Everyone has their own ways to unwind. Some people watch TV. Some take luxurious baths. Some play puzzle games on their phones...
As for me? I make mandalas.
Creating these colorful, dot-filled designs has the same soothing, addictive nature as playing puzzle games (which I can't keep on my phone unless I want to waste whole days of my life). But with mandalas (unlike with phone games), I end up with a work of art to show for all my dawdling. And I can also listen to Audiobooks at the same time, so it's a great way to multi-task.
I began making mandalas this past spring. Gradually, over the past eight months or so, I accumulated an entire collection of unique designs. Since I was quite proud of (some) of them, I didn't want to abandon them on my personal hard drive.
But what could I do with them? Surely, there was something.
Naturally, I turned to social media. Specifically, Instagram.
Behold! I have a new account — @merrymandala — where I've been posting mandalas regularly. I even participated in Inktober this year by creating a new mandala every day.
But the real experiment is Redbubble.
Redbubble is an online store where artists upload their designs to be printed on products such as stickers, hats, phone cases, and more.
Just to see what would happen, I created a Redbubble shop — MerryMandalas — and began uploading my designs. Before I knew it, I made a sale. The experiment (so far) is a success! At the moment, my Redbubble sales can only be measured in cups of coffee or gallons of gas, but even that is a pleasant surprise.
So that's the story of my mandala experiment.
Making mandalas really is a great alternative to playing phone games. I highly recommend giving it a try.
This world can seem like a dark and scary place. Sometimes, it's all too easy to focus on negative things, filling our minds with an endless supply of sadness and fear. Why do we do that to ourselves? It's like we forget to pay attention to the good things life has to offer. The truth is, in spite of the challenges and heartbreaks, this world is an awesome place! Wherever we look, it's full of things that bring us beauty and joy.
To combat the negativity, it's important to spend time celebrating the things that bring us joy. That's why I love Christa Avampato's new podcast: The JoyProject. In each episode, Christa has a conversation with someone about something that brings them joy, whether it's a hobby (like fostering rescue animals) or a fictional character (like Winnie the Pooh).
Not long ago, I got to talk with Christa about something that brings us both joy: The Great British Bake Off (my favorite reality TV show). We talked about our favorite parts the show, and also about the joys of baking. Check out the podcast episode here. I hope it brings you joy!
Jane Austen is known for her feel-good romantic novels. They are safe books to read if you want to see love, joy, and a happy ending. Of course, Austen was perfectly aware that happy endings are not guaranteed, and that people's lives are full of heartbreak and suffering. She could have written stories that reflected these truths, but she chose instead to write stories that bring people joy.
In a world full of uncertainty and hardship, Jane Austen's novels are still popular among modern readers. Clearly, she knew what she was doing.
Well, I've been pretty quiet since the pandemic started in 2020. This blog has been silent, I seldom get on Facebook or Instagram, I have avoided Twitter, and my website was left fallow. But in the meantime, I've been busy!
Since my last announcement in May, 2020, I have gotten married, moved to a new city, learned how to mountain bike, and finished writing my first novel. At the same time, I have ghostwritten hundreds of books for a children's reading program, and created dozens of illustrations for "The Wilderlings" by S.G. Lichtstrahl.
Like I said, it's been busy!
In the midst of it all, I have kept up the writing streak I began on May 30, 2018. That's right, I have been writing every day for nearly four years! The effort has paid off. After several rounds of revision, my novel is ready to see the light of day. Now, as I begin my quest to find an agent and a publisher, I will also renew my efforts to keep in touch with the outside world. So whether you're a fellow writer, friend, family member, or fellow reader, thanks for dropping by! I hope this space can bring you some joy, encouragement, information, or inspiration.
Stay safe out there, everyone!
2022 is going to be an awesome year, just you wait!
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