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Lesson Remembered

I’m pretty good at being miserable.

Conversely, I’m terrible at being happy.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

For the last few decades or so, I’ve been pretty good at turning my glass-half-empty world into a glass-half-full one. I’ve learned to take a different stance on my problems, a position where difficulties are best taken on in positive terms. For example, I could pray (yes, I do that) “please keep my terrible temper in check today,” or I could pray “please grant me a placid day of personal serenity.”

Which prayer is more likely to yield a positive response? As far as I’m concerned the serenity prayer is far more effective. I’m looking for a positive outcome, right? Right. No good can come of focusing on what I’m trying to avoid.

Why am I writing about this on what is ostensibly an art, writing, and pop-culture blog? That’s because I’ve gotten into a head-space where doing art professionally for others has become a negative proposition to me. All I’ve seen are the difficulties meeting the requirements of vague, often contradictory briefs, finding time around my full-time day job, finding energy when I feel beat up by the week, and feeling guilty about other responsibilities that I’m not meeting when I’m doing illustration for clients.

I expect it to be hard, so that’s what I get, hardness. I expect to be tired, so I’m worn out. I expect… well, I need not keep repeating this formula. You get the idea. If you are reading this blog, then you are likely pretty intelligent.

All this has had a chilling effect on my creativity, my mood, and my willingness to take on new projects. How could it not? Misery breeds more misery!

(As a caveat, I must say that I have not been miserable pursuing my personal projects. They have been a balm to my troubled soul.)

All this attitude stuff really kicked into gear when I burned out very badly about six years ago. I crashed and burned so thoroughly that it was easier to get a day job than to keep fighting as a freelance artist. Then, when my mother was severely injured a few years later, my downward spiral was on, and I spun out of control. I quit doing the Johnny Saturn comic strip, stopped appearing at comic conventions, and proceeded to do less and less. I was pretty much convinced that it was all pretty pointless.

Jump forward to 2017. My mom is doing great, and my day job has been a positive experience. My self-confidence is better, I get to help support our little family in a reliable manner, my health and fitness haves improved, and I get to be around people. I think it’s high time I reminded myself that I need not be miserable all the time. I’ve stopped listening to the news because the current administration makes my blood pressure boil, and a continuous barrage of bad news makes it easy to be depressed. I’ve stopped watching or reading television shows or series that mess with my emotions. I’ve made a point of being generous and trying to bring light into other peoples’ lives.

It’s time for me to be happy again. It’s a choice, and I choose it. Happiness must be maintained and tended, and it’s high time I got back to it. This goes with art commissions too. I should be happy that people like my work enough that they want to pay me to draw and color pictures for them. I AM happy about that. I need to let all the negatives and hassles and resistance go and enjoy using my gift for others.

This begins again today. I choose to be happy. I choose to share my work with the world.


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