Don’t Let A Bad Week Ruin Your Weekend

I’m sure you’ve had a terrible day, or a string of days at work. It wasn’t a single event that caused your stress and grief, not necessarily, but things going wrong just little by little. All the while, you’re getting more and more distressed without even having realized it.

It doesn’t really matter what it was, the report you put on your boss’ desk wasn’t exactly perfect even though you double and triple checked everything… again… maybe you said something stupid to a coworker that you’re sitting there dreading what they think of you, maybe for some reason, instead of having a difficult customer once every day, like you’re used it, it seems to be once per hour. Maybe you’re not sure if the customers are just terrible, but your own stress is more visible to the customers than you like which is putting them at a sense of unease, so they don’t have confidence in you.

Just like how you’ve lost confidence in yourself.

Finally, the moment comes that you’ve been waiting for. You clock out of work to go enjoy your weekend (or whenever your day off happens to be), you’ve finally escaped work. You can just relax an enjoy yourself, maybe even get stuff done that YOU want instead of whoever you’re working for!

Yaaaaay- wait… I hear a “but” coming…


Guess again, pal.

Your day off comes along, and maybe you’re just so burnt out that all you can do is sit in front of the computer watching Netflix or playing video games. Then, your day is gone before you know it, and you’re back at work again.

You don’t feel rested, your muscles ache with the weight of the events of the previous week. That day off-or even that entire weekend- might as well have been a hour lunch.

Or maybe you’re one of those crazy people that actually continue to wake up early on the weekends, you have a dream you’re working towards, and you’ve made progress. Your way of relaxing is drawing or painting a picture, you might have done some blogging, some research on how to make passive income, maybe did some chores around the house.

Yaaay… Why am I empty inside?

Only, you don’t feel accomplished. You are still carrying that weight from that awful week at work. All those little things you accomplished over the weekend didn’t restore your confidence in yourself as much as you were sure it would.

You might have had nightmares about work.

You found yourself in quiet moments-without realizing it-going through situations that went wrong at work and figure out what you would have done differently to make them better, then you would feel your heart race and get upset.

Then you would get angry. This is my time off! Why has my job treated me so badly that I’m spending my own time worrying about that?

I know it might sound like PTSD, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it that.

I’m not here to tell you that’s not all that bad, you’ve heard that already. I’m not even here to tell you how to make the most of your weekend. If you need to veg out and essentially reboot yourself after an awful week, that’s great! You deserve it!

I’m here to share with you something that helps me when I’m supposed to be enjoying my time, but the stress from work is getting to be too much.

Now, I don’t just do this, I also keep a daily journal, read philosophy, and exercise, which I’m sure helps significantly.

You ready?

When you start to feel panicky and remember your terrible time at work, stop. Stop everything you’re doing and look up. You need to remember that you can’t change the past, you can’t look to the future. You are currently living in the present moment. Look up. Look at the environment around you while taking three, slow deep breaths.

Where are you? You’re not at work. Look at a few objects in the place you’re in. If you’re at the desk, look any pictures on the wall, look at the coffee mug in front of you. Look at your sketchbook. Remember. This is not work. This is your space. You can do just about anything you want in this space. No grouchy customers (unless they’re your own if you’re that aforementioned small side business-owner), no boss breathing down your neck, no reports you have to check. Just your space.

Pictured Above: Not Your Job

If you’re outside, look at the plant life, look at the big sky above you, maybe there’s a dog, or a squirrel near by. Again. This is not work. This is the space you’re in right now. You can’t always control what happens at work. You definitely can’t control and fix all the things that went wrong this week. If you keep worrying about what’s going to happen at work, then you’re just going to be miserable and miss out on the great time you could be having right now.

Pictured Above: Not Your Job Either

If your stress is particularly brutal, I recommend doing some journaling. Write down five to seven things that you’re grateful for. I know it sounds dumb, but it’s much easier to focus and fret over what’s going wrong than on the things that are going right in you life. They don’t even have to be big things. Is it sunny out? Be thankful for that! Is no one dying right now? That’s a plus. You’re not starving? There you go.

Did someone just smile back at you as you were you thinking of your list because they thought you were starting to smile at them? Well, that’s a combination of nice with a bit of sweet humor (this actually happened to me, it was really the highlight of my day!).

It is helpful to think of a different list every day, otherwise these things will lose their magic.

Right now, you need a boost. Any boost.

Also, please, do not be alone during this time. Human beings are social animals, and now would be a good time to reconnect with a friend. If you live with your family, or partner, this would also be a good time to do something nice for them (make them a card, offer to do one of their chores, tell them they look great). Showing an act of kindness to someone instantly makes you feel good.

It’s important to remember that even though your job might make you feel like a worthless husk- a cog in a machine- instead of a human being, you matter to someone else.

It doesn’t feel like that right now.

But you do.

Also, if your job is particularly toxic, to the point where you feel this terrible most of the time, look for other jobs. Oh, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”? don’t be so sure. Have been looking for other jobs, but no luck? Keep looking!

You also may want to consider volunteering once a week, that will make you feel like you’re making a difference, you’ll be picking up new job skills, and your future employer will really like the fact that you’re volunteering. That’s not always fun either, but the benefits of volunteering outweigh the negatives.

Just… don’t be the guy holding the knife.

These things don’t necessarily need to be practiced purely on the weekends either, you can also do these exercises when you get home from work, or even on your lunch break (actually, ESPECIALLY on your lunch break, where there’s a pretty good chance that besides eating, all you can think about is going back to work).

Also, I want it to be clear that I’m not saying you should ignore your problems. If you have difficulties at work that you can need to improve on and overcome, you should do everything you can to do so. At work. On the weekends, or time you’re not being paid to deal with work (unless you’re a teacher or some other profession that requires you to do work related things on your time off), that time and place belongs to you.

In Conclusion:

  1. Stop. Observe Your Surroundings, Remember You’re Not at Work
  2. Take Three Deep Breaths
  3. List 5-7 Small Things You’re Grateful for
  4. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
  5. Change What’s Wrong With Your Situation if You Can (get a different job, learn additional skills, volunteer).

Hating What You Love to Do

Hey all,

So, just a heads up, this blog post starts off on kind of a downbeat, but don’t worry. It ends happily.

This blog post is about hating to do what you love most, and for me, that’s art conservation. I don’t care what anyone says, one of the most valuable things you can do is preserve your culture’s beauty, history, and legacy for future generations to enjoy.

I left home to study art conservation in Florence back in early September, and I’m starting to come to a few realizations.

At the beginning of this term, I relished everything about art conservation. It didn’t matter how tedious it was. Cleaning with a scalpel? Gimme! Learning about different glues? Yes. Inpainting? Hell yeah! Italian art laws? Sign me up!

But lately, as this term’s coming to an end, that feeling’s just gone. Worse than gone. It soured into a kind of loathing. It’s becoming something like a chore.

These past couple weeks, I’ve felt like a hamster in a wheel. I’m running as fast as I can and going nowhere. These reports will not end. Every time I think I’m close to being done, there’s something I did wrong, some grammatical error, factcheck mistake, or there was a sentence I never completed because I was stumped and meant to go back to it.

I’m just exhausted. Completely burnt out. I had one Final exam today, another one in the morning, a thirty page report of my projects from my archaeological conservation class due soon, ten pages of my thesis also due soon, and a meeting with my professor tomorrow about where my thesis is going.

The last meeting I had with her left me feeling a little terrified (my writing style on what I have so far was garbage, and she was not happy), but somewhat inspired to do better at the same time.

At first, I thought my misery was just the stress of term and having been away from everybody in a foreign country that was killing my love for art conservation (come to think of it, that’s probably a large portion of it), but I’m starting to think it’s more than that. I few days ago, I was on Facebook, and you know that annoying feature it has where it brings you posts that you did X number of years ago?

Just stay with me. This’ll make sense.

Well, that day, it brought up my post that I made when I was about to start my first internship.

Two years ago.

There’s something funny about that time. I remembered one of my sisters wanting to quit ballet after having taken classes for two years.  In my sister’s case, she’s now dancing seriously and teaching three classes in one day. I remember my brothers wanting to quit scouts when they were two years in, and one of my brothers completed scouts, and the other one is actively trying to become an Eagle Scout.

Two years ago last Saturday, I have never been in a conservation lab ever, and I was nervous and excited about my first time. I’ve achieved so much since then. I’ve been in the Vatican Museum conservation lab, for crying out loud.

So, with this realization. I think this is just part of learning and growing in any kind of skill, not just ballet, scouts, or conservation, but there are roadblocks. There are points where it seems like it just became difficult out of nowhere, and the spark is just gone.

Here’s the thing, and I want to ask you this. If you’ve been putting so much work into something, and you quit just because it get’s hard, what will you be thinking when you look back fifty years from now? It’s only been two years. It’ll get better.

When I look back on where chasing my dreams got me, the work I’ve done, the art I repaired for my mother and my art history teacher, the work I did for the art museum back home, coming to Florence, looking in the Vatican Museum conservation lab, those are all reasons enough not to give up. Even as I’m writing this, I can already feel the drive coming back.

I may hate it now.

But I’m coming back next term.

I have no choice.

I know if I let myself give up halfway through, I know I will look back on this and regret it.

Image by Peter Alfred Hess








No, I’m Not Carrying the Weight of the World (It Just Feels That Way Sometimes)

I don’t have time to draw something, so here’s a sculpture of my good friend, Mark.

This isn’t really art related… well… unless you count philosophy.

I don’t even know where to begin with this. I’m completely burnt out. I’m trying to take a step back and evaluate my life as it’s been for the past year (which hasn’t been very long). My energy is completely shot. I don’t think I’ve made a video for the past couple of weeks now. I’m still planning on doing Rome Stories, but I’m starting to think maybe it’s best to put the social media on a hiatus until I get my energy back again.

The biggest stressors: school, work, and social life. All these things are feeding into each other and making things worse.

First of all, there’s school. I just got my logic midterm back and I really didn’t do well. The teacher said he’s going to calculate a curve at the end of the term, but you know there’s always that one asshole who got a perfect score that makes it invalid. It’s not just this one class either. To be honest, I really enjoyed it, but I’m just not good at it. This is my last term before graduation, and I’m just burnt out. I’ve been driving myself so hard and now that it’s the last term, even though I’m taking fewer credits than before, I have to fight with myself to sit down and do work. There’s the big change that comes after spending so many years in college, and that in and of itself is really scary. I’m at least fortunate enough to know where I’m going from here, but, then again, leaving the country isn’t exactly a cakewalk either.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having a project hanging over every week that I need to force myself to work on, I’m tired of my braindead classmates, I’m tired of teachers who are more concerned with pushing with a political agenda rather than encouraging different thoughts and viewpoints… you know… discussion, and I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut even here to an extent for fear of being scrutinized or graded unfairly for daring to have a different opinion (I’m just happy when the election happened, I wasn’t taking any on campus-classes, that’s not a safe place to be anymore for anyone). I’m just praying to God it’ll be over soon and I pass. That’s it. I don’t even care about getting all A’s anymore, I just want it to be over.

Work has not been all that kind to me either. I work a retail job, and I know no one really likes working retail, but for some reason, I HATE working there. I’ve never hated it there before. I used to like my job. No matter how bad things got, I always thought “It could be worse, I could be not employed,” and that would be enough to cheer me up again.

I left a department I really liked to grow and develop in the business. That’s probably the reason my attitude’s changed so drastically as well. Before, I liked working there, and felt like I had an attainable goal, but ever since I found my calling. It’s like there’s nothing there for me anymore. I’ve stopped caring but I don’t want to. I’m not going to be there much longer anyway, but until I finally have to leave, I want to be a good worker and do my best.

The customers have been getting worse. I even though about this. Is it me? Is my attitude making me project them this way? At least that I could control. Ooooooooh no. My coworkers have noticed it too. I come home every day feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. My muscles have all been hurting (which has also made it really hard to sleep), and having been dealing with rude, demanding, and downright horrible people makes me come home at the end of the day feeling exhausted. I want to paint, but have no energy to. Malcom in the Middle is on Netflix now, that’s been a welcome distraction.

And that feeds into my social life. I haven’t really hung out with any of my friends in months. Because of work, I just haven’t really wanted to see anybody either. Anybody except my boyfriend, but with the trip to Florence coming up, if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t know what the future of that relationship is going to look like. The isolation feeds into everything else. This is also why for the first time since high school I feel the need to blog about my problems.

I’ve really been trying to stay positive about everything. Which is why the teachings of Marcus Aurelius have been really appealing.

Heh. This quote was on Reddit this morning:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Despite everything I just said. I know at the end of the day, the only thing I can really control is myself. While it’s tempting to scoff at the power of positive thinking, that’s really the only thing one can do in these situations. Sure, I can’t change a lot of things that are happening in my life, but I think I could be handling them a little differently. I think I’m going to try this:

School: So, I got a bad grade on my midterm. Up until relatively recently, I always tested poorly, and still managed to pass every class I’ve ever taken. I’m hopefully going to meet my teacher for office hours tomorrow and every afternoon I’m available for the next four weeks and hopefully I’ll understand the material better. Hopefully I’ll ace my final after this, but I won’t bet money on it.

Work: Well, I can’t do anything about the customers. But it’s really stupid that I’m allowing my life to be ruined by these assholes. As shitty as work’s been, they passed a policy that says that we are no longer allowed to “clopen” (close then immediately open the next day) This gives me the opportunity to get into a better sleep schedule. I’m also going back to gym this week now that people who tried to make working out their New Years resolution have hopefully given up by now. Getting back my Amazonian figure would do wonders for my self esteem as well as get the endorphins going giving me energy to do work and the other things I’d like to do.

Social life: That’s easy. Make some calls and go hang out with people. I really think going to Paint Nites and other social gatherings would do me some good as well.


art, Uncategorized

Sharpening Your Axe

So, there are two purposes I have to this blog post:

1) To show off my newest artwork:

Everything is better when you add dragons!

2) To talk about this interesting term I’ve heard recently, “Sharpening Your Axe”

So, I was dumb and took 16 credits this term. And continued volunteering at the museum. And working. This has been detrimental to my health, social life, and overall sanity.

Basically, I needed to take a break.

The term, “sharpening your axe” sounded very weird to me. I heard this and immediately thought of something violent, but it’s actually not. It comes from this idea that when I lumberjack has spent some time chopping down trees, the axe get’s dull. If said lumberjack was to continue chopping down trees with a dull axe, then nothing good would come of it. A break is required to sharpen the axe, and then he can get back to work chopping down trees.

Just before midterms, I’ve felt overwhelmed and unhappy. I NEEDED to take a break. I did. I did all the studying I could, so I stopped, I did just what was required of me from school and took sick time off work (I really WAS sick, I promise, but the stress definitely helped cause it. We here at AshleyWestArt do NOT recommend you call in sick if you’re really not).

I spent time on my YouTube channel, my artwork, played games, spent more time with my friends…

So now, I’m more refreshed and ready to get back to work!

Also, I aced my midterm! That definitely helped, too!


Funny Stuff

Please Enjoy This Doodle of Me

I’m really worn out from work yesterday and had a bad night’s sleep. As such, I did want to do some more drawings via Gimp, but I just have no energy to do so. Actually, nevermind, I did sketch something. Please enjoy this doodle I enjoyed doing. My arms look like dough, but I’ve been going to the gym more often lately, so they feel swollen and hurt. ^_^stress