What began as a list to remind me of exercises that I enjoy turned into a really fun hour, and something I thought might make you smile too. Here’s a quick and dirty peek into my secret notebook. Let me know what you think.
Though I do think deer are lovely creatures, it’s not especially about deer in particular. Or at all, really.
I had the idea to sell my Art Outlines illustrations almost two full years ago, and with the support and encouragement of my fellow entrepreneurs, I even built a fully functional website, created a video, and got strangers from all over the web to sign up for the email list.
But then it came time to actually list something for sale. And what did I do?
I shied away from it. I let doubt creep in. I turned my back on the project, thinking it wasn’t good enough. I worked on other things.
Over a year later, deep into my 10-month travel adventure around the world writing The Eat Team, I was getting really itchy feet (and a shockingly tiny bank account). I have a massive drive (compulsion?) to create, and because you can’t take an entire print studio full of hundreds-year-old lead and machinery and boxes full of paper, I couldn’t work on Ye Olde Gangster.
So, even though I felt totally unprepared and scared and embarrassed, I just decided I’d put a few of the illustrations up for sale on Etsy. I was terrified, and I didn’t have a lot of hope, but I asked myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” And the answer was.. nobody would buy my illustrations and I’d be in the exact same place I was now. Well, that’s not so scary I thought–either I’m in the same place I am now, or perhaps maybe just maybe someone will send me some money for something I enjoyed doing.
Nothing happened for a few months. So, my “worst case scenario” was true for a few months. But of course, I wasn’t really thinking about it much and hadn’t expected anything to happen anyways.
Then, out of the blue, on July 4th, 2012, a stranger from New Zealand sent me $2 for my drawing of a deer as I prepared an American Independence Day feast for my new Australian friends in Melbourne.
“WHAT?!?!?!?” I shouted, I danced, I shoved the email in front of my friends faces. It wasn’t the money that lit my fire.. obviously $2 isn’t gonna stretch very far.. it was the cold, hard, undeniable real truth that I had a viable product. A worthy idea.
It made my heart soar.
So, why the tattoo?
I guess there’s several facets to that answer.
- Commitment to the long haul. It’s always been my dream to support myself with my creativity, and this was a moment I’ll never forget. I know there is no quick fix, no secret to making my dreams come true–it’s hard work and trust and taking risks and getting up every single day and starting all over again. It’s blood sweat and tears and I’m in it, forever. This is a commitment to myself to never give up on my creativity, to never stop growing and learning and making.
- That if I can pull this off, anyone can.
- Reminder that what I do is good enough. For a long time, I was embarrassed that my style of drawing was so childish and simplistic. At some point I decided to embrace that and run with it. It’s amazing how much love and support you get when you say “fuck it” and embrace the differences that make you you.
- Reminder to keep it simple. My whole idea with Art Outlines is to make extremely simple, elegant drawings. To eliminate what’s not necessary, and do only what’s necessary. Focus. Minimalism. Contrast.
- Reminder that imperfection is perfection. That you’ll never feel ready, you’ll never feel finished, but to say YES anyways. To figure things out as I go. Something I learned on my big adventure was that nothing is ever perfect.. but if you can embrace those imperfections, it makes it perfect. That was one of the overarching themes Hannah and I encountered every single day on our crazy trip. If we tried to make things perfect, we wouldn’t have done a single thing. If I had known that I was going to get this deer tattooed on my body forever when I drew it, I would have spent hours trying to perfect it. I love that it has tiny flaws and things I’d probably have changed if I had known.
If you look real close, there’s a little dimple on my deer’s bum–that wasn’t part of the original drawing. That was a speck created by the xerox machine that my tattoo artist thought was part of the image. When we realized it was permanent, she asked if I wanted her to try and pick it out. I considered it, then remembered.. imperfection is perfection. I love that it’s just another layer. Humans are all imperfect, and instead of getting mad or embarrassed by “hiccups”, we can just run with it and love it anyways.
That I’m not the only one involved–the stranger in New Zealand and my amazing tattoo artist had huge parts in it. To remember that PEOPLE are what make the world go round, and we’re all family in some way. To trust others and not try to control everything. I went in thinking I’d get the deer facing me. Alice told me that would be upside down to the rest of the world. And so I worked with her instead of trying to control it, and accepted her expertise since I was a tattoo n00b, and rolled with it, even though it’s not what I first imagined. Give and take.
Life is imperfect, and if we want to LIVE we have to remember and accept and love anyways.
Every week I take a day to myself, Melissa Monday, where I journal, organize, maintain, and do whatever the hell I want. It helps me refocus and reconnect.
This Monday I sat down and wrote out my intentions for the week. Rereading it, I have a feeling that’s how I’ll want many of my weeks to look. Sometimes I forget the big picture, and I’ve recently started physically writing down my Big Picture, be it for a day, an event, a relationship, or in this case, a week.
Without further ado:
Intenions for This Week/Big Picture:
To chip away at my Portland/life goals in an efficient, simple, minimal way. To go at an efficient but relaxed pace. To stick to original plans, but yield when doors close and remain flexible to changes and unexpected happenings–to live in the present moment and find the humor/niceties in every scenario, every moment.
To wake up grateful for the exact scenario, recounting my blessings, and never allow doubt or fear to guide my decisions.
To turn off my brain and act from my intuition.
To not fear missing out. To remember and focus only on the moment’s top priority, whatever that may be, and let all else disappear, knowing that I have enough, have always had enough, and will always have enough.
To remember that I don’t own anyone or any thing and never will, so therefore I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
To not second-guess or worry about any decisions I made. To make decisions based on love and inspiration and let my complete and unjustified faith in myself and the universe meet me halfway. To know that it always will, every time. That all I can do is the best I can do, and the universe will show me what I need to learn.
To remember that I’m not missing out on anything.
To help others when I see the opportunity and have enough to give (always.) To remember life is lived off paper.
To remember that I’m not perfect and can never be, but that I can be perfectly and unabashedly myself.
To make plans and set goals but not get angry or disappointed when (not if) I don’t get to all of them.
To release all expectations of myself and those I come in contact with. To be patient and kind to myself and others. To let doors open and close, never using force, always asserting what I feel, think, and want, but never trying to change a scenario, always yielding and facilitating the opening and closing of doors. Keeping in mind that “when one door closes, another one opens.” Not giving my power away or letting things get past my mental “mudroom”, never reacting angrily to a door closing, but rather taking a moment before speaking or acting to think about what other doors I could walk through instead. Remembering that I have enough, do enough, and am enough. That my presence is enough. That existing is enough. That everything positive that happens is merely the icing on top of my cake, and that anything “negative” that happens can never take away from the fact that I have had the best cake ever. The cake is always enough.
To use my tools for good (brain, computer, relationships, etc).
To work when it’s time to work, and to rest when it’s time to rest. To let everything breathe–to act when action is required, and to hold the pose when there’s nothing to be done.
To remain equanimous–to break the link between feeling tones & craving; to be with the pleasant without chasing it, with the unpleasant without resisting it, and with the neutral without ignoring it.
To forgive myself when I “mess up”, without delay. To appreciate challenges and “setbacks” as opportunities to use my creativity and grow, to practice these ideas. To know that its this contrast that makes life beautiful and fun and interesting and that, no matter how much I whine or complain, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a necessary part of the game.
To remember that it’s just a game, and to play for fun and not points.
To always value real, in-person connection above all else and to communicate and share ideas and goods as often as possible. Daily. Always look for opportunities to help others, dig for ways I can serve them, and not how they can help me or what I can get from them.
Laugh as often as possible.
Fuel my body with nourishing food.
Exert myself, but don’t over-exert myself.
Allow silence. Don’t try to fill every second.
To listen when others speak, and really hear them.
To address issues immediately, before they have a chance to fester and explode.
To be detached but warmly engaged with the world. To appreciate but to know I don’t NEED anything or any body.
To give only when I want to give, never to seek or need a response or reaction, and know that what I gave is enough. To remember that whatever anyone else gives or does is enough. To be confident yet vulnerable. Taking healthy risks.
To treat friends as family; to remember that an argument, disagreement or bump in the road doesn’t mean you break up; to move on with positive forward facing momentum and keep my eye on the big picture of what’s good for the whole team. To remember that a discussion never has to be an argument–that an issue never has to be a problem, that differences in opinion can be discussed in a relaxed, honest way and then moved on from.
To re-read “in the flow” days if (when) I feel disconnected, or talk with someone who gets me, or read my “balance” list and get back on track when I fall off.
To create every day. To find inspiration around me.
Maybe even more important than the incredible content inside it, author Tim Ferriss is currently fighting a battle against the traditional publishing industry. The 4-Hour Chef is banned from 1000+ bookstores (including all Barnes & Nobles) because it’s the next big bet by Amazon Publishing.
The success of this book threatens the stability of the traditional publishing industry. It could also pave the way for bigger and badder things. As I’m getting ready to publish my first book, I’ve seen first hand how outdated traditional publishing methods are and how their restrictive nature of it all doesn’t do much to benefit the author or the readers.
A victory for the 4-Hour-Chef could mean getting more books and information into the right hands, and more creative flexibility for authors. It’s a win-win scenario (except for the big publishing corporations.)
If The 4-Hour Chef “wins” in any capacity, authors will feel freedom to experiment. If this book “fails” because the old guard makes of an example of it, their message wins: don’t mess with the system that keeps us fat and happy, or we’ll punish you.
Our world is changing. We’re noticing the unhappy effects of our “dog-eat-dog world” of the last decades, and seeing that “sharing is caring” goes a lot further. We’re working on updating health care, we’re working on updating our views on race, gender, gay marriage, the environment, and more.
To me, this is just one more small step for man. Let’s make it happen.
In May, I wrote about my goal to ”create a new stream of passive income by September 30, 2012, that generates at least $50 per month on average and endures for a minimum of 10 years in a way that delivers strong value for many others around the world.”
Since the “deadline” date has passed, I thought I’d share an update on how I did.
The plan was to monetize Art Outlines by selling my illustrations as downloadable vectors for other designers to use.
My plan was to group sets of drawings together into full-sets, each of which would be one page in the upcoming Art Outlines book. For example, I created a full set of banners, vegetables, stars, christmas illustrations, and so on. I drew a page per week and listed each page on my etsy shop for $12.95. And then…
And then, on July 4th, American Independence Day, something magical happened. I made my first sale. A stranger sent me $2 for my drawing of a deer while I slept. Fucking magical.
So was it a success?
I’m pretty damn stoked (and surprised) to be able to say yes, both monetarily and otherwise. After the initial $2, I ended up meeting my monetary goal of $50 passive income per month after September 30th.
I didn’t exceed it by much, but something interesting happened: I ended up starting a new form of active income as a by-product.
By listing my pre-made Art Outlines illustrations on etsy, people started getting in touch about creating custom illustrations in the same style. I was getting fresh eyes on my work and exposure via the etsy platform from people searching for quirky illustrations.
As well as making a fair bit more money than the passive stream, I also really enjoyed actively creating illustrations for customers with a set brief. It’s a fun puzzle for me to solve when a client tells me what elements they would like to include, and then I get to figure out a way to make it happen, using my judgment and creativity to fill in gaps.
I liked having the balance of creating pages at will for the book based on my own wants, and creating something more structred for my active clients.
I really loved making custom illustrations for new clients.
Here’s my Art Outlines monetary earnings breakdown since I started my goal:
JUNE: 30.00 active
JULY: 14.95 passive + 175.00 active
AUGUST: 38.85 passive + 90.00 active
SEPTEMBER: 37.95 passive
OCTOBER: 64.75 passive + 180.00 active
Passive Total: 169.45
Active Total: 475.00
Total Total (passive + active): 644.45
I’m really, really excited about my progress on this so far. Art Outlines is pretty much my ideal form of supporting myself: I can work from anywhere, any time; I get paid to use my creativity and make art I want to make anyways, I’m providing value for others while providing value for myself, and it’s completely passive because I created an automatic download page which customers are emailed after purchase for my completely digital product.
I guess all there is left to do is.. keep going. Based on the fact that people are actually ordering and paying for what I’m making is a clear indicator that I’m heading in the right direction. All I need to do is persist if I want to increase the volume of orders.
A couple folks commented on my initial goal blogpost that a goal of $50/month was too easy. I thought about changing it to a higher goal, but decided to stick with my initial instinct. I didn’t want to set the bar higher because I was (and still am) in the midst of constant travel. During the entire time I’ve been working towards this goal, Art Outlines has been a side project. I couldn’t give it my full attention, as my full attention has been dedicated to my main goal of traveling and working on The Eat Team. I reckon if Art Outlines was my main focus, I could have upped the ante a bit. I’m proud that I was able to meet my goal while exploring and journeying through Australia, New Zealand, and the west coast of the U.S.
I’m looking forward to seeing this project through to completion and earning enough money through passive income to fully sustain my life monetarily. I’m still creating one new set per week, so the finished Art Outlines book should be finished in the next year.
One of the biggest parts of creating passive income streams according to Steve Pavlina is mastering the mindset and really thinking about what you’ll do with your time once you fully sustain yourself with passive income. I think I’ve also been successfully acting upon my answer to that: I’ve been traveling, cooking for friends and family, creating, dancing, and making the most of what I earn. I’m looking forward to fulfilling the remainder of that list in the months and years to come. I’m in it for the long haul and won’t quit till I get there.
Five years after iPhone was first released, I’m finally joining the club today.
The reasons I didn’t get one until now ranged from the fact that they were unnecessary– that all I needed on a phone was to call and text, that I didn’t need the bells and whistles, especially at the extra price tag. But the biggest reason of all was that I didn’t feel I could trust myself to use it efficiently.
Now that the cell phone companies have eliminated the excuse of a high price (they make it just about the same price and sometimes even more expensive to buy a new “basic” phone as they do to buy a smart phone), and realizing how handy some of the apps would be on the road and in navigating daily life, I had only one reason left that could get in the way. My mindset.
“Technology alone is not enough. It’s tecnology married with the liberal arts, the humanities, that gives us the result that makes our hearts sing.” – Steve Jobs
I always knew that if I were to get one, I’d have to have reached a level of maturity that I could wield my iPhone for good and not evil. iPhones are extemely powerful, and we all know that with great power comes great responsibility. Pirates had swords to do their bidding, and we have smart phones.
Since having an iphone is a great responsibility, I must treat it accordingly. As a young college kid addicted to constantly refreshing facebook in 2007, I knew that I was not ready.
Maybe you’re thinking that’s a little dramatic–it’s just a phone, right? Well, really, it’s a tool. And no tool is inherently good or evil. But you can use it proactively, or you can use it against people and against yourself. You can use it to enhance life, or you can use it to distract you. To connect, or to disconnect. The choice is yours, whether you want it or not.
Before I took on this responsibility, I wanted to make sure I could handle it. I wanted to make sure I had outgrown my other technologies, and truly lived my life fully knowing that I could live without it.
Now I know that I can live without it, because I have done my whole life.
But I now feel ready to wield my power responsibly. But before I dive in, I want to set some guidelines for what is “good” and “evil” in my iPhone usage. Because, after all, I am human, and we do tend to make a butt load of mistakes ;)
GOOD iPHONE USES
- Note taking: I use sticky notes on my computer and a TextEdit document to compile my notes and to-do list. So unless I’m at my computer, I’m always writing stuff down in a ton of locations. In draft text messages on my phone, taking photos of things to remind me, scribbling on notes here and there, writing them all over my physical notebook. I’ll be eliminating at least two gathering points by jotting down most of my notes on my iPhone, which I’ll be doing since it will be near me more often than the other items.
- Instagram & Camera: I’ve been photographing for 10 years now, studied it, loved it, and continue to do it every single day. I have a bulky digital SLR which I use for events and travel, but I’m looking forward to putting away/selling/donating my point-and-shoot, which is less powerful than the iPhone camera and using it means I carry a phone and a camera at all times. I’ll be saving space and upgrading the actual camera technology, while being able to share photos more rapidly and efficiently.
- Youtube/video: The camera upgrade is already massive, and as I am just getting into youtubing my adventures, I’m looking forward to capturing these moments in higher quality and sharing them more efficiently.
- Not having to bring my computer everywhere: I like having the option of working when I get a burst of inspiration, and also being able to use internet when I want to. I’ve been known to lug around my 6-year-old hulk of a macbook through big cities, and having a computer for a phone means I can give my back some much needed rest and get up and go more quickly.
- Maps/directions: I travel regularly, and when I’m not traveling, I live in Los Angeles. In both scenarios, I’m going to new places on a regular basis. Having an iPhone means I no longer have to google map before I leave and take a photograph of it on my point-and-shoot camera and zoom in to scrutinize the blurry little map while I’m on the freeway.
- Emergencies: I imagine it’s going to be pretty damn handy in a stitch. As my friend Hannah pointed out though, there’s a fine line between convenience and laziness.
- Update twitter/facebook: Not having to remember what I want to say until I get back to a computer means I can free up mental space. Especially useful for my entrepreneurial projects and pages. Think it, type it, publish.
BEFORE I DIVE IN
Before I even start using it properly, I want to make a pact to myself that this iPhone will be birthed into an organized environment.
After 6 years of inconsistent file naming on my home computer, totally disorganized folders, photos this way and that, documents here and there, 3 hard drives, music in all the wrong places, and a digital clutter of the worst degree, I realized that I really should have taken those extra 20 seconds now and then to create some consistency on my hunk-a-hunk-a burning love macbook.
I’ve slowly been working through the mess and bringing it back to a clean, simple, organized environment, but how much easier would it all have been if I had just started it right? This is my public vow, to myself and to the world, that I will organize from the beginning, taking care to learn and instate processes which will clarify and enhance usability.
BAD iPHONE USES
- Mindless facebook: This was the big one. In younger years I spent a truly embarrassing amount of time refreshing facebook, waiting for notifications, riding on the highs of attention, wallowing in the lows of nothing-new-to-see. Somehow I finally stopped that bad habit, and use it consciously to stay connected with friends and family. However, history always has a chance of repeating itself and I want to make sure I’m aware of that so that I don’t slip back into old ways.
- Constant email: What was once a facebook addiction in college gradually grew into an email addiction after graduation. With real work and clients and meeting people and new friends, it’s a constant barrage of information and people awaiting your reply. You can just as easily get sucked into email as facebook, and I let myself drown in it for a while. But, I learned my lesson again and, for the most part, am good at respecting the line between keeping in touch and drowning in my inbox. I don’t want to be constantly updated, I don’t want to know who’s written to me, and I definitely don’t want my phone to make a noise or pop up every time I get a new message. What I don’t know can’t affect me, and I intend to keep my mental clarity and sanity in tact by keeping up my “once a week email-a-thon” and intermittent checking. I say when it’s time to email, not my phone. Step back, biotch.
- Using it in social situations instead of participating in real life conversations and connections: One of my biggest pet peeves is when you’re talking with someone and they whip out their phone and multitask. I won’t lie, my feelings get a little hurt. If we’re hanging out, let’s be together. I don’t like to be multitasked on, and I will do my damndest not to multitask on you.
Sometimes I feel lost. Coming back home after 6.5 months of constant travel in places I’d never been to before was one of those times. I felt relieved, confused, helpless, weak, scared, and worried.
Shouldn’t I have been bursting with glee to brag about my cool trip? Climbing volcanoes in New Zealand, riding an elephant in Thailand, trekking rainforests in Malaysia, and working with some of my best friends on a farm in Australia are some of my most incredible, unforgettable, and priceless experiences to date. I met some of the most inspiring people, tasted the most savory dishes, and saw the most breathtaking views.
And yet, after filling up with all these new adventures, I felt somehow deflated. Disconnected. Lost.
What was missing, I found out, was me. I had just about stretched myself too thin, too many new adventures, too little familiarity.
I had lost sight of myself, a bit. So, I searched. And at home, surrounded by my parents, my friends, my belongings, my bed, my clothes, my city, my friends, my bike, my city, my photos, my art, and so on.. it was easy to find reminders of who I was. I seemed to have forgotten my sense of self, what I wanted, and what I was doing. But for the last two weeks that I’ve been home, I took the time to immerse myself in all of that.
I caught up with old friends, dressed up in my favorite clothes that didn’t come in my travel bag, went to my favorite eateries with my parents, rode my bike down my favorite trails, and sorted through years of old art. The most awakening and inspiring parts of it all was reading all of my old journals, from childhood through to university and up to the present day. It is extremely powerful to see and read your own story, to see how you overcame past challenges, epiphanies you had that still ring true today, and gain new insights by shedding light on old writings. It’s fascinating to see your own evolution, and doing so helps you appreciate everything your past self has done for you to get you right where you are today.
When you’re feeling lost and stuck, sometimes it’s hard to motivate to do a lot, but it’s just like exercise–you whine and complain and procrastinate but once you’ve actually done it, you feel on top of the world. You’re proud of yourself and it gives you a boost to do other things. I forced myself to do all these things that my subconscious knew would make me feel proud and give me a boost.
It’s all about showing up, and in this case, it’s about showing up for yourself.
My travel buddy Hannah of The Eat Team and I just finished a five-day road trip across New Zealand’s north island. We had an epic adventure, climbed mountains, showered in a rainbow waterfall, visited the Lord of the Rings Hobbiton village at The Shire, ate a ton of junk food, read literary trash fiction, got drunk, played cards, laughed, and generally did absolutely nothing productive.
As part of our ongoing travels for The Eat Team, we’re calling, interviewing, writing, planning, photographing, and running around like madmen working hard and playing hard on a daily basis.
But on our little road trip, we didn’t do a single interview for The Eat Team. We didn’t send a single email. We left our phones off for days on end. And we indulged in procrastination and nothingness to the highest degree.
It’s not like doing stuff for The Eat Team is a hassle and to be honest it doesn’t much feel like work at all– it’s exactly what we would want to be doing even without a project like this. (That’s the point of a dream right?) It’s just that, no matter what you do, you can’t do it day in and day out without pause. Even though ice cream one of my favorite things in the world, I wouldn’t want to eat it 30 days in a row.
The week leading up to the road trip left both of us feeling a bit uneasy–we were in Auckland with at least 15 incredibly talented folks ready and willing to meet us. We had a backlog of over thirty articles and interviews already conducted and just waiting to be written, edited, and posted. We had a place to stay for the next two nights and absolutely no plan after that. We desperately wanted a break from the nonstop action and jam-packed schedule, but we were consumed by FOMO. We got a golden opportunity to take a roadtrip, but we didn’t want to let those people down who were waiting to hear back from us, especially those who we already had scheduled meetings with.
What did we do?
We decided to let go. We acknowledged the fact that no matter how much we tried to do and see, there was absolutely no way we’d ever see and do it all. So we let go of it all. We got in touch with the people we were meant to meet, apologized for canceling, and packed our bags.
Today is the first day that Hannah and I have gotten back into “working” on The Eat Team, scheduling, planning, writing, photographing, and tackling the daily steps of bringing our bigger dream into reality.
We spent the entire day in our pajamas behind our computer screens, emailing and facebooking and twittering and preparing and planning and the beauty is this: although the thought of this last week would have overwhelmed us, it did not. because we took a big fat indulgent break last week, today felt like just as much fun as showering in a waterfall by the sea.
It was refreshing. I feel totally inspired again and ready to take on anything. I think that’s the beauty of this nomadic lifestyle which feels more and more like a normal life. There’s huge variety in it, and when one situation becomes tiresome, we move on to the next one. We repeat them alternately, and each of them are just as enjoyable because of the rotation.
Last week, adventuring and hiking and roughing it and indulging felt like heaven. Today, I couldn’t think of anything better than lounging and working and waking up in a real bed and drinking tea and eating a crumpet. On Thursday, I’m looking forward to getting back out in the world again and interviewing some new folks in Wellington.
Sometimes you do this, sometimes you do that. Sometimes you’re here, sometimes you’re there. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. They’re all a necessary part of the balance, the rhythm, the flow, whatever you wanna call it. This is as much a reminder to myself as it is to you: don’t fear either side, just let it pass through you and keep on moving, keep on making decisions, keep on firing, just keep on swimming. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling burnt out–take a break and embrace it!
Just like in a photo, it’s the contrast that makes life beautiful.
This week I made my first passive sale! Two dollars might not ordinarily make me jump up and down like a hyperactive 7-year-old, but this time was special. It wasn’t about the money (I guess $2 isn’t gonna get me far, especially traveling in Australia). No, it was proof that I have a viable product, that I’m heading in the right direction, and that if I keep going, I could very well reach my goal.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve also had three requests from “strangers” for custom illustrations in the Art Outlines style, which leaves me feeling even more excited about carrying on.
And is it just a coincidence that my first sale came on Independence Day?