Signs

I am a Christian and a firm believer in God. While I have not been going to church as I should be lately, I have always believed that God provides us with signs for life’s journey. Whether it be something small or large, they are there right in front of us. It is just up to you to see them.

This has been the case for me recently. I have been going through some down times and feeling lost. Even wondering at times if I was aspiring for the right thing in wanting to move back to Western North Carolina. The Great One above has been giving me signs, especially the last few days that I am on the right track in wanting to be back in Asheville. Just in the last couple of days, I have seen license plates or something related to North Carolina during moments of sadness/frustration. Such a great and amazing thing. I have to smile and my spirits lift a bit when these signs come along. God’s greatness surrounds us, even during times we feel lost and without support. We all need to remember that.

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station,
through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”
–George Washington Carver

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December 21st – Project

What did you start this year that you’re proud of?

Well, I have started a lot of new things in 2009. However, most of my new projects are actually beginning in 2010. That said, I will highlight two things that I had going this year.

One thing I took on this year and completed all the way to the end was NaNoWriMo. I took on the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month and finished with over 50k worth of words written and even a day early! I was very proud to have completed that challenge, as I have done it the previous two years and never made it to the end.

The other project I started in 2009 was my goal to move back to Asheville by next summer. In association with this goal, I began a blog to chronicle my journey back to Western North Carolina. This particular project is one that is “in the works.” While I have declared what I am going to do and gotten the gears turning, so to speak, January 1st really begins the “official” countdown to my return to Asheville.

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This blog post is a part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

Life as a vegan

I’ve now been a vegan for just over a month, after having been a vegetarian for a month. My original choice to go vegetarian was a health-related one. Originally, I felt that cutting out meat and eating more veggies would be beneficial to my health and was the next level, so to speak in my healthy living journey. Only way I can explain it is that I felt that it was the right way to go for me. I believe that you need to follow your heart on things and that is just what going veg was for me.

After about two to three weeks of being a vegetarian and still eating eggs and drinking dairy products, I began to do more research about the vegan lifestyle. While I was happy with the fact that I was no longer eating meat, I wanted to learn more. I have friends who are vegan, so I of course already had a general idea of what the lifestyle consisted of, but it was just a basic knowledge. Also, one of those friends told me that while it was great that I had gone vegetarian, that I should read about the production of dairy and eggs. She said that I would be surprised at what I would learn. My friend was very right. I learned that “free-range” eggs are not necessarily so free. I believed that these chickens were allowed to run around “free” on farms and generally be as happy as they could be. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. While the government does regulate the free-range and organic labeling on food, there are many loopholes in the regulations. The same goes for milk and the cows. These loopholes are used by many an egg or milk producer. This means that the treatment of grass fed cows may not be any different than that of the corn fed ones. This sad reality made me really think. Did I want to contribute to this? Or, did I want to stand up and do what was right?

I chose to stand up. I decided that I could not continue to eat eggs and dairy products and not feel dirty or bad about it. I chose to cease and desist putting anything containing these ingredients in my body anymore. I became a vegan. This in my mind was the one and only way for me to feel good about how I responded to the truth of the food industry and the treatment of animals. Now, I am in no way a perfect vegan. I do not believe there is one. Being a new vegan, I’m learning more and more everyday about the products I normally consume or use in my everyday life. Have I made mistakes and consumed animal products? Yes, I have. Not on purpose, but yes I have. But, once I learn that the product is not vegan friendly, I make sure that I don’t buy or consume it in the future. You live and learn, that is how it goes. Thirty years of eating meat and other animal products means that I am not going to be able to make the right choices right away or all the time. Once I know more; once I have educated myself more on what is okay to eat, I will make less mistakes. I will grow the longer I am a vegan.

A great thing about being a vegan is how calm I feel most of the time. I feel more relaxed than ever before. Whether this is because I have changed my mentality to be this way or whether it has to do with ridding my body of the poisons and artificial things found in animal products, I don’t know for sure. I like to think that it is both. Not consuming those things has helped me clear my head, thus allowing me to be calmer. That is how I see it. Also, I have decided to do all that I can to enjoy life. No, not everyday is great and happy, but it is what you make it. You can decide to not let things bother you more than they have to. You alone decide how to react to a situation. I’m working to be the calmer, happier individual that I have seen in others. I always admired that trait in those that possessed it. I saw this more in North Carolina. There’s just something about those mountains I think that makes one at peace with life. Well, that’s how I like to see it anyway.

December 17th – Word or phrase

A word that encapsulates your year. “2009 was _____.”

2009 was full of changes. Yeah, just can’t go with just one word there. This was a year that started off as a roller coaster of a ride and has continued to go through the ups and downs of the track along the way.

At the start of 2009, I was unemployed and in all honesty, desperate for work of some kind, anything. I had returned to Central Florida from the beautiful mountains and all I wanted was a paycheck every week or two that would pay the bills and help me get back on my own two feet. Thankfully, my prayers were answered not long after the New Year’s ball dropped. On February 2nd, I started my current call center job.

My weight loss journey was still at the forefront of my mind back in January. I had only just begun my weight loss about three months prior, so I still had a ways to go. By April and my birthday, I was close to where I hoped to be, but was seriously struggling with self-image issues. A great support system aided me in getting over that mountain of a challenge and by the summer, I was 70lbs lighter than I was when I began the journey to better health.

Creatively, I’ve gone through good and bad this year. Thanks to Debbie & Joe’s wedding last year, my excitement for photography had returned while I was still in Asheville. After getting my tax refund, I was able to purchase my first DSLR in late April. It quickly began my new “baby.” I was more than excited about showing it off to anyone who would listen to me ramble about it’s awesomeness. In early May, the camera came with me to Asheville for a quick in-and-out trip to collect the remainder of my belongings that another friend was holding for me in her basement. It was a good feeling walking around downtown Asheville with my new camera firmly in hand, even if it was only for a few hours that sunny Sunday afternoon.

Writing-wise, I’ve been through a number of highs and lows this year. When I first got back down to Florida, I told myself that it was a good time to really sit down and write. That I not only had a lot to write about, but that I need to utilize the free time I would now have until I found a job to do just that. Unfortunately, I did not do this. Instead, I found myself depressed and uninspired. I was waiting for inspiration to walk up to me and punch me in the nose. I now know that not only will inspiration not do this, but that I was naive to even think that it might happen in that way. Inspiration usually does not just jump out in front of your car in the road ahead waving its arms wildly. It comes as you are working and doing all that you can. You need to be open to inspiration, not just sitting there calling out its name. So, after months of excuses and not writing more than I absolutely had to, I had nothing but notebooks full of blank pages. Gradually, I got back on the writing wagon and got my butt in gear. While I had been writing prior to NaNoWriMo, it was this event in November that really got my writing ignited again. I now write something everyday again like I had been doing and I feel like I’m not that lazy, procrastinating writer that I was most of 2009.

Another big change in my life this year is that I went vegetarian in October. After having considered this option in the past, never did I seriously think I could or would do it. But, I decided to give it a go for health reasons. I felt that cutting out meat and making myself try new veggie meals would better my health and maybe help me lose the last few pounds that I had been trying to get rid of. After just a few weeks in, I then educated myself about the treatment of animals in regards to dairy cows and chickens, as I was still consuming milk and eggs. As soon as I took in the reality of how free-range was not the free-range I had believed it to be as well as considering my lactose-intolerance situation, I gave up anything animal derived. I am now a vegan. Admittingly, I am still working on the lifestyle part of being a vegan (getting rid of leather shoes and what have you), but I no longer eat anything that comes from an animal. I am happy about my choice to become vegan and feel better than ever for it. Definitely no regrets in the slightest.

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This blog post is in response to Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.

The future and change

Back in 2005, I began my comic creating adventure with my first baby, THE LINE. I was full of enthusiasm and excitement for what lie ahead for myself and my new creation. Soon after I completed the script for the first issue, I found my partner on the book in artist Eric Gravel. Eric and I just clicked right from the start creatively. His initial sketches along with his own eagerness he brought to drawing the book really pushed things forward. A few months later, and there I was, at Wizard World L.A. with issue #1 in my hands behind the Ronin Studios booth. The feeling I felt in not only having something I worked hard to create in my hands, but in being out there at a comic convention sharing it with others was like none other.


From 2005 until this year, I attended as many comic book conventions as I could. I have enjoyed every moment of the ride. This adventure has taken me from Florida to New York to the previously mentioned California. I regret none of the experiences I have had since embarking onward as a comic book creator, not even the bad ones. Every single experience and moment has helped me learn and grow not only as a creator/writer, but as a person.


That all said, sometimes life brings forth new opportunities. I believe this is exactly what is happening for me right now. In the last year, I have gone through tremendous changes in my life. All of the things I went through from 2008 to this time now here in the year 2009 have pushed me in new directions. In short, I moved to Western North Carolina in June 2008 and ended up back here in Central Florida by the beginning of December 2008 due to job loss. In addition to the moving back and forth, I began a weight loss journey in September 2008 (more on that in previous and later blog posts). These things happening in my life along with all the recent experiences this year have changed me. I believe change is a good thing, and this belief stands with my current whereabouts. I feel like a caterpillar who has finally gone into her cocoon and emerged with a new vision on the world around me.

What does all of this have to do with comics you are asking yourself? Well, I have decided to stop creating comics. At least for the forseeable future. Now, I will be completing the HYPERSONIC mini with co-creator Chris McCarver, as well as getting THE LINE #4 in print, but beyond that, no more. This decision in no way has to do with not loving the comic book medium or creating comics. On the contrary, I love and will always love comic books. This decision has to do with the feeling that I need to return to my writing roots, so to speak. I began writing as a kid in school with short stories and for the school newspapers and have been yearning to return to this sort of writing. I want to return my focus to journalistic and creative writing again. Yes, I could still be writing my comic stories at the same time, but I want to truly focus my efforts in this area and I feel that this is the way I need to go for now. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, and I am working eight of them, and commuting there and back with another hour and a half, so free time is few and far in between most days (not to mention my workouts in the mornings). So, I have decided to just focus myself and narrow things down a bit for now. This could change however…so you may just see another blog post from me in a few months stating I am writing THE LINE or what have you…this is just where I am mentally right now. I felt that for those following the books, they had a right to know what was going on. To all those who have been there, supporting myself and THE LINE since 2005, you have my sincerest appreciation and thanks. Your loyalty means a lot to me. Thank you.

Going Vegetarian

A little over a week ago, I decided to give up meat and go vegetarian. Eight days later, I am going strong on a veggie-only diet and feeling pretty good. I’ll admit, there are times that I feel as though I’m a big hungrier than I used to be, but I’ve gotten through this hurdle by telling myself that it’s all worth it.

Why did I decide to go vegetarian and stop eating meat (for me it was mostly poultry, never was a big red meat eater)? The main reason is for health reasons. I have already gone organic, making 95% or more of my food choices totally organic. So, this next step just seemed to make sense to me. Also, a number of my friends are vegan or vegetarian making my interest in this eating lifestyle more so. I never thought I could possibly give up meat…of course, I never thought I’d give up most of the things I previously have as I got healthier and lost weight. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be where I am now, I would have never believed it. I’ve come a very long way and I am proud of myself and feel better than ever.

The last meaty meal was at Chipotle on October 4th. It was my favorite, the chicken bowl. Very fitting since that was my favorite, my treat lunch every Saturday and sometimes Sunday.

Still eating Chipotle, as I love their food, but the difference is now, my bowl consists of all veggies instead of chicken. And yes, it is still just as delicious. 🙂

Being a vegetarian is a whole new eating journey, and I am enjoying the ride thus far, even through all the bumps in the road. I believe it’s a good change for me and I can’t wait to explore all the new eating choices this gives me.

My Epiphany

It was 2008, I was living in Hendersonville, NC (30 minutes from Asheville) and loving it. I had moved there in June and here it was September, the time for a little vacation back down to Florida to visit family and friends. Little did I know that this vacation would change my life forever.

My vacation came and went, I drove down to the Sunshine State with my pet birds in tow (definitely made it a not-so-lonely drive!), and back again to the mountains. While in Orlando, my dad and I went to EPCOT one day. Both of us taking pictures with his DSLRS. We both wandered through the different countries snapping away. What I didn’t know is that my father took some pictures of me taking photos without my knowledge. I only discovered this when I got back home to North Carolina and uploaded the photos from the CD he had given me. He included both the photos I had taken and his. I was stunned not only to see images of myself, but more so at how I appeared in the photos. I remember thinking, “Wow, do I really look that fat? Am I that large?” Seeing myself that overweight upset me greatly. I knew I was fat and unhealthy, but didn’t have any idea just how bad off I was. It was a reality check that while I wasn’t ready for, I seriously needed. Staring at myself on the screen of my computer, I knew that I had to change, I had to get healthy and lose the weight for good. No more excuses, it had to be done.

Left photo is one that prompted the lifestyle change. Right is from October 2008.

Left photo is one that prompted the lifestyle change. Right is from October 2008.

So, it began. I dusted off Jillian Michaels’ “Winning By Losing” book and started to really take every word she wrote to heart. I began to download podcast episodes of not only Jillian’s radio show, but other weight-loss podcasts that would aid in keeping me motivated and help me learn about health and fitness. Also, I kept a food journal, writing down any and everything I put into my mouth. My grocery shopping trips brought more apples and such into my cart while the chips and cookies got left by the wayside. After work each night, I went to my apartment complex’s fitness center to workout. No, it wasn’t easy at first, heck, it wasn’t easy even at times throughout, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I knew in the end, I would be glad I was making these better choices and putting in the hard work to drop the weight.

Slowly but surely, the pounds began to come off! Some weeks were great, losing 3-4 pounds, others not so much, only dropping one pound. Nonetheless, I told myself, I was succeeding, I was getting smaller and healthier. And, I was doing it the right way, no pills or “lose weight quick” diets, just good old fashioned calorie counting and sweating it out.

Further inspirations for me were The Biggest Loser contestants, Jillian Michaels, and Bob Harper. Watching fellow “losers” each week on TV working hard was a big motivation and inspiration for me during my journey. In addition to Biggest Loser, was the online support I have had on a forum I began a regular poster on, we all need support and these people were definitely that for me. While I know that it is me who has done all the hard work to drop the weight and get healthy, I can honestly say that without the support I have gotten from those friends, I may not have gotten as far as I have.

As of today, August 2009, I have now lost 69lbs and counting. I have never felt better in my life. Not only am I now at a healthy weight, but I love being active. Can’t say that I necessarily love working out all the time, but I it is now a part of who I am. Working out and watching what I eat is a way of life for me. I will never go back to that overweight girl who was unhappy with how she looked and felt. The “new” me is here to stay.

October 2008 to August 2009 progress photo.

October 2008 to August 2009 progress photo.