Progress report

I’ve made some progress on Assignment 2 of the Umea application (see previous post).


Really haphazardly taken photo – I promise the drawing is not at this weird angle

My goal this work week is to finish this drawing and start on my visual representation. Eek!


Setting (at least some) parameters

So. Now that I’m ready to explore what I like to do, have quieted my brain, where do I begin?

[Cue tumbleweed and crickets chirping]

[Still chirping]

[Tumbleweed rolls off into the distance. Only the sad sound of sand blowing around remains]


This is going well.

OK, perhaps I shall start with a list of things I find exciting to learn how to do or to actually do. Not actual projects (yet!) but things that resonate with me.

I love lists, obviously, so here goes:

  • Adobe Illustrator – learn how to use it and the possibilities
  • Adobe Photoshop – same as above
  • Adobe InDesign – learn how to make better presentations, maybe print something of my own?
  • Working with my hands: drawing, painting, sculpting, woodworking
  • Design processes: industrial design – design thinking
  • Screenwriting/playwriting: My ex taught me a screenwriting program and it was really fun to do for an evening. No idea what I would write or how I would use it but maybe to write something short?
  • Interaction/Coding/Design/Art (from lack of a better word): Ann, you inspired this one from the following links – it feels like possibilities are endless and it’s just blowing my mind!
  • Photography – learn how to use the camera my colleague gave me to take reasonably good photos that I can later on play around with or use in some art project?
  • Write:
    • Get 1 (or more) article(s) published online
    • A collection of 5 loosely connected short stories about a women’s beauty salon in Turkey
    • Polish off Ruby short story, make sure it is submittable level.


OK so that’s a very all over the place list.

Which obviously I made into a table.

And then added a “How” column to the side. Because I’m me. I can’t help it I’m a serial blog-starter and list-maker and quitter.

What Why How Where When Cost Time
Adobe Illustrator Fun, Career Online tutorial YouTube 20 hours
Adobe Photoshop Fun, Career Online tutorial YouTube 20 hours
Adobe InDesign Fun, Career Online tutorial YouTube 20 hours
Art (drawing, painting, sculpting, more) Fun Art class Spring 2018 Folkuniversitetet Feb – May 2018 22000 2 hours a day, 3 months
Screenwriting Fun DIY Home
Interaction/Coding/Design/Art Fun, Mindblowing Home
Writing Life’s meaning DIY Home 3 hours a day
Photography Fun Online tutorial Home
Design Thinking Process Career School School

I think we also have to add in *Swedish here as well. Mostly for career purposes, but also for fun (mainly because now I get to understand funny, feminist TV shows, Instagram accounts and um, my friends).

But to wrap things up with this post, the first thing on my actual real life to-do list right now is my application for the Umeå Industrial Design Intensive program which has the following requirements:

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 11.48.26 AM.png

The goal of today is to finish the still-life sketch (Assignment 2) and to learn a little bit about Illustrator (Assignment 1) to see if I can’t make a visual representation of myself using digital techniques.

I’ve also thought/sketched a bit about Assignment 3 and started on Assignment 4.

So overall, work in progress!

I’m now off to learn a little bit of Illustrator until lunch-time and then setting up the still-life sketch for the afternoon!

Will keep you posted on my progress. Goodbye quitting, hello accountability (err…)


A seemingly simple statement

After my last post announcing my not-so-grand return to our blog, I wanted to spend this post providing a contextual background as to where I’m at now with my thoughts and feelings about this upcoming change.

The short narrative that I provide to acquaintances and colleagues about me quitting my stable job is as follows: “I want to do something more creative and leverage my experience in healthcare by becoming a service designer. I need to go back to school for this and for the applications, I need time to create a portfolio.”

Which I suppose is accurate insofar as that it’s ONE of storylines and the most realistic-sounding one. The truth, as always, is a little more complicated.

In one of our deep-dive unwieldy conversations on Skype with Ann a few weeks ago, I think I came up with the core of what it is I am doing which may not sound as career-oriented or clever or LinkedIn-ready or perfect narrative-wise, but is the simple truth.

I’m exploring what I like to do.

Breathe in. I’m exploring what I like to do. Breathe out. I’m exploring what I like to do. On repeat. Honestly, I have to repeat this to myself every single time my brain shifts into high gear grasping for a familiar story of a person who has direction, ambition, goals, focus.

Here is an excerpt from my email to Ann a few days ago as an example:

“I saw this bootcamp that they are having here… it’s a little expensive (55000 SEK = 6500 USD) but I was wondering if it might be worth it? Attached is the syllabus. The problem is that it overlaps with my art/Swedish class but … also maybe a good investment of my time to learn something useful down the line for UX jobs? It’s also a cool company that was founded by women who also founded a company called “Tjejer kodar (women coding)”

Or is this me doing A Quitting Zany and flip flopping and signing up for something without even exploring it? I am just always so bedazzled by the idea of a Bootcamp and getting “stuck” into something, so maybe best to take a step back. And, I think they have multiple ones of these in a year (they are 12 weeks) so it’s not like if I don’t register now I’ll miss out. But in any case, just wanted to see your take on the syllabus and if it’s worth time/energy to even apply?”

Ann’s very wise response:

I’m going to vote a hard No for the bootcamp.  You’re really going to want to focus on art.  It’s going to take up so much of your time and I think you’ll regret trying to do both.  Coding is incredibly time consuming when you’re starting out and without a project in mind that excites you, I think you’ll be really unhappy.  Just thinking “this might be useful for a job perhaps later down the road” is no different than thinking, “I should become an uber driver”
Stoooooppp thinking about skills that’ll make you employable and just focus on doing the things you like.  Think of projects.  If those projects are all web related than take a week to just do an intro coding course on treehouse or codeacademy or whatever that’s free.  If you really enjoy it, then maybe do the bootcamp. 

I have to remind myself of this conversation every time that I freak out and want to sign up for an expensive coding bootcamp, see above (thank you for the hard no on this one Ann) or have meltdowns about getting another job in Sweden (with my intermediate level Swedish) or envision myself depressed, lonely in my apartment watching Netflix and snacking myself into oblivion.

I am exploring what I like to do
This is my starting point. And that’s OK. No matter if I haven’t figured out the end destination, or what I even want to go towards or that I have no focal point right now. It’s OK.

I am exploring what I like to do 
For possibly the first time in my life, I’m going to let myself float around, enjoy the process of splashing in place rather than spending time, money, energy exhausting myself haphazardly trying to swim to a destination I’m not even sure I truly want.

So yes. Bring on the floating in place.



The caption of this on Google Images was “sad girl floating in place” which is a little depressing. I’m going to reclaim it as “wise girl floating in place”







Or at least, I am. (Hi Ann!)


IT HAS BEEN SO LONG SINCE I LAST POSTED. Thank you for taking me back into your loving and welcoming arms.

So, a few key updates since May 4th 2017.

  • I finished my (shitty) short story and then shelved it as I was too horribly embarrassed about it and didn’t want to face my failure or edit it. So it’s sitting gathering internet dust on my Google Drive, hopefully to be unearthed and turned from a shitty mound of coal into a sparkling diamond.
  • May 21: I met a boy and got sidetracked. Summer came to Sweden; all I wanted to do was hang out with said boy and be outside and ride bikes and go for picnics and look at leaves dappling in the sunlight. Decided I wouldn’t do anything future oriented until I got permanent residency and let self off the hook.
  • June 16: Took a 3 day portrait drawing class which was fun! Here is the portrait below. I think I spent 12 hours shading – it was a solid challenge to my nonexistent patience levels.


  • August 10: I GOT MY PERMANENT RESIDENCY IN SWEDEN which meant that I could quit my job.
  • September 16: I broke my foot while celebrating said permanent residency. Life became consumed with daily mobility struggles. It was only two weeks ago the doctor said I no longer needed to wear my walking boot.
  • October 6: I quit my job (!) I have a 3 month notice period which I’m finishing up over the next two weeks.
  • December 7 (today): Officially started freaking out about quitting my job and HENCE I AM BACK AT THE BLOG.

I don’t know about you, but for someone whose commitment to her personal projects when things are unwieldy and uncertain is about as strong as a single strand of spider web on a stormy day, I think I need to start getting some of this accountability back, especially since my last day at work will be December 21, which is coming up soon. Ann and I have spent a lot of time Skyping and emailing, but I think I would also like to share my process out with the world in case it helps anyone else that has stumbled on to our blog!






I suck. But I’m here.

Hi all,

I haven’t posted in a few days because I have hit what shall now be known as my “I Suck Wall” and I feel like curling up in a fetal position at the bottom of it instead of figuring out how to scale it.

So here’s what happened. Last week, I hit 4500/7000 words of my short story (64%) and I became really uninspired. I stopped caring about my character, about what happens to her. I got bored.

This then triggered feelings of worthlessness and negative thought patterns:

“Who do I think I am writing any way?”

“Who cares, it’s not like anyone except my poor friends whom I force to read my story will read it. And even that’s not for certain.”

“I suck any how. This story is stupid. Someone has already written it somewhere and it’s probably better than mine.”

“Why did I think I could ever be a writer? I can’t even finish a damn short story.”

As you can probably tell from the dearth of posts, I entered the Escape phase where I just didn’t want to deal with it. If I didn’t write on the blog, or email or talk to you Ann, or talk to anybody about it I could just pretend that it wasn’t happening, that it wasn’t a big deal, that I didn’t have time anyway, I’m too busy at work and “trying to keep my life together” (exercising, cooking, cleaning – all activities that an adult should do ANYWAY).

This is a signature Zany move.My Mood

I start off ridiculously excited about a project (see, stars and unicorns). My productivity is high, I’m pumped, the world is glitter and sparkles. I have a spring in my step.

Then, the excitement wanes but I’m still somewhat productive. I’m still accountable. This lasted quite long this time around.

Then I hit the I Suck Wall and that’s right around the time that I start quitting. Hello, quitting my old friend.

Quitting is comfortable. It’s secure. It’s flipping your hair over your shoulder and rolling your eyes and saying, “Oh, it’s not like I cared that much anyway,” (except you — I — did. Do.) But the underside of quitting is that it also feels a little shitty. Like, eating-too-much-junk-food-and-trying-to-ignore-the-weird-sugar-high-and-tummy-aches shitty. A tiny little betrayal.

But, that’s why we have this blog. To quit quitting. So, deep breaths, here I am. I suck, but I’m here.

I am now going to take up your Carol Dweck advice Ann, and let’s see where it takes me. I am going to try to get back into it.

I will keep you posted!





A small scale success story by and for our blog!

Hej there!

It is Friday evening and despite the misleading exclamation point after the preceding two words, mama is tiiiiiiiiired. I am basically writing this mostly horizontal in bed with this Drake song playing in the background. I am exhausted but also simultaneously creatively and intellectually energized after our short Skype call Ann! I am so, so proud of your Google Chrome extension (see previous posts)! I have it on my Chrome now and it makes me happy every time I open a new tab, it’s a little sparkling jolt to my otherwise rote brain. I will be re-reading your thoughtful and educational blog posts – I really appreciated how you linked to all the relevant parts of your process and I am curious to explore things more! SO PROUD! ❤

In terms of my updates, I have now hit 3000 words in my short story writing. This is the first time I have written for this long after the initial euphoria of, “Oh, look at me, I am writing! Creatively! Moi! I love this! I’m so writerly! I have designer glasses! Look at how gleefully and thoughtfully I can put words down on the page. I am an artiste!” has worn off. Have I mentioned how LONG 7000 WORDS ARE FOR A SHORT STORY? I guess not but hot damn, it’s hard to fill out those paragraphs. I know what I want for the ending, I know the scenes I want to describe and the feelings. I basically want to hang out with my main characters and get to know them better. But the actual part of hammering out the words? Hard as eff. The first 1000 words were a breeze. Now I’m in the thick of it and really struggling. But I know, I KNOW, that my previous processes were literally not working. The evidence? NOT WRITING. More evidence you say? This email I wrote myself 5 years ago using (the blacked out part is concerning an ex-partner).


I draw your attention to “have you started writing your book of short stories yet?”

Apparently 26 year-old-Zany was really consistent with 31-year-old Zany! I am SO thankful that we (you and me Ann!) have gotten our shit together and I am at least in the MIDST of pumping out my first-ever short story (as of a few days ago) so I can answer 2012 Zany with: “I’m working on it!” as opposed to the usual, “No… but I will! When x happens and this has changed and I earn this much and [insert a billion shades of excuses here].”

So back to my short story process. I realize anybody (myself being first in line) at any point in time can interject and say, but Zeynep, MUST you write 7000 words? Perhaps you’re more of a super-short short story writer. A microstory writer. Or in fact, maybe you just shouldn’t write at all given how much you are complaining about it. Maybe you should go back to your life of doing nothing and wishing you could write more and telling everybody about it.

But no, that’s not an option.

So, onwards I go with the glamour and grace of an old disgruntled donkey clopping forwards dragging piles of shit and muck to a barn somewhere.


PS. Here is what 3000 words of pure punching out looks like.

PPS. In all seriousness though, for all my complaining, I am also enjoying this process. I feel like I have achieved both purpose and pleasure in life (even though the actual writing is not always enjoyable).

PPPS. Another mini side-success story inspired by this blog: I am notorious for signing up to really difficult gym classes, paying a shitton of money and not going after the third session. See: Fightbox boot camp March 2016. Wörkout boot camp September 2016. Small group personal training November 2016. I have literally shelled out thousands of Swedish kronor. But, the last three weeks my rule has been: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you MOVE. It doesn’t matter what, where, when, with whom and how. You fucking move your ass. And the last few weeks I am proud to report that I’ve been to some super fun classes at my local gym (which is reasonably priced) including one that I have been turning up my nose at – Power Step at SATS. Having previously associated any Step-related class with middle-aged women in Turkish gyms, I used to sneer and say it wasn’t “worth my time” because it wasn’t “hard enough.” I totally forgot how seriously they take exercise here in Sweden and how competitive it can get. Power Step was so insane: step up, step down, twirl, step to the side, squat, lift, squat some more, now we plank, now we do burpees, now we do crazy complex footwork like it was a remastered Footloose taking place in a sweaty gym in south Stockholm. I felt like nothing I had ever done before had ever existed, my whole life had become an entire hour of Power Step. I had become One with the Powers of Step. But it was also RIDICULOUSLY FUN and I am so happy that I gave it a chance. And it’s all thanks to this blog which is helping me lower my expectations so I can actually MEET them as opposed to waving at them from the bottom and moping around that I don’t ever accomplish anything.

Alright. Rant of the week over! Off I go!


Update #4: Part 1 of 7 complete

Greetings from a cozy cafe in Stockholm with a snowstorm raging outside. It’s the never-ending winter but I must admit I am kind of enjoying writing here with candle light and coffee.

As promised, here is a draft of the short story I am working on for my creative writing group here in Stockholm. Although I am behind in terms of the overall project, I promised the rest of my team members that I would have a draft complete and sent to them by the end of April.

Although not very writerly or artistic or mythical, I am taking a very administrative approach to my writing process. I Googled the average number of words in a short story and decided on 7,000 words. I am now trying to write about a 1000 words a day. My aim until next weekend is literally to just PUMP SOMETHING OUT no matter how crappy it is. I will edit afterwards.

The reason for this is that I am usually so paralyzed by anxiety and worrying about having something perfect the first time around that I end up just avoiding the whole creative process altogether and procrastinate.

So, in line with this blog and trying to change my processes that clearly do not work, I am just writing things as they come to me.

If you are interested in reading my current draft you can click here. Obvious disclaimer: it is in VERY ROUGH DRAFT FORM.

Happy Sunday!



Update #3: Mapping out my life

Hey y’all,

As promised, Ann, here is my blog post about mapping out graduate schools I am interested in and what the requirements are.

I got so into mapping things out visually for school, I also added a sheet about what I want from life. Haha. And then I made a final more “realistic” flow chart with actual dates, with what I am doing when.

I’m not going to lie some of this has caused me a little bit of anxiety, which I think is heavily related to why I procrastinate. But, I think overall it’s a good thing: it means that something is stirring and it’s touching a nerve. And the only way out is through.

So without further ado, here are my “maps.”

1. What do I want out of life


I first started with the question, What do I want? I felt like I had to add a date because, well, I’m human and wants change. I tried to not think with a scarcity mentality of what I can do or should do or get paid to do but really, just to let it loose and write whatever the fuck I wanted. Turns out, the things I want are pretty simple: a family, to have mental and physical health, to make art, to write and to have a job that solves problems, helps people and is creative. Oh, and a summer house on the Aegean coast of Turkey and a boat (happy shiny golden boat, Ann!).

I then got some yellow post-its and wrote actions I can do (daily, weekly or whenever) to not just “get” what I want but to also to create experiences of what I want in the present. For a family, I can start by not dating assholes and to be a good friend, partner, family member. For mental health I can go to therapy, do yoga, eat well, and exercise. For writing I can… write? Set goals to achieve with writing (hello, purpose of this blog!). For making art… I can make art? Take classes? Have deadlines (hi blog!). And in terms of a creative, fabulous job – well, I can just search for it and maybe get educated for it.

2. Mapping out schools 

This was actually the first visual map I created but I am ordering my maps going from broad to specific. As such, here is the map of the schools that I am currently interested in.

Pick a card, any card

I decided to color code the most important aspects of the programs:

  • Cost
  • Deadline
  • Length
  • Requirements
  • When and location 
  • Why

This first five aspects were easy enough to fill in with information gleaned from the websites. The final question of why was a little harder – but it helped me figure out my real reasons for applying to certain programs. They ranged from switching jobs, to moving to Canada to just having fun!

I thought this was valuable insight and a starting point for myself for a future decision-making process of either applying or even attending the programs.

Again, I tried not to think about whether or not I could get in or even the costs – both financial and time. I will do that at a later stage.

3. 2017 – timelines 

My final incomplete visual map included concrete dates, activities, goals and how those activities are further conducive to my goals which were written in pink.


This was a little more anxiety-inducing as I realized I was trying to map out 8 months ahead. And given that one of my original problems is that I plan but don’t do, I started feeling like this was a little bit pointless. So instead, I marked down actual activities (like art classes that I had signed up for and will obviously put up on this blog because I don’t want to quit them like I always have!) as well as a concrete date – for example, for a 10K I am running in September with a goal time. As well as activities I can do in August to prepare in advance for grad school applications (even though the earliest one is due January 2018) by at least writing the letter of intent and statements of intent.

I also realized that mental health and “soul”-health are the core of my ability to not only be happy but also to be able to complete projects and have the confidence in doing so. So I drew a little helpful visual map in the center that highlights the more frequent, recurring activities I need to do to be happy such as exercising, eating well, reading more, listening to good music and going to concerts, meditating.

Anyway, I realize this all looks a little bit all over the place but I think the end result is that I have something visual to refer back to every time I am feeling the urge to escape from the world and myself.

Next challenge: completing my short story for my creative writing group! I will keep you updated on the writing process and progress – if not every day, every couple of days!

Over and out!



Update #2: Adjusting

Greetings from a cold, windy Tuesday in Stockholm.

It took a little time for me to get back on my feet with the Prime Number Project as I faced some unexpected challenges!

Challenge 1: Bureaucratic barriers discovered

I discovered all school applications required me to have verifiable evidence of my residency status in Sweden. As I am currently in the process of applying for permanent residency, this caused me to drop all school applications until 2018.

I was a little upset, but I bounced back by thinking about the positives:

  • more time to research alternative schools
  • more time to have coffee dates with industry professionals who can inspire me
  • more time to have better quality applications for 2018!

Challenge 2: Terror attack in Stockholm on April 7

As you may have heard, there was a terror attack in Stockholm last Friday. It was really scary and although I am from Turkey, which has had a much deadlier and more frequent occurrence of such attacks, it threw me for a loop since it is in the same city in which I live. Although not an excuse to not complete projects, I ended up spending the weekend with friends and trying to do “normal” activities like exercising and cleaning to get back on track mentally.

Which helped me realize a systematic challenge that I face when completing projects: I get thrown off by external events and emotional ups and downs. I am great at making plans because in that moment I truly believe that the plan will be carried out without any extenuating circumstances, but when those circumstances occur, I tend to drop long-standing plans in favor for short-term gratification.

I will try to take this into account when going forward.

So here is my updated Prime Number Project Plan.

I still like the bite-sized approach to our plans, Ann, so I think I will try to see if I can make it work by switching around the order of prime numbers but still allocating a certain amount of time to complete tasks… since my (our?) original problem is lack of external deadlines.

  • 1 day to map out schools I am interested in, their application requirements and deadlines for 2018 – I plan on creating a visual board and uploading it in my next blog post. (Due: Thursday April 13th) (the purpose of this is so I can have a “plan” for the rest of 2017 and for 2018 of what I have to do by when so I can relax)
  • 13 days to write my short story for my creative writing group (Start: Friday April 14th, Due: Wednesday April 26th)
  • 5 days of blogging: 1 blog post per day (Start: April 27)
  • 7 days of Ashtanga Yoga (Start May 1)

I will keep you posted as I complete tasks!

Looking forward to your next post Ann – and WELL DONE on the shelves! They look beautiful ❤