I’m creating again, reasons be damned.

I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I last sat down and allowed myself to create freely. Something about creating without a purpose has always felt wasteful and not allowed in my mind. I could flex my creative muscles if it were for a blog post or to go with a letter I was mailing to a friend, but to create for just the sake of creating? Well, that mostly hasn’t been the case for me since high school. (And believe me kids, that was a long, long time ago.)

The only exception has always been during my depressive episodes in which I turn towards creating to escape the thoughts of my racing brain. I find it’s one of the few things in life that absorbs me fully and brings me a sense of peace (which actually seems a bit counter-intuitive as a perfectionist who can always find something to hate in everything I do).

With my last fall into that dark world, I finally realized that my creating doesn’t have to be limited to bad times. If it helps me when I’m feeling down, surely it can make me feel even better when I’m feeling up. And so, over the last few months, I have created regularly again, without a reason, and it feels great.

Below you will find the doodles of November and December in which I started allowing myself to create again for fun. I’d say my main purpose those first few months, apart from accepting my wish to create, was to start searching for a style. Using photographs of models from Vogue magazines to reference for my drawings (credited as available below), I focused more on determining what I liked/didn’t like when illustrating women than creating something original.

So, if you’re interested, please join me in checking out my first attempts at creating again, reasons be damned.

An ink illustration of a girl wearing an oversized cardigan with embroidered flowers based on a reference photo from the November 2016 edition of Vogue: "Flower of the Flock" (p. 207)

Reference: Vogue, November 2016 ed, “Flower of the Flock” (p. 207)

Two ink illustrations in a sketchbook of girls wearing outwear with their hair in braids based on a reference photo from the September 2016 edition of Vogue: "Storming the Beach" (p. 754) and "Chain of Command" (p. 755)

Reference: Vogue, September 2016 ed, “Storming the Beach” (p. 754) and “Chain of Command” (p. 755) as photographed by Mikael Jansson

An ink illustration of two girls embracing each other based on a reference photo by Patrick DeMarchelier from the May 2016 edition of Vogue: "Arm (and Ear) Candy" (p. 242)

Reference: Vogue, May 2016 ed, “Arm (and Ear) Candy” (p. 242) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

An ink and marker illustration of two girls standing next to each other while looking at the viewer based on a reference photo by Patrick DeMarchelier from the May 2016 edition of Vogue: "Two of a Kind" (p. 247)

Reference: Vogue, May 2016 ed, “Two of a Kind” (p. 247) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Two ink illustrations from a sketchbook of two girls modeling jeans based on an American Eagle Outfitters advertisement from the October 2016 edition of Vogue (p. 182)

Reference: Vogue, October 2016 ed, American Eagle Outfitters ad (p. 182)

An ink illustration of a girl looking over her shoulder at the viewer based on a photo by Patrick DeMarchelier from the June 2016 edition of Vogue

Reference: Vogue, June 2016 ed, as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

An ink and marker illustration of a girl in a flowy blue dress holding a giant ball over her right shoulder

Reference: not recorded (whoops!)

Two ink illustrations from a sketchbook of two girls modeling dresses (one sitting and one walking) based on a reference photo by Craig McDean from the March 2016 edition of Vogue: "Come As You Are" (p. 544) and "Ticket to Ride" (p. 545)

Reference: Vogue, March 2016 ed, “Come As You Are” (p. 544) and “Ticket to Ride” (p. 545) as photographed by Craig McDean

Two ink illustrations in a sketchbook of a girl with short hair modeling clothes based on reference photos by Billy Kidd from a Glamour Mag: "Details, Details" (p. 233) and "Heart of Gold" (p. 235)

Reference: Glamour, “Details, Details” (p. 233) and “Heart of Gold” (p. 235) as photographed by Billy Kidd

An ink illustration of a girl holding her shoes based on a reference photo by Jamie Hawkesworth from the June 2016 edition of Vogue: "The Tide is High" (p. 122)

Reference: Vogue, June 2017 ed, “The Tide is High” (p. 122) as photographed by Jamie Hawkesworth

An ink illustration of a girl playing with her hair in between her finger and looking off in the distance bored based on a reference photo by Patrick DeMarchelier from the June 2016 edition of Vogue: "Tied Together" (p. 134)

Reference: Vogue, June 2016 ed, “Tied Together” (p. 134) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Let me know what you think! Have any thoughts or advice on the illustrations above? Any comments on my “style”? And what do you think about creating without a purpose? Do you ever struggle to allow yourself to create just for fun? If so, I challenge you to tell me what creative activity you’re going to allow yourself to enjoy this week, and do it! Hopefully you’ll find it as rewarding as I do.

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I’m a creeper who takes 800 photos of my dogs sleeping.

An image from a sketchbook comparing finding your dog asleep vs finding your fiance asleep. The girl says "Aw, she's sleeping. How cute." when spotting the dog sleeping and goes to take a picture with her camera. The girl says "Aw, he's sleeping. How... cute?" in response to seeing the fiance asleep, noticing his drool and his picking his wedgie while asleep.

A sketch in which I attempt to explain to my fiancé, Dave, why I like taking 800 pictures of the dogs while sleeping but none of him. Oh, and no, Dave doesn’t own heart-patterned boxers. Maybe he’d be a little cuter if he did.

You know how in stories there’s sometimes that guy that stands over a sleeping girl and just watches her, undoubtedly a creep, and everyone freaks out about how wrong it is (though it is often claimed to be romantic)?

Well, I’m that guy. And my dogs are the girl.

Wait, what? Why do you like watching your dogs sleep?

There’s just something so cute about catching my dogs asleep. When they were younger that were always so alert and up to something (usually no good), so it seemed like I never actually got to notice how adorable they could be while passed out. But now that we’re all older and appreciate our sleep so much more, I often get to catch them in their many sleeping positions and I can’t help it – I find it so cute! You’ll often find me in these moments moving very slowly towards my dogs so I can snap a photo without waking them up. I take my creeping very seriously.

Here is just a (very) small portion of the many photos I have taken of my dogs sleeping over the past few months. For those who are new to my world, the images on top are of Mad, my Alaskan Malamute who isn’t the brightest dog and sometimes boogers, and the bottom are of Tasha, my Chow-Retriever mix who is the defiant and independent HBIC.

A picture of Mad, my Alaskan Malamute, sleeping while resting his head on his front paw A picture of Mad, my Alaskan Malamute, sleeping while resting his head on his front pawsA picture of Tasha, my Chow-Retriever mix, sleeping with her tongue sticking out A picture of Tasha, my Chow-Retriever mix, sleeping with her head resting next to a bone

See, aren’t they just adorable? Mad curled up on his foot or resting between his paws? Tasha with her tongue out or resting against her bone? I LOVE IT!

I mean, surely it’s no more creepy than a mother watching her baby, right? And the dogs don’t seem to mind too much…

Are you sure you don’t creepily watch people sleep, too?

Yes and no? How do I answer this without sounding like a weirdo? I do watch Dave sleep occasionally, but not out of some romantic wish to creep over him 24/7. My spying on his sleeping is only ever a result of us being a long-distance couple and him leaving his Skype on when he goes to bed five hours earlier than myself. (That’s not to say I haven’t screen-shotted an image or two of him sleeping to send him the next day, but only because sometimes he sleeps in some very weird positions and I always have to ask “WTF?”) If we were in the same time zone/bed, I wouldn’t bother with it because I’d be too busy sleeping myself.

Plus, as I’ve explained to Dave (with the help of the image at the top of this post), watching people sleep is a totally different experience. Oftentimes they drool, they pick wedgies, they fling their bodies around. It’s just not as cute. I’ll admit I’m a sleeper creeper when it comes to my dogs, but c’mon, I have standards.

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Anyone else a sleeper creeper, whether it’s for pets or humans? Let me know! Or, if you just find that this is another “reason I shouldn’t have a slumber party with Asti”, you can share that as well! 

I admit it, I have man hairs

Image of sketchbook page in which a guy and a girl are on a dinner date. The guy notices what seems to be a string sitting on the chest of the girl and reaches over to take it off, saying "Let me get that for you." The girl looks down in panic, realizing that it's not a stray string on her chest but an unwanted chest hair that's growing from her chest and thinks "Shit! Not my man hair!" Awkward.

Based on a true event: a lovely dinner date with my lovely fiancé gone wrong on September 9, 2017

What better way to start this blog than by admitting I have man hairs? (Sometimes I really question my lack of a filter online.) Don’t worry though, I’m writing this post for a good reason: 1) it makes me laugh, especially when resulting in situations like the image above and 2) to let any other women out there who are traumatized by their man hairs know that they are definitely not alone.

So wait, what do you mean by “man hairs”?

Well, I don’t have man hairs in that I was born a man or anything of that sort. I’m just a woman who was blessed with very hairy genes from her father’s side of the family and as a result I have hair in many places that isn’t deemed desirable for women. Apart from the typical leg and armpit hair, I have to battle my body’s attempts at a unibrow, a mustache, one long colorless jaw hair that randomly grows overnight, three or four dark chest hairs, and, most recently, nipple hairs. Yup, all the hair in all the places. I’m one special lady.

Luckily, I’m not as bothered by my facial hair as I was when I was younger. Sure, I still get moody when people point it out to me. (Thanks ten-year-old nephew for loudly exclaiming “I didn’t know girls could grow mustaches!” while standing with me in a long line at a water park last summer.) But generally speaking I’m aware of my hairiness and I accept that it’s apart of who I am, though I do still use my arsenal of tweezers, bleaches, and razors to try to keep it all under control. (To those who just rock it even in the face of other’s judgments, I salute you.)

But wait, how can you laugh about your man hairs?

I think the thing is, oftentimes in situations we’re mortified in the moment about something that’s happened, but afterwards we realize just how ridiculous it all is and how little it all matters. Take the image at the top of this post, for example.

The last time I visited Dave, my fiancé, we spent a week in Cornwall and found this lovely American-style restaurant that we ate at multiple times. It was in a basement and had romantic candle lighting and was generally empty, so oftentimes when we ate there it felt like a lovely dinner for the two of us. During this one visit, we were sitting across from each other and looking in each other’s eyes while a candle flickered on the table and it was a perfectly romantic moment… until Dave reached over and attempted to remove a man hair sticking up out of my shirt.

From Dave’s point of view, it looked like just a stray string that he could easily remove (and that would’ve been lovely if it that were the case). Instead my eyes followed his hand and I internally cringed as I watched him pull the black string AND REALIZE IT WAS ATTACHED TO MY SKIN! I quickly hit his hand away and cried my embarrassment, and oh what an awkward that moment was. But, lucky Dave, I’ve always been pretty upfront about my man hairs so this wasn’t anything overly shocking (Oh no, I agreed to marry a girl with hair! Curses!) and I took care of it once we got back to the hotel room.

So yes, being a woman with man hairs can lead to some not-so-fun encounters in the moment, and it definitely takes a bit of work to keep on top of if man hairs aren’t your thing, but looking back at laughing at yourself and accepting that this is a part of who you are makes it all a little more worth it. (Or at least, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself until I figure out a way to swap my dad’s hairy genes for my mom’s.)

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Okay, your turn! Does anyone else relate to my man hair woes? Please tell me I’m not alone! I mean, obviously you don’t HAVE to share because I realize other people on the internet have standards, but if you do have a similar story you want to tell or just share your pity for my hairiness, I’ll gladly read and respond.