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Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Drawing Charlamagne, King of Franks, Emperor of Romans, Wearer of Awesome Beard!!

Illustrating a short story of this handsome devil:

Thought he looked awesome enough to share with you. Maybe some art/writing inspiration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne

That's all. :D


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Monday, April 18, 2011

Where I Started. Where We Went. Where We're At. Where We're Going.

I'm posting this not to say "Look what I did" but to say look what can be accomplished by any of us. Too often we get stuck in thinking we can't get out of the situation we're in, we got a bum rap, we weren't given the resources, but I'm inspired by the people who did get out and live better lives than what they were born into. And I'm not done yet. The sky is the limit. I should also say that had it not been for my amazing wife Renae De Liz I might still be in that first house! She kicked the courage into my hermit brain.

Where I StartedSalina, Ks. Lived here from 6th grade to age 23! Yikes!
The window on the left is my room. About a 7'x7' box.
4-lane major road right there at the bottom.
Next to a concrete factory, "homeless bridge," train tracks, 
"party" houses, liquor store ... just a bad neighborhood.

Where We WentShe was my girlfriend at the time (now wife) and she found this beautiful home. It was really hard (being more expensive) and really scary (I'd lived in that previous place forever!) and really impossible (it was for sale and we had no credit. Worked out a deal with realtor for rent-to-buy) but we went for it! We lived there for a year, but it ended up not working out for us to buy. However, taking such a big leap changed our lives in a great way! Now we know exactly the quality of life we want and our children deserve and won't settle. I proposed to her right at that tree. We found out we were having a baby in there. Our son learned how to ride his bike in that driveway. Love that house, but it didn't work out for a good reason!

Where We're AtAgain, my wife found this amazing place in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Rather than moping in Salina, KS driving by the house we lived in for a year and lost, we decided to move on to a new land and a better life! We worked our tails off to get here and it was SO worth it. It's a bit more expensive than the last place (but only by a few hundred dollars!), but Cape is one of the top places to live in the country with some of the best schools. Tons of culture. It's incredible here! Instead of my boys riding their bike around a little town and maybe going as far as a corn field, they can ride to the ocean! Take a ferry to an island. We can drive down to Boston! New York! All of that is incredible to me!

Things are still tough. We're not rich. We still have to fight to get everything we have and to keep afloat, but man, it's a LOT better than where I started!!!

Where We're Going

We don't want a mansion or this house specifically, but there are a few things that would make our home complete. Log cabin feel, vaulted ceilings, nice landscaping, stones work, enough space, open kitchen with nice cabinets, upstairs bedrooms, trees, water, mountains, seclusion/privacy. This house kinda represents that. We're already looking for that step up. Have a few options that are maybe a few hundred dollars per month more than what we're currently paying. If we get rid of some debt, do more work each month, we can get it!

I post this, too, as a way of motivating myself and reminding myself of my roots and why I'm working so hard. I don't ever want to go back to the way things were and I certainly don't want my kids to grow up like I did. So I'm up right now working and I will be every day and every night to make sure they're happy and taken care of. Also see My Vision Board for more dreams and goals.

The hard work, stress, and sleepless nights are worth it!

My Beautiful Wife & Comic Book Artist

And our 2 handsome boys:
Tycen Anthony

Drake Asher

Thanks for reading! Please share YOUR story, too! It inspires me and can help others too!

Also read my post: A Child of Hoarding & Addiction - Sad stuff, but more proof that things get better!


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Friday, April 15, 2011

MOTIVATION: Tyrese "How To Get Out of Your Own Way

I've had the pleasure of working with Tyrese Gibson on a couple of small comic book related projects, talking with him, and of course following his tweets. His mood, energy, and focus are INFECTIOUS! In fact, with just a few encouraging and raw words, he helped me get my determination back at one of the worst times of my life when my wife and I were losing what we thought was our dream home, had a baby on the way, and didn't know what to do. He helped me see things from an objective standpoint. We decided to take a totally different direction and move across country. Life has been back on the upswing ever since! I mean, I'm a really driven, positive, focused guy, but that was a BAD time and even I lost focus. He was a big reason why I was able to stand up and fight back with his words and how he leads by example. Encouraging us to EXECUTE on the ideas we have in life is a huge inspiration. And to clear your life of the things and people in it that distract you from where you're going. Great advice!

In his new book, he helps you find ways to do just what the title says, get out of your own way and find the next level of YOU! Check out the interview and the link at the bottom to purchase the book! I can testify that he will touch your life. He's an unstoppable force and he'll help you be one, too!


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Thursday, April 14, 2011

WRITERS: The 2 Most Essential Books for Writing Novels!

I'm a book learner and buy tons of books when learning something new. Out of all the books I've read about how to write novels, these were the most to the point and most essential books. These two books give you what you need to write solid novels and get them in the hands of publishers.

Now, there may be other books out there I missed and if so, post them here. We're talking the most ESSENTIAL for learning. The main tool sets you need to take idea to written word to publisher. Still, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"The Pixar Story" Documentary Movie!

Found this very inspirational & motivational documentary on Netflix Instant and despite coming out in 2008 I'd never heard of it and it seems quite a few others haven't, so I wanted to share it with you. Fantastic look behind the scenes and seeing the struggle and insane hard work they put in to accomplish something miraculous!

The Pixar Story Website

The first in-depth look at the most influential animation studio of its time, The Pixar Story goes behind the scenes of the groundbreaking company that pioneered a new generation of animated feature films. Iwerks uses never-before-seen footage from the Pixar library, along with historic archival animation and first hand accounts by animators, studio executives, directors, producers and voice performers to chronicle the remarkable company that revolutionized an industry.

The Pixar Story includes exclusive interviews with some of the key players in the Pixar story including John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, George Lucas, Michael Eisner, Bob Iger, Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, Tim Allen, Brad Bird and more.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

MOTIVATION: Bruce Lee's Letter to Himself!

Incredible! Bruce Lee wrote a letter to himself about his 10-year goals. SO inspiring! What are YOUR 10-year goals??

My Definite Chief Aim

I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental super star in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performances and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness.

Bruce Lee
Jan. 1969

Mouseover the slideshow for more info!

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Todd McFarlane Art Lesson Videos!

I'm a huge McFarlane fan. He's the main reason I'm a comic book creator today! And now he's doing YouTube art videos, which blows my mind!

And check out one of the most inspirational documentaries I've ever seen (and continue to watch almost weekly when I have a rough allnighter).

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Child of Hoarding & Addiction

This is pretty serious stuff for first thing in the morning, but our son was asking me about the house I grew up in, so it got me thinking about it. First, my parents were hoarders, alcoholics, and had a lot of other problems, too, but at their core they were loving. I wouldn't be who I am without their support. They just didn't teach very good habits at the same time.

The house I grew up in was small, old, decrepit, and filled with junk. The floors were covered. The furniture was covered. We had rooms we couldn't even go in. And we're talking gross stuff, too, not the rich people who buy too much stuff. When I started visiting the houses of neighborhood kids I realized just how different our house was. I wouldn't even want to have friends over. That's about the time I started trying to literally dig my way out of it.

It started with a shed...

I hated being in the house. Felt trapped at times. We had an old, falling over shed out back. I went in their one day--I was probably 8--it was filled with garbage, and I decided I wanted to turn it into a fort. I spent days and days pulling out garbage, bringing in abandoned furniture, and even obsessively sweeping dirt into a smooth floor and walkway. I did my own landscaping with discarding bricks and stones. It probably looked ridiculous, but it felt good!

By the time I was done, that old shed was as sparkling as a rotting shed with a dirt floor could be.

I brought in my set of pocket-sized novels and set them on an old book shelf. I loved it. Of course, it rained and ruined most of the work, but still, it felt good!

I did the same thing with a corner desk and book shelves in our living room, cleaned the lower levels off and cleaned out the corner, then set up my own little den in there with couch cushions, an tiny old black and white tv, my used Nintendo, had my own little bachelor pad. It was awesome. But, still, the rest of the house was awful and I was getting bigger (both vertically and horizontal; eating habits were good in the house either).

So, finally, I decided one day that I would take the master bedroom that no one was using and was practically piled to the ceiling with junk, and I was going to make it my own. This was about 5th grade. It took forever and I don't have any idea what I did with all that junk now, but I cleaned it out completely, cleaned the wood floors, rearranged furniture until it was PERFECT. And it was awesome...

My own space. A sanctuary.

Later that year or the next, we finally moved from that house. I remember standing in that room, the only clean one of the house, and throwing a bouncy ball around, listening to the echo. I was going to miss that room, and I didn't know where we were going, but I was happy to get out of that town and felt a sense of pride knowing that I'd transformed my little world. I was excited about the possibilities.

We moved on...

And I've claimed a spot in each house since and kept it pristine... for the most part. I do still have the tendencies of a hoarder; I mean, I didn't exactly learn how to be normal from my parents. That behavior was engrained at an early age. When I get overwhelmed with work and life, I start to pile, but my anal retentive side always kicks in and I go on a cleaning/organizational spree. Gets to the point where I'm organizing cupboards with labels facing out (worked at K-Mart for a while). Like I just did this morning after talking with our son and starting to feel that cluttered panic again. Like claustrophobia. I start looking around at each thing that should be put up, any dirt that might be the floor. It gets a little intense. It's like a monster creeping up on me and I have to fight back. It'll probably always be there.

To cut a potentially longer blog shorter (maybe someday I'll write an autobiography and fill in the gaps and details that correspond with this story) digging out of that hoarding probably defined who I am as a person now. I was fat as a kid, I fought against that, lost all the weight and discovered that controlling what I eat and how hard I work for it, I can transform myself. Same with growing up poor and without opportunity, I found that dependent upon how hard I work, I can transform my life. So, perhaps I have my parents to THANK for that. If I hadn't grown up that way, maybe I'd be a lazy bum now. :o)

Anyway, my main purpose wasn't to rant, but to get other people's stories and, yeah, to share the story of someone fighting against passing on those tendencies to the next generation.

We won't allow our kids to know what that life was like.

So, we fight every day to make sure we're staying afloat, moving forward in our careers and giving the kids a nice place to live and nice parents to live with! We're not always perfect, but it's so much better!

So, please share your stories! 
How did growing up with hoarding shape your life? Did you become a hoarder? Do you have tendencies? Did you beat it? It does feel good to get it out. I mean, it was a big secret growing up, but that was just more reason for the hoarders to not deal with it. Keep it hidden and it doesn't exist, right?


Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Goodbye to our dog, Indiana Jones!

Unbelievably we're HAPPY rather than devastated today. Santa brought Indy to us 5 years ago when Renae, Tycen, and I first became a family. Back then things were crazy, but a bit less difficult day-to-day. Didn't need as much money, so we didn't have to work as much. Had a self-sufficient nearly 4-year old, a smaller house, a fenced in yard, and no baby to absorb all of our attention.

Since then, anyone following us knows we've had a CRAZY few years. From having money stolen from our bank repeatedly, to moving into a dream home, getting married, losing our dream home, moving again from Kansas to Maine, our careers as comic book artists getting super busy, having a baby, said baby being a crazy handful!
Poor puppy started being "the thing in the corner."
The phrase "Indy, go to your bed" was more common than "Hi, puppy!" and a little head scratch. We were just so busy with the baby and our careers and our older son having trouble adjusting to the new town and school, that we didn't even realize this had happened. Once we did, we started feeling horrible. He wasn't getting proper walks or attention. We missed him even though he was right in the room with us.

So, my wife Renae put an ad out on Pet Finder. I was all disgruntled (and pretty selfish now that I see the outcome) and didn't want to "get rid of my dog!" But, I said if the perfect family came along, and oddly enough the PERFECT family came along!! A million times better than we could have ever hoped for. A well-off, retired couple who recently lost their dog to cancer (a similar breed to Indy) and were looking for a new friend to pamper with love and lots of time with. Something that we just wouldn't be able to give for probably years! They're so sweet and loving and both Indy and the family instantly took to each other. It was a beautiful thing to see and we immediately felt great about it! I completely expected to be devastated and feel horrible about this forever, but I now believe we did the right thing by the puppy and it helps us focus on the kids and work and getting ahead.

Of course we'll miss our puppy but it feels more like he's gone off to college or something. He's still our puppy, he's just gone on to a MUCH better life with a ton of love! And they're only over in Vermont, which is only a few hours from us.
So, it's more like "See ya later, puppy!"
Rather than "goodbye." And knowing that right now he's having a wonderful day just brings a smile to our face instead of a tear to our eyes.

I can't believe it went from such a negative idea to such a positive one. Just goes to show me once again that no matter how much the idea looks bad to start with MY WIFE IS ALWAYS RIGHT! :o)

If you too have a crazy busy life and pets that you love but they aren't being taken care of quite as well as you wish they were, please consider PetFinder.com. It probably sounds scary or sad to you right now, but imagine your loved one being in the absolute best life possible and having so much love and care!

Thanks for reading! Love you, Indy, you big dork!!!

Photo: Alien Dog Gets Easter Sucker!

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** UPDATE ** Indy has been at his new home for just a couple of days and has already been on road trips, walks, and met neighborhood dog friends! He's eating well, sleeping well, and being loved. YAY! Thank you, George and Roslyn Cook! :o)

Friday, April 1, 2011

VIDEO: HISTORY OF RAP! Jimmy Falon & Justin Timberlake!

This is just plain awesome.

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Crazy Face Tattoos!!

Okay this one is actually pretty awesome. I wouldn't put it on my own face, and I'm not sure why you wouldn't just do this temporarily, but whatever. Awesome tattoo, but check out the rest of them at the following link. Some are just so... dumb! *EXPLICIT LANGUAGE* Stupid Face Tattoos

Still not sure if I'll ever get a tattoo. Too hard to decide what to get and as an artist I think the illustration or design would get old after a while. Maybe my son's name or something. I dunno. What about you?



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