MY BODY, MY CHOICE!

The fact that we even have to fight for our rights in 2022 is just blasphemous. I wanted to create a protest poster, as too often, when I start to express myself I begin to sound like an explicit 90’s rap album. So. Hey… free to download just credit me!

Creating with a +6m Baby

Before I had to return back to work I felt like I was making some head way on a few projects. But a few weeks later after my return I feel like nothing has gotten done. Trying to balance it, my art and my 6 month old baby, mostly on my own, is definitely overwhelming. I’m desperately trying to find some balance and a routine but honestly, I feel the need to work on my mind set. Which means…

1. BE MFN GRACIOUS and UNDERSTANDING to YOURSELF! I’m guilty of being a perfectionist. I put way too much pressure on myself. I have about 5 WIP’s at the moment and I feel like they equally need my attention. Along with keeping my baby a priority and my home clean (and going back to work). Its too much sometimes but it’s why I have to force myself to stop and take a breather and just enjoy whichever moment I’m in. If it’s the 5 minutes it takes to hold and comfort my baby or the 5 minutes I get to sew or string a bead I need to be mindful and present. Remember that you’re doing your best. Don’t get agitated, this is an adjustment. Which leads to #2.

#2 Don’t feel guilty! Idk about you but I’m definitely the artist that can zone out for hours. Prioritizing my art over basic needs like going to the toilet, sleeping and eating. I know. But seriously if I’m in the midst of a project it has my complete attention; I’m lasered focused and fully committed to it. So there is this twinge that comes over me when I’m working and he is having a fussier than usual day and he won’t let me put him down or his standing chair time will not suffice. I feel guilty that I become impatient at moments, wanting to devote time to my art. I have to remind myself it’s ok. Your project will be there. Love on your baby, enjoy these moments because we all know how fleeting they are.

#3 Enjoy it! Time is precious. When art has been and is your therapy or a form of meditation in your life and your way of loving on yourself; Don’t feel guilty for enjoying it. Soon enough you’ll be able to share it with you’re little one. And they already see what you’re doing. The five minutes I do get you better believe I’m more likely to use them then I was before I had a kid. My little one can sometimes be a 15 minute napper. On those days I must take advantage of that time; Whether its to quickly do the dishes or just take a shower. Time becomes extremely more valuable when you have a demanding Lil baby that needs your attention. So the few seconds you do get, enjoy them and make the best of them.

I think the point is to remember that yes your art is important and you will have to sacrifice some of the time you spend on it but it doesn’t mean that you aren’t an artist anymore. It’s honestly a beautiful journey melding the two. Be open to the process. You do not have to give up your art. I know the feeling. I wondered if I’d have to give it up. Struggling with your identity after having a child is no joke. Just remember it’s just going to take an adjustment, some patience and understanding. When you have a baby, everyday won’t be the same, so just do your best to show up for yourself daily and try and do the one thing you can or need to do today.

I’m the first one that gets annoyed when people suggest day care. I don’t have too many people to rely on or understand that my art is more than a damn hobby to me. If you can afford day care more power to you, take advantage of it or anyone who is willing to help. But if you’re on your own I know how overwhelming the pressure can be. Don’t underestimate the value of: some sleep, a hot shower, a clean space, a cup of coffee or enjoying some nature. Relax, you’re doing great! Your child sees all that you’re doing. Hang in there.

And o one more thing! Becoming a mother is not a choice that should be taken lightly, no woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy or become a mother before she is ready. I’m so glad I waited till now and even at 37, I can admit it’s a lot of responsibility. It’s a fulltime commitment that takes 127% of your time. So enjoy your life and don’t be in a rush and dont let anyone pressure you in having children before you’re ready. I stand by all my fellow pro-choice women and supporters. Reproductive rights are human rights. A women’s rights poster to come soon!

BEautifullyODD

Duh… that’s why I blog.

I am bursting at the seams, excited about all the projects and work I want to create and am currently working on. But in all honesty I feel like no one really cares about what I’m working on nor do I feel like they really care to understand or can match my enthusiasm about it. I found myself ready to shout from the roof tops that I bought a stand to create videos for YouTube. I’ve shared my idea with a few close loved ones, but in all honesty, I don’t really want to tell anyone. And let’s be honest starting a YouTube channel now a days isn’t that big of a deal, but for some reason it seems like it’s the direction I want to go in, even if it never becomes anything more than a video library of my efforts.

My baby Omari was born the first of December and I’m even more determined then I was before to carve out time to work on my art. It’s like any free amount of time, like now at 1AM (which lets be honest I need to go to bed) is a blessing. I put in my ear phones and let the music transport me into the zone, drifting into the meditative state of whatever project has my current attention. We know the zone. It washed over me tonight and I was reminded of when I first started designing purses; listening to rap or some lo-fi while working till the sun came up. So as my maternity leave comes to an end and I make the sonewhat dreaded return to work, I just pray I can continue to make my art a priority.

And now what am I thinking, to add video editing and all that jazz to the mix πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ. On top of trying to become a surface pattern designer, purse designer, crochet artist, create a brand and yea, with my newborn son on my hip. Exhale. Can you feel my anxiety. 😳 But really πŸ‘€ I’m excited. I know I put a lot of pressure on my self. But I think this experience will be more of a document of my work; Proof to my self. And a way to hold my self accountable to my goals.

If anything this past year and while I was pregnant I learned that my art is who I am. I literally learned a whole new hobby and its proof that with practice and effort you can improve. I just know that I am truly excited to share my life and art with my son. It’s so cute when he watches me crochet. I’ve actually been able to finish a couple of projects and that mine craft ax was no small feat. But tbh I just want to have fun. That’s why I create. It brings me joy, it comforts my spirit and I can’t wait to share that with him.

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Prenatal Depression & Creating During Pregnancy

While your body is busy creating a child and your hormones are driving you extremely insane it can be difficult to show up to your creative practice. The harsh reality and looming responsibility of having to create a future for you and your child can be paralyzing. Especially if you are self-employed or already working in the creative arts field.

The energy it takes to pursue my own work came to a complete dead end and I was fortunate enough that I wasn’t in the middle of a huge design project at work as I had no motivation to create anything. Projects that I excitedly began in the New Year fizzled out quicker than I could breathe life into them.

This was the only thing I had finished despite the fact that I had intentions in turning each image into a lino block.

Between the emotional spells I was also trying to navigate my trauma. Which who knew, things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, is that your past trauma can leave you knee deep in shit you thought: you forgot about, made peace with or just assumed you were over with. But that mess crept back in like a leak in a roof. Spreading mold and despair and sending me into a decent bout of prenatal depression.

Post Partum Depression is talked about a lot but Prenatal Depression seems to get you the stank eye as if you’re not grateful for the miracle taking place within you while others struggle to even get pregnant or have suffered a loss. Here I was navigating: all my past trauma, a relationship with the father (it’s complicated but we love each other), becoming a mother, letting go of my very independent single life, and honestly the relationship with my creativity.

While everyone was telling me how excited they were and are for me I was internally dreading all of it and questioning what the hell I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this, I’m 36 and not getting any younger and the timing seemed more than perfect though my circumstances weren’t. But as all these feelings came bubbling to the surface I found my self questioning everything and relying on therapy to help me come to terms and validate what I had been through and feeling.

A few things that helped:

  1. Therapy! I can’t stress enough the importance of therapy. Luckily I had already had someone but please find someone you can speak too. It can be a lot of help to you to just have your feelings, concerns, & worries be acknowledged and validated. It takes the edge off as you come to grips with whatever you’re dealing with. And you can tell them things you may not tell your loved ones for fear of rejection or being further misunderstood.
  2. A trip: Now this may seem crazy and ridiculous especially if you’re already struggling and trying to save but I turned 36 while pregnant and I was going to cancel my birthday plans to take an overnight beach trip. In all honesty that tripped saved my life. Even if you can’t afford an overnight trip, a day trip to the beach or anywhere where nature can comfort your soul can be so nourishing.
    • At the time of this trip I was on the edge. I won’t explain why or what got me there but taking a solo trip to play in the ocean, journal, visit an art gallery and commune with the sun was exactly what I needed. I felt like myself again.
  3. Now things weren’t perfect when I got back as I still had a lot of work to do emotionally and spiritually but I had a therapist tell me to ground myself when things get hard or emotionally unstable.

Ground yourself through creativity.

Ground myself? I literally rolled my eyes. Like how the hell do I do that. What is this therapy garbage you are spitting at me and if it’s more foo foo self love bs I’m going to have another tantrum before we even hang up from this session.

Well duh, with creativity baby! πŸ™„ It seems so logical and self explanatory but my Dr. had a point. I mean creativity had always been a source of comfort for me throughout my life; I even say it’s saved my life. And here it was to do it all over again by grounding me.

And it had already been working. Though I wasn’t creating what I consider my main body of work, I found myself creating stuff for my baby. I made his name sign to hang over his crib, crocheted a blanket and several toys, made a sweater, and still working on completing my first quilt.

The sewing machine I had left sitting to collect dust ended up being a beacon of light as well as a new love for crocheting. I never expected crocheting to be my new hobby this year but the simplicity of repeating a stitch was comforting. I could mindlessly, to an extent, crochet and watch TV and processe emotions while I fervently single crocheted.

My artistic plans for the year definitely didn’t come to fruition but something else was born and will be born this month! Insert smiles. A whole new world of creativity opened its doors to me and I was able to explore a new hobby and even become inspired by crazy talented fiber artist.

I think as artist we’ve been told too often that we should stick to one trade, one form of art while the job industry expects the exact opposite (let’s not go there). But it was diving deep into crocheting which I had no monetary or career goal associated with it that got me out of my creative rut and gave me a new appreciation for it.

So pick up a camera, print your pictures, water color, collage, journal, paint your nails with copious amounts of glitter, do something new, crochet, knit, follow a recipe, doodle, buy the expensive markers and tons of glue sticks… just create and soon you’ll remember why you fell in love with it. Let it ground you as you navigate the new role of becoming a mother. Don’t give yourself crazy deadlines and project goals, create because you enjoy it and it’s comforting to your soul.

With much love, BEautifullyODD

Crocheting!? During my Pregnancy

Some years ago a coworker, Jasbir, taught me how to crochet. With one stitch at hand I attempted to make a few scarfs every now and then but honestly never had a passion like I do now for it. Even up till a few months ago when I crocheted the flowers to hang around my tree 🌳 it was an attempt to make it look less bald after they had cut it back and to distract myself from feeling feelings about the loss of my brother. And after that project I was done; Ready to return to my main art work.

But when I found out I was pregnant and wasn’t feeling well as a result, my creativity felt like it dried up and deserted me. You don’t feel like an artist unless your creating art. There I was again, doubting myself and all the work I’ve done just to get where I am now. Wondering if I’d have to give it up because now I’ll be a mother who doesn’t have time for such silly things. Dramatic, I know, but I felt like I was putting my dreams on hold again; Making more excuses to not push forward with goals I’ve had since learning animation in high-school.

As I got further along in my pregnancy I knew I wanted to crochet a baby blanket. I still have my first very colorful crocheted blanket and grew very attached to it and because of that, knew I wanted my baby boy to have his. Let me tell you… I’m always jumping into a deep end of a project and find myself bitting of more than I can chew. 10… yes 10 attempts later and it’s finally done and it’s honestly one of the best thing I ever created, other than the little bean I’m growing. I swear I was going to give up multiple times, frustrated that my edges were never straight and it honestly looked like bell bottoms

I say all this to say that after realizing that even though my current passion project (artistic endeavors) didn’t look like what I had planned for the year, I was still being creative. That I’m still an artist. It took a lesson from Lauren Hom to remember that and I know it seems silly. But I had full intentions and goals for my art this year and it definitely took a detour. But I’ve accepted that this is the phase I’m in, this is where my passion is right now and honestly I’m enjoying it immensely.

I even made my first amigurumi, a brown teddy bear for my little boy. Then I made a fox but I’m seriously contemplating redoing it’s body. But I have plans to do that, make a dinosaur and a lion for my little cousin. And I’m currently working on my first cardigan.

I even joined Annie’s crochet kit club to make a blanket, which to me is a little pricey but I found myself still purchasing it. It’s so pretty πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈand figured after I finish my Christmas present projects I’ll have something to work on during the holidays. But as my list of projects grows longer as I also want to make a gray cardigan for myself and baby, I imagine I’ll be able to incorporate crochet in future projects and even purse designs (excited).

Anyway as you can see I’m overly excited but I’m having tons of fun learning more about crocheting at this point in my life and during my pregnancy and proud to add crochet artist to my repertoire.

BEautifullyODD

The Pursuit of my Artistic Dreams (while pregnant)

At the beginning of the year I was desperate to get back into the flow of a daily art practice. And for about a month, I was able to.

Then I quickly realized I was pregnant and once sickness over came me, my art practice came to a screeching halt.

I’m now 14 weeks pregnant and am doing a bit better as I’ve entered my 2nd trimester but I have to admit my mental health took a deep dive into the abyss.

We all know that abyss of depression. Now don’t get me wrong I was initially excited but feeling sick 247 just exhausted my enthusiasm to no end. And as silly as this may sound I felt as though my dreams were coming to a screeching halt and that my glorious single life, full of art was about to shrivel up and die.

A much needed trip to Gualala for my birthday.

Realistically my dreams are going to be postponed as taking care of a newborn and getting acclimated is going to be a challenge of its own. I mean just being pregnant is proving to be quite the challenge. And we really need to break the stigma that it’s so glorious and easy… BULLSHIT! Food aversions and constant nausea and prenatal depression is not a joke. If it’s easy for you, more power to you but some woman really struggle and I’ve been blessed that my vomiting sessions haven’t been every single day 2, 3 times a day.

But anyway, as I try to climb or rather swim back to the surface. I had this overwhelming feeling and need to remember thay my dreams are still attainable. Despite contrary belief, I’m not under the impression that once you have a kid your life and needs are over.  But I do feel as though a whole new source of motivation and determination is needed to get me to show up for myself as I move forward with my art.

Honestly, I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. Or how it will manifest itself. And I’m not even going to stress myself out with expectations that I’ll be able to do x,y & z by this time and that while taking care of a newborn. And more importantly I want to enjoy the time as a new mom without feeling stressed about showing up for my art.

Worked on crocheting my babies blanket under the sunset.

It doesn’t mean I don’t need to show up for myself but it does mean I can’t continue to beat myself up if I feel like I can’t. I’m truly grateful I’m starting to feel better, though I still have my moments. But now more than ever its going to take even more effort to set time aside for it. And honestly that scares me cause then I wonder what have I been doing all this time.

Anyway my pregnancy support counselor actually said something rather compelling which was to use my art as therapy. Which duh… makes since. Not every art project needs to be a means to and end or this awesome finished product ready to go on etsy.

I have been art journaling a bit and before all this I did buy a bunch of canvases on sale and I think it’s high time to bust one out. I’ve also got sewing projects on standby as I found some amazing fabric when I was in LA a couple of months ago. And I’m enjoying crocheting my baby boy a blanket.

My goals and artistic dreams have not changed but maybe I needed this lackadaisical approach to getting back into the grove of it; A more authentic way of finding my voice as I create a brand without all these crazy expectations and demands of perfection.

So yea… that’s me right now… navigating becoming a mother while staying true to my idenity as an artist.

BEautifullyODD

Any mom’s out there balancing the two, I’d love some advice. Please feel to share your thoughts.

My Imperfect 2020 Bullet Journal

So the one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is how hellacious this year has been. From political debates with friends and family, to Covid f’n everything up; Any goals I may have set for 2020 were definitely abruptly halted as our lives in the quarantine commenced.

Though I have been fortunate to work from home, achievements started to warp into basic task like brushing my teeth and going for walks.

I had originally started Bullet Journaling back in 2018 as a way to organize my projects and keep track of my habits, goals and progress. And let’s be honest when I first started journaling it was not pretty and honestly it still looks quite disorganized and kind of chaotic. But once I found a monthly layout that worked for me, I started to experiment with color and adding images from magazines or from pictures I had taken or created. So when 2020 started I was adamant I would be sure to start this year’s journaling with flare, color and an extra dose of creative freedom.

And nothing is ever perfect! THAT’S Lesson #1. Of course I wanted my habit tracker to be perfectly filled and I wanted it to look all neat and clean. I mean we’ve seen the perfect bullet journals and I think that’s why I was afraid to experiment in the beginning. And it’s why Lesson #2 is to make sure you have a layout that works for you and you alone. I only wanted to share my monthly layout as the musings of my inner mind are among my other pages; but your layout should be tailored to how you want to break down your month, weeks or days.

For example I prefer a simple monthly layout where I take notes of important dates and summarize my monthly goal/s. I then break down my month by weeks where I re-list important dates and define weekly goals or projects I should be working on. My daily section however has a freer flowing layout. Some days aren’t as hectic as others and it’s where I apply the original method of Bullet Journaling by creating simple to-do lists and track my progress.

Turning 35 in the middle of Covid added an extra dose of symbolic challenges that left me in a constant state of self reflection and in need of self love. Though this year has been rough and I may not have achieved all of my original goals, I’ve had many amazing moments to be grateful for. And with an exciting adventure / new beginning awaiting me next year I only hope to continue to devote my time to my inner peace and artistic passions.

In all, I hope you are inspired to continue to follow your goals and inner musings no matter how imperfect they may look.

BEautifullyODD by Olisa Rachele

My Attempt at Linocut Printing… & a Life Lesson

THIS WAS FUN!

So a few years ago I purchased a mounted linocut and the speedball cutters but quickly realized that my original idea wasn’t going to work. But when I drew the above design, it reminded me of the kind of designs I want to eventually print to fabric for purse designs and such.

I finally had a day off last Sunday and decided to drag my self out to Michael’s, JoAnn’s, the Art Store (Blick) and Barnes and Noble for a little sun (I worked all weekend and needed to get out even though I had no intentions in purchasing anything,) and inspiration.

While walking around the art store I remembered I wanted to try to transfer my drawing to a lino. So I chose an unmounted piece of lino simply because it was #CheapCheapGangGang and quickly realized that it is extremely difficult to cut. I would love to try the soft stuff but until the price comes down, I’m good.

TIP: While watching tons of youtube videos someone said you can take a blow dryer to unmounted lino and it will soften (I will have to try that next time).

And I probably shouldn’t have chosen a super complicated image as my first lino cut but like usual I tend to just jump into the deep end. WHICH REMINDS ME: While on my Sunday adventure I came across a book called, Make it Mighty Ugly, which I will be doing a review on once it arrives. But I love the idea, as my teacher use to say it takes a 100 bad drawings before you get one good one. So I kept faith that even if it turned out like garbage that the experience would be worth it.

WHICH… MIND BLOWN…

As this concepts correlates with my purse making. Which I invested in a book about that too… (One more thing, am I the only one that goes to the book store to just look them up on your phone and order them used online. I may be aiding to the end of bookstores but in my world, they would be open regardless of profit, like libraries.) But back to my mind being blown… I was supposed to update you guys on starting again with my sewing, and I had begun again, but another mistake was made and it threw everything off and there I was again, staring my disappointment and doubt in the mirror again. Like a punch in the chest; I felt defeated.

I need to extend this concept to my sewing. I’m wanting so bad for it to all be perfect and pretty and be evident that I’m getting closer to eventually opening a store. But if I don’t allow my self to make mistakes I’ll never grow. It will just sit in the middle of the floor. I JUST NEED TO MAKE THAT SHIT UGLY! Get over it. I also think it would be wise to invest in some muslin so that I can freely work out my designs without wasting more expensive fabric. I need to just practice, practice, practice with out pressuring my self that everything needs to be perfect. EXHALE…

IMG_20180323_002310.jpg

So yea… I chipped away, sliced and diced for three days (after work), and had a lot of fun. It reminds me of working with clay, just very hard clay. My only advice is to be patient and move the tool away from your body as I initiated my self with a slice to the finger. I will say this… Even though it is extremely time-consuming, it is so intimate, like when molding clay, and though I haven’t had the opportunity to try screen printing, I think there is nothing like lino cutting and just might be my choice of method as I move forward.

So yea, I’m feeling good again… excited, happy. I’ll never learn if I’m not willing to make mistakes and be open to the learning experience.

So WOOSAAA, Don’t take yourelf to seriously, have some fun, who gives a f, and just be yourself.

Go Confidiently & BEautifulyODD

xoxoxoxo

Olisa Rachele

If You’re Complaing, You’re Not Doing

If you’re complaining, you’re not doing. I see glimpses of my dreams, hopes and desires like a mirage far off in the desert; It’s haze shimmering between time and responsibilities. I fear and hope more than I do. Constantly wishing, praying for my deepest desire to come to fruition. Trying to find courage instead of fear. Taking one step at a time in spite of the swarm of anxiety humming beneath my breast-plate. Just keep going I say, Just stay focused I say, Just never give up I say. Whispering into the light of the moon so the sun may know my heart when tomorrow begins again.Β 

BEautifullyODD

Love,

Olisa Rachele