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5 last minute Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas.

Its only a couple of days until Christmas! Now if you have missed the post dates that will get your gifts to the recipient on time or you’re still stumped to what you’re going to gift your family on the day, I am here to help you get your shit together!

I myself have just emerged from the anxiety of Christmas car park feuds, loud crowds and ZERO social Distancing by shoppers who are grabbing stuff off the shelves like its 2020 toilet paper… only to get home and realise that I forgot one or two things in my Christmas induced tunnel vision.

So what now? My family live a Godzillion Kilometers away, OR they will be on my doorstep expecting christmas lunch in THREE DAYS! I need to get it together and save this Christmas!

Too many PEOPLE!
Photo by Kayle Kaupanger on Unsplash

But enough freaking out, Lets find a solution.

I have looked at Christmas with a particularly different set of eyes this year.

I see the big stores with truck loads of cheap plastic crap on their shelves at ridiculously minimal prices and the stuff is really not even worth it anyway. I mean how many times do I have to buy my partner set of BBQ utensils before I catch on to the pattern of them breaking in the first 5 uses?

But now I don’t just look at how tacky and typical these gifts are, I see a vision of what they’re made of, how they’re made, who and what suffered for it and if I can justify spending hard earned cash money on something that I know is a blood gift. A little dramatic I know, but tell that to the poor woman in Bangladesh hoping to high heaven that the building isn’t going to collapse around her, or tell it to the millions of sea creatures who get to ingest all the Christmas glitter for their Christmas lunch.

I know it got a bit dark there, but those are the facts and facts are always important.

and here is my wish to father christmas this year.

Dear Father Christmas, Santa Nick or whatever you call yourself these days,

For Christmas I wish for a safe and healthy future for the earth, all of the animals, boys and girls, young and old, trees and future inhabitants of this planet. I wish that the people of the future will still be able to see a rain forest or a bear in real life, and that sustainable energy and life if the ONLY option.

oh and I hope you still have plenty of snow at the north pole.

Love Ainsley

Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

So here is the list of…

5 last minute Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas that stay true to your values of creating a clean and healthy future for our planet.

#1 Home made treats

A box of these babies give off that feeling of wholesomeness, and of course they are delicious! The world is your oyster when it comes to what you can make or bake for someone you love. cookies, chocolates with organic ingredients, a loose leaf tea selection with diffuser box of seasonal fruit. there is a never ending list of delicious thing to make and eat. I posted my father a box of home made rocky road this year and I’m pretty convinced that the treat didn’t survive until Christmas, but he was delighted with the gift, probably much more than if I bought him a novelty beer cooler!

If you’re on Australian shores I am going to change your life forever. check out the source bulk food for an amazing selection of organic Teas and cute mindful ways to drink it!

#2 Electronic and audio books

Look I love holding a book as much as the next person, but you can’t deny the numerous benefits that having an electronic book or audiobook have.

 Firstly, the item isn’t physically manufactured, so that’s a great start! Secondly you can email the gift, and thirdly there is nothing quite so good as being able to use your hands, cook dinner or go for a walk and listen to an awesome audiobook.

This guy knows how its done!
Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

I’m just going to put this here..

You might also find that in a lot of cases electronic PDF books are less pricey than physical books, they are always available, and you don’t have to trapes the world in search of the title you’re after.

That ticks all my boxes!

There are countless websites and apps which offer these books. Personally, I wound up with Audible, it works for me because I can work and listen all at the same time. As a workaholic I cannot justify sitting for an hour and reading while I can’t draw or create at the same time. Seriously my hands are always doing something, But I have plenty of friends who just love to read.

I stumbled upon a gifting section in audible where you can gift a title to someone with a purchase or by using a credit. My mum and I are always sharing titles with each other, so guess what she’s getting for Christmas.

wink wink
Photo by Illumination Marketing on Unsplash

Also never underestimate the power of a gorgeous downloadable PDF Art book. or better still, one from the artist themselves by going to their website and buying from their shop!

#3 Pre Loved Beauties

You can find All sorts of things at the Op shop/ thrift store. Some are more up market and have more of a boutique feel than others, but you can get creative, think outside the box and find some really unique and glorious stuff!

This is the ultimate Sustainable gift giving option. And before I lose you, check this out

not going to lie.. some of this stuff wont make it under the tree, like the paisley silk dress.

One of my most treasured gifts that my youngest son ever gave me was a retro glass swan he found at the Tip, (or Dump, whatever you prefer) I’m not suggesting you go get your Christmas gifts straight from landfill, all I’m saying Is that in a throw away society like ours, you can find some really magical things that someone simply didn’t want anymore.

I mean look at this beautiful thing! and not a chip or scratch.

You can go one step further by giving a pdf version of the new bohemians handbook, to get them good an inspired!

In my area alone there are 6 op shops that I can name off the top of my head, my point is, they are absolutely everywhere, write a list of what you’re looking for and get foraging!

Some other great places to find wonderful unique gifts are freecycle, Facebook buy, swap and sell, or Facebook market place. people are posting on these sites all the time some of the stuff they have on offer is more than generous for its price and quality!

#4 Other Downloadable content

Its not just Books that you can email to a Faraway relative! My family buy me a year subscription to Spotify every mothers day. I seriously can’t live without it, so they better not stop this little tradition!

Here is a list to get you thinking

-Music subscriptions

-Downloadable games

-Subscriptions for television, courses, magazines etc

-Online gift cards, for just about any shop out there.

-Digital money transfer

Just about any online shop has a Gift voucher for all kinds of things, electronics, makeup, clothing, food, alcohol… the list is endless.

OUT! OUT I SAY!
Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

#5 Experiences

There is a world of fun and wonder out there to be enjoyed, and to top it off there are bunches of professionals out there who can make it super easy for you.

When it comes to buying an unforgettable experience for someone you love the list is endless! I could state the obvious and list things like bungee jumping, sky diving and all of those other activities designed to scare the bejesus out of people, but there is so much more than that.

This Kind of gift is called a “No Thanks”
Photo by Kamil Pietrzak on Unsplash

Here are a few ideas to get you warmed up. Tree tops climbing, Escape rooms, Whale watching, Aquarium, Zoo, Lunch on a ship, Trips! The list goes on! There are so many websites these experiences can be found, they will really get you thinking… just don’t get lost looking!

Give them wonder and amazement for Christmas.
Photo by Biljana Martinic on Unsplash

Some of these experiences can be a bit pricey so If you’re a bit strapped for cash or have to stick to a secret Santa price range keep in mind some experiences are very affordable, and sometimes you can get a great deal!

Alternatively, you could make an experience voucher for something you create and organise yourself for instance; A magical hike with a delicious picnic at your target destination, an art gallery day and dinner, or even an at home theatre decorated with cushions and fairy lights complete with snacks!

Get creative, personalise the experience, you won’t regret it, some of my most memorable days were just driving to a river on a warm afternoon and taking our dinner with us.  

BONUS

lets talk wrapping!

I never have an issue getting the wrapping paper I love because I make my own out of brown recycled paper and home made stamps! you can of course get your own stamps (which can often be found by using the method in #3 wink wink) or make your own from old worn out erasers and a scalpel, but please be careful!

A Box of swirly brown paper.

I use raffia to tie it and if I need tape I use paper tape, all of these things are compostable!

another alternative is pre-loved gift bags and boxes, believe me you will manage to restock by boxing day!

so that’s it kids, I hope I have helped settle your last minute gift idea nerves, so that you can go and enjoy the most important part of the silly season… THE FOOD!

Just kidding its totally the time we spend with the ones we love!

Photo by Aidas Ciziunas on Unsplash

See you in the new year!

-A

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Hair With Heart

If I can help a little person feel good about themselves in this world, where it is so easy to feel like you’re not good enough, I will! and today is the day I cut my long locks to donate Variety so they can use it to make a small person a wig!

I am always an advocate of bringing awareness to the fact that Cosmetic beauty does not make a person, however feeling gorgeous is not a dirty word!

We might achieve our own personal level of confidence In many ways, and confidence could show itself in many forms, a flick of mascara, a cool new shirt, OR, a wig for a little person who just wants to shake their hair in the breeze and feel the feathery touch of the strands on their face. And more than anything, not feel like everyone is looking at them.

So, I hope with all my heart that this hair that I have been growing and nurturing (Since the last of the hair dye was cut off the ends in 2018) brings someone an overwhelming swelling joy and confidence. 

And to the little one (or more than one) who find my hair living on your head, you may never read this, but you don’t need this hair to make you amazing, you already are. but I feel truly blessed that you will wear it with pride. 

to all of you who have donated, I cannot thank you enough for your generosity, the money you have raised will help little people live their best lives. Here are a few examples.

– Mobility equipment,

– Costly medical procedures, 

– Educational aides, 

and much much more!

If you would like to donate you can do it here.

https://hairwithheart.variety.org.au/s/1692/1692

And i know finding funds for donations isnt always easy, so if you wanted to do something different to help sick kiddies you can also volunteer.

https://www.variety.org.au/sa/get-involved/volunteer/

~A

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Wadda Month!

WADDA MONTH!

What a month indeed, a long long month jam packed to the brim with learning and a smidge of self neglect.

So, the good news is I finished my course! All boxes ticked. I am super happy about that because to be honest it’s the first time I have actually completed higher education. So, HEH! Big pats on the back for me.

It got a bit scary there for a while. I had an assessment module, “using advanced features of computer applications” which induced a lot of yelling at my computer, a lot of standing up and walking away and mostly tight muscles around the old shoulders and brows, and mostly a lot of me saying, “I don’t think I’m gonna make it, I don’t think I can pass this one ( too much left side brain work for me to be honest).

As a person who has almost completely avoided anything Excel, this was a struggle! But I managed to pass this boss battle assessment, after rummaging through UH-LOT of articles, images and video how to guides, I found a handful of people and tutorials that really worked for me.

The two other assessments were easy as pie in comparison,  I completed was a super fun design assessment where I was required to design a unique deck of cards. This assessment was extremely inspiring, My deck was called Historic Heroines – the girls they didn’t tell you about at school.

I am excited to announce that the Historic Heroines concept is a project that will come into fruition overtime.

Did you know there were 7 Female Pharaohs of Egypt? no? nor did I until I started research for this project. I am all about giving recognition to those who deserve it, but who don’t get the acknowledgement, so I am soooo flipping excited for this project.

Here, enjoy a sneaky peaky.  

The other assessment being Photography, which I don’t love. I don’t love at all. I don’t hate looking at Photography, especially if it is someone else’s photography, but it just isn’t my Jam, so if I can avoid another photography course I will.

I spent the week after completion trying to catch up on some things that got put on the way side during that time, but I think a lot of that time was spent winding down from the energy I had been living through for those few hectic weeks.

Now since I promised that this blog would hopefully be helpful for others like myself who are starting out in the business of creativity, I guess I do have some helpful tips regarding this past month.

  1. Schedule Time to relax.

I know everyone says it, but seriously, allow yourself some down time. My biggest problem while I was doing this was that I was trying to use every single hour of the day to study and complete tasks.

Burn Out is real kids! Even if you love what you’re doing, you can still burn out, and you’re not going to do anything properly as long as youre enslaving yourself.  I can count on one half of my hand how many nights I slept properly. This led to me fumbling and messing up, and waste time on fixing needless issues, I even made a quick call to the poisons hotline because I accidentally doubled up on my medication because I was running on empty and just performing the motions.  

Insomnia is a major issue for me at the best of times, but when I’m stressed, I really lose control of my ability to sleep. I will definitely be writing a blog post about sleep tips for the busy mind very soon, but 1 hour before bed is NOT enough time to wind down.

So, like my dad always said, ‘haste makes waste’ you’re not going to do anything properly if you are unable to function properly. Slow down, be kind to yourself and make your time spent on tasks count.

2. Write a tasks list and stick to it.

Seriously this is the most useful thing I can do for myself.

 Write it in point form before you start work, and cross it off as you go. I read somewhere that if you do the smaller tasks first, you will utilize your time better.

 there are a couple of reasons you should do it like this, one theory is that you save time doing it this way, and give yourself more time for the larger tasks. But the thing I really get from this method is, after you have crossed off a bunch of stuff from your list you have a sense of achievement and I don’t know about you, but this makes me more adamant on completing the rest. The sense of accomplishment for me personally is really rewarding and addictive which motivates me to continue to tick the rest of the boxes.

3. Always ASK!

Not asking is one of my major self-destructive habits. I have this extremely opinionated part of myself who always tells me that I am inconveniencing people or behaving selfishly by asking for help. You just need to ignore that jerk, take a deep breath and ask someone for help.

I was getting pretty damn close to my deadline and I still had a heck of a lot of work to do. I needed to wait for feedback before I could move onto the next task. I paced my house a few thousand times then finally had to tell myself if I didn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t meet the deadline. If I didn’t meet the deadline, all the time, effort and money would have been spent for nothing.

 I emailed my facilitator, explained my problem, asked if she could help me, and she did! Honestly if I didn’t ask her, I wouldn’t be telling you of my success now. Its always a good idea to thank those that help you by the way, I find a lot of the time people easily forget this, you don’t have to give them your first born, but acknowledging when someone has given you their time and attention is the right thing to do, and so often people don’t do that.

The next time I need to ask for help, or a Question I shouldn’t think of how I’m inconveniencing someone ( after all they can always say no) but I need to remind myself of how I willing I would be if someone asked me for help. Its time to start creating healthy helpful parts of my thoughts and ditch the little snarky Debbie downer ones.

4. Just a quick one before you fall asleep from TMI, prep your food! It saves time, money and guilt. Just spend a Sunday cooking nice healthy things, freeze them in lunch boxes (reusable please) and defrost them each day. Its just one less thing to worry about, especially of you’re like me and still have to feed your little clan.

I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive and patient with me, I have been slow moving starting this illustration thang, but I figure, do it all properly now and the rewards will follow. You can’t be half arsed with your dreams can you now? And as a thanks here is a cheeky pic of my lovely friend Corz I managed to squeeze in between assessments for her birthday.

Couldn’t afford a real Raptor so I drew her one instead.

Until Next time

-A

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The First Day

The First day

I see it all the time, people quitting their jobs so that they can live a life that serves their purpose, I have given inspiring speeches to friends and work colleagues about living life “coz you’ve only got one!” and only one month ago I was beating my head against the Figurative brick wall trying to fashion a way of cramming all aspects of my best life around a job that drained the soul from my body.

But after a very compassionate talk with my support Steve ( Best kind of support you can find!) I came to a decision to hand my notice of resignation in and look after me for a change.

So how did it turn out? Who knows? Today is the first day of living my purpose. Today I am attempting to build this website and I have to say I have a very tense spot on my shoulder as I am typing this.

I have spent years putting my whole self into the projects and businesses of others, so now it is time to believe in my own creations. And I hope to help YOU find inspiration, clarity, and confidence in yourself during my journey.

I will post as much as I can about the steps, great, good, frustrating and down right hair pulling in hopes that along my road to full time illustration I can help others wade the depths of starting out as an illustrator, without that judgemental tone that I see in so many blogs, that sort of thing just solidifies Impostor syndrome. This Creative world welcomes all of us, there need not be in competition between kindred spirits, just a need for unconditional support, sharing and Learning.

-A

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

― Paulo Coelho

5 things I learned from Dr Seuss

The Man Himself, Theodor Geisel
Image from his Wiki Page

Today is a great day to talk about inspiration! Why is that you may ask? Because every day is a great day to be inspired! That, and I would like to talk about the impact that a writer/ illustrator had on my life.

Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel

And that is the last time I am going to refer to him in his birth name, because to me he is a magic creature, he is humour and he is wisdom, to me he is only he is Dr Suess.

I cannot even express in words the impact this writer has had on my whole life, but its UHLOT!

So here are 5 lessons I learned from Dr Seuss

1. Look after the planet – The Lorax

Front cover of The Lorax

I think this book is Vital for every human on the planet, it teaches us that its not just us that will suffer, but that we have a responsibility to keep the planet safe and healthy for ALL beings.

It teaches us that in the end corporate greed and money and THINGS aren’t worth the sacrifice, and that we are quite easily dazzled and sucked into the sense of ‘need’ for the latest greatest gadget that isn’t anymore necessary than the last thing we used to clog up land fill!

the bit that really gets me every time, is the section;

“But now” says the once-ler,

“Now that you’re here,

The word of the Lorax seems Perfectly clear.

UNLESS someone like you

Cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better.

Its not.”

Dr Seuss, The Lorax

This Changed my sense of accountability for the future of the world, it made me think, as a kid, as an adult. “If I don’t bother, then who will?”

Rather than “well I’m just one person”

Dr Seuss was just one person too. And look at how he used his sense of Duty and creativity to touch all of our hearts!

And just as a side note, this is my favourite book of ALL TIIIIME! Yeah I know I’m an adult, and I don’t even care!

2. Accept other peoples boundaries – fox in socks

Front Cover of Fox in Socks

While Fox in socks is just a lot of fun to read, seriously I never get tired of this tongue twizzler! Besides which, that Goo Goose makes me want to chew that Goo too!

But I think that there is a really strong message in this story that can easily be missed in all that CUH-RAY-ZEE FUN is that we need to respect peoples boundaries.

As much as I love the cute little fox, he does push it, I mean he doesn’t even respect his Physical space!

UM, thats like, Abuse! seriously, who does this to other people?

Like how many times does the Knox have to tell him to leave him alone before he completely loses his shiz?

And might I add, that Mr Knox did an excellent job of asserting himself, I mean that fox really just wouldn’t take no for an answer, and we all know that No means NO! there is no negotiating personal boundaries. And that’s something I learned from this story… even if respecting my own personal boundaries didn’t happen until my 30s… but I got there and that’s what’s important.

3. Try new things – green eggs and ham

Front Cover of Green eggs and ham

Then on the flipside we have Sam – I – Am, who really wont give up on… wait, is that Mr Knox again?!

Poor guy he really attracts the zero boundaries guys doesn’t he?

Howeveeeeerrr, while I don’t agree with Sam – I – Am, harassing the BEJEEZUUSS out of poor old Knoxy boi, he did have a good point. Try. New. Things!

You do not like them.

So you say.

Try them! try them!

And you may.

Try them and you may, I say.

Green Eggs and Ham- Dr Seuss

This message was one that I apparently missed entirely growing up, it took a huge row with my aunt and 10 year old moi!

Basically she wanted me to try Japanese food and I FREAKED THE FUDGE OUT! I sulked I refused to eat it, I ate it and Desperately tried to hide the fact that I loved it. Then I asked for Japanese food every single time I saw her. She got sick of it.  

Me Enjoying Japanese food. not really its Mr Knox again

Sometimes new things are the best things. Kids, try new things, Seriously

4. Don’t be a racist or a bigot or an elitist … or a Jerk – the Sneetches

Image from The Sneetches

If you haven’t read the Sneetches, you should. I don’t think this was one of the most popular Dr Seuss books, but it should have been, right there, underneath the Lorax.

Basically there are sneetches, some have stars on their bellies some have no star. This story could be touching on either racism or other types of exclusivity depending on how you look at it, but I like to think its making a point about both facts.

It touches on segregation of one type of sneetch live a privileged life of Frankfurter roasts and marshmallow toasts… the others arent allowed to enjoy the same and are left in the dark.

Well eventually a guy named Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes along, essentially offers them Tattoos/Tattoo removal treatments over and over again until everyone runs out of money and are left confused and mixed up and realise they ahve all been stupid and dont care about thier differnces anymore.

It’s a pretty watered down version of real life. But hey, these ARE Kids stories after all. And you know, for child Me, that message was loud and clear. I think all children should have to know the sneetches story by heart.

5. Don’t judge people by how they look – What was I scared of?

Image from What was I scared of?

This is a short story at the end of the sneetches book, it’s about a small Bear out in the middle of no where at night, alone… He sees a pair of Trousers that can walk around on their own and immediately freaks out, and some would say for good reason.

But if you keep reading you eventually find that the pants are friendly and are hurt by the Bears ( AHEM understandable) reaction. They become friends and the Bear realises that he has made a judgement on someone solely based on how they look.

I’m not gonna lie, if I saw a pair of Trousers wandering around with no one working them, I would probably soil my own. But of course that’s not what the story is actually about. I really think it’s a reflection on how we can make a call on someone’s personality based on how they look be it their race, clothing style, Religion etc.

but before I head off,

I know there is an obvious book that I am missing here.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

front cover oh the places you’ll go

I really think that one gets enough press, it’s clearly one of the best books to reinforce the message of “work hard and believe in yourself” that exists. But I didn’t actually read this book until I was 20 and my son received it for his 1st birthday from my Grandma.

Unfortunately, Dr Seuss didn’t instil that little gem on me, Kiss did with ‘God gave rock and roll to you’.

…You’re welcome for having that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day !

As always, thanks for reading! I hope you had fun with this little article. And obviously this is my personal take away from Dr Suess stories.

I would love to hear what lessons the old man gave you too!

-A

Hot Panic

31/07/2020

Last night I woke at midnight with the feeling of panic swelling in my brow. And this wasn’t the usual ADHD Insomniac anxiety, as in the usual over thinking, idea generation, same bar of a song over and over in home-made techno. This was a heart pounding mind throbbing, breathless Red hot panic. But i do need to point out, I DIDN’T think I was having a heart attack this time, and could talk myself out of it this time, So it’s not all bad.

To break it down for you, I quit my job about a month ago to start my illustration career. which was Seriously the best thing i have ever done. No regrets!

Renewing licences really wasn’t my thing, and now I’m living my best life with beautiful people surrounding and supporting me, The most amazing feelings of accomplishment each day, learning about me, and who I am, its honestly so healing!

So why the panic?

Trust me for the past few weeks I have been strutting around the house, dressing in my most gorgeous creative outfits (okay not all the time), doing my makeup every morning (most weekdays), feeling like a BOSS (which I totally am… technically) Believing in myself, having WAY TOO MUCH FUN when it comes to posting orders to my clients. I have been learning how to create my own fonts, drawing all the dang time learning how to to entrepreneur the heck out of myself. Then last night it all dawned on me in one super-sledge WOMP, upside the side of the face! A month has gone by and I have made a total of $65, I had a whopping big winter bill reefed out of my bank account, the kids (and me, if I’m honest) never stop eating! And I already had to dip into my back up fund.

I knew I would have to, but the reality hit me hard.

Not only that but after begging for an extension on my course, and the TAFE granting it, I haven’t been very successful in actually completing my two assignments that I promised myself I would complete within the month.
instead I have been swanning around the internet revelling in the fact that while I certainly couldn’t call myself a FULL-TIME illustrator. I am an illustrator… who is making an average of $65 a month. Hence the panic.

So, I guess the fist step is to remember the ever-helpful words of Douglas Adams and remember “DON’T PANIC” in big friendly letters.

Yeah that always helps doesn’t it. 

Me- “Don’t panic Ainsley.

Also, Me- “OH silly me! I hadn’t thought of not panicking, that is such a simple solution to my problem! Except that it’s not.”

Okay but seriously, “Don’t panic” Can work. its at least a distraction. I can focus on the words and by the time I have figured them out , remembered my favourite moments in Hitch Hikers Guide to the galaxy, and then thought about what a lovely voice Stephen Fry has, I have distracted myself from that heart pounding, stress attack.  

The next thing I did was get a rather fancy notebook, which was free in an issue of FLOW mag, (SCORE!) and I wrote it all down. All of it! Every single worry that woke me in an utter panic. All. Two. Tasks.

I managed to embellish the list a bit into bullet points to make it look worth the debilitating fear of failure I had experienced a minute earlier. I didn’t pull it off.

After that, I lay there in the dark watching the remnants of light from my lamp dance across my retinas and planned to get up first thing and complete the damn assignments.

Of course, when I looked at the assessments, it wasn’t that hard at all and I had mostly finished it anyway. What the flip was my problem? What am I afraid of? Who bloody knows? Is my answer.

As someone who has only really known about my ADHD for less a year it’s been amazingly helpful in so many ways, to understand more about my past and present, how to gain my best future, and also to be okay with medication and all the great things it has helped me to achieve In 6 months. But I still have so much to learn about ADHD and how to find the best way of managing it.

I have learned however that the incapacitating procrastination is a part of it, and I might not have a valid reason to dawdle when I have a task, but I am beginning to see the blockages, and how best to deal with them when they occur.  

So, after all of that, I guess I should welcome you to the Blog of an illustrator and student who happens to be learning about her ADHD and how to turn it into her super power. Welcome to the ride.

-A

Big Gun