In general, things have been better. I've been clearing out things... and people... and trying to focus on what lights me up. The Friday art playdates in my BeeHive Studio were going great - I met some new friends and it was great social practice for me and Elsa Bear. Her anxiety is still pretty intense, but I think I identified the possible cause of her fear of men. I'm still working out how to deal with it, by getting her more comfortable with daily interactions with other people, and using her stroller when it makes sense... we'll see what happens.

Making new friends also helped me see which other friendships weren't in my best interest. I admit I'm a bit clueless about peoples' intentions, passive aggressive comments, and narcissists in general. And waaaay too forgiving - after all, who am I to judge another person, right? Yeh. It hit pretty hard when I realized how much of myself I had changed, dropped, and destroyed because of "friends" opinions and manipulations.

I had forgotten how much I loved painting. I hadn't even realized I stopped! This painting was done two years ago. TWO YEARS!!! I stopped because a friend in my art group said I should be painting on better materials, at a different size, matting and framing, and selling my work for high prices in galleries. Compliments? I don't know. I was painting because I was experimenting and looking for my voice, playing with new supplies, enjoying myself. I didn't want to make art for other people anymore. And Galleries were not my "ideal customers".

I think I lost a year somehow. I've forgotten most of last year. It was all pain, anxiety, MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, blood tests, drugs, scheduled surgeries... I cleared out all my bank accounts trying to pay bills and hold onto my house. I was in too many zoom groups, had too many doctors and therapists, and no real friends. I couldn't focus long enough to earn money - and when I tried - my Kickstarter and Open Studios failed spectacularly.

With all that - the feeling that remains clear in my mind is how many people told me to "find a real job" - so I'd have security and benefits. They also told me to sell my house and rent somewhere... which I pursued with my usual obsessive vigor. Turns out, you can't rent anywhere I you don't have a "real job". Weird, eh? The only place to get a job near me, is Market Basket, the grocery store - and I have trouble going in there to buy groceries. I'd never survive stocking shelves at night. And some days, I can' t leave the house, never mind safely drive a car.

Them: "Can you find a job that lets you work from home?"

Me: "You mean, like freelance illustration?" My BFA, MFA, 40,000 hours of training, and 45 years of experience?

The most useful Inner Demon I have (besides OCD/CDO) is Stubborness, who I call "Arnold" (as in "it's not a tumor!") The more people told me to get a "real job", the more determined I became to keep the one I loved. And piss everyone off by being reeeeaaallly successful! Ha! That will show them!

And I also fired all the therapists, doctors, and dropped out of all the groups!

I've done absolutely everything that everyone told me to do! I've made the calls, talked to leasing agencies, visited apartments, appraised my house, took the meds, took more meds, talked to lawyers, researched the hell out of every single thing that anyone ever said I "should" be doing - I know more than anyone would want to know about Disability, social security, loans, retirement savings, AI, trademarks, ┬ęs, publishers, health insurance coinsurance payments, credit card interest rates, Shoppify vs. WooCommerce, seller fees, Kickstarter, postal rates... good grief! And people think I'm just sitting around watching Netflix?!

Phew. I have a lot more thoughts on the ridiculousness of a system that penalizes a person for actually surviving despite their "disability". When I die and get to ask my One Question - it won't be "why did you keep me alive for so long, in so much pain, without giving me a purpose?" I think I will ask, "Why aren't there programs and funding for Neurodivergent people who live on their own, are super creative, can run their own business and be independent and happy if they just had some start up money and executive function assistance?"

End of rant for now. But seriously, I have bruises on my forehead from banging my head against the wall.

My plan, for now, is to funnel my skills into becoming a Surface Pattern Designer. I've got the art skills, the ideas, etc. but learning Adobe Illustrator might kill me. I haven't had any major panic attacks or meltdowns in weeks (thank you, Strattera?) until I started trying to understand Vector illustration. And yesterday, I spent an hour trying to figure out why all my keyboard shortcuts had disappeared from my Photoshop software!? (which I've been using for 30 years). I also remembered that staying OFF the computer makes me feel better.

Anyway. I LOVE designing stickers!! And I want to design stuffed animals. Especially for Jellycat. And I was accepted to the KIDS CON at Everrett Arena in Concord, NH in May - so I have a deadline to work towards. Oh - and that means I'm also trying to redo my Zentangle for Kids book in time for the comic show! Another Kickstarter maybe? If anyone knows how to find private backers or grants, please let me know!! Now, I have to get up the nerve to drive to Concord, find parking, and get my framed painting from a "gallery" - but that will be closure for me on another "should" that was really a "shouldn't". And I can check it off the List and get back to work.

If you want to know about the MONSTERS - I'm challenging myself to post one a day this month on Instagram!