|The Mourner by J. E. Larsen - Available Here|
2013 was a somewhat... er... trying year. From my perspective, it was a year of work and money worries, serious health crises for extended family members, and other assorted nasty, little surprises. Of course, the universe doesn't just automatically reboot itself on some arbitrary date on our calendars and this was made abundantly clear, on New Year's Day itself, when I awoke to find that my kitty, Phoebe, couldn't walk properly. After about 8 months without an episode, she had apparently suffered another seizure during the night. It took about 24 hours for her to recover, but thankfully, she's back to normal now. Sadly, we can't control what life throws at us. All we can control is how we choose to deal with it.
I had a bit of an epiphany after doing Lexa and Julie's Dream Destination Blog-Hop (here) in early December. It was fun planning a fantasy travel itinerary, but after a year that quite frankly left me wrung out from stress and tiredness, it occurred to me that as much as I would love to travel to those spots on my wish list, I'd gladly settle for life's simple pleasures right now; I really can't recall the last time I was able to just relax and read a good book. It made me realize that I wasn't just busy, I was on a figurative hamster wheel, scrambling faster and faster but getting nowhere.
My husband, Danny, is one those rare indiviuals who always knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. Being a graphic designer was his dream career, but after 3 years of university and many years of experience, he now finds that the design industry has irrevocably changed. I was excited when he decided, about 7 years ago, to stop working for other people and start up our own business from home. We adjusted our life accordingly and for a while it was great, but over the last few years we seem to have been working twice as hard for half as much.
Danny and I shared a rueful smile recently when we caught a story on an American breakfast show that named Graphic Design as one of the three most "useless" degrees to have. It's imposible for "little guys" like us to compete with the big printing companies offering cheap business cards, and there's an escalating trend for businesses to outsource design work to places like India and South Korea. Not to mention that software programs have enabled people without a design background to do their own graphics now. This is simply the new reality and there's no point crying about it. We don't have all the answers yet, but we are formulating a plan of action, which is infinitely better than inertia and feeling like a victim of circumstances.
|Life's simple pleasures... Addams-style! A cartoon by Charles "Chas" Addams.|
This desire for a simpler, happier existence extends to my online life as well. I've always thought of Blogland as a place I can interact with, and be inspired by, kindred spirits. And my blog... well, it's a little playhouse to fill with my favourite things and enjoy a wee bit of dark fun. I don't make any money from it and I don't do "reviews", although I do try to support the ventures of my online buddies, and to participate in occasional blog hops. I also love to share the work of amazing illustrators or cool stuff I've stumbled across on Etsy. What I never expected was to reach a point where I became inundated with emails, and direct messages on Twitter and Facebook, from people I don't know, asking me to promote books, bands, art, indie films, shops, products, and crowd-funding projects.
Some of these requests are very courteous, but quite often, they're just obnoxious. I've actually had people say, "you owe it to people like me who are just starting out", or "you should give back", or they just badger me incessantly to contribute money to their Kickstarter fundraising projects. I simply don't have the time (or money) to assist a never-ending succession of complete strangers to make their dreams come true, and I've decided that I'm done with being made to feel bad about that. In 2014, I need to devote a little more time to making a few of my own dreams come true.
So, now that I've got all that off my chest, I promise that I won't make a habit of writing sagas/rants like this, but I really wanted to establish my manifesto for this year in this first post. I've got far more lighthearted subjects lined up for future posts, including news about a blog hop that some of you may be interested in. But, in the meantime, I want to take a stroll around Blogland and catch up on what everyone else has been doing. Another thing I've been missing.