Monday Motivation

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Sometimes you have to ignore the downtrodden voice inside your head and just show up. This quote is the perfect reminder for a Monday morning – just because something seems impossible does not mean that it will never come to pass. Sometimes I get stuck in the daily motions of sleeping terribly, waking up to crappy music, dragging myself through the morning necessities, pouring coffee down my throat, and showing up to a situation I don’t want. I get through it and walk through my door in the evening overwhelmed with relief, only to have to go to bed and do it all again. Getting caught up in that nasty rut is not the end-all-be-all, and it is important to remember that there are other options in the world. I mean, shit – the amount of possibilities out there is limitless, if you only know where to look. So just because you feel trapped, or something that you want seems impossible right now, doesn’t mean that it won’t ever come to pass. Take a deep breath, be honest about where you are and where you want to go, and get on that shit. It’s okay to end something in order to begin something else.

I love this cross stitch pattern by the amazing Jody Rice of SatsumaStreet – it is a beautiful quote, and Jody’s use of cheerful colors that POP will add a dash of brightness to any corner of your life.

Stand tall, check that sunrise, and have a marvelous Monday! ❤

How Do You Deal with Stress?

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I wish I could remember this more often when I’m stuck in a downward spiral.

Everybody has battles to wage, and there are as many ways of handling problems as there are people in the world. I worry a lot. I mean, my writer’s brain easily comes up with ten different ways the worst possible scenario could come to fruition, and I spend most of my time battling against the worries of “what if.” One of the major ways I battle this stress is by occupying myself with the physical, mathematical, colorful, precise act of cross stitching. With cross stitching, everything fits inside its own little square, and by working one tiny bit at a time, you are quickly creating a thing. And it could be a special gift for someone else, or it could be an expression of your love of a fandom you enjoy disappearing into. It could be evidence of doing something productive with your twitchy, worrisome time, or it could be a communication of your thoughts and feelings to another.

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This is what happens when you are too tired to cross stitch, but you do it anyway. 😄

As a physical action against anxiety, cross stitch works wonders for me. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes my thoughts are so potently negative that it requires a mental battle more than a physical one. And therein I struggle because if I could flip a switch and quell the thoughts in my mind, I wouldn’t be so stressed out all the time as it is.

{What I’ve come to realize is that this avoidance doesn’t make the stress disappear, it just pushes it to the background, allowing it to slowly permeate other aspects of my life.}

Recently I came across a mental exercise that has really helped me out – after I tweaked it to my own needs. Usually when I’m stressed out about something, I shy away from anything that even remotely touches that stress in the hopes that it will eventually pass on its own. Stressed out about money? Ignore your depleting account balance, stop spending money, and hope that things will right themselves without you having to go all mathematical on a spreadsheet or something. Stressed out about how someone will react to something? Avoid them and the topic at hand and hope that you never have to cross that bridge. Avoidance has been a huge problem for me, as you can see. What I’ve come to realize is that this avoidance doesn’t make the stress disappear, it just pushes it to the background, allowing it to slowly permeate other aspects of my life. So instead of just being stressed about that one thing, suddenly I’m twitching with nervous energy, suffering from stress dreams, and overall miserable with everything.

So this mental exercise is basically playing the “What If?” game with the scenario that you are avoiding. Instead of avoiding it, face it. Tear the mask off that piece of shit and just look at it. Are you afraid of being screamed at? So what if they scream at you? Will it be uncomfortable? Painful, even? Perhaps. But you can’t control how someone else is going to feel, can you? You just have to let them feel it and stand tall. Are you afraid of bursting into tears in front of them? Well, shit happens, doesn’t it? Will it really be the worst thing in the world? I mean, I am barely grazing these scenarios, but I don’t want to get too in depth – the things that stress people out tend to be extremely personal and they can stay that way.

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{It had to be self-contained and disconnected to anything else – like its own little box of stress, anxiety, and pain.}

In an attempt to embrace this idea of facing the stress head on – at least in my own head – I decided to start a Stress Journal. See, I even had to play a mind game with myself here because I couldn’t bring myself to use my regular journal for this task. It had to be self-contained and disconnected to anything else – like its own little box of stress, anxiety, and pain. Just get it out between the pages of that book and leave it there to rot. Using disassociation in that way has actually really helped me, because then I have given myself permission to let it ALL out – every worry, no matter how small and stupid, or how big and scary – with the idea that I could always burn those pages if necessary. It has left me with no excuses, and that is exactly the environment I needed.

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{Why is your chest so tight right now? Why can’t you breathe? It’s okay, just be honest with yourself.}

So when I’m feeling stressed, I pull out this journal and ask myself – Ok, Deb, why is your chest so tight right now? Why can’t you breathe? It’s okay, just be honest with yourself. And I think that’s the point, at least for me: the stress and anxiety, a lot of times, comes from the fact that I’m not even being honest with MYSELF about how and why I’m feeling a certain way. And in the process of answering those questions I am really able to get to the bottom of it, and although it doesn’t make the situations disappear like magic, it does calm me, make me feel better about them, and even causes the situations to shift into a different light. Mind games, man, I’m telling you. And perspective.

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{But this stress journal goes so deep into my fears and mental nightmares that I wouldn’t show its pages to ANYONE. And that’s okay.}

See, with my closest friends I’d be comfortable showing them entries from my regular journal that discusses my hopes, dreams, and responses to events in my life. But this stress journal goes so deep into my fears and mental nightmares that I wouldn’t show its pages to ANYONE. And that’s okay. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you lie to even yourself, until you start unpacking some of this stuff. If you can be honest with yourself and face the things that twist your heart into knots and tighten your chest until you can’t breathe, then you have gained so much power over your life.

The war is still ongoing, and I’m still fighting battles everyday, but I’m still here, and I’m still breathing. Whatever you have to do to help yourself, do it.

Do you have any tips and tricks that help you deal with stress and anxiety? I would love to chat in the comments section!

Have a wonderful evening, friends ❤

5 Cross Stitch Projects to Get You in the Autumn Mood

As much as I love the idea of the beach and the memories of feeling so grateful to get out of school and be FREE, Summer always drags on too long, and here in the desert the sweltering heat is suffocating. The moment the weather starts to change, when football season kicks in, when the kids go back to school, I always breathe a sigh of relief and feel a sense of anticipation for Change. Of course, the leaves don’t change in Phoenix, and we don’t get biting fall winds, but we do get a bit of rain, and when I start stepping out of the door at 7 a.m. and feel a slight coolness to the air? That’s heaven.

The first day of Autumn was September 22, and that very weekend I hopped out to Bath & Body Works and treated myself to a “Fall” scented candle (Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin). I smelled every candle in that store multiple times, for I didn’t want one too sweet or one too musky. Despite its name, I found a winner, and within two weeks it’s almost gone:(

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Of course, being obsessed with cross stitch as I am, I couldn’t help but start collecting Autumn-related cross stitch patterns to help get me in the mood for changing leaves, changing weather, and changing times. I’ve collected 5 below that I wish I had time to make!

  1. Happy Harvest

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What I love about Happy Harvest is that it’s not only colorful, but has enough going on to keep the interest of even the most distracted cross stitcher. Not only that, but it promotes fresh fruits and veggies, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that:)

2. Autumn

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I’ve seen this concept done with Winter, Spring, and Summer too, and I think they would make great seasonal projects to work on. You could have a specific place in your home to switch out the work for each season as part of your decor. In addition, I love all the bits and pieces to this pattern that keep it interesting. I know just where I’d put this….

3. Fall Fairy

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Here we have the classic Fall Fairy from Gold Dimensions. I’ve included it because I’ve probably stared at this cross stitch kit a million times at the craft store – I love the seasonal fairies and have always wanted to do this kit. It’s magical and dynamic and would be a great challenge for someone to take on.

4. Autumn Leaves

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I love this pattern because it brings the beautiful changing leaves that are so characteristic of Autumn into my home. I lived in Virginia for several years and know the joys of changing leaves, but my eleven-year-old son has never experienced it since he has spent his whole life here in the desert. Having a piece like this hanging on our wall would be a welcome sight!

5. Pumpkin Silhouette

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Lastly, we can’t forget that Halloween is one of the most characteristic aspects of Autumn. The inherent creativity and strange mysticism involved with the holiday makes it one of my favorites. I’ll have an entire list post dedicated to Halloween cross stitch patterns, but I couldn’t help including this one here since although pumpkins are related to Halloween, they are also simply related to the harvest season. I love this spiraling design against the black aida backdrop. Silhouette work is one of my favorite things to do with cross stitch – as you’ll see when I start posting my own designs on here. Frame this piece in an old Victorian-esque frame and it would make a great addition to your Autumn or Halloween decor.

Do you have any favorite Autumn or Halloween projects? I always look forward to making something new this time of year:)

Monday Motivation

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Sometimes it’s the little things that get you through. The first thing I do when I turn off my alarm at 5 a.m. is take a shower, and the only thing that motivates me to use soap and shampoo instead of just standing under the hot stream of water is knowing that I have to get through those motions before I can have my COFFEE. To me, coffee is Life. Just the smell of it lightens my mood. The anticipation of consuming coffee motivates me more than most things. Forget cereal or bagels – I can subsist solely on coffee if necessary. It’s an issue.

I saw this cross stitch pattern and I thought, “Man, that’s so me.” Especially on a Monday morning. I do have a framed cross stitch in my kitchen near my coffee maker already, but I’ve collected quite a few coffee-related cross stitch ideas on Pinterest and I think I may need to create a collection in my kitchen (I mean, what’s the kitchen for, other than to brew coffee??) I mean, I’m currently working on a coffee cross stitch as we speak, so enough said.

When you’re facing a tough day, it can help to focus on the little things. For me, when I’m dragging my butt around in the morning, it helps to have chosen my clothes the night before, to have packed my work bag in advance, and to know that once I get downstairs I can have some coffee. Once I’ve had my coffee, I’m functional and I can handle my shit:)

Have a marvelous Monday you guys!

Monday Motivation

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Sometimes Sunday nights really suck. I’ve been extremely stressed out lately, and all I can do tonight is think about all of the things I don’t want to do tomorrow. I am staying up way later than I should simply because I do not want to wake up tomorrow morning. It’s. The. Worst.

It is always encouraging to me to have something enjoyable planned for Monday evening so that I can look forward to it during the day (reminding myself that this too shall pass.) I just designed a new cross stitch project today, and I can’t wait to get going on it tomorrow, so that’s what I am looking forward to. As a writer, I am obsessed with all kinds of quotes, and I love the “chalkboard” style cross stitch I’ve been seeing on Pinterest – I can’t wait to show you guys my WIP once I get it going:)

Even if sometimes (or, most of the time, if we’re being real) we have to do things we don’t want to do, it’s important to have SOMETHING to do that is good for your soul. I saw the above cross stitch on Pinterest and I was like, YUP, I could not agree more! Here’s where it came from.

I hope you have an AMAZING Monday, and if you’re like me and have something not so enjoyable to do, I hope the time goes by quickly:)

Star Wars BB-8 Cross-Stitch Pattern

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One great way to pass the time while waiting for a highly anticipated movie to come out is to craft your heart out. I’ve seen so many renderings of the BB-8 droid for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that I just had to do one myself.

I mean, check out this piece of art right here:

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I love this cross-fandom work!

I made a time lapse video of my little cross-stitch project, and also have shared my chart below. (I’ve totally given up trying to make them digital – it’s just easier for me to draw it out on grid paper:)

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I can’t see the movie until Monday, but I can’t wait to be sucked into the world of Star Wars once more:)

Fan Shirt #4: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland is one of those stories that stays with you for your whole life. One of my favorite quotes is “We’re all mad here.” I have a photo of a tattoo I would LOVE to get of this, but due to monetary constraints I decided it would make a great concept for a custom shirt.

Since I’ve made a few so far, I wanted to do a little something different this time around, and I’ve been wanting to use a v-neck for a while. I included a whimsical silhouette of a kitty, not only for the Cheshire Cat flavor, but because I love kitties 😀

alicesketchI sketched out the stylized lettering and did a few cat renditions before I did one I liked. I cut out all the words individually and then laid them out autonomously on the shirt so that I could figure out how best to fit them around the V.

alicestencil     alicehalfdone

I love the way this one turned out – I’ve worn this one a few times and love how it speaks the truth, haha. We’re all off, we’re all human, and we’re all weird. Right?!

alicefin

Terry Brooks TV Series on MTV – WHAT?

elfstonesEarlier on this blog I was being nostalgic for Zork and Myst, and now I’ve come across a trailer for the new The Shannara Chronicles, a new fantasy series on MTV (???) based on Terry Brooks’ novel The Elfstones of Shannara.

I grew up with Brooks’ Shannara series – I practically LIVED in the Four Lands during junior high and high school. They were the books that cultivated my love of the fantasy genre. They helped me mentally escape the stress and anxiety that constantly bombarded me and helped my writing blossom to the next level.

Suffice it to say, the Shannara books hold a special place in my heart – and always will (even though I’ve made several attempts to go back and reread them and FAILED! Has that ever happened to you? It’s like they’re just not the same as I remember, and so I’ll just hold onto my memories of them instead.)

The entire scenario of this TV series just doesn’t make any sense when you lay it out there: 1) a series based on Terry Brooks’ work (I mean, there have been several false starts in the past, and these books are now going on 40 years old); 2) the series is airing on MTV (I could imagine the SciFi channel, FX, or even Fox – ha, although that last one probably wouldn’t last long); and 3) Terry Brooks himself and Jon Favreau are producing it. Since it is loosely based on the book, it may give the series the leeway it needs in order to be successful – but I will tentatively reserve judgment:) Since I do not have access to MTV I’m not sure how I’ll get to watch it, but I look forward to seeing how it does!

At the very least, the trailer looks EPIC:

What I Learned From My First YouTube Video

When I first started the crafting time lapse video project, I had a very specific image in my head of how it was going to go. I sat down and filmed the Shaun of the Dead piece – and that part was a lot of fun and went smoothly. Then I had to edit it – and I had no freaking clue how to do that. I’m definitely a self-learner and I thought I could wing it and figure it out in an evening. (HAHAHA!) I learned so much from putting together that first YouTube video that I still put it up on the site, even thought it isn’t the best work (and that’s putting it kindly). It stands for all the progress I’ve made, and that is crucial to remember as I continue moving forward.

Some things I learned:

1. You need to keep your left arm as still as possible. Otherwise, when you speed up the video you’re going to make people want to puke as they try to follow the progression of the work.

2. You need better lighting. I was a slave to the time of day and had to sit right next to a window, turning the work so that it got the best light. It wasn’t so bad except that it’s 110 degrees here in the desert and the heat emanating from the window was brutal after two hours of sitting there.

3. Choose your projects wisely. Yes, subject matter is important, but so is the size and difficulty of the piece. You have to keep in mind how many color changes you’ll have to pause for – which will contribute to editing time, not just film time – along with how involved with counting you’ll have to be. If you have to pause every five seconds to count the next section of stitches, that adds up to a very lengthy film. Think in terms of editing, not filming. There’s also the sheer amount of time it takes to finish the piece. Anything over two hours will make the final cut go longer than your goal length.

4. Post production is king. I probably spent 30 minutes prepping the shoot, 2-2.5 hours shooting (and actually crafting), and then 3 hours filming/editing the intro and conclusion, picking out/editing the music, editing the raw footage of the project, and putting it all together, not to mention testing the first cut, and possibly having to go back and edit some more, followed by another render.

(This does not include the time spent learning the editing software, Blender, which (if I were truly honest) took a total of 15+ hours – between the tutorial videos I watched, to trial and error, troubleshooting, and redoing. It was frustrating at times, but when it started making sense to me I felt super victorious!)

My third video (Video 2.0 – Supernatural) was the first video that I actually liked. I’m sure the tenth video will be leaps and bounds better than that third one, but it’s good to step back and reflect on how far you’ve come. Ultimately, I’ve enjoyed every minute of this project, and that’s what counts!

10 Geeky Cupcakes for Your Next Party

This weekend was my son’s birthday weekend, and every year I try and do something a little different for his birthday cake. Last year he had a Minecraft-themed birthday party and I slaved away on a Minecraft cake that he loved. This year was a little more low key, and I ended up making some funfetti cupcakes with red icing (his favorite color). However, before I settled on that cop-out, I found SO MANY amazing cupcake ideas on the interwebz. Maybe next year!

1. Super Mario Bros.

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I think these little guys would get played with before they ever got eaten!

2. Doctor Who

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Okay, this one’s more for me than my kiddo – but look at the color of that icing!

3. Pokemon – I Choose You!

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Now this is a great use of cake pops!

4. Naruto

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Here’s another great anime-themed one – but I would love to do a Bleach-themed one instead;)

5. Indiana Jones

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For the adventurer in all of us.

6. Fallout

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Including the post-apocalyptic adventurer!

7. Minions

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For all the little minions in our lives:)

8. Plants vs. Zombies

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My son and I used to play Plants vs. Zombies 2 all the time together, and he would have LOVED these cupcakes at one point.

9. The Lord of the Rings

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Anything LOTR-related is a YES in my book!

10. Pacman

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And last, but certainly not least, these Pacman cupcakes would be the highlight of any party.