Thursday, October 23, 2014

Would You Rather: Michelle at Busy Weekends

This is Michelle. She is the kind of person who recognizes fantastic beauty in every little thing she exists with, and uses her creativity as an outlet for the resulting inspiration. Her brain is obviously one of the most loveliest places to live in in the world, vouched for by her Busy Badges project and the fact that she set up a moon and stars backdrop for a photo shoot one time and subjects would actually sit on the moon. This is what we asked her:

Q: Would you rather have an incredible talent that inspires people but not yourself or have an incredible talent that inspires you and no one else?

A: I’m going to try to break this down in a way that would make sense to another person.

I go on about how inspiring people drives me to create, but the reality is that this is only to the extent that I have found something that inspires people-- the truth is that I would never be able to continually produce something (long-term) that doesn’t inspire me, even if it changes lives.

So that’s the short version.

I honestly feel conflicted about that thought in the same way I feel conflicted about other contradictions in my nature. Recently I made a list of all the things I know about Michelle, and it felt really good to identify and validate those thoughts/emotions/traits for myself, but I came out with two very high priority needs that actually conflict in a lot of ways. Having never put them down on paper, I suppose I didn’t quite understand the inner struggle I’ve felt for years, but now it makes sense. Luckily, you’ll get the break down here because it completely relates to this question.

One of my primary needs/desires in life, historically, has been to be inspiring, useful, helpful... to the point-- necessary, not irreplaceable but not expendable either. There are varying degrees of this (for example, I’m not interested in being used and I honestly won’t engage in acts I don’t enjoy for too long, even if someone I love needs it), but for the most part it has held true throughout my life. It’s caused a lot of weird self-esteem issues.

That said, my prime motivation to live is to enjoy my experience (which also has varying degrees, for example, I’ll put myself in hateful situations just to experience it-- that’s part of enjoying life, to me: learning and understanding regardless of actual pleasure levels).

With that in mind, this question is very easy to answer: Obviously the second one.

But on the other hand, to walk away from something that I know will inspire/help others is really difficult for me. It makes me feel very selfish, and not in a justified way. Though I’m to the core a person who puts personal experience above basically anything else you could think of, that second level is consumed by the drive to help where I can, solve problems, put any skill I might have to a ‘greater good’ sort of use. If I have an ability or skill that might help people, why wouldn’t I use it that way? If you look at my shop prices you’ll understand how little I care about using my ‘gifts’ to make money. I have to sell lots of zines to offset other prices! (Gratefully, I do.)

These two create several conflicts in my life already, so I can see how they would with this decision, too!

In the end, I think I have lived with that struggle, and (in terms of those self-esteem issues I mentioned) with accepting that I could even possibly be useful in any capacity… so I think that I would prefer a lifetime of continuing through that struggle by enjoying what I do, rather than a lifetime of that stale, uninspired lump residing in my throat any time I try to force creativity. I wouldn’t see any reason to create or do my best otherwise.

In some ways, I think my current projects already answer this question. I launch ideas to the public, do projects for myself (that may inspire others) without sharing them, and all the while talk through my process on my blog. I’ve made lots of kits and zines and cycled through many different ideas that have not had any response, or very little. (To be clear, some have had response, but I’m focusing more on the ones that haven’t at the moment.) I still do them. I still produce that content and make those things, because even though they might be geared towards inspiring other people, and yet don’t, they inspire me! It’s difficult to keep my hands busy if I’m not passionate about the process.

I know that was a very long-winded way to say the answer three times, but I think to understand me and what’s going on underneath, it’s important to see that I do have an internal struggle going on almost constantly. Often I’ll choose one side, sometimes the other, but when it comes to something as personal and intense as creativity, I think I would have to side with myself.

- Michelle

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cats in Hats Embroidered Jacket

I fell head over heels in love with this jacket when I spotted it at Target, and though I've been trying not to spend money on brand new clothes, I couldn't pass it up. It's been the only piece of clothing I've bought from a store other than a thrift store in at least a year, probably two.

It's covered in cats, though--really cute cats, actually--and that being said, I knew I wasn't going to be the only person who fell in love with it. I've already seen it on someone else. The cool thing about thrift store shopping is that you typically don't see the clothes you find in anyone else's wardrobe.

I had to bring my kitty jacket up to par. So the cats got some hats.

I am by no means good at embroidery. If there's a way to do it, I've never learned; I just know how to put fabric on an embroidery hoop and poke a needle through and through and through. But I like that a lot about this embellishment. I like that it's imperfect. If I'd known how to fill in shapes better, or outline them better, I don't think I'd like how this came out half as much as I do.

I think I'm going to keep adding hats to the rest of the cats until they've all go their own accessories to scream their personalities. And I do believe one needs a mustache. And they all need names.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

13 Ideas for Journals to Write

While it's all fine and dandy to document your personal timeline in a journal with a few paragraphs semi-daily, there are zillions of ways to journal, so if you're feeling particularly creative and you think Future You would adore you for making an extra special source of nostalgia, perhaps you'd like to try writing one of these.

1. Write a scavenger's journal.*
Instead of writing about your day, collect your day in souvenirs and put them together like a puzzle on the date's page in your journal. Use the stickers from the orange you ate at breakfast, the feather you found on your morning walk, the tags from the clothes you bought at the thrift store, the gum you chewed on your way home, and the fortune you got from your fortune cookie. Staple, glue, tape, or just toss them in, and maybe write a little bit next to each thing. Flat lightweight objects work best, but be imaginative. If you find a scallop shell you'd like to add but it's too bulky, smash it to pieces and arrange them again on the page. Or, you could make an envelope journal and fill the envelopes, marking them with the date and maybe some information about the objects inside.
*Inspired by Keri Smith's How to Be an Explorer of the World.

2. Write notes to yourself.
Keep track of your own life lessons learned from personal experience by collecting notes to yourself. Start with "note to self:" when writing each note, and maybe add the date and/or time next to them. It'll fill up to be a book of offbeat knowledge to keep you from making the same silly mistakes.

3. Write the chronicles of an imaginary land.
Come up with an imaginary land and begin by writing everything about it: about its inhabitants, its maps, its secrets, its history. Keep adding (make fold-out pages for more space if you run out) while you document the timeline of your imaginary land. Write about civil disputes, natural disasters, or just your everyday visits. Protect this journal with your life, if falling into the wrong hands would spell catastrophe.

4. Draw comics of highlight moments from your day.
Even if all you know how to do is draw stick people and dogs with two legs, you can draw your life. Pick a memorable or meaningful moment from your day and instead of writing about it, sketch it out as it happened. Use speech bubbles for thoughts or spoken words, or narrate the story in captions. Alternatively, you could draw a situation how you wished it had happened. Rewrite awkward dialogues. Rewrite yourself on the back of a unicorn trotting into the sunset after saving the world. It's your journal!

5. Keep a record of your dreams.
Keep this journal under your pillow or beside your bed with something to write with, so when you wake up from a dream you can vividly or vaguely remember, you can whip it out and scribble it down before your memory fades and erodes the impulsive feelings with it. Be sure to portray those feelings in your dream documentation, too; you might feel silly about them when it's not 2am anymore, but they were real once, and that's important.

6. Keep a collection of to-do lists.
If you find yourself writing several to-do lists a week (or even a day), maybe you'd like to hold onto them. A journal like this could duly include to-watch lists, to-read lists, to-make lists, and any other kind of to-[insert verb here] list. They happen to speak a great deal about your life, so keeping a collection of them is especially nifty for people who wish to journal, but simply don't feel like writing specifically to journal. It's best to use a binder for this project, so that way you can keep writing to-do lists on ripped pieces of paper and spare napkins and yet easily add them to your journal using a hole puncher or clear slip covers.

7. Collect quotes.
Silkworm and I are hunters and gatherers of quotes, continuously on the look-out for inspiring words or phrases that make us reconsider life. For a while, we kept losing the best ones because we didn't have a place to put them, but then we made a special spot for them and all was well with the world. Be creative with your journal--print out quotes and cut and paste; paint a background to write over; scan words onto pictures and glue those pictures down, or just simply write down your favorite quotes without the fancy schmancy embellishing. Either way, you'll always have a reliable reference when you're trying to remember a quote you once read.

8. Make collages motivating yourself toward your goals.
Each goal gets it's own page or two. Decorate the page to motivate yourself towards fulfilling the goal. Cut and paste pictures, write what you can look forward to--anything that encourages you. Promise yourself a reward for accomplishing each goal, so when you finally do, throw that tea party for one or buy yourself that trinket from the thrift store. Keep track of your accomplishments, perhaps on the same page as the goals or in the front or back of the journal. Be sure to write a little note of congratulations to yourself, as well. Or, if you've got a major goal you're trying to accomplish, maybe it would like its own journal.

9. Write the playlist from the radio inside your head.
Make a note of what song is stuck in your head everyday. For me, it's almost always something, and whenever I've got nothing, my factory default is set to Here Comes Peter Cottontail. (In my defense, Easter is always on it's way, except for one calendar day.)

10. Document the life of a family of wildlife.
Perhaps you've discovered a family of birds nesting with newborn babies in a bush or tree somewhere, or a similar situation. Visit the nest everyday and document it. Photograph the babies, if you can without disturbing them. Watch them grow up. Make a note of the things their parents bring them for supper. Find out what species they are and research them--the Internet's fine, but check out a stack of books from the library, too.

11. Write about your Missions of Magic as an Enchantemissary.
Silkworm and I created the concept of Enchantemissaries to put a magical spin on random acts of kindness. An Enchantemissary's mission is to make the world more magical for strangers in hopes of proving life isn't as boring and cruel as people like to believe, and to do so, they design and carry out Missions of Magic such as scattering message stones around or releasing plastic animals for a safari at the park. Missions can be as intricate as the Enchantemissary would like, so planning them in a journal can be quite helpful. You could also keep ideas and inspiration in your journal, such as book titles on yarn bombing, craft tutorials, and articles on random acts of kindness around the world.

12. Write a bucket list book.
Fill it with anything and everything you've ever wanted to do in life. Never mind logic; let yourself dream. Make collages of places you want to visit, research animals you want to see in person, include recipes you want to try or tutorials for things you want to make. Keep it optimistic, and keep in mind anything can happen.

13. Adopt a stuffed animal and write about your adventures together.
Name it, make your own adoption certificate, whatever floats your boat. Then document your lives together with pictures and such. Bring your stuffed animal wherever you go so you'll have lots to journal about. If you'd like some ideas of things to do, Silkworm and I put together a list. Perhaps your friendship will last beyond the last page of your first journal!

When it comes to journaling, the best advice I can think to give is to just go for it. Try to avoid looking at other peoples' journals and focus on your own. Don't let yourself be intimidated by blank pages--just write. Make something. And whatever you do, don't wait until tomorrow to get started.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Crevice Menace: An Original Halloween Song

I don't know who might have seen us mentioning this on our Tumblr, but in any case, here's a song we wrote about the monster who lives inside cracks and rips people's eyeballs out.

Sing along!

Lucy was a daring soul
Perhaps it was too much
She always loved to probe and pry
And see and smell and touch
One day, she found a crevice in the wall next to her bed
Her imagination soared
Clouding the common sense in her head
She went and peeked to see what might be hiding deep inside
And everything went black
And the darkness in the hole laughed

He's got three horns on his head
And hundreds more upon his back
But he's small enough to slip inside
The tiniest of cracks
Where he waits and waits and waits
Until somebody wanders by
Curiosity will be the end of that one's eyes
Don't peek inside the cracks
You won't be pleased with what you bring back

Jacob was a naive boy
With lots and lots to learn
He liked to ramble through the woods
With no care or concern
On his last hike, he came across
A cranny in a tree
His brain did somersaults
Wondering whose home it could be
He went and peeked to see what might be hiding deep inside
And everything went black
And the darkness in the hole laughed

He's got three horns on his head
And hundreds more upon his back
But he's small enough to slip inside
The tiniest of cracks
Where he waits and waits and waits
Until somebody wanders by
Curiosity will be the end of that one's eyes
Don't peek inside the cracks
You won't be pleased with what you bring back

There are monsters that live under beds
And those that live in closets
There are ghosts that haunt abandoned houses
And some that haunt your pets
But little is the legend told
Of the creature in the cracks
They call him Crevice Menace
And eyeballs are his snacks

He's got three horns on his head
And hundreds more upon his back
But he's small enough to slip inside
The tiniest of cracks
Where he waits and waits and waits
Until somebody wanders by
Curiosity will be the end of that one's eyes
Don't peek inside the cracks
You won't be pleased with what you bring back

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Free Printable Halloween Stickers!

Look what we've got for you! For all your Halloween journaling needs, snail mail needs, et cetera--little Zauberbear themed Halloween stickers!

I like to think we're gonna make new themed sticker sets for every holiday from now on. We'll see how that goes.

I am 96.59% positive that if you download these (left-click, right-click, and then "save file as"; it's all one photo) and then insert them into a Word document with .5 inch margins, they should come out at exactly the size they were intended to be, which is exactly 1-inch wide. You let me know how that works out for you because it worked out dandy for me and I would love for it to work out dandy for you, too.

To turn them into stickers, you're gonna need one of those sticker maker machine-y thingamabobs, and I can't give that to you for free, so here's hoping you already have one, or at least some glue or something. I would cut off the black rings, they're kind of just there as guides, but you can keep 'em if you think they're cool.

If you happen to use them for anything, please please please send us pictures or at least leave a comment about it!

PS - You can make the stickers smaller, but don't go trying to make them too much bigger or they'll turn to mush and grossness.