Am I resting and recovering, or am I just lazy?

Pray for Mojo

Here’s a motivational quote I’ve seen circulating the internet over the last few weeks. Perhaps you’ve seen it, as well; I can’t seem to get away from it (I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m on social media every seven minutes):

“Destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working or grinding in order to be successful. Embrace the concept that rest, recovery, and reflection are essential parts of the progress towards a successful and happy life.”

I can’t figure out from where this originates. I’ve seen it credited to Zach Galifianakis, but I’ve seen various websites slap their URL on it and more or less take credit for it, as well. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve been trying to figure out what I think about this quote. I think it’s good advice, ultimately, but I worry that I’m resting and recovering so much these days that it has actually just evolved into laziness. Am I wrong? Probably, but I have to figure this out. You know the drill—I’m going to talk my way through this while you sit there and dutifully listen to my neurotic ravings.

What do I look like? A guy who's not lazy?

SO Much Rest and Recovery

Since our baby came on the scene 14-ish months ago, she’s obviously become a big part of our life. She might be the only baby we have, so I’d like to enjoy and prioritize my time with her, even if it means (with some hesitation) delaying some of my other projects and goals to make it happen. Plus, I’m sure my wife appreciates me taking the baby off her hands for a couple of hours in the evening so she can get in on that rest, recovery, and reflection, too.

However, baby plus day job is a big chunk of my everyday life, so once the work day is over, baby is in bed, and the household chores are done, I’m beat. In the last hour or so before I go to bed, It’s hard to summon enough brainpower to formulate a creative thought, much less put that thought to paper. So, I use the time for rest, recovery, and reflection, instead. And yes, it is helpful. I can exist for at least one hour a day with no obligations or places to be, and relax with a book or a video game before going to bed and waking up early the next morning to get things done.

Unfortunately, my 5 a.m. wake-up that I cover in that morning-person blog I referenced above has gotten awfully inconsistent over the last few weeks. My lunch breaks, which I usually use for writing, have been largely sacrificed for various errand-running, meetings, and daytime baby-watching since the start of 2019. My weekends have been pretty busy, as well, either with social functions, work for Cape Comic Con and Cape Championship Wrestling, chores, or other obligations. That means that, often, the only time left in my day to do creative things are those few precious moments before bed, when I’m supposed to be doing the rest, recovery, and reflection thing. But, instead of enjoying that time, I feel this pressure to push and get something done, but I can’t bring myself to do it because I’m tired and unmotivated.

So here’s my question: when does “rest, recovery, and reflection” stop, and just sitting on my butt through all my free time, not doing anything productive start? That’s the direction I worry (prematurely, perhaps) I’m headed. I’m looking for a way to get over this hump before that can happen.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Hey, crazy person, your baby is still super young and time-consuming. You’ll get some time back when she gets older and a little more independent. Just chill out and enjoy your little one. AND, your life isn’t that stressful, anyway! At least you don’t live in a warzone. You’re not discriminated against. You’re not poor. You and your family have your health and a nice place to live. You’re going through a rough patch, but it’ll pass! Just relax, reestablish good habits, and you’ll be back to creating on the regular in no time.

Of course you’re right. You’re absolutely right. I get impatient and start to worry. Have I just gotten lazy? Am I not planning or organizing well enough? Do I not actually have the passion for this stuff like I think I do? No, what’s most likely is that I am taking myself way too seriously, and I do need to just relax and embrace creativity as a natural part of rest, recovery, and reflection, not something I “have to do.”

via GIPHY

So, what’s the solution? Just relax.

Patience with myself – As I mentioned in this blog from around a year ago, even though it often feels like I’m falling behind or running out of time, I’m not. If I don’t accomplish anything this week, or next week, or next month, it doesn’t make me a failure. It doesn’t mean I’ll never accomplish anything ever again. There are highly productive times in my life, and highly unproductive times in my life. Right now, I’m in the latter, but I’m taking care of my family and myself. I shouldn’t feel bad for doing that, and I definitely shouldn’t feel like a failure.

Patience with others – I look at some of you highly productive, highly motivated people in my life (friends, coworkers, and creative influences), and I want to punch your lights out for being so $%#&ing productive. How do you do it? Do you ever sleep? I want to strangle each and every one of you. Then, I come to my senses and decide to try to learn from you, instead. That’s probably the more morally and socially responsible way to go about things, don’t you think?

Drawing and writing should BE rest, relaxation, and recovery – Remember, they aren’t things I “have to do.” So why do they stress me out so much? This is a paradigm shift I have been attempting to make since the little one was born, and I’m getting there, but it’s a slow process. If I can abandon the pretentious notion of, “well, I’m a creator, and therefore, I must create,” and actually enjoy myself, instead, that’ll fix a lot of things.

Adjust my expectations to match the time I actually have available – I’m exaggerating a little bit, here, but on average, I expect myself to finish a couple of full drawings, writing a whole blog, writing a bunch of comic stuff, drawing something pretty for Instagram, and end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. All in a day. Every day. I blogged about this near the end of 2017, and it sounds like I’m still having some of the same issues with unrealistic expectations and not enjoying creativity now that I was then. That’s a little discouraging. I don’t think I’m as bad as I was, but I still need some work. Ah well. Baby steps.

All right. I’ve got that out of my system. Please excuse my use of the blog for self-therapy. But, like I always say, maybe you’re having some of the same problems, and if I can help you as I talk my way through my own problems, then it was a worthwhile endeavor. Thank you for sharing in my neuroses, and I’ll be back next time with some real content!

My 2018: What Worked and What Didn’t

Big Show is Baby New Year?!

All right, so, I didn’t know what to expect from 2018. It was my first full year as a parent, and with parenthood came lots of changes, lots of challenges, and a lot of stress. It wasn’t a bad year, but it was a struggle to stay rested and focused on anything for more than 15 minutes at a time. It was a year in which it was especially important to remember that creativity, goals, and life, in general, are all marathons, not sprints. One of my coworkers suggested that a child’s first birthday party should be less of a birthday party for them, and more of a party celebrating the survival of everybody involved. As a dad who did not adjust well to becoming a parent, I must say that it’s hard to disagree with that sentiment. Then again, I don’t know that any new parent just falls into the role with perfect grace and poise, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about having a hard time figuring it all out.

Anyway, you can probably tell what we’re going to be talking about a lot in this entry. How did the baby affect me creatively, personally, and so on? As I’ve been looking back, thinking about what to say, I find that I am judging myself harshly, so I am challenging myself to make sure this is a constructive entry and not just a means of bashing myself, which I am wont to do. Give me a break, self! It was a tough year!

Go on….

Transitioning from a Night Owl to a Morning Person to Get More Work Done, Better

Garfield Comic from April 13, 1998

Wowie zowie. It’s been a busy couple of weeks! Following two fun, but hectic weekends, overflowing weekdays, a baby too fascinated by exploration to sleep, and a travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday (including two Thanksgiving dinners and my cousin’s fabulous wedding), it’s no wonder I didn’t update the blog last week, or that I’m running late this week. The explosion of activities that comes with the autumn season, combined with colder weather and shorter days (plus the possibility that my first year as a dad is finally catching up to me) means I am more exhausted than I have ever been in my entire life. I always have high hopes for productive evenings once wife and baby are asleep, but I rarely make it another hour before I’m in bed, myself. Not only that, I am so bleary-eyed and unfocused by the end of the day that the hour before bed has been devoted to devouring old G.I. Joe comics and Nintendo Switch rather than getting any work done. I just can’t think.

Go on….

An Amateur Comic Creator’s Thoughts on Stan Lee

Stan Lee and Spider-Man

[I want to preface this with a brief disclaimer. Whenever somebody who is widely liked and praised dies, there is always the handful of malcontents who chime in with, “Yeah, but they did THIS bad thing and THAT bad thing.” Well, you’re right. Minimal internet research will reveal Stan Lee wasn’t perfect. But, neither is anybody else. Nobody on the internet wants to admit that they’ve ever done anything wrong, especially when calling somebody else out, but we’ve all screwed up somewhere along the line. I would like to believe the good Stan Lee brought to the world FAR surpasses the bad. So cram it and read my dumb blog.]

All right, so we have to talk about Stan Lee. The comics legend passed away yesterday at age 95, leaving behind a mountain of creative work, and a couple of mountain ranges worth of comics, television, movies, and other media based on his original creations.

When I first heard about his death, I had the same reaction I do any time a renowned celebrity dies: Aw, that’s sad. He did a lot of good work and made a lot of people happy.

Then, my inner reason kicked in: Hey, Stan Lee is probably THE reason you started making comics, so this is a way bigger deal than you’re letting on.

Crushed.

Go on….