Gettin’ Crafty

011Had a fun first day at the Whimsic Alley Craft Faire, and am looking forward to selling there again tomorrow. This is my first (of many) craft fairs. If you’re in the LA area tomorrow, stop by and say hello. If not, never fear! All the items I’m selling (mugs, greeting cards, etc) will be posted to Etsy starting next week for you to peruse at your leisure :)

Source: From the Art Blog (http://MyDragonAteMyHomework.com)

From the Singles Column: Six Dating Sins to add to your Tashlich List

Originally published in the San Diego Jewish Journal

One of my favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions is Tashlich, where a congregation gathers at a body of water to cast away bread crumbs that represent our “sins.”  I say sins in quotations, because my family doesn’t just include broken mitzvot, but also actions that have held us back from achieving our capital G goals (like happiness, fulfillment, etc).

We’ve found that local birds are also quite enthusiastic about participating in this ritual, which has led my family to rename the tradition: “Feeding our Sins to the Ducks.” Whatever you call it, it’s a wonderful way to reflect on the areas we’ve fallen short, and renew our commitment to doing better.

So here are six “Dating Sins” that you should feed to the waterfowl this Tashlich.

1. Putting your own expectations onto others. If you think the person you’re dating can do no right, or that they can do no wrong, I guarantee that you’re wrong. We all experience the world through our own lenses, and people are far more complicated than those lenses would have us believe. To have successful relationships, we must do our best to see past our filters to the actual person. How? By being vigilant about our own motivations, setting aside our egos, and really listening to our partners.

 2. Pursuing perfection. Take a moment and think about what “perfect” is to you: a perfect date, a perfect partner, a perfect you. Now, why is that exact scenario or set of traits “perfect?” Most of us believe, at least on some level, that if we could just achieve A, B, and C, or find a date who is X, Y, and Z, then we would be completely, blissfully, happy. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as objective perfection, and trying to force ourselves, others, and our relationships into an artificial box we’ve defined as “perfect” is a surefire path to misery.

3. Settling. There’s a difference between not pursuing perfection and giving up on what makes you happy. When you truly feel that you’ve settled, you’re not only being unfair to yourself, but also to the person you’re settling for. Odds are, there’s someone out there who’d make you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot… and someone else out there will feel like they’ve hit the jackpot with the person you’re currently monopolizing.

4. Expecting your partner to complete you. It’s very easy to think that in order to be happy and whole you need to find your “other half.” But a relationship isn’t about two half-people making one whole. It’s about two whole people creating a thriving partnership.

5. Not being your best self. We may not be perfect, but we can be pretty darn awesome. Unfortunately, we often fall short of our potential. Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of really putting ourselves out there and getting rejected, or perhaps it’s just that the daily grind leaves us worn out and stressed. Whatever the reason, it isn’t good enough! You deserve to be the best you, and others deserve to experience the best you. So stop over-scheduling yourself, start getting enough sleep, try to stay healthy, and always make time to do things that bring you joy.

6. Beating yourself up (metaphorically) for sinning. There’s a reason we repeat the Tashlich tradition every year: Part of being human is messing up sometimes (or lots of times)… and that’s okay. Remember: if you never fail, it means you never try. So forgive yourself for past mistakes, and go forth into the new year secure in the knowledge that you’ll have a few doozies for next year!

From the Singles Column: Singles and Statistics

Originally Published in the San Diego Jewish Journal

Last month, one of my readers sent me a lovely letter expressing, in part, her concern about a disturbing statistic: 50% of marriages end in divorce. I’ve heard this number before from many sources, and wouldn’t have thought too much of it… if it wasn’t for a fantastic video blogger named Hank Green, who, at one point, called random people, told them an encouraging fact, and hung up (part of a trend called “positive pranking”). One of these encouraging facts: The actual divorce rate is much lower than most people think.

I did a little digging, and found several articles in some tiny publications like “Time Magazine” and the “New York Times,” which confirmed that the statistic is murky, at best. Depending on how you calculate it, the overall divorce rate has been estimated at anywhere from 12-41% (give or take). This got me thinking about the surprising number of statistics we rely on in our dating lives. The act of going to places and doing things that we think give the best chance of finding a suitable partner, and then getting to know potential partners, is itself playing statistics. Numbers seem to be a solid starting point for decisions. But they are always far more complex than they appear. And if we’re not careful when playing the numbers… the numbers can start playing us.

So, here are my top three things to keep in mind when thinking about statistics.

  1. Beware flawed data: Even the most ethical of data-collectors must contend with all kinds of bias, which can mess up results — from the way questions are worded, to where and how a survey gets distributed.
  2. Keep in mind the Tree of Life… er… the tree of statistics: I will never forget a quote from my high school health book: “Over 80% of sexually active adults have some form of herpes.” Oy va voi! That’s a scary number, especially to singles braving the already terrifying world of dating. But it becomes a lot less scary when we realize that every statistic can be broken down into an ever-expanding tree of sub-statistics. In this case, the quote said “some form of herpes,” not “genital herpes”. That means that this 80% includes not only every sexually active adult with the STD form of herpes (which is actually 20-30%), but also every sexually active adult with a cold sore.
  3. Be careful with your conclusions: Once we’ve got our (hopefully good) data, we start to draw conclusions. That’s the easy part, right? Wrong! Let’s consider the common report that couples who live together before marriage have a higher rate of divorce. The immediate and easy conclusion: living together before marriage makes you more likely to get a divorce. And that immediate and easy conclusion is what the media tends to pick up and propagate because it’s, well, easy and immediate. Of course, it’s also completely incorrect. More recent studies suggest that, in fact, the higher divorce rate happens when couples settle down too young, either by living together OR getting married… which is also an extreme oversimplification.

So, with all that complexity, how can you ever hope to make a decision again? Start by recognizing that you don’t need all the answers to have a rich, full romantic life… which is good, because none of us will EVER have all the answers. You and your partner are people, not numbers, and only you can truly know what is right for your life. Embrace complexity, allow statistics to inform your decisions, but always remember that your decisions are exactly that: Yours.

From the Singles Column: Dating Advice – Should You be Listening?

Originally published in the San Diego Jewish Journal

“Wait three days after a date before calling!” “Don’t ruin a good friendship with romance!” “Your significant other should be your best friend!” There’s a lot of dating advice going around, but is it really worth listening to? As a dating advice columnist, I am obliged to say “YES! And you should read my column every month, and follow my every sentence so this magazine will continue to publish me!” End of article.

But seriously, is dating advice actually helpful? After all, relationships are very personal, whereas advice is usually… well, not. Most advice I hear attempts to apply a grand, generalized “always” kind of statement to a situation. (“Honey, all men only want one thing!”) Still, part of being human is living in a collaborative society, and sharing advice is a way that we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.

So how can you get value from dating advice in a way that benefits you personally? Well, first off, consider the source. And by “consider the source,” I don’t mean “dismiss offhand,” or “take all advice from this source as unerring Truth.” I mean take a step back and consider who is giving you this advice, and the metaphorical life-lenses through which they view the world. Is this advice coming from your dad? Your Bubby? Your friend? Does this person have the same sensibilities as you? Are they looking for the same things in a relationship? Is this advice something that comes from their own personal experiences, or are they quoting a statistic? Unlike Lot’s wife, salt is your friend, and you should take all dating advice with a grain of it.

Now, since this article has, up to this point been quite abstract (much like dating advice)I will now make it personal with a specific example: Me. This particular dating-advice-giver is a twenty-something secular Jew, who has been successfully cohabitating with my significant other for some time.  Religious observance isn’t a central part of my relationship (though I still do go to temple! I promise!), and I’m fine with living together before marriage. You should take this perspective into account when applying my advice to your own life.

Keep in mind, a  person doesn’t have to be your age/culture/religion and share every single life-value to be able to give helpful advice. After all, the most useful advice gives you insight from a perspective you hadn’t yet considered. That said, by being aware of the advice-giver’s lenses, and how they both overlap and differ with your own, you take that big-picture advice, and start making it personal.

Lastly, to really start getting value from dating advice, think about the reasons behind that advice. Dating advice does not exist in a bubble. There is usually a purpose to it. “The man should always get the check on the first date,” is, to many people, an outdated suggestion, but it has a purpose: to smooth a potentially awkward interaction and pave the way for a fun and relaxed date. While you may not agree with that exact advice, you still might want to tackle the underlying issue — perhaps by divvying up the cost of the date, or agreeing in advance to dine-and-dash (that’s a joke. Don’t do that!).

So, to get personal again, let me share the deepest underlying goal behind my own advice: For you to be happy, fulfilled, and whole, whatever your current romantic situation may be.

…And don’t wait three days before calling someone after a date. If you like ’em, call ’em!

From the Singles Column: Dancing – The Dater’s Dilemma

Originally published in the San Diego Jewish Journal

 

Dancing. One of the most romanticized methods of courtship. It ranks right up there with kissing in the rain, and like kissing in the rain, it’s often better in the movies than in real life.

I’ve gone out dancing a fair amount, both alone and with dates… and let me tell you, the movie Dirty Dancing lied to us. You can’t skip that whole “learning thing” with a cute 80’s montage, and while the dance floor can be romantic, it is also a perilous world of bumps and bruises. Now, I am not trying to discourage anyone from getting out there and having fun, but it’s important to consider the “real-world” factor.

Guys, this article is primarily aimed at you. Why? Because in couple’s dancing, the guy is the lead 90% of the time. As such, it is your job to make your partner feel safe as you maneuver through a dimly-lit environment filled with flailing limbs. If you don’t do that job, then you drastically reduce your chances of having fun while upping your odds of striking out. So, without further ado, here are five problematic archetypes among leads… and how to avoid being one:

 

Archetype #1: The Nervous Newbie

You courageously jumped onto the dance floor without taking a class, but now you feel all ferdrayt (dizzy and confused), and your arms feel like noodle kugel.

Solution: There are nearly always free or inexpensive lessons before open dancing, so get there early! Also know that inexperience is not a problem… just don’t run your partner into stuff!

 

Archetype #2: The “Pro”

You took some classes once, and now you “know all the moves.” If only you could find a dance partner as infallible as yourself! Maybe then you wouldn’t have to yank her arm half way out of its socket to make her spin, and “correct” her every “mistake.”

Solution: Dancing is about having fun. So check your ego at the door. Friendly guidance is fine, but if you regularly have to force her to move, then you aren’t leading properly.

 

Archetype #3: The Talker

You are so eager to get to know your partner that you hardly notice the dance floor as you ply her with questions.

Solution: If you want to get to know your partner better, ask if you can buy her a drink after the song ends. She’ll likely be more interested in talking when she isn’t worried about dodging other couples.

 

Archetype #4: The Drunk Dipper

You’ve had a few shots of liquid confidence, and now you’re ready to shake it, Baby!

Solution: It’s okay to be a tad tipsy, but know your limits so you don’t risk giving your partner a concussion. Trust me, it’s happened.

 

Archetype #5: The Seducer

Everyone knows dancing is totally sexy, and your hands always have a way of finding her tuchas.

Solution: The dance floor is not a pre-mating-ground that exists so you can sweep her off her feet and into your bed. I’m not saying you can’t be flirty, but if she moves your hand, she’s not playing hard to get, she’s saying “no.”

 

So guys (and gals), am I saying it’s hopeless, and that you should give up? Not at all! I’ve spent enough delightful evenings on the dance floor to keep me coming back. When partnered with a moderately skilled dancer who has pure intentions, dancing is lots of fun… and can be quite romantic. Just remember to set aside your ego, take a few lessons, and keep in mind that it’s all about having fun with someone you like, not taking a shortcut to the sack!

This is why I don’t have time to paint!

A couple weeks ago, in order to lessen the chaos in my mind, I decided to jot down all of the various roles required to build a business. In an ideal scenario, each of these roles, would represent a full-time job for an employee (or, in some cases, a team of two or three employees). But since this is not an ideal world, and I do not have mountains of money to hire ten to fifteen minions, I must fill all of these roles myself. So, without further ado… here’s what I do:

ADMINISTRATION
Job description: Ongoing maintenance of day-to-day business
Responsibilities:
• Convention paperwork
• Art show setup/take-down
• Website maintenance
• Comment moderation
• Google Analytics
• E-mail & communication
• Business licensing and permits
• Cleaning/managing the office

ACCOUNTING
Job description: Manage company financials
Responsibilities:
• Oversee & document finances
• Create a company budget
• File taxes
• Manage cash-flow/Profit & Loss

PRODUCT CREATION
Job description: Transform art into sellable products
Responsibilities:
• Adjust original painting to fit individual merchandise design specifications
• Add marketing information to designs
• Proof designs
• Post new products
• Find new companies that produce products we want to sell
• Quality control – make sure end product is up to company standards

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Job description: Expand the business
Responsibilities:
• Website expansion
• New website creation
• Set up stores
• Business plan
• Research and contact distribution outlets

MARKETING
Job description: Promote the business
Responsibilities:
• Update blog
• Manage social media presence
• Develop branding
• Create marketing materials (business cards, portfolio, etc)
• Create videos

CLIENT
Job description: Make cool stuff.
Responsibilities:
• Keep making cool stuff.

Source: From the Art Blog (http://MyDragonAteMyHomework.com)

Couldn’t have put it better myself

Saw this on “Pain Train” comic, and just had to share!2014-05-16-Borrowers

This latest Steampunk project I’m working on makes me feel like a hoarder… “Oh, hey, are you gonna use those old industrial stove parts sitting in your dumpster? No? Can I have them?!!”

Source: From the Art Blog (http://MyDragonAteMyHomework.com)