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Recently, I came to the realization that my 50th birthday was less than a few months away, and I've completely stagnated (mostly at work but somewhat in life also). Coinciding with this realization was a series of what seem to be cosmically-related events:

  • My path crossed with several people I greatly admire who are working as artists. They've encouraged me to consider doing the same - that I "have what it takes."
  • I've been welcomed into a group of self-employed creatives - artists, designers, writers, musicians - who share information, tips, help and support on their work and business at  Morning Inspiration 1

    Morning Inspiration 2

Recently, I came to the realization that my 50th birthday was less than a few months away, and I've completely stagnated (mostly at work but somewhat in life also). Coinciding with this realization was a series of what seem to be cosmically-related events:

These days, soaking in ink is my usual state of being.

Just because I've not posted in a while - not posted in this blog space, that is - doesn't mean I don't have something to post. In fact, I'm crazy busy. But I'm desperately trying to be LESS crazy busy. I'm trying to get to a place where I can sleep at night without worrying about how I'm going to get everything done. And strangely, the things that I worry about getting done are things like my art and my training. I worry about work too. But my "work" worries have become things like: "How am I going to make it through the day on four hours of sleep?" and "Is there anything in my programming future that's more exciting than what I'm doing now?"

Thus, my work worries are also worrying me.

It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop.

The print production process

Anyway, I HAVE been posting...

I bought a new bike. But that's not the subject of this post. I think I may write about that in my next post. Right now, I'm trying to balance way too many different and opposing things and I'm having second thoughts about whether it's even possible to maintain such a precariously-balanced situation.

The first thing, always, is my

I bought a new bike. But that's not the subject of this post. I think I may write about that in my next post.

My training is so inconsistent lately that I have very little news to report, but here's a quick overview followed by something else I've been doing lately that I feel like blogging about.

On the injury-front, I've been working hard on healing my hamstring tendon and strengthening other muscle groups with the goal of no more hamstring problems. Ever. There's still a long way to go. My relentless pursuit of squats and bridges and planks is - I think - finally forcing my glutes to take the workload off my hamstrings. My latest revelation is that when I focus on good form while running, I can ward off the hamstring pain for a progressively-longer time. I managed 11 miles two weeks ago and 14 miles on Saturday without serious pain. I might be willing to celebrate when it gets up to 20.

January sent me onto the bike trainer where I've slowly worked my way up to 3:35. Riding long on the trainer is a bigger struggle this year than it has been in the past. One of the reasons may be that I'm trying to ride too hard. Sunday, I focused on keeping my heart rate low which seemed to alleviate some of the struggle. Swimming - although inconsistent - seems to be the one thing I'm NOT struggling with.

When I look at the big picture, the problem has been getting more than one workout a day. There are two main reasons. The first is that my [regular] job has me working late on weekdays and weekends. Not because I'm slow, but there's just a LOT to get done and only one programmer (me). We just hired another so I'm hoping it will help with the workload in the future.

The second reason is that I've recently been hit with inspiration to create new fine art prints. As an artist (or someone who wishes she could be a working artist), I have learned one thing: never f*ck with inspiration. If my art were a source of income, I'd probably suffer from debilitating artist's block 80% of the time. But when uninspired, all I do is flip the switch and running, biking, and swimming become my physical and mental outlet for stress. So, when the rare event of true inspiration happens, I must follow it. It's not like I even have a choice. And I have absolutely no control when and where it happens. All I know is I have to drop everything and "get it out" to avoid becoming agitated, edgy, and losing sleep.

My latest print was inspired by an iPhone photo I took of a bunch of snow-covered trees in University Circle - the "museum-university-hospital" area of Cleveland. I don't know why, but I felt compelled to take this particular photo from the fourth floor window of my workplace (the

The first color (actually the first two colors, the other one being white) was a light pastel orange, here is the linoleum block and the printed color:

The second color was a blue-green. To some, it looked finished at this point (because most of the tree shapes were carved) - I have always been very precise in carving linoleum, but this new Clear Carve stuff was a more difficult to work with because the "carved" pieces don't break away nicely, so I was expecting some major issues ("easy to carve" isn't how I would describe it, as I have several v-shaped scabs on my fingers after stabbing myself several times with linoleum cutters), but was happily surprized with the result after this color:

And the final color was an almost-black with violet added:

I made only ten prints. But I was very happy with the result, and I'm already working on another one with the other piece of Clear Carve that I bought.

My training is so inconsistent lately that I have very little news to report, but here's a quick overview followed by something else I've been doing lately that I feel like blogging about.

I came up with New Year's resolutions, but I'm going to call them "Second Half-century resolutions" because this is the way I want to live.

Here they are:

  1. Stop giving a sh*t what other people think.
  2. Say f*ck 'em, and do what makes ME happy (thanks for this one, Ron).
  3. Laugh out loud for no reason (or, more likely, for EVERY reason).
  4. Create more art.
Happy New Year! to anyone who still reads my blog.

Tags: 
motivation

I may be quiet these days but I'm certainly not idle. My training has taken a backseat during the holiday season because of personal commitments and also to try again to heal my injured hamstring tendon with modern medical procedures.

Thus, I had my third PRP shot about a month ago and it was more painful than ever. I was in agony for several hours and then sore for several days afterward. The good thing about the pain is that it probably means my doctor hit the "right spot" with the injection. The bad thing about the pain is that I couldn't use any anti-inflammatory methods to make it go away because the inflammatory response is exactly what we wanted (more blood = healing).

After Thanksgiving, I jumped into my yearly design and printing of Christmas cards. This year, the design dictated the choice of methods -- the colors were very flat and bold, and the design was very hard-edged, so I chose to attempt a hand-cut stencil with screenprinting once again (after 10 years of lino-cuts). Unlike usual, the screenprinting process started out great with color registration working well. Then after printing three colors quickly and without incident, I botched the last color and the whole thing almost ended up in disaster.

Here are some photos of the process.

I started out by putting all the stencils on one screen
which was great until the last one with the largest print area
(stencil in the foreground). By that time, the screen tension
had decreased, causing ink to bleed under the stencil.
The first color (smallest area) was red. It took about an hour to print 106 cards. My husband Jim and I measure the time we spend on each color in terms of number of albums that we listen to while printing. Red was a one-album color. I think we listened to a Counting Crows CD. Red also had a near-disaster as I tried to fix one part of the stencil and accidentally stuck my exacto knife right through the screen itself. Lucky for us (and unusual), it held up until the last card was printed.

The second color was yellow. Yellow was also a one-album deal. I think yellow was printed to OK Go.

Third was blue. The blue was a two-color blend, and surprisingly, NOT a disaster as expected (because any time you mix two colors in real-time during printing, something goes horrifically wrong). Blue was also a one-album color - I think it was Travis's "Where You Stand."
And finally green. It took two tries, and two stencils, and two screens. And several albums. Too many to be sure. Here's the can of green and the wrecked first screen which I just tore off the frame and threw away because it had already become a victim of the exacto-knife faux pas.
And... the finished product. It took an additional cut stencil and a brand new screen to get through the green. We lost about 20 cards and about 20 more were barely salvageable. The design is based on the Tree of Life window/sculpture that is part of the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

My other art project of late was a new drypoint print that I wanted to make to give away as part of a Facebook "pay-it-forward" post I made in early 2014. I decided to try out a new very thin plastic plate made by Akua that I bought earlier this year. Here is the plate and the finished print, titled "Scenes from the Towpath: Fitzwater Bridge View."

I may be quiet these days but I'm certainly not idle. My training has taken a backseat during the holiday season because of personal commitments and also to try again to heal my injured hamstring tendon with modern medical procedures.

I've been struggling a lot with my team commitments going into 2015.

My team: "Jeanne, it's all well and good that you race in Kona, but it does nothing for our sponsors"

Andrea: "You race in the kit, you win, you post a photo of you with the kit, 400+ facebook friends see it, they say to themselves: 'she wins, she goes to SS/Spin, I'm going to SS/Spin'" -- there it is in a nutshell. If I tag my sponsors, it shows up on their FB page. If they repost it, all THEIR followers see it. That's the power of social media and that's where I can make a difference for my sponsors. This is where my team is narrow minded. That's why performance in national races matters. When I go to Kona, all the vendors give me free stuff. Why? Because when I come back to Cleveland, they now have representation of their product in my local triathlon community.

why is this so hard for people to understand?

I've been struggling a lot with my team commitments going into 2015.

My team: "Jeanne, it's all well and good that you race in Kona, but it does nothing for our sponsors"

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