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The Road to Self-Actualization

Posted in audio, health, work on May 22nd, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on The Road to Self-Actualization

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“The key to Maslow’s writings is understanding that there are no quick routes to self-actualization: rather it is predicated on the individual having their lower deficiency needs met. Once a person has moved through feeling and believing that they are deficient, they naturally seek to grow into who they are, i.e. self-actualization. Elsewhere, however, Maslow (2011) and Carl Rogers (1980) both suggested necessary attitudes and/or attributes that need to be inside an individual as a pre-requisite for self-actualization. Among these are a real wish to be themselves, to be fully human, to fulfill themselves, and to be completely alive, as well as a willingness to risk being vulnerable and to uncover more “painful” aspects in order to learn about/grow through and integrate these parts of themselves (this has parallels with Jung’s slightly similar concept of individuation).” – from Self-actualization, Wikipedia

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

It is May 22nd. It has been cool, rainy, and silent except for the low drone of my computer fans and steady stream of passing cars outside. The breakneck pacing of the previous six months has come to a sudden halt with the end of MSP Springcon. I slept almost twelve hours Monday night. In between bursts of writing, I have been sluggishly counting books and unpacking merchandise in the solitude of my office. I have been gnawing on leftover steak.

My mind wanders to my parents often, this time of year. It was almost exactly three years ago that my estranged father committed suicide. He refused any help, and never recovered from my mother’s death. He entered a relationship with a woman two years my junior — a waitress at the restaurant where the three of us often ate before my mother became too sick and weak to go out. I disapproved, and that was the last straw that estranged us. She bounced between my father and her husband in/out of prison. She took advantage of my father. He spent nearly every penny he had trying to keep her happy, until he was in massive debt. He should have had a comfortable retirement. After his death, my siblings discovered that my father had rented an apartment in his name for her, her child, and her husband, because he did not want her to be homeless. For all my father’s faults, selfishness was never one of them.

Like my father, I sometimes try too hard to help those I should not.

Toward the end of 2018, due to some threats I no longer felt physically safe or secure at my day job. Out of an abundance of caution for both myself and my coworkers, I left my work as a custom picture framer which I had known and loved for twenty years, and sought to begin a new career. Based on my experience caring for my mother, I was quickly hired on at a facility as a Home Health Aide. It turned out to be a fairly serendipitous turn of events, as other than trouble with scheduling — I was not able to get any additional time off for convention season prep or Springcon, which meant a lot of shift-trading, over-time, and very, very long weeks — I enjoy the job, and leaving retail has been refreshing. The job has also, I feel, been very good for me — helping to pull me out of my own inner world to focus on others’ needs, learning to ask the right questions and use nonverbal cues to assess those needs, gaining a new perspective of what is really important in life, and exposing me to a wide variety of histories and experiences through my residents. I fancy joking that, “I wipe asses during the week, and sign autographs on the weekend!”

One evening, I was attempting to care for a late-stage dementia patient who is frequently combative, refuses medication, is resistant to his cares, is often violent, and largely non-verbal (the things he says make no sense or are not words). However, he is responsive to music. While attempting to assist him, I began singing O Danny Boy. He grew still, then silent, and by the close of the song was singing along with me. He then allowed me to admin his medication and help him. We shared a moment together. For him, it would be rapidly lost to the ravages of his disease — but for me, I will not soon forget.

My days are filled with hugs and small tender interludes — a warm “Hello!” to someone excited to hear their name, listening to proud tales of children and grandchildren, remembering how someone prefers their coffee, small favours not on my worksheet, the thankfulness whenever I can spare a few minutes to chat, appreciative families. Songs during showers, where no one cares if a melody is carried imperfectly or a voice cracks. Holding a hand. Offering words of comfort. Health and youth take so much for granted — even bending down to pick up an item from the floor can be life-threatening if a fall occurs.

Not to paint too rosy a picture, my days also frequently include mild physical or verbal assault or abuse, and casual racism. Sexual harassment and sexist abuse from male dementia patients seem to be extremely common. They do not really prepare you for this during the interviews and training classes.

I have been told I am good at working with dementia patients for someone that has not being doing this sort of thing for very long. Perhaps it is because I can inhabit their worlds almost as easily as I can inhabit my own. Perhaps it is because they rely so heavily on body language to communicate, and mine is unusually exaggerated and expressive. Perhaps it is because I have in me a well of patience that I never fully recognized or knowingly tapped into. The repetitions and odd requests that irritate many of the other aides just do not really register with me. Maybe that will change months or years from now.

Anger is something of a last resort emotion for me. Before I become angry, I usually have to exhaust an ocean of excuses and rationalizations about why I should not be. The only part of my MMPI results that genuinely surprised me was my therapist’s recommendation for assertiveness training. I have never put much thought into the degree to which I learned to suppress my anger, desires, and needs growing up. I lived in a very much “my father’s way or the highway” household. I can see now how my inability to accept my anger as a valid emotion has undermined me. My relationship with Stephen is unique in that it is the first where I felt safe enough to “fight” — that is, we disagree, things might get a bit heated, then they are eventually resolved. My aversion to conflict has lead me into mostly-dominant or mostly-submissive roles.

During the process of getting divorced, I was briefly in a relationship where I allowed my budding confidence, enthusiasm, emerging identity, and sense of self-worth to be gradually ground into a pulp over months of controlling rules and demands, moving goalposts, being made to doubt myself constantly, and attempting to please the unpleasable. This is where the title of my new book, Queen of Assholes, originates from. When a new partner begins calling you an asshole after barely a month, any individual with a healthy self-esteem would be out the door. I did not have that, and did not do that. It has taken years of flopping around like a fish, trying to reconcile my admiration with personal experience, grasping to understand why I was treated that way and “fix” my mistakes, and conciously building relationships with secure and well-adjusted individuals who genuinely care about me to help me discover my own worth. My (mostly female) coworkers have been invaluable in this process of helping me learn what kind of treatment I should not accept. And I am under the care of an impartial and competent therapist to help me remain true to myself.

That relationship broke me in exactly the ways I needed to be broken.

More will come into focus as Queen of Assholes unfolds.

This weekend was the MCBA MSP Springcon comic convention. Since arriving in Saint Paul, the convention has not only helped to give my career its second wind, but in many ways, it and its volunteers have become the family I never felt I had. The fall before I came onto the scene, the main personality running the convention, Nick Postiglione, passed away unexpectedly. He was greatly loved by all accounts, and this left not only a gigantic hole in people’s hearts, but also in the leadership of the convention. Three volunteers were selected to take his place, and in the years following Nick’s death in 2014, everyone has developed their roles to move together as a team. I began volunteering in the spring of 2016, as soon as I learned about the volunteer activities. As time went on, I showed to participate in every volunteer activity where I was allowed, except during the convention itself. I am there when the tables and tablecloths go up. I am there until the last corner of the Grandstand is swept, and the doors are rolled closed on the loaded truck. Last summer, I obtained permission to start up an Instagram account for the convention, and with the help of friend-photographers, I work almost daily to promote fellow creators and engage with the convention’s audience across all of its social media.

I do these things because I choose, rather than to criticize the convention or its management, to be an active and positive force toward helping it not just grow, but thrive as the landscape changes moving forward. The convention does not exist to be a feather in my hat or “boost my ego,” I exist to serve it. The convention does not owe me anything more or less than the free T-shirt I am promised as a volunteer. If I am granted a featured artist placement, or a free table at which to sell my books, and meals to eat, that is a gift — and for what I am given, I will be grateful. There are more creators wishing to table than available spaces, it is run completely by volunteers, and this convention is the most generous I have ever seen. I am committed to its success.

(Fellow creators, feel free to reach out to me!)

Steve has been a volunteer for the convention for over twenty years, himself, and it feels like this is the first show where we have really gelled together as a team — between volunteer work, my booth, and his small comics and toys business. Comics and conventions are my life. Sharing that is important.

All that being said, I had an excellent show this year. My table remained busy nearly the entire weekend, and we sold between 30-40 books plus a healthy amount of merchandise. My lovely assistant Jessica decided she would rather take original artwork and books in lieu of what I usually pay for the weekend, so my net for the show was about the same even though I sent some of my business upstairs to the Charity Art Auction. And my auctioned piece received the third highest bid, raising $225 to be split between the Hero Initiative and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I donated to the Garage Sale myself.

This week I am taking a bit of personal time for rest, and inking the Deadwood piece I started. After that I will be shifting into comics production. I would like to have a Have Tablet, Will Scribble book ready for this fall, and the intro issue of Queen of Assholes ready for next spring. Both of those will be primarily new material, but now that I am getting proper help, I believe I can do it.

[VIDEO BLOG] Work-in-Progress

Posted in video, work on April 11th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on [VIDEO BLOG] Work-in-Progress

Getting the most out of every day.

Please Support my Work
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I made a Calvin and Hobbes practice/tribute/fan artwork.

Since I was comfortable with the technique after the commissioned piece last week, I went ahead and produced a start-to-finish video of this one.

Calvin and Hobbes

Recently I received this humbling message about one of my comic art prints. I wanted to share it here, with permission. I feel truly blessed when my work is able to touch and communicate with others on an emotional level.

“Hello, I wanted to tell you my story. In 2016, I was diagnosed with non-curable cancer. Five weeks later, my firstborn and only daughter was with me at treatment. She fainted, and upon being checked, out we discovered she too had Stage 4 colon cancer. We did cancer treatments together. She passed away November 17th, 2016. I’m still battling. Six months before she died, my son was in a horrific accident that left him in a coma and permanently in a nursing home. This has devastated our family… When I saw this about deviled eggs, I cried and laughed, as you see [Daughter] and I made deviled eggs together for every family get together. I don’t mean 2 dozen, we made 10 dozen for our family of 18! This comic was us to a tee! Thank you for bringing back so many memories. [Daughter] raised chickens and ducks, bees and rabbits… she had chicken dishes and signs about “wicked chickens make deviled eggs” even… She’d approve of this purchase… I’d like to send you a photo of her. And [Son] who could eat a dozen by himself!”

Devilled Eggs

I forgot to mention in this week’s vlog, but at the gym, I am finally able to do a real bench press, bar only — about 45lbs. I probably could have put another 10lbs on the bar, but I did not have a spotter and did not want to risk injury. In the past I could never lift the bar up once I got it down, so even though it is a small thing, this is still a big milestone for me. Next is a push-up!

“March Reading Month” at Dugsi Academy

Posted in work on March 22nd, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on “March Reading Month” at Dugsi Academy

Yesterday after I got back from the psychiatrist office, I finally had the energy and time to sit down and edit the photos from my visit to Dugsi Academy on March 5th. Many thanks to my friend Ben Cooper for photography and video of this event. The kids almost knocked over the tripod a few times, and there is no way I could have had such lovely shots without his help.

The first-grade girls were possibly more excited by my makeup, hair, and hat, than the activity sheets I made for them. Fortunately, I was not bothered by them grabbing at me until they started trying to remove my hat!

Jen at Dugsi Academy

Jen at Dugsi Academy

Jen at Dugsi Academy

It was a great time, and I hope to receive similar opportunities in the future. When I have had a chance to touch-up the activity sheets I made, as well as produce a few new ones, I plan on making them available as free downloads on a special all-ages webpage for parents, teachers, and grown-up kids.

When I have more materials prepared I would also like to reach out to public libraries and other children’s organizations within the community.

View the full photo album here.

Cohesion

Posted in health, work on March 3rd, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Cohesion

My evaluation with the ADHD specialist is coming next week. I am hopeful for that. Two weeks ago I scrubbed my bathroom from top to bottom, and threw out a large trash bag of old makeup and other products, and put all my “daily use” makeup together in a box to keep it clean and neat. It is a chicken-and-egg scenario — but I cannot tell whether I am happier because of the clutter, garbage, and superfluous stuff I am throwing out, or whether I am throwing these things out because I am happier. Of course, it does not really matter.

I am not sure how I still have anything left after two years of purging!

I took photographs of my office, the last “disaster” I am fighting to overcome, for the specialist and/or therapist. I have tried many, many times to organize my office, but every time I succeeded, the room spirals back to “piles of paper everywhere” state very quickly. I sincerely suspect this is contributing to the productivity issues — like the noise issues I mentioned before, the mess feels incredibly suffocating and overstimulating. In my reading about ADHD recently I ran across something called the Touch-It-Once Rule, so I have been slowly rewiring my habits to incorporate that behaviour. I am also utilizing a timer to spend about thirty minutes per day sorting papers, and discarding everything that is trash or that I can bear to part with. I have been sketching at my day job in quiet moments and on breaks without any “fidgety” problems.

Last night I sat down with several spiral notebooks that I hand-write scripts and ideas into, taking stock of my entire body of work, and engaging in some “big picture” thinking. The comics feel more manageable laid out this way.

1. Crap I Drew on My Lunch Break – webcomic, book/minis, almost complete
2. A Dollar Late and A Day Short – webcomic, book/mini, almost complete
3. Have Tablet, Will Scribble – webcomic, minis only, ongoing
4. Queen of Assholes – webcomic, TPBs/volumes, ongoing
5. The Book of Al – webcomic, single book, one-shot
6. TBA sketchbook project – poetry/prose, single book, one-shot
7. TBA sketchbook project – comics/drawing, single book, one-shot

Projects number six and seven are unique, in that I want to execute them in a “sketchbook” style. I aim to work on them exclusively outside my office until I reach the publishing stage. I like that an overall theme has emerged among all of my primary projects, including the TBA ones — an exploration of change, growth, connectedness, what it means to be human, and the impermanence of life. Thirty-nine years upon this planet have lead me to this moment, in this place, at this time, but it was my new day job at the beginning of 2019 that has finally sparked the “why.” My days are filled with art, books, and hard but fulfilling work — and making people laugh, smile, or think. I have rarely been poorer, owned less crap, and never felt more whole. I am grateful.

I have had several people lately express their preference to support my work without using Patreon, and over the next few weeks and months, I am going to be shifting focus to my general support page rather than Patreon. At the same time, I have been quite happy with Patreon, myself, and I want to find new ways to value-add for my supporters there in the future. Patreon is still my preferred method of support, as it is very easy for me to manage, much in the way Etsy helps with the store-side of things. But there are options.

This weekend I am preparing my presentation for the school children I will be speaking to soon! If that goes well, I should have some photographs and/or video, along with a trip report, for you later in the week.

[VIDEO BLOG] SNOWMAGEDDON

Posted in video, work on January 28th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on [VIDEO BLOG] SNOWMAGEDDON

Dawn is complete and 2019 is off to a FANTASTIC start!

Support me at Patreon
http://patreon.com/jinwicked

A Samsung Galaxy tablet donated to MN Pocket Pet Rescue. I am hopeful and enthusiastic for the opportunity to volunteer with their organization engaging in local community outreach, and education about rats as pets.

MN Pocket Pet Rescue

If you have ever wondered why it takes me weeks, months, or even years to finish anything, the image below is the main reason why. I could easily have done a dozen or more revisions of this piece if I did not force myself to stop. What should have been a three to four hour project ended up taking most of three days, and that is only because I was limited by a publishing deadline. I should have scanned the pencils and inked it digitally. I do better in “sketchy” styles when I can edit and redraw on the fly. I did not have time to go balls-out inking this, though I would have, if I could stay on task.

Lance and Jin Sketches

I am desperately trusting the ADHD specialist and/or therapist will be able to help me in March. It feels like my brain is in a fog about 75% of the time I am trying to do anything that requires extended focus or concentration. My day jobs have all been very active and fast-paced, so I perform well there. This is my last major obstacle to making any further significant forward momentum, and I am beyond frustrated. I have been self-medicating, with some success, using caffeine pills to finish the Dawn piece, but even that is slow.