When time is the enemy – manically juggling!

Well it’s true to say that I started 2018 on the ground running – it’s been an utterly manic year already and we’re only a few months in!

As with most people, I find myself constantly juggling. For me, working part time in a library, means juggling that with working full time as an illustrator, trying to find some time for writing and personal artwork, as well as home responsibilities, personal goals (particularly for this year – more details later in the year on that one) and having four huge wolfies who require a LOT of time and attention. I’m not called the ‘Mistress of Wolves’ for nothing!

Cover artwork by Antonio Javier Caparo.

But recently even I admit that things have been insane. Basically from November 2016 to now, I haven’t stopped. As the writing has taken a back seat, my illustrating has never been in more demand. After a couple of HarperCollins’s commissions and a hastily short deadline for Penguin Random House (for ‘The Mad Wolf’s Daughter’ by Diane Magras, published March 2018) and a few individual commissions, I happily signed up for a very exciting and MASSIVE commission funded by Oxford University and created by writer, self-publishing guru and Creative Thinking World Champion, Dan Holloway. Basically Dan has invented a brilliant new game, Mycelium’, as an amazing training tool and fun game to promote and expand creative thinking. To say its clever and inventive, like it’s creator, is a colossal understatement.

Dan Holloway is one of those rare people you only meet once in a blue moon, a true inspiration. I first knew of him as a fellow writer on the now defunct HarperCollins online writing site, Authonomy, then met him in the flesh at the second Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival founded by Debbie Young. Think of Elon Musk, Bob Dylan and Basquiat and you get close to how talented this chap is. He’s a huge brain, an amazing performance poet, writer and…well, in my opinion, a bit of a genius!

Mycelium final logo which will be on the back of each card.

Anyway, he liked my artwork and wanted me to create the visuals for this amazing game, starting with producing 50 images for the first playing pack of cards. I can’t reveal the artwork I’ve done for this yet, but will as soon as I’m able. 😉

So this is where the juggling really comes in, with time becoming an enemy that you’re constantly chasing.

The irony is that ‘chasing time’ has become a bit of a metaphor for my life, particularly at the moment.  Time has flown by so quickly and suddenly your life and life decisions are reduced down to a tiny window of opportunity in an alchemist’s grand experiment! Blink, and you’ll miss that window forever.

Although I’ve done allsorts of commissions and projects which usually take a month to complete, due to fitting illustration work in with a job etc., I’ve never done 50 images for one project before. Gulp! Being the idiot optimist I am, the deadline seemed reasonable, 60 days for 50 images and small images too. Easy, eh? Lol, well of course, me being me, I just cannot rush through anything crap so I created 50 folders, one for each image and trawled through countless books and the internet gathering inspirational images for each piece of artwork before drawing them. Once drawn, they then had to be inked up in permanent ink and then hand painted.

It really has been one of the most amazing, inspiring, varied and challenging commissions I’ve ever done and I have loved every second of it BUT…being such a perfectionist I should have known that creating 50 pictures in only 60 days just wasn’t possible. Unfortunately, despite my very best efforts of time pacing, doing the more complicated images first, I only really realised the sheer amount of work involved when I was already halfway through the commission! My juggling skills were put to the test and I’m afraid they failed me entirely.

For the last 60 days my four wolfies have not had much of a mum, my daily walks with them have all but stopped to just a few hours playing and exercising in the garden, my normal home chores have fallen by the wayside, my library job has, if I’m being honest, not had the best of me, I’ve been absent from all social media and friends and I’ve become somewhat of a stranger to sleep. But try as I have, to my own disappointment and for the first time, I missed my deadline. I was gutted, having worked so damn hard. Dan was wonderful of course and I’ve made sure I’ve rewarded that kindness with awesome images, but yes, I was several weeks late in delivering all 50 finished painted images and only finally finished them a few days ago!

So what do you do when time becomes the enemy, when juggling manically still doesn’t work?

Lol, I really wouldn’t recommend what I have done several times now, drawing in bed on a light-box until 4 or 5am when you suddenly realise that it’s getting light outside and you haven’t slept at all!

The only thing I can think of to help pace your time, when you have an insane amount of things to do and no time to do them in, is, to be honest, create a detailed colour coded weekly schedulebreaking your time into 2 hourly chunks, giving yourself time to eat, do chores, do housey things then back to work. As daft as it seems, it really helps to organise you and maximise productivity from each time period. I’ve also started using an alarm clock set in hour or 2 hour slots, trying to finish one section of work in that time frame before the buzzer goes!

I’m seriously not complaining here, I’m very thankful for all the work I get especially as I don’t advertise and do recognise that it’s far better to be incredibly busy than to have time on your hands, but once, just once, I wish I really could stretch the space/time continuum! 😀

On a personal note too, I’ve spent the last year climbing Everest and trying to stretch time to achieve my goals. So yes, as much as we are powerless to stop the march of time, perhaps a healthier more mindful approach to the passing of time would be more beneficial to us all. As clichéd as it is, we only have one life and it flies past so damn quickly that we owe it to ourselves to take stock and really notice what is happening around us.

Mindfulness has been a key word that has entered the zeitgeist in the last few years, but the principles behind it can be applied to every area of our lives. As an M.E sufferer (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) it’s a very important concept that helps us to regulate our condition and pace ourselves and the daily tasks we do.

As someone who has been overweight for most of my adult life and has decided to make a permanent life change at last, having committed myself to losing weight and getting fitter (my Chris Pratt Challenge) – mindfulness plays a key rolebeing aware and present in thought over everything you do. Being mindful of everything you put into your body so there is NO mindless snacking, everything is focused on, thought about.

The same too with life and time. Being mindful of your life, of each passing day, each hour, each minute, making you more aware of the choices you make, of the time you are using, of the time you have left.

Don’t sleep walk through your life. Be mindful of it.

So yes, being mindful and applying that to this commission also helped, particularly latterly, in making sure that the work I did was not only the best it could be but that I was working as productively as possible in each timed slot.

In an age of such mindlessness – Trump bigotry & idiocy, Brexit xenophobia & lies, political cruelty, government corruption and inherent unfairness – being mindful has never been more important!

❤ xxx



It’s enough to make you cancel your reservation

And the world just keeps getting crazier! 😀

Funny Friday…Darwin may not be amused, but we are!

Well, my ‘Daily Hello’ has decidedly taken a more weekly turn.

So, it’s Friday. The chocolate excesses of Easter are over, though a scary amount of it lingers in my cupboard!

Spring has certainly sprung. Glorious drifts of daffodils, grape hyacinth and bluebells remind us of what a magical time of year this is.

But, for those of us still struggling under April showers, towering petrol prices, broken New Year resolutions (i.e. ruined diets) and a general gloomy economic climate…here is something that can’t fail to lighten your mood and put the funny in Friday!

…Behold, the glory of ‘The Darwin Awards’!

The  Darwin Awards are out!!!!

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again  when the Darwin Awards are bestowed,
honouring the least evolved among  us.
Here  is the glorious winner:
1. When his 38 calibre  revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach ,  California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire  wonder.. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it  worked.
And now, the honourable  mentions:
2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland  lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and after a little shopping around,  submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence  sent out one of its men to have a look for himself.. He tried the machine and he  also lost a finger.. The chef’s claim was approved.
3. A man who shovelled snow for an hour to  clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle  to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot  her.
4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal  bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed  to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his  incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting  there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital,  telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre  fantasies. The deception wasn’t discovered for 3 days.
5. An American teenager was in the  hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train.  When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply  trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was  hit.
6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K,  put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the  cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register,  which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and  fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from  the drawer… $15. [If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a  crime committed?]
7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some  beer pretty badly.. He decided that he’d just throw a cinder block through a  liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and  heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the  would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window  was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on  videotape….
8. As a female shopper exited a New York  convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911  immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the  snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in  the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and  told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, “Yes, officer,  that’s her. That’s the lady I stole the purse from.”
9.. The Ann Arbor News crime column  reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti , Michigan at 5 A.M.,  flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he  couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion  rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast… The man,  frustrated, walked away. [*A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER]
10. When a man attempted to siphon  gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he  got much more than he bargained for.. Police arrived at the scene to find a very  sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman  said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his  siphon hose into the motor home’s sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the  vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever  had.
In the interest of bettering mankind,  please share these with friends and family….
Unless of course one of these individuals  by chance is a distant relative or long lost friend…
In that case, be glad they are distant and  hope they remain lost.

*** Remember…. They walk among us, they can reproduce***

Just SOOOOO funny! A HUGE thank you to Will for forwarding this to me.

Have a great weekend everyone! 😀