I don’t know if you have noticed, but we haven’t been around as much lately. Because people have asked, I thought I might give a little family status update. Readers and friends have been asking about how school is going. Some have asked if we have any big trips planned. With Summer officially here, I thought it might be the perfect time to pop in and update.
Hang with me while I make an analogy. You know those inspirational videos of a person who is out of shape at the beginning of the year and then at the end of the year they have surpassed their goal? We all know these time-lapse videos that make everyone applaud. I am pretty sure on day one those folks are like “I’m crazy and nobody believes me.” I am kind of in a ‘phase one’ of a personal goal and you can believe me or not, I almost don’t believe me; as you will see if you continue to read. So like, this might not be inspiring now, but maybe in a year or two….
School is going awesome, but not exactly as planned. I was scheduled to take 3 classes last semester at a local community college, two canceled before I even started. One class should be easy to ace, right? Unfortunately a one night a week four hour class turned out to be a bit of a challenge. I had to miss classes for work obligations, the teacher missed classes. I realized I needed to change somethings about how I was doing school. I decided to withdraw. *hangs head in shame*…. sort of. I was learning ahead of the sylabus and learning more objective specific lessons just studying with Harry a couple nights a week, so it just seemed more efficient to stay at home. In 6 months time I have gone from not knowing how to save a photoshop file to finding out I am a pen tool prodigy and a pretty fast colorist. I have noodled a bit with animation, kinda just for fun. Most importantly, I’ve learned that there is A LOT to learn in photoshop and I have really just scratched the surface. I’m continuing with photoshop on my own, an online story boarding class, and in the Fall I have two classes. I was worried that my brain was atrophied after hanging out exclusively with kids for more than a decade and I am happy to report it sprung back into step.
After that first semester, I had to make a decision when debating if school and new skills were something I really wanted. I realized last semester that I really can’t have my foot in both worlds and do either as well as I would like. When I was blogging daily; or at least several times a week, I was working seven days a week for several hours every single day. Add in the fact that I am a partially homeschooling parent of three kids and there just really wasn’t enough time for school. Don’t get me wrong, I learned more than anticipated with one photoshop class, but my original intention for that semester was three classes! Mid-way through that Spring Semester I started cutting out a lot of work and I will continue to keep work at a minimum.
The question of the moment seems to be “So what do you plan to do with this collection of information and training?” Guys, I don’t know. Prove that I can do it, for starters. This past year Harry and I made some changes to our lives. Other than our house, we are completely debt free. Both of us make about a third more than we did at the same time last year. We made a conscience effort to not increase our standard of living, in many ways we lowered it. We decided that at this stage, busy was a choice we didn’t have to make. We cut down on nit picking our house and just stopped with major projects, which saved a ton of money. I hired freelancers to keep the lights on over here on the blog.
So here is the thing, this is all about choice and we don’t want to squander the gift of choice. My crossroad was this – 1. just keep blogging for bonus money (It’s kinda awesome and super flexible), 2. focus completely on being a Stay at Home mom, 3. go to school. We have spent the last several years working towards being debt free, saving for braces, college, and retirement. We are there. We stick to a budget. We aren’t rolling in excess, but we have a retirement fund, an emergency fund, paid off cars that we don’t plan on replacing anytime soon, a little right side up house, and we bring in more than we spend. We worked towards this for so long that it feels weird to be here. Dave Ramsey would be so proud. We had some discussions to have now that living on one income was more than enough as long as we keep being frugal. I could easily be a stay at home mom without any financial issue. I could blog if I wanted, or not. For a hot second, this idea gave me great peace. And then I thought about it and felt suffocated. I had a flash of myself in ten years time just endlessly redecorating my house and I didn’t like that look on me.
Without digging too far into personal history, there was a lot of unresolved bitterness and blame in my heart towards people that told me I lacked the ability to make anything of myself in any way; but especially in the way I had hoped. It took way too many years (decades) to come to terms with the simple fact that it really wouldn’t have mattered what I wanted to do, the negativity would have been there. It wasn’t personal. Looking back, there have been many times that I have outperformed expectations, but dismissiveness tended to be the reaction from those that validation would have meant the most from. Hurt people hurt people and all that. Resentment and sadness that I had ‘missed my chance’ have plagued me for the last two decades. I’m haunted by a lot of stuff, but ultimately, dwelling on it doesn’t do anyone favors.
I graduated on the Deans list, but with a safe degree, and not the career I had hoped for. I worked really hard at moving on and blooming where I was planted. As a stay at home mom with lots of bills to help pay, deal blogging was something I kinda fell into. Now I don’t mean to bash blogging at all, but it wasn’t what I ever set out to do. I am not a writer at heart. I’m not bad at it, it just doesn’t really feed my soul. While I talk a lot and make a great effort to be outgoing, I am a pretty private person so there were challenges as my blog grew.
Things got beautifully weird a few years ago. I was given the amazing opportunity to walk back into the animation world, but through entertainment blogging. This continues to be my favorite surprise when it comes to blogging, and ultimately I think it is what kept my heart open, even if it was kinda painful at times. I was back on lots I was visiting with mentors at 18. PLOT TWIST. It just kept opening up stuff I had worked so hard to close and walk away from. I love trips to movie studios more than anything I have ever done as a blogger, but I also cried on every drive home. Every trip is a blessing that makes my heart so happy, but also a confrontation that just brings up all the feels. Sliding doors and all that. Harry’s heart was ahead of mine and he regularly would remind me I should start drawing again.
The last couple of years my husband has encouraged me to go back to school specifically for something in the animation industry. I always had an excuse. Going back to school would take too much time away from my family, it was selfish. The industry had changed significantly since I walked away 20 years ago; like computers were barely a thing back then. While I made less than Harry, we really couldn’t do without my income. How could we uproot our family from San Diego? My favorite excuse was that I was too old. Harry called bullshirt on all of this. Harry is more than I ever thought I deserved in a partner, but he isn’t gratuitous with compliments. He does not give strokes unless he really means it, and although he hasn’t worked as an animation teacher for a few years, he knows the industry fairly well. “I don’t know Babe, you can pick back up, you are smart enough to learn computers, nothing is keeping us here, and being too old is nonsense.” was kind of his battle cry for the past two or three years.
As kids became more independent on homeschool days, finances became more stable, and my acceptance that if we were to leave the people who should miss us just wouldn’t; the list of excuses began to shrink. Without house projects and continuing to be frugal, my income was fun, but not at all necessary. And all of a sudden, the pressure was off. What’s to lose really? Time? Who cares. I’m losing that already.
So what big adventure are we going on this summer? Nowhere. Trips tend to mean money or a lot of work from me, both are not something we are willing to spend right now. Pack your bags kids, this year we are going on a mid-life crisis! Summer is a great time for me to spend some time learning and for all of us to spend time hanging out with one another. Harry has cut off all new freelance so we can all just enjoy one another’s company. When the kids are in camp I will be working through school stuff, when they are home we will be hanging out. Other than maybe painting a room, we will be doing no tinkering on our home. We will be adventuring in our own city and making fun memories. Kids are only little once and spending time as a family is our priority. I’m not saying we won’t take a spontaneous trip, but we are being more selective.
“No, but seriously, what do you plan on doing?”
I remember hearing someone say “Expect the worst and maybe it won’t happen.” a lot growing up. This mentality has mixed into the fiber of my soul. Try as I must, it is very hard to say I want or deserve cool things. “I believe in you.”, “You are capable.”, “You can do anything you work hard to achieve.” are things my husband and I just didn’t hear, so it feels weird to say I want to do literally anything outside of safe and minimal. To want more than what we have is ungrateful, greedy, and ridiculous. Watching our kids grow up with different messages is a very interesting and validating experiment of nature verses nurture. I have a lot of memories of telling people dreams only to be told that it was stupid. All that to say, I don’t know what I plan on coming from this, but I am still a bit nervous to dream out loud. All my classes are animation based. It makes me less nervous to say “I could probably be a courtroom sketch artist when I am done.”
So this next year I plan on blogging less and pouring myself into training. We have a two-year plan. The first year is getting me back up to speed and learning technology that I completely missed out on. The second year I plan on putting a portfolio together. For what? That is still TBD, but likely something in gaming or TV animation. Gaming I could stay in San Diego, TV Animation we could get out of Dodge. Honestly, we’d move to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even Toronto tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself. If that fails miserably, I will find somewhere to doodle for money, don’t worry about me. But like, what is the worst that can happen? I don’t become an animator? I’m already not an animator. I’m already not an illustrator. I’m just a mom and a blogger with a really weird skill set from a lifetime ago that I kinda want to revisit.
So there it is, out in the open. I will be around, but just not as much fluff. You’ll stay, right? Please? I’m still going to be talking about family friendly entertainment, I will still be featuring other bloggers, we still love to feature travel, and will give status updates like this one. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in our previous endeavors, and all those who can get behind this crazy train!