ETSY right here: SmirkingGoddess and my Art here: SuzanneUrbanArt

It's my hope that my own self challenge for the #100DayProject will help other creatives facing attention issues. Drop me a line if you're so inclined. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 40 of My #100DayProject Self-Challenge-Where to Start When You Have SO Many Ideas

  My #100DayProject

 Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.

I've been absent due to a visit to Florida to see my Dad and Stepmother. I opted not to travel with my laptop so I could sail through Pre-TSA with no issue. But I'm baaaccckkk!

I've mentioned here the scores of sketches piling up in my sketchbooks, and half-started projects bunched up in my WIP (work-in-progess) file. I took the #100DayProject self-challenge to finally confront one of the reasons I only manage to complete 25% of all the ideas lying around in my studio. The reason being I have ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. I no longer get excited, sketch out an idea, then my flighty mind is off and imagining something else, or I hit a road block in completing the idea because of a production issue, or funds or both. Project gets shelved.


I follow Cory Huff's THE ABUNDANT ARTIST blog and recently read his book SELLING YOUR ART ONLINE. From Cory's emails I found Jessica Abel who tackles the very subject that I am tackling with my #100DayProject self challenge. Jessica offers a unique way to hone in on how to select the best unfinished project to start.


As synchronicity surfaces with helpful information since I started the #100DayProject I'm finding despite the extra burden of dealing with Attention Deficit issues, that people without ADD also deal with the same frustration of unfinished WIP (works in progress). Ms. Abel''s advice on how to breakdown and select just one WIP to finish has allowed me to open up and find that inner child who used to create without abandon, this unbridled joy gives me focus.

Today, in keeping with one small task, I continued to organize my studio and processed three orders, before venturing out to enjoy some reward work, gardening.

My name is Suzanne Urban I am an artist and writer. My funny stuff like the magnet to the left is available in my ETSY shop here: SmirkingGoddess and my art and art products here: SuzanneUrbanArt

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Day 39 of My #100DayProject Self Challenge Learning Disorders Need Not Be An Excuse

 My #100DayProject

Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.

It occurred to me that some might think I'm being over-indulgent in laying out why I re-booted my #100DayProject from one of finishing uncompleted studio projects, to a simple, complete one task to jumpstart me to be more creatively productive in my studio.

The Adult suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder learns to be defensive, to cover our tracks for our learning issue. And I've come across many a creative individual that I could swear had no clue that they might have ADD or ADHD. In fact I didn't have a clue, and once I heard the term, my life turned around. I no longer silently blamed myself for not being as smart as everyone else in this universe.

The odd thing about one's inner critic is when I knew more information about something or had an intelligent response I remained silent. Another thing? People I truly respected for their intelligence, never questioned mine, they offered respect back.


Once I had a handle on why I was so easily distracted, I was able to create a variety of ways to remember things. I also know this, if you are passionate about something, you won't forget, even if you have ADD. This is something teachers, psychologists, and educational pundits haven't figured out yet. I think a lot of creative people might suffer from ADD, as I talk to my artist friends I'm amazed how many did poorly on standardized tests, stared out windows during class, and always seem to misplace their glasses, book, keys etc. We aren't stupid, just distracted. The world is filled with people who can color within the lines, but for those who can't, we're a rarer breed. But, do not use your ADD as a crutch, think of it as something to tend to, but not as an excuse, this brings me to:


Have you ever been sweeped into an arguement with someone and mentally blame yourself for not communicating appropriately, even though you know and may even have email proof that you DID inform clearly what the issue was? Since I've trained myself to keep notes, and emails I've learned to have my own back. A year ago someone emailed me that I neglected to do something, I seldom receive emails from this individual. Some of our conversations on a project I helped her on were done over the phone. BE YE NOT SO DUMB AS I, DO NOT use the phone to commit to anything or make changes on a project with out sending a back up email i.e. "As per our phone conversation (put date of phone conversation here) we are moving forward with your consent to_________________."  I repeated what we agreed upon in a former phone conversation and her retort was : "I can't keep everything straight with my ADD!". This customer is a tremendously wonderful person in many ways, but I didn't know it was my responsibility to manage her learning disorder on top of all else that I do. I thought it my responsibility was to deliver a project at a very reasonable price which I felt I'd done. ADD is the responsibility of the owner, period. This leads me to:


At a former job of mine, not mentioning which one, I noticed there were certain co-workers, and superiors who never returned an email. Instead they would answer my question, or affirm my procedure in passing. OR like one obnoxious woman, call at an inopportune time to blather a response.

This is a coy tactic that protects some from taking responsibility for their job. If their answer is wrong, they remain blameless. I worked in a very busy office, one such individual worked in a quiet two-person office; she had the luxury to listen to music as she worked. Once she called me at an extremely busy time, when I requested to call her back when things settled down her reply: "Absolutely not!" She was a bully, but mostly lazy. She also succeeded in getting me written up. Another idiot I worked with had to train me on a program. when I whipped out my notebook to write down instructions she intoned: "PUT THAT A WAY!" YOU DON'T NEED TO WRITE THINGS DOWN!". My response? " I respect that your time is valuable, and I need to write things down so I don't trouble you with questions in the future."  What these people don't know, is very few employees in the workplace like them, respect them, and some of us do a grand job of mimmicing them behind their backs. Do these impatient people have ADD? I think not, they suffered from being in love with authority without responsibility.

My name is Suzanne Urban I sell my funny stuff on ETSY here: smirkinggoddess and my art here: SuzanneUrbanArt

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Day 38 of My #100DayProject Challenge–One Not-So-Small Task and Color Theory of Sorts

 My #100DayProject

Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.

My One Not so Small Task:

Before participating in the #100DayProject, I never realized how the act of rebooting when I'm stuck and not being creatively productive can help me to get back on track. Re-booting which for me consists of stopping, thinking through why I failed and figuring something out to motivate me to get energize to return to the drawing table. I've often re-booted over the years, but this challenge has taught me to slow down the process and really think things through so that my goal arrives and sticks. This in turn has spurred me to work harder, it's helped de-fog my mind and decision making is coming faster and easier. I've been more productive since starting this challenge then I've been in a long time. For starters, yesterday and today I finally tackled a not-so-small task, re-painting my art studio.


 When we moved into our antique home five years ago, I was a little too excited in getting our interior space painted. I designated my studio space to be the guest room, but my husband pointed out that our computer room is off of this room and it would make more sense to keep this room as my studio. I agreed, however the painters had already painted the walls, a soft sage green. This green looks dull, almost grey on most days. I found myself not wanting to stay in my studio for long periods of time, and worse, the dark green color didn't reflect any light, with just one window, light was kinda scarce. 

I also suffer from depression, I think it's basically SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Grey rainy days not only make me gloomy, but they make me sluggish. The sage green walls exacerbated the inner gloomy feeling I endure on overcast days leaving me uninspired and unproductive. And the color sucked light instead of reflecting it. I've been wanting to re-paint my studio for a few years now. I finally conquered the task, I'm half-way done and already I see the improvement in how I feel and how the lighter color Benjamin Moore's Golden Straw, reflects light from my one window.

I couldn't have tackled such a big over-taking with out this challenge. Can't wait to finish the room.


My reward was to attend our local Garden Club's Garden Mart, I added Ribbon Grass, a Columbine and one Chinese Lantern (love this shrub) to my basket, Can't wait to plant them. I attended my Churc,h Grace Episcopal on the Green's fabulous Rummage Sale and even bummed a ride from my friend Wonderful Willa to visit a woman in town who sells perennials straight from her garden where I picked up Bluebells and some Angelina Sedum. All of this was purchased for under twenty bucks. SCORE!!

My name is Suzanne Urban I sell my funny stuff here on ETSY: SmirkingGoddess
and my Art here: SuzanneUrbanArt

So I've advanced already to handling a larger task. The bigger the task, the bigger the reward! Had I not thought through a system to get my motivation engine going, I wouldn't have gotten this far.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Day 37 of my #100DayProject- Lists and Synchronicity Too

 My #100DayProject

Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.


My issue with Attention Deficit Disorder makes me inconsistent in performing daily tasks. One such task is making a To Do List. When I write things down, I remember to complete some of the jobs listed. Crossing of each one is a boost and propels me to have a more successful day. Unfortunately, I'm inconsistent with making these lists. Sometimes it's because I get overly ambitious, and hardly anything on said list gets done and then I feel so awful that going back to creating a list is upsetting; or I allow my impatient ADD mind to bypass jotting stuff down to do and end up vaguely trying to get things done with little direction. Or as an artist, the rebellious non-conforming side of me resents following orders, but these orders are dictated by me for me, not another party. So get with the program Suzanne.

To Do Lists spur Productivity. I'm finding with doing one task a day, organization comes more naturally to me, and the list-writing is an urgent gotta do first.


In my last post (Day 36) I mentioned a community project I and a fellow neighbor/artist dreamt up. I decided I wanted to raise Monarchs by growing butterfly friendly plants in my my backyard and asked BJ, a phenomenal gardener if she wanted to join in. She did, but she wanted to expand the project to plant a Butterfly habitat in a conserved area of land reserved for joggers, walkers, nature enthusiasts and wildlife. She approached the town and we're underway.  Volunteers are coming out of the woodwork, and the town is 100% behind us. Most significant to me is Monarch Butterfly images are manifesting on a regular basis in front of us. From the one early Monarch flapping in our backyard, to a local magazine my husband spied at the grocery store with a picture of a butterfly delicately resting on the world, to the above picture of a wall sculpture my husband took last night in a restaurant he and friends ate at.

If you're a fan of Carl Jung, you will know that synchronicity means this:

These occurences tell me our Monarch Project is on it's way to good things. I look forward to seeing how my participation in the @100DayProject also brings some interesting synchronicity our way. I won't look for them, but I will pay attention.


My name is Suzanne Urban I am a writer and artist. My funny stuff can be purchased on ETSY here:
SmirkingGoddess and my art here:SuzanneurbanArt

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Day 36 #100DayProject Finding Community to Create The Tipping Point

The Windsor Butterfly Project to help out: click here

 My #100DayProject

Perform one simple task a day to assist me in becoming more creatively productive and consistent in my studio. All tasks can be followed with a reward to encourage consistency.

Getting back on track to teach myself to stay consistently focused on creative projects by participating in the #100DayProject has taught me one thing. I never recognized how, when and why I got unfocused. I just did. I had a set back, the project got shelved, and that was that. I stuck with the easier work to produce, work without a struggle. This held me back. A vague sense of dread permeated my thoughts when I saw my WIP (Work in Progress) file grow. At first starting a file made me feel organized, tucking it all away in one safe place meant I'll get to it. Then a year past, another year and so on. Sometimes I did finish a product and get it up, but the snail pace is unacceptable for someone who wants to share her ideas in art-product form to the world as well as sell the work.

By adhering to one simple task, my esteem lifts up, solutions seem more forthcoming and suddenly a variety of To-Do's don't seem so overwhelming disparate and unattainable. I'm waking up with a plan in my head, a plan that unfolds more easily and stuff gets done.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT=Getting A Project Off the Ground

Not only does stuff get done, but new ideas spring forth. One idea, I wanted to raise Monarchs after reading about a man who repopulated his city of San Francisco with the rare Blue Pipeline Swallowtail. I thought, I'd like to try that, raising butterflies isn't as all consuming as raising bees, I'm an avid gardener and greenie and Monarchs are about to be added to our endangered list. I enlisted some local gardening friends to join me in this venture, next thing I know my neighbor mentions it would be great to have a Butterfly habitat along our local Riverwalk (conserved land with trails that runs along the Farmington River here in Windsor, CT). Well, BJ isn't one to let a good idea sit idle. She approached the town, we met with the Chamber of Commerce and Wetlands department and now we're in the process of seeking sponsors for our project. People are joining us, and one thing I've noticed, Synchronicity is happening; butterflies including a monarch flapping in the breeze in our backyard two weeks ago, keep manifesting before us in some way.


So now my idea of raising monarchs in my garden, to BJ's idea to expand to a public place has met what Malcolm Gladwell calls the Tipping Point, when an idea catches fire and spreads to the point the object becomes a commonplace product, idea, or event.

What makes the Tipping Point happen is community, but it must be an engaged, aware community. This distracted artist needs feedback from a community in order to create, most artists do, even if we work in a vacuum, sequestered in our studios. Without receiving energy back, we go nowhere.

Seeking a pro-active community is hard. Some groups are lackluster, some self-involved and inclusive, some demand a lot out of you with out giving back. I've had my share in joining the wrong kinds of groups. But when you least expect it, you meet someone who will turn you on to a team, or group or club or person, and the right kind of community surfaces, and good things spread, like wildfire.

So my one simple task today? I'm prepping my studio to re-paint the walls, maybe not so small, but I'm motivated and ready to go.

My name is Suzanne Urban I sell my funny stuff here: SmirkingGoddess and my art here: