Changes

October 14th 2019:

Goodness, I have the day off… I can’t remember the last time I had a day off during the week… I mean, it was the last banking holiday of course, but who knew Columbus Day was a bank holiday?

Today as I’m working on NaNoWriMo 2019 prep I’m also thinking about this blog and what I want to do with it. for one thing, I want to get more consistent in 2020. Part of that is that I’m going to be starting over in a manner.

For those of you who follow this blog via email, it’s not going to change anything for you (If I do this right). For the rest of you however, there may be some slight communication glitches. I’m planning on switching my blog hosting :/ from WordPress to Blue Host in January.

The goal is that Blue Host will give me more freedom for less of an annual fee that I really hate paying. It’ll remove the ads I can’t control and let me customize more. (I’m hoping to never have ads again, LOL)

No – this is not a money making blog scheme, though I am hoping that eventually I can become a full time creative sometime in the next few years.

I’m doing this in hopes that I can better present myself, my work, and my information to you and future readers.

Stay tuned because while I’m planning this for January this may happen sooner…

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Things Happening

Goodness, there are a lot of things I’m trying to do right now. I’ve given some information on this in other posts but I’ll be honest, I’m getting a little overwhelmed with the actual execution of what I’ve planned for this blog and myself. I have many goals to accomplish and skills to develop.

Overall I have one main goal, and that is to be able to quit my day job and be a full time creative sometime between now and the next year or two. (No set timeline because I’m realistic and know that it isn’t going to happen overnight and there is no magic formula, plus I do like my current job, it just isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.)

You may ask how I’m going to do this. How am I going to make enough money to live from being a creative? Well, I am going to go the blogging route. I know there’s been some, well – a lot, of controversy about bloggers and influencers, but I’m going to try it. I don’t want my blogging to be the main source of my income necessarily but I do think it will help me build a platform and foundation for what I’m doing, if nothing else. I don’t expect to be a household name or to get rich, but it’s worth a shot to see if I can make a difference in the life of even one other person on this planet, and if I can achieve my creative dreams in this manner, it’ll be even better.

Events and Projects Coming Up

  1. Inktober: a 31 day art challenge, 31 pieces of art in the 31 days of October. You’ll be able to follow my Inktober journey closely on Instagram with #inkwithmk and follow me on Instagram @mkharlan
  2. NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month happens every year in November, though it is more international that national. People from all over the world participate in this race to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I’ve completed the feat only once before, in 2018. I’m hoping to complete it again this year, though after Inktober I’m going to be exhausted. (I’m fully intending to reclaim my madwoman title this year)
  3. Reboot/Relaunch: I am planning that at the end of this year I’m going to switch hosting this blog from WordPress to Blue-host. I feel like Blue-host is going to offer me more options for design and customization, and I’ll be able to get rid of these strange ads that keep popping up and control more of what you see in that respect. (No more of those targeted ads with gross medical pictures.)

I think that about covers it for the next 3-4 months. If you’ve been watching what I’m posting I’ve also started reviewing the books I’m reading. I’m hoping to keep up with that because reading is really what started all of this. You know, way back when I was knee high to-a grasshopper and all that jazz.

Along with the book reviews that I’m going to try publishing regularly, or at least as I read the books, I’m hopefully going to start a few other projects similar to that, regular article series and the like. I think you’re going to enjoy what I have in store for you when I announce them sometime in January.

Updates on thoughts, goals for this blog, and goals for my life.

I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, about how to further my career, how to bring some stability to my life and to my health, how to be the person I want to be.

I was preparing tomorrow’s Sunday School lesson for the first graders and we’re talking about Joseph and the time his brothers sold him into slavery. this lesson is all about how even in our darkest moments, when we feel most alone, God is there and He has a plan for us.

There isn’t a season in our lives that he hasn’t planned for or didn’t know was going to happen. That’s the beauty and reassuring nature of God. HE KNOWS! HE IS THERE! HE IS MORE THAN POWERFUL ENOUGH TO SEE YOU THROUGH IT!

With depression and anxiety I often feel alone. Like many people my age I can sometimes turn to social media for “likes” and “loves” with an urge for someone to notice me and to notice my struggle. But I shouldn’t have to because God sees me. He knows me. He knows my struggle. He’s carrying me through it. Sometimes I just forget that. I’m human, fallible.

All week I’ve been thinking about this blog and my career, and how I thought my life would turn out. For one thing, I did not expect to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. I did not expect that it’s not a new thing. I always thought that because my panic attacks weren’t all the time and that my parents were still together and only my great grandparents had died, and I hadn’t experienced abuse or any of a dozen other stereotypical depression backstories that I couldn’t possibly have either illness.

Little did I know that chemicals in your brain don’t take heed of your backstory, they just work or they don’t. Those things can all trigger larger issues with depression and anxiety, but they are not the root cause.

I’ll be honest. I never saw myself working in a financial institution, nor is it what I want to keep doing for the rest of my life. I feel like I can be doing so much more.

As a kid I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were a thousand things I said, because I didn’t think that “I don’t know” was going to be an acceptable answer to the adults in my life. There was always pressure to pick a “career”.

I STILL don’t know. I’m 23. I don’t love my job enough to want to stay there forever, but neither do I not love it enough to quit and find something else just yet.

So… in the next few months I’m hoping you will see some changes around here and with Xanadu. I want to take this and my creativity more seriously, and the rest of my “outside of work” life. I do so much of the whole, go to work, come home, sleep, go back to work. I want to do more. And eventually, it would be amazing to quit my job or drop down to part time so I could be creative full time.

It may never happen, but at least I’ll be trying. And the whole while, I’m going to start making room for my faith first because that is the most important thing in the world to me, even if it’s been put on the back burners with everything else.

It’s time, I think, for my mental illnesses to take a back seat and let the real MVPs out to play.

A Lesson from my Reflection

Mirrors are objects that don’t really have much place in my life. I don’t wear make up very often and I like to keep my hair cut in a way that I can just brush it and be done with it.

To be frank, mirrors frighten me a bit. I have this deep seated and irrational fear of what’s going on in a mirror when I’m not looking or when my eyes are closed… weird, I know.

A little over a week ago I went to a hair salon to get my hair trimmed and some of the extra weight of it taken off. Staring into that mirror in front of me for 45 minutes was an uncomfortable experience. Not just because of my irrational fears and paranoia but because I so rarely look in a mirror to know what I look like.

In general, we as people don’t have a realistic concept of what we look like. We only ever see our own faces when looking in a mirror or in a picture.

Pictures, by nature, distort our image. They are supposed to capture it exactly, but in putting something that is three-dimensional onto a two-dimensional surface we distort the perception of the object. That is why they say the camera adds 10 pounds.

Frankly, I feel that while mirrors are a more accurate representation of our image – or at least a better illusion of reality, there can often be a disconnect with our brains and our eyes between what we see in the mirror and the image of ourselves we have in our mind.

In our minds we have images of ourselves that consist of memories of pictures and past times seen in a mirror as well as a thousand other images of different facial expressions we’ve seen on other people. We think of ourselves on one way but then when we see ourselves we might take a moment to see and understand who or what we are seeing.

When I looked at myself in the mirror I did not see who I expected to see. The woman I saw was not the person I feel I am. It wasn’t just that she looked more overweight than I think of myself as being, but she looked more tired, more beaten down. She didn’t look happy. She didn’t look like an artist or a writer, or anyone who particularly enjoys life.

I can’t say I always enjoy life, but I like to think I enjoy it more than the girl in that mirror does.

You can tell a lot about a person when you look into their eyes. When I looked into my own eyes all I saw was tiredness, someone who didn’t know what she was doing there, who didn’t know who she really was anymore. Other than that, I didn’t see a whole lot of emotion in my own eyes. I didn’t recognize myself.

As a child I remember looking into mirrors with wonder. I saw myself happy and joyful, awake and alert. Now I see myself as the opposite.

I’m not saying it’s because of my weight, though that person is not how I imagine myself. It’s the fact that my skin looks pale and sick. My eyes look tired and withdrawn. I see myself in the mirror and I don’t look – alive. So much so that I began to wonder if I really am.

I’ve had both depression and anxiety for a very long time, another contributing factor to my mirror aversion.

Like photographs and mirrors, both of these mental illnesses distort one’s image of themself. They make us see ourselves as less than we actually are. We see ourselves in the worst possible light.

As a Christian this conflicts with what I personally know to be true. I am created in God’s image. I am an adopted daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And I don’t feel like the girl I saw in the mirror was either of those things.

It makes me sound vain, and I really don’t know if it is, but staring into that reflection hurt on many levels. It also opened my eyes a little bit. There is something wrong with me on physical, mental, and spiritual levels. I don’t feel like I look like a child of God on the outside, I think because I have a distorted view of my inside.

A view, not of who I am, but of who I want to be. Fixing my physical health will not fix my spiritual health but fixing my spiritual health won’t necessarily fix my physical health either.

I guess what my reflection is teaching me is that I need to start.

Baby Steps

I keep telling myself that all I can do is take baby steps and all is does is frustrate me. I mean, I’ve never been a very patient person. Cautious – yes. Patient – no. My mother would tell you that in a heartbeat, no hesitation.

I’m taking a baby step this winter; in January I will officially be starting classes at Ivy Tech.

To some people that’s a huge step forward, but I think of it as a kind of small step. I’m aiming for a technical certificate in Entrepreneurship and an Associates in Visual communication (the artistic side of marketing).

My goal is to enhance my current skills in art and writing and eventually either make it into a marketing department (preferably with my current employer, but I’ll move if I have to), or i would like to start my own business and freelance as both a writer and a graphic designer/artist.

Part of this skill enhancement means that I need to practice more regularly, especially with my art, and my writing is going to need to be made bit of a priority more than it already is as well. The good news is that I’m slowly getting onto a schedule. I have Lacey Lou to thank for that. She’s been awesome in getting me onto a routine of sorts so far and if I’m going to be taking classes – even if they’re online – I’m going to have to work homework and study time into that schedule.

If you’ve been watching this website for a while now you’ll also notice that I’m making some changes here as well. I’m trying to orient this site more towards my professional side and I’m pushing more to start freelancing now. Why wait until I’m done with classes? I have skills now so why not try them out and stretch myself a bit.

I have a myriad of other goals going on as well, from losing the extra weight, to paying off debt from Ball State and whatever I’m going to be paying for Ivy Tech when that starts. There are places I want to go, things I want to learn, and experiences I want to have. A bit of a bucket list, if you will. I’m taking baby steps to accomplish these goals.

For the first time in a while now the future seems like something I actually want to see and experience, not just observe from my window like some recluse.