Writing Group: First!

We did our first session today. It went pretty smoothly. Not many of them showed up, but that’s fine. I can finalize everything and we can just jump in next time. I’ll summerize everything next post.

I’ve been in Texas on Vacation since my last post, which is why I haven’t posted anything recently. I’ve just been having fun visiting everyone and chilling with family.

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Writing Group: Getting Started!

Alright, so one of my goals was to start a writing group. Back in November I’d been asked by a couple of other National Novel Writing Month contestants to start a writing group. I’d been doing some research and getting some stuff together so I finally started last night. I wanted to writ a blog about it, but I was just too tired after being at the gym, lol!

Ug, I felt so slow with it and I’m surprised they didn’t all just give up on my and go start their own groups by now. They’ve been great and super helpful.

Through my research, here are a few tips I came across that I’ll share with you:

  1. Its really important to have guidelines for conduct and new members established in the beginning.  I want the starting members to help build these rules. I want them to feel a sense of ownership in this group. Its their group, I’m just coordinating.
  2. Since we’re online we need to be clear about how to give and receive critiques. There can be a big difference in what you mean and how something you write comes off. (Which may also be incorporated into #1, but I feel is a big enough section to be on its own.)
  3. Facebook. This is something I thought of. Other groups all have fancy websites and coded chat into them and they all look really nice, but I needed something where busy people could get together and spend their only ten free minutes of the day on a quick word war. I needed something where we would constantly have a reminder of the group. I made us a Facebook group. We are now the Word Warriors! lol

Like most things that I start planning, the train is running away from me. Plans keep getting bigger and bigger. I’d love to have guest speakers come to some of the meetups and educate us on how to be better writer’s. I want to have writing workshop style exercises that help hone our skills. I’d like to do two group word wars a week. (A word war is a game where everyone write like mad for a given amount of time and at the end we see how many words were written.)  all this depends on the size of the group, the work ethic, and the free time that everyone has! Free time is, unfortunately, scarce.

Our first meet up is next Tuesday. I will be in Texas so I will have to make sure that at 8:00 I am somewhere with an internet connection. I don’t want to flake out on them! I’ve been trying to put this thing together for over a month now. It just been one thing after another lately. Life is moving quick, so I need to learn to move quicker so I can keep up!

Second Gym Day, Personal Trainer

8 Amazing Blogger Weight-Loss Transformations

That was exciting to read because its almost exactly the idea I have right now. I don’t have pictures yet, but I know that if I write about my journey every day I’ll constantly be evaluating whats working and what isn’t. I’d like to do some video blogs about everything.

I had an appointment at 3:00 with a personal trainer named Robert today. If you’ve ever signed up for a gym, you know that they usually give you a free session with one of their personal trainers, hoping that you will buy time with that trainer and, ultimately, give them more money.

Usually, they give you a fitness test and tell you how out of shape you are (as if I didn’t already know) and that you can’t possibly do it all alone. That you need their help, their guidance and in some cases, that you need it so badly, you should buy their time three or four times a week if you’re rich and a sucker.

I walked into the appointment expecting to go through this fitness test, hear them tell me how obese I am, like its some sort of shock, try to sell me some time and then hopefully, show me how to use the weight machines. What I got was much more enjoyable.

Robert was very relaxed and pleasant. We talked for a long while about my goals, why I’m there and what I’d been through in the past. I actually had a lot of fun talking with him, which is a great sign. After the first five minutes of chatting and him understanding I wasn’t a newbie to fitness, that I had more muscle on me than the average person my weight because I had been into fitness and that I really wasn’t interested in a trainer at this time because, frankly, I don’t need one, he just kinda talked to me straight. He basically gave me a game plan, told me how many calories I should be eating and how often I should be working out to get where I want to be. After a good half an hour, we went out to the floor where he put me through a half hour of weight training. It was intense and challenging, but I pushed through, I fought and he encouraged me to do it. He had me laughing while I was working hard and that’s good. He pushed me all the way to my limit, but was careful not to go to far. He watched my breathing and had me stop frequently to get it under control and drink plenty of water. I told him, quite seriously that when I’m ready for a trainer, which we both agree will be when I start to plateau, I will ask for him.

There was one funny moment where he had me kicking off the ground. Picture this, I was laying on the ground, belly up and my feet were bouncing on this small ball up to not quite 90 degrees. I was supposed to do this for a certain amount of time. My legs were already jelly from stepping with weights and squats (which he modified to keep my hip safe.) My legs were giving out well before the time was out, kicking barely inches of the ground. I just couldn’t get them any higher, but he laughed and said, “Stephanie! You can do better than that! You can’t get away with that here!” It made me laugh and he was laughing and I looked so ridiculous, kicking so hard, barely getting any lift. I was punching the air wildy with my arms, trying to get pumped and it was just a ridiculous picture.

At the end of the work out, there was a good three or four minutes where I was really nauseous, thinking I might barf and wondering if I’d over done it, but it all passed when I ate  a light lunch and I’m assuming was due to some medicine issues.

One of the things that made Robert such a great choice is because he knows that carrying around all this extra weight means the exertion during a work out is much different. He routinely works out with a weighted vest, doing all the things he asks his clients to do, just to make sure he knows what it feels like to be carrying around 300+ pounds during a work out. He told me that its hard for him to, so he wants to make sure that we push ourselves, without overdoing it.

When I started my weight loss journey last August, I weighed 315 lbs. I got down to 300 lbs by November and have maintained that loss til now and I’m working my hardest to loose even more. I’m not really thinking about the numbers and I’m not sure where I’ll be in a year. The scale is more of a tool to make sure I’m going in the right direction. For me, this is kinda like watching my feet as I walk. Its better to not look forward for the moment, to see how far I have to go, its better to watch my feet and make sure they’re constantly moving forward, never stopping, or pausing or going backwards.

First Work Out!

I got to the gym today and worked out with Lou. It was neat. I didn’t care for their customer service though. (I’d never been there, it was pretty much sign in, make an appointment with a trainer tomorrow and toss me into the ocean.) Maybe tomorrow’s session will be more enlightening.

I didn’t do a whole lot, but its a start. I did a fitness test on one of the eliptical machine, which I think was about twenty minutes of working on. I was feeling pretty tired by the end of it, but I really wasn’t loving the feeling of the elliptical, it was like walking in sand, so I’m not sure I had it on the right settings, lol. I’m not sure if the appointment covers working out tomorrow or not, but I’ll probably just do more cardio if not.

I don’t know if I want to pay for a personal trainer yet. I know the basics of what I need to do. I’m thinking I’ll work on my own until I plateau (which is normal) and then buy like a month’s worth of sessions to kick forward again and then kinda cycle that as long as its working. Also, my friend Jimmy is a personal trainer and he keeps telling me not to hire one and to just let him send me some work outs online, lol.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. ^.^

A Higher Education…

I don’t know how common it is, but I was home schooled all through High School. My teen years were tumultuous to say the least. One day I’d be happy to share those trials with you, but thats a long sad story for another day. The short version is there were years of emotional abuse and I ended up dropping out of High School to take care of my little brothers (one was a preteen, the younger was a toddler.) When I was 16 we lived in Ohio, Mom kicked me and the elder of my two younger brothers out.

I went to live with my grandparents in Texas and they enrolled me in High School, but too much time had passed. All of my friends were ahead of me and I just didn’t have the kinda of support I needed to find my way again. So, my Grandmother took initiative and enrolled me in Penn Foster School for Business, which had a program for anyone who wanted a diploma. So I worked full time at WalMart and worked through my courses online and by mail.

I am grateful to my Grandmother and the people at Penn Foster who helped me achieve this, but everyone, including myself pretty much felt like it was a waste of potential. When I was in fourth or fifth grade I was already reading at a college level. I barely attended school because I was so sick, I pretty much never did homework, only what I could finish in class, but I was in the top percentile for all of the testing. Even with Penn Foster, I barely applied myself and managed to pass with like a 3.4 GPA. Still, there are huge gaps in my knowledge because I didn’t have a traditional education. It boils down to a lot of wasted potential.

I was even accepted into a few colleges when I applied, but financial aid never worked out for one reason or another (or housing fell through) or things came up in life and school got put off for another year.

I’m 23 now and more and more I keep coming back to this idea. A few years ago this guy I was dating started going to Full Sail University. He often flew me out to see him. I was able to explore the campus and see the course work first hand and I absolutely fell in love with it. (He failed out because he had Rich Kid Syndrome and no work ethic) A few years have passed now and I keep going back to that school in my mind.

There are a few things that keep me from trying though, for better or worse:

  1. Full Sail is located in Winter Park, Florida. That is a long damn move to a place where I don’t know anyone. There are a few pluses to this, though. I went there often when I visited my ex and I love the area, the weather and the life. They also offer online courses now, but after doing long distance in high school, I really don’t want to do it again with college. Its just fine for some people, but I really want to make the contacts if I’m gonna pay for a prestigious school like Full Sail. Plus, Winter Park apartment prices, especially for Full Sail students, are cheaper than those around here.
  2. I think its more expensive than a normal college. I’m no expert on what tuition prices normally are, but the degree I’d be going for, Computer Animation, is like 75k I think. The plus side is that this covers all your course material fees. I don’t ever have to pay for books or labs or anything like that. They just require that you buy the proper equipment. (Which in this case is a heavily discounted Apple lap top with a software package of certain art programs.) The downside is I have no idea about the financial aid process, how to apply for grants, how to actually get started. I’m afraid I would actually be able to pay for it. 😦
  3. The work load is heavy. This knowledge is mostly second hand from my ex, who as I said, was pretty lazy, so I don’t know if its true, but I’ve heard the course hours are pretty extensive. You’re in school as much as you would be a full time job. You need to pass 80% of your course work and attend 90% of the classes or you fail. The attendance, is the scariest thing for me. I know that its very common to have that sort of thing, but in school, there were lots of years where I missed a good quarter of the year or more on sick leave. I haven’t been that sick in a long time, but its still a fear in the back of my mind. Part of me wonders if I’ll be able to handle this kind of stress.

If I could find a way to work through those big problems, I’d like to take a serious shot at it. There’s so much I want to learn, there’s so much I feel like I could do and in ten years, I don’t want to look back on my art that same way I feel about my high school education, like I have a lot of wasted potential.


Getting Fit! Spiritually and Physically.

Today started of with a post Gift Mart wrap up lunch with Community 4:12.

Here is a description of what Gift Martt is from their website:

By selling donated toys for $2 each, parents that would normally not be able to purchase gifts for their children will be able to do so without simply receiving a “hand-out.” All proceeds from the sale of the toys will be split among the four schools to help fund school improvement initiatives. We also provide free gift-wrapping, children’s activities, holiday entertainment, and refreshments.

Last December my Aunt asked my fiancée and I to come help her. She is in charge of one of the two floors and needed some sub leaders she could trust to get things done. It was a lot of hard work, but we both thought the experience was really rewarding.

Hundreds of parents from the school we serviced came. It was a very low income area. There were a lot of people that still couldn’t afford just $2 for the toys. (We didn’t turn them away) You could tell how grateful everyone was. Many of them waited over an hour outside in the 30 degree rain because of the incredible response. We had 30% more people come this year that last year.

The wrap up session was a “Thank you” lunch as well as a discussion about what we could do better next year. Lou, my fiancée had a lot of helpful suggestion. He’s really smart and has that kind of tactical mind. I’m better at dealing with things in the moment when they come up, but he’s a lot better at the planning ahead part.

Its a church run group, my fiancée and I do not go to the church, but we do go to a weekly bible study run by a few of the members and we really enjoy it. Lou isn’t even Cristian, but no one minds and that’s one of the reasons I really enjoy the group. I don’t like churches or bible study groups that don’t allow non-Christians to go. It defeats the entire purpose and really undermines the true spirit of being a Christian.

I feel like giving back to your community like this is a way of keeping spiritually fit. Gift Mart touched a lot of people’s lives. They were so happy to even be able to give their children the littlest things for Christmas. Many of them said they could see the Lord’s work in what we did and that’s pretty cool. Even from a Non-Christian standpoint, I think that providing the community with this type of happy and uplifting service is just such a great thing, you know?

I also went to the store today and bought several outfits to work out in. I can’t wait to go. I think we’ll go tomorrow before or after lunch. I have to sit through an orientation with them were they show me how to use all the equipment and then try to talk me into buying time with one of their personal trainers, but then I can get down to business. I’d like to go everyday until we leave Thursday, but we’ll see how it works out. I’ve still got a lot of work to do for this trip. (Side rant, I really hate how our Wal-Mart has really down sized their plus sized section. It was truly pathetic. Out of the entire women’s section, there was like a grand total of six racks with sizes that went above an 18. I’m really disappointed in them.)

Also, as a side note, do any of you know anything about computers shocking you? Three times, I’ve touched the metal on the back of my boyfriends pc and its shocked the crap out of me and made my arm numb. This morning I sat my lap top on my lap and it shocked my leg and burnt it. There’s a metal screw on the bottom of my computer that seems to be conducting the electricity. Otherwise the computers still seem to be running fine….

Musical Inspiration: Chrispy

Project Playlist: Chrispy

I thought I’d start off the day by showing you guys one of the amazing music artists that inspire me while I’m drawing. The link at the top of the page will take you to projectplaylist.com which is a free music streaming site where you can build your own playlist.  Specifically, it will take you to a Chrispy search. I love this guy, he’s 20 years old and makes these kick ass dubstep remixes.  Dubstep, I just learned, is a “genre of electronic dance music that originated in South East London.” Its got these crazy reverberation noises in it that I love. If you looking to really have a nostalgic moment of kick assness, listen to his Inspector Gadget remix. I probably listen to it at least once a day now, lol.

It was his remixes that lead me to him as I searched for other songs. I loved them though, so they usually ended up in my playlist and then later on I decided to just search Chrispy and see what else he had. As it happens, I like most everything I’ve found, lol.

You can reach him on his Myspace Go give this guy some love. 😀

Also, don’t forget to check out my art gallery and let me know what you think! Feel free to comment or friend me on DA!

Interview Recolor

My Newest Piece!

I gotta admit, I’m pretty excited about this one. I’d drawn the lines a while back, but I recolored it last weekend and I’m very happy with it. I still have a long way to go. I can see the mistakes I’ve made and there are details I want to learn how to execute better, but I still really love this image.

Wizards of the Coast put out a put out a sort of casting call to artists. They wanted several people to write and draw web comics, which is exactly what I want to do! So, even thought I’m not as amazing as a lot of other artists out there I wanted to throw my hat into the ring since I do know the technical side of making a comic and I can write a good story. I heard back from them yesterday. They’ve stuck my work in a little folder to examine later with all the other artists they’re interested in.

Hell, I’m still stoked about it. They didn’t delete it and they didn’t write me back and tell me they weren’t interested at all. A “maybe” is still pretty cool from Wizards of the fucking coast!

Regardless of what happens, I’m really excited. I’m going to move on with my own projects and if they get back to me, that’s a little more work and I’ll be all the happier for it. If not, I’ve still got my comics to roll out and that will also be very gratifying work!

Let me know what you guys think! Don’t forget to check out the rest of my gallery. There’s a link on the right side of the screen. ^.^ Catch you later!

 

Goals for 2011!

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty excited about this year. In the past I kinda just accepted life as it came, I was never really happy about the way things were, life just kinda was what it was and I did what I had to do to survive.

This year is the first year I’ve felt really optimistic about everything. I’m so happy and blessed and it seems my life is now filled with laughter.  I’m not saying its all sunshine and rainbows, I’m still stressing about some things, but every year it feels like another layer of crust is being peeled away.

So, I’m totally stoked about all the things I’ve got planned for this year! So I’m going to share them with you and we’ll see if we can’t reach the end.  These are just the goals I have right now, I’m sure as the year progress I will add to the list and (hopefully) strike some off.

Artwork

  • Continue constantly trying to improve my art work. I can do this by practicing more often and reading tutorials.
  • Really step up my technique and output in order to feel more comfortable with commission work. Start trying to get them.
  • Prepare for trying to get a table at a convention  next year.
  • Make more ties in the artistic community. I’m going to attempt this by commenting on more of my favorite pictures, featuring artists in my DA journal and on my blog as well as actually starting my “Thanks Project”.
  • Start working on my comic Dragon Breath and get to a point where I can upload at least once/week or biweekly. I’d also like to get a buffer built up some that I’m 2-3 months ahead of what I’m uploading.
  • See what it takes to build an art portfolio. Begin doing so, perhaps speak to a consultant of some kind to round it out.

Health

  • Exercise at least 3x/week. I just got a gym membership at a gym down the street, so this should be easy to do. (Especially since my fiancée is going to drag me there initially until I’m happy about it, lol!)
  • Loose around 100 lbs by the end of the year.  This is actually possible if I manage to stay on top of things. I’m watching my diet, I’ll be exercising at least three times a week if I follow the first goal. I’m hoping to actually hit the gym more often for a little bit of weight training. Actually, I would really like to join some dance classed when I drop enough weight. (I want to Belly Dance so bad!)

Writing

  • Continue regularly writing. (Updating this Blog consistently will help with that somewhat, but I also want to work on my stories more often.)
  • Form a writing/editing group to help each other grow and continue working together. (I’m in the process of this one right now.)

Other Important Activities

  • Video skits!! I’ve had all these ideas for a sort of occasional video diary series and also for a hilarious short skit.
  • Wedding Plans!! I’m newly engaged, less than a month now. We decided to wait until next year so I would have plenty of time, but I still want to start thinking about some of the details now. 😀

Anyways, love you guys. Thanks for taking time out of you day to see what I have to say. Let me know what you think!! Don’t forget to check out my art gallery, there’s a link on the right side of the page!


Getting Comfy in my new Home…

Last year was a good year. This year is going to be fantastic. I’ve learned about what I’m capable of and how far my skills have grown and I felt really inspired to actually try and do something about it. I did my best to wrap things up by the end of the year to start this one fresh with new work, new goals, new work ethic and drive…Overall, I’m very excited about what the future has in store.

Before I move onto the new, I’d like to address some of the things I took out of the last year. I felt like it was “shit or get off the pot” time with my art and writing sometime in September. I’ve always kinda been thinking, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I was a comic artist or a novelist?” without ever really doing anything about it. Sure, I draw a lot and there are like a million different little story ideas scattered about my computer, but nothing was really going anywhere.

It was my mentality that was killing me. They say, “nothing ever just happens,” and I feel like that was just what I was waiting for. For something to just magically happen. For a fully formed book to just appear in my lap, ready to hit the shelves. That’s what November was all about for me. National Novel Writer’s Month. If I could finish just that much work, 50k worth of first draft or outline, then that would prove that I even had the potential of having the work ethic necessary to be a novelist.  November was hard, damn hard, and we dealt with a lot of hardship. I finished, despite the fact that my mother-in-law died in the middle of the month and the terrible sadness felt by the entire family. It was then, while working amidst our grief and pain and all the little distractions and time constraints that went along with something so terrible, that I realized I could do this.

My celebration was cut short, I received the news on December 1st that my grandmother had passed away. I rushed back to Texas and reconnected with family members I haven’t seen in years. Family is so important to me, so it was such a big thing. I really feel like I have a whole family again and I can’t begin to describe how amazing it is to know there are people there that do care about me.

One other neat thing, I’ve been battling a weight problem for a while, trying to get healthy again. I took initiative and lost 5% of my body weight from September to November and have been maintaining that loss ever since. I did it with changes in my eating habits. I found out recently that I had been fighting a losing battle, as apparently my thyroid was working against me. I’ve been on medication and the doctor says that it will be much easier to lose weight now, so I’m really excited to get into the gym.

And then, on December 24th, my boyfriend made our engagement official with a ring and we told his family. Its been a long time coming, but the moment was still just as sweet. Regardless of anyone or anything else, no matter how anyone may feel about the subject, we do want to spend the rest of our lives together.

So I had decided to do all these things with the new year and one of the first things that pops up is a job opportunity.  ( Hope this link works ) It’s pretty much everything I’d like in a job, so I pushed myself pretty hard core and sent them a letter. Over the span of four days, I retouched three pieces, completely repainted one more, and wrote, drew and painted two comic strips to show off, along with editing a script to show my writing style. Thats about the same amount of work I would have gotten done over the span of four or five months a year ago. And the picture I completely repainted looks amazing. I didn’t even know I had reached that level of skill yet. Old vrs. new. Whatever comes of it, I’ve already gained a lot from the experience. I have confidence in my work ethic, I feel like I’m finally getting close to where I want to be, or at least, that I know how to get there from here.

So, one of the ways I’m going to make sure to get to my goals this year, is to blog about the journey.  I’m really excited about it. I hope that we can learn from each other. ^.^

So, please bear with me as I try to figure out how to spruce this place up a little and get into my groove. Also, join me next time as I examine my goals for this year. 🙂