Positivity Challenge! Day 01: Happiness & Skirts

For the month of March, I’m taking part in the awesome Positivity Challenge over at the Personal Excellence blog and thought I would share my thoughts here. Please go and join and do this as well. The more who take part, the more positive energy is put into the world. And the world could always use more positive people.

Pretty pattern on my new skirt!

Day 01 Question

On a Scale of 1-10, How Happy Are You? And Why?

This question is harder to answer than I would think. I shy from giving an actual score because my happiness is on a sliding scale – every day is different. It’s hard to even pinpoint an average, though I do see myself as more of a glass-half full type of person. I am usually happy, but am I happy with where I am in life or am I just happy because that’s the type of person I am? The answer is different for both.

I’m actually more excited to look at this question at the end of the month. Right now, I hesitantly give myself a 6 or 7 on the happy scale. Higher up because of my family and friends and the beautiful moments of life that I experience. But lower than I’d wish because of things like my house, my organizational struggles, money, etc. At the end of the month, I hope to see this number higher and myself not so hesitant to exuberantly shout “10!”

One Positive Thing from Today

My friend and co-worker took the time out of her busy schedule to sit down with me today and help me begin to organize all my to-do lists and daily schedules. I’m excited because I already feel relieved and not as overwhelmed as I did yesterday. Definitely a good thing. Also, I bought an awesome new skirt that I can’t wait to wear tomorrow. Happy day!

Be well!

I’m just going to say it. I want to go to SXSW Interactive this year. No. I really really REALLY want to go to SXSW Interactive this year. I was fortunate enough that last year I was able to attend through my day job, and I met so many amazing people and learned SO MUCH. So much that I’m pretty positive that I learned more in 5 days at SXSWi than I did in my 4.5 years of college. I thought for sure I would be going again this year, but it looks like if that’s going to happen, I’ll need your help. So I’ve come up with a deal for all of my awesome readers, family, and friends.

The SXSWi Snailbird Proposal

If you help to send me to SXSWi, I promise you I will bring to you all the latest, greatest news and education from the most awesome conference ever hosted in Austin, Texas. I will create a separate SXSWi page where I will write up all my notes, post all my pictures, and share all the downloads, tweets (both on designcoyote and rescueanimals), and resources I find. I’m even going to create a special #hashtag for Twitter usage so all you have to do is follow it to see my SXSWi tweets.

Some of the sessions I hope to go to (which is also all the things you get to learn about as well!) include: Storytelling Beyond Words: New Forms of Journalism, Security and Privacy in Social Networks, Taking Your Brand Back from Your Customers, Voices Carry: Why Authentic Brand Voices Matter, Social Media Boundaries: Personal/Personnel Policy, The State of Social Marketing, The Promise and Pitfalls of Real-Time Marketing, Social Media in the Underground World of B2B, Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social, Sparking Real World Action with Social Media, How Comics Journalism is Saving Your Media, Can Gaming Make the World Better?, How to Raise Awareness Through Blogger Outreach, Tech Superwomen: Mentors and Mentees FTW, and oh so much more that are on my list but I don’t have room to post.

OH! And don’t forget I would totally take pictures and share notes from speakers like Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon. Because hell yes, you know you want to hear from the two of them.

We all love learning. And you already know that I love sharing knowledge – on here, on @designcoyote, on I Love Rescue Animals, and on @rescueanimals – so you know that I’m only going to be bring you the best quality and create a stellar resource for those of you who can’t make it to SXSWi yourself. This is your chance to be a part of SXSWi for just a small donation (and some fantastic incentives). I will be sharing a ton of resources for social media, sharing positive causes, utilizing the internet and social media to raise donations, and how to market yourselves online, as well as design tips I learn, the newest technology for artsy folks, and other great education resources.

There’s even an entire session devoted to social apps and charitable giving using social media and how philanthropy utilizing Twitter and Facebook is on the rise. There’s just so much good going on at SXSWi this year that I don’t want to miss it. And there’s so much that I can bring back and teach others. I feel that animal folks in particular would get a lot out of the sessions I want to go to because we work so hard to raise money online and social media has changed the way we’re able to share messages – whether it’s about finding a forever home for a stray dog or it’s asking for donations for a sick cat. This is all knowledge that needs to be shared to our community – it can help so much and I don’t think many animal folks know how invaluable SXSWi is to our cause.

How Much Will This Be?

I didn’t find out until today that I would have to come up with creative ways to get myself there, so the total amount of money I’m trying to raise is $950 – which is JUST the price of one SXSWi ticket. Since I live in Austin, all the lodging expenses are taken care of, and I’ll pay for my own food and goodies. I just need help getting the ticket.

What You Get For Helping!

Don’t worry. You won’t be walking away empty-handed either. Besides the shared knowledge of all I learn, you will also get an awesome incentive depending on what level you donate to. These are as follows:

$1-$15: Join the list of other donors on my SXSW page.*
$16-$29: The above and an individual shout-out on the designcoyote twitter (1,700+ followers).
$30-$49: The above and a pencil sketch of your pet/favorite animal (in The Family Menagerie style).
$50-$74: The above and the pencil sketch gets inked and colored with marker.
$75-$99: The above plus a 100×100 pixels digitally colored avatar of your choice (in TFM style), as well as a shout-out on the rescueanimals twitter (17,800+ followers).
$100-$199: Be included on the donors page, receive a twitter shout-out (on both), a sketch of a pet/favorite animal, and a 100×100 pixel digitally colored avatar, and 1 month of advertising on the blog*.
$200-$349: Mention on donors page and twitter accounts, marker-colored image of pet/favorite animal, 100×100 avatar, 2 months of advertising on the blog*.
$350-$474: The above AND a full-colored digital illustration of your choice.

$475: SPONSORSHIP LEVEL 1! You will have a large prominent THANK YOU at the top of the SXSWi resource page, thanks on both Twitter and Facebook (for both Snailbird and I Love Rescue Animals), PLUS 6 months of advertising on the blog and a full blog post thanking you on Snailbird*.
$950: SPONSORSHIP LEVEL 2! You will have a large prominent THANK YOU at the top of the SXSWi resource page, thanks on both Twitter and Facebook (for both Snailbird and I Love Rescue Animals), PLUS 12 months of advertising on the blog and a full blog post thanking you on Snailbird AND I Love Rescue Animals (and if you or your company has a blog, I will also write up a guest post about everything I learned because of your generosity that you can use on your website)*.

Interested in donating but looking for some other prize/incentive? Feel free to comment or email me and we can talk! I’m open to hearing your ideas.

*Being included on the donors page, as well as getting posted on Snailbird and I Love Rescue Animals websites, means getting your name and link seen by artsy folks, nature-lovers, and lots of animal advocates, pet bloggers, and other activists. Snailbrd gets on average 5,000 unique visitors a month with 80-90k hits a month. I Love Rescue Animals receives an average of 6,000 unique visitors a month and 100-150k hits a month.

ChipIn to the Send-Nikki-to-SXSWi Fund!

So you can all help keep track of where I am in donations, I’ve set up this nifty ChipIn that’s connected to my PayPal account. Once you donate, you will receive an email from me confirming the amount and the prizes you will receive. Just click on the ChipIn widget below to donate or go straight to the ChipIn page.

What If The Goal Isn’t Reached?

Good question. If I don’t receive the goal of $950** by March 9th, all of the donations will be fully refunded. That’s right, you’ll get all of your money back and I’ll just have to wait to go to SXSWi next year. If however, it IS funded, as soon as SXSWi is over (March 13th is the last day), I will begin work on all of your prizes. It’s a win-win situation (the very best kind)!

**Note the ChipIn has been lowered to $900 because I received $50 in donations outside the ChipIn. – Updated 3.5.12.

The Final Plea

I want to go to SXSWi so much. It was an incredible experience last year and I don’t want to miss out again. I learned so much, and I feel that this year will be even better. So for just one donation, you can help send me to this awesome conference full of great opportunities and in return you get to learn all that I learn and some (you know those incentives are pretty awesome). Pretty great deal, yeah?

So please please help, and share with your family and friends! I will be forever grateful to you and so very honored. Thank you! You guys rock!

Some Resolutions and a Chickadee


Happy New Year! Resolutions? Sure. Why not. 1. More Art. 2. Less candy (crap, failing this already). 3. Be more fit (got kicked out of bootcamp on the first day because of a hurt disc but I’m joining a yoga/stretching class so we’re doing good on this one). 4. Bring back The Family Menagerie. 5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (agh). 6. DANCE MORE.

I don’t think any of those need elaborate explanations. Mainly, my focus this year will be on health and personal growth. I want to be healthier both in mind and body and so I’m turning to things that make me happy. Drawing of course is good for the soul, as is dancing (and singing – which I’m quietly going to try to do more of – Ash got me a ukelele for Christmas so I’m teaching myself to play), and making mistakes is important for growing (I’m horrible at allowing myself mistakes). I have a horrible reputation for not taking care of myself physically so I’m making that a priority this year. Get healthy. Eat more veggies. Treat my body with respect. Be Good. And all of that jazz. Excitement!

I’m slightly less excited about the whole “less candy” thing.

My favorite part of the resolution is drawing more. Keep an eye on this space as it’ll be updated again in the very near future with more sketches. For now though, since really this post is about my favorite things and being happy, you should all check out my tumblr since that’s my virtual happy place. It’s full of shiny, happy things.


Oh! And before I forget. My other resolution is to join my co-editor Rondal in bringing you all awesome new content on Fuel Your Illustration. We’ve already done a great job for January and it’s only the start. Do you have ideas for content or want to contribute? Contact me or Rondal – we’d love to include you and your work! Also follow us on twitter for more artsy-fartsy updates.

And that, ladies and gents, concludes this first “life” post of the year. How have you been? Have any resolutions you can’t wait to kick into gear?

Humanity and the actions at UC Davis

I don’t even really know where to start on this. I used to blog politically here a lot more back in 2007 but have tried to refrain from that for several reasons now. This, however, has struck such a nerve in me that I have to say something.

Police Pepper Spray Peaceful Protestors

First, if you live under a rock (or another country) and don’t know about the incident of police brutality on the UC Davis campus, then read this and watch the videos if you can stomach them. I almost didn’t. I couldn’t get through the whole thing without working myself into such anger that I had to leave the room. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to believe something like this would happen in our day.

Why? Maybe I live in a bubble. The Occupy movement here in Austin has been dramatically more civil than in other parts of the nation. While there have been a few arrests, there’s been little to no drama, and the APD has been supportive of the safety of the protestors to the extent that they willingly stop downtown traffic to allow the protestors to parade through the streets. I think this is a direct reflection of the education system in Austin and the high acceptance and tolerance levels in our liberal Texan city. We’re lucky. Some folks, like the students and faculty at UC Davis, are not. The police man who pepper sprayed the young and old who sat on the sidewalk with their arms linked in peaceful protest did nothing but prove that peace and solidarity and the strength of community can and will win out over violence.

It makes me despair in the future of humanity, but gives me hope that there are people out there who will give their all to preserve peace.

The Despicable Actions of the Administration

This arcticle by UC Davis professor Bob Ostertag is the best article I’ve read so far about the protest and why it and the actions of the administration were so horrendous. He mentions to the health and safety hazards of pepper spray and how, days after the brutal attack, there are several students who are still sick and burned from the chemicals.

“As with chili peppers, some people tolerate pepper spray well, while others have extreme reactions. It is not known why this is the case. As a result, if a doctor sees pepper spray used in a prison, he or she is required to file a written report. And regulations prohibit the use of pepper spray on inmates in all circumstances other than the immediate threat of violence. If a prisoner is seated, by definition the use of pepper spray is prohibited. Any prison guard who used pepper spray on a seated prisoner would face immediate disciplinary review for the use of excessive force. Even in the case of a prison riot in which inmates use extreme violence, once a prisoner sits down he or she is not considered to be an imminent threat. And if prison guards go into a situation where the use of pepper spray is considered likely, they are required to have medical personnel nearby to treat the victims of the chemical agent.

Apparently, in the state of California felons incarcerated for violent crimes have rights that students at public universities do not.”

Thank you

The Shadow was Only a Small & Passing Thing

When using your VOICE becomes a crime so heinous it “forces” officers to use violence on children, my faith in humanity dwindles. My heart breaks. And at the same time, my spirit is uplifted by the community of people, young and old, who refuse to give in, who link arms and raise their voices louder, and who, no matter how many times they are beaten and burned and kicked, refuse to act in kind and instead remain peaceful and connected in their solidarity and beliefs. They remind me that there is still beauty and hope left in humanity and they are the ones that will save us in the end. Thank you to those old souls who know the importance of never giving up for what you believe in.

The Girl EffectYou may have already heard of The Girl Effect. If you don’t know, it’s “the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” In other words, it’s an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young girls and giving them the means of educating themselves and working towards making the world a better place.

“The Girl Effect is a movement. It’s social change in action. It’s about you using your voice, your talents, and your community to help girls help themselves—and, as a result, everybody else.

Created by people at the Nike Foundation, the Novo Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, its purpose is to spread the word about what girls can do and to recruit other powerful girl champions, like you. Armed with the tools and the network you need to raise awareness—and a little elbow grease—you can change the world.”

I won’t bore you with any more descriptions. Just watch this.

The Girl Effect

It’s a small ripple. Helping just one girl. But that ripple grows and causes more and that one, that one counted. It’s like the Starfish Effect. Every single one matters and it makes an impact on generations. You can make a difference too. It’s our responsibility to make the world a better place and we can do it. This isn’t just about giving one girl a few more years of schooling. This is about the small that makes up the whole. This is about HIV and poverty and it’s about Human Rights and the values we place on people that are seen as different from us. This is about saving a planet before it throws itself off the edge of the universe.

This is about doing what’s right. And it starts with one girl. That’s what the Girl Effect is.

What You Can Do To Help

Raise awareness. This post isn’t just from me. Starting today, bloggers from all over the world are blogging about the Girl Effect. It’s a campaign to make people see that this HUGE issue has a simple solution. Want to help? It’s easy. Write a blog post. You can find more information about what to write and what to include on Tara Mohr’s Girl Effect page, and you can see a lot more blog posts from other folks on the campaign page.

Please join us.

Find out more about The Girl Effect: