Maya's blog.

Peek inside the life of a medical animator and illustrator.

Hello, Readers!

Hi everyone. Ok, so it's been a while. I've been here, just not posting. And by here, I mean, all over the country again. If you follow me on facebook, you are probably in the know, but here are some updates:

We have had a child. He just turned two and he's awesome, although we haven't gotten to sleep through the night yet. Parenting equals pure joy and complete sleep depravation, battling one another for your sanity. Pretty good though! 

We moved ourselves and our medical illustration business to Michigan last year, to be near our families. Miss Texas, but happy to be with our people.

Clint is no longer animating for me. He was recruited to help in another business, but he still helps me with office management and accounting stuff from time to time. I'm enjoying the animation side of things.

Probably some other major life stuff I'm not thinking of right now. 

Work is good - I'm loving my clients which is something to be grateful for! I'm updating my website, blog (see? right now?) and branding, and that leads me to my next post, about the Shoemaker Medical logo. See you there!

Day in a tree... coming soon!

Many of you saw the fundraising portion of my project "Day in a tree" last month, in which I raised over $1000 for homeless youth. I have yet to fulfill my pledge and spend my workday in a tree. I'm scheduling it for next week, I believe. This weekend looks sunny, but I did promise a workday!

Check out my project page here, and check back next week to watch my "day" which will be streaming live like those webcams of birds in nests! (My fave are the Decorah eagles.)

You can call me to chat or conduct business while I'm tree-bound. If you have any other ideas about the work you'd like to see me doing, let me know! I'll be taking suggestions ;)


I always try to share the more uplifting elements of my life and business - however, I am going to let you in on my challenges today. I just finished checking and answering emails (and that's ALL I've done), and it's already noon! What the? Usually I am past this by 9 or 10, and usually I have a better attitude about the time I spent. I generally enjoy checking my emails. Not today!

I have a LOT of production work to get done this month. This is supposed to be a good thing. Instead of tackling it one day at a time, today I am worrying about the entire month, which is not helping me at all.

I am afraid, as all artists are, of the blank canvas.

I am four days in to a new journey in yoga and health. I've been going with my husband to an awesome hot yoga studio nearby, and eating good foods and drinking plenty of water. In a few MORE days I am going to feel amazing, but I currently feel grouchy, sore, and like I'm getting the flu. Toxins are moving through me on their way out. This affects my business-self (since hey, I'm the same human in my life and in my work.) I'm a grumpus about the fact that my previous yoga experience didn't have me in tip-top shape to handle this with ease. I feel I've been lazy, and I'm judging myself.

Finally, a part of me is afraid that my dream of owning my own business - and having extra vacation time to spend with family - is going to turn into having a busy schedule like everybody else, and maybe even less vacation time. This fear is not based in reality; so far, I have had more flexibility at the holidays and have been able to write my own calendar within reason. I can become very "busy" before it starts eating into Christmas time. Maybe I'm just resisting growth in general today. Supposedly we are all a little scared of success.

ahhh. I feel better already! Thank you friends, colleagues, clients and even potential clients for the space to be honest. I'm going to go take care of myself with lunch and tea and then I'm going to "kill it" this afternoon. A little illustrating and I'll be back to myself in no time.

If you have any fears today, I want you to know that you are not alone.

Also... it is Friday!

chalazions and what to do about them

A few years ago, I got a mysterious inflamed bump on my eyelid, which I later learned was a "chalazion" - something I had never heard of before.sad eyelid bumpsOuch ouch and ugly and embarrassing!ouch eyelid chalazionI didn't know what it was, I was uninsured, and I was busy stressing about grad school, so I let it grow and then harden into a less-inflamed but more permanent lump. Later, a dear family friend [and doctor] diagnosed me over the phone, and told me to go see somebody. After a few calls, I found somebody who would remove it, talked my parents into funding it, received a small but icky surgery, and was well on my way to healing. But then they started coming back! The second time I went in, I had 3 or 4 removed at once, on both eyes. Not fun. And when I asked how to prevent them, I was told to continue keeping my eyelids clean with some expensive eyewashing pads, but that they would keep coming back anyway since I was prone to them. Frustrating! The next time one started, I went to see an "eyelid specialist" and he told me a similar story. BUT he also said to use hot compresses a lot more and to try washing with baby shampoo as a last resort.

The baby shampoo + washcloth helped. (I have since switched to more natural cleansers, with the same results. Just having fewer chemicals in my life.) But what worked really REALLY well was regular hot water compresses. I want to share my procedure. You can combine this with your surgery if you need one, and also use it for prevention (it will even reverse small new chalazions.)

(First go do all your research about what a chalazion IS, and see your doc if needed.)

1. Do this every time you shower. It's way less messy than over the sink, you get enough water, and it's very easy to remember to shower every day. You can add additional compresses in between but this will give you a base of one great eye-soak every day.

2. Wash your face and gently scrub your eyelids with gentle soap and washcloth. Keep them closed; soap stings. Rinse.

3. Use washcloth to gently rub eyelid back and forth. Imagine trapped oil melting away and your oil glands becoming unclogged along your lash line. Slight eye-rubbing seems very helpful for loosening things, just don't do it with dirty hands.

4. Fold your washcloth into a compress and drench with hot (shower-temperature) water. Soak eyes. Think about life. Repeat (refreshing the hot water) for 5 minutes. One minute is enough if you are just preventing.

washcloth compress for soakingTa-da! Prevented. Whenever I find some eyelid irritation starting, I get more serious about this regimen and it clears right up. No more surgeries for me. I hope this helps you too.

Other things that seem to help are getting sleep, eating healthy foods, and reducing stress... but I know those are easier said than done. Now start soaking!

kidney loves japan

My heart hurts for Japan, so this morning I decided to make a comic and a simple plea. Kidney sends blessings to Japanese tsunami victims.

Please say a prayer or send your love and positive thoughts, and then, please donate through a trusted organization like the Red Cross. Thank you!  -"kidney"

dust mite adventure

Warning: This post contains dust mites! A few days ago I decided that my bed was probably overrun by dust mites. Neither of us has any allergies or sensitivities to them, but a book and the internet told me they were there. Repeatedly. Sometimes I get things into my head and can't get them out until I do something about it. So here is my story of what I did and what I am still going to do about it.Maya imagining the horrors of dust mites.First, I grossed myself out. Dust mites feed on dead human skin flakes and their bodies and poop can possibly affect my respiratory health. And while I am not sure I've had any symptoms personally, I might as well breathe fewer mites and poop! Couldn't hurt! Not to mention sleep in a place with fewer things crawling...

I then thought of my awesome friend Dave and a super-cool drawing he did once, and decided to say hi to him. He pointed out that it was a actually a tick, so I acted like I already knew that. I am sure I did, once, know that, but I hadn't actually looked at the illustration in a while, and hey, ticks and mites look similar.

ticks vs. mitesNext, I read the entire internet.

This included shopping for mattress covers and pillow covers and duvet covers with small enough holes to supposedly keep dust mites out. I will buy some of these items next month.

Today I decided to get serious and I executed my first attack on the bedroom. I removed all the books and papers and vacuumed the room, twice. I carefully removed the bedding, folding it in on itself and got it out of there. Then I vacuumed the mattress with an attachment, beat it, and vacuumed it again using the whole upright vacuum cleaner. That part was fun because I felt like I was breaking lots of rules. After that, I vacuumed the floor AGAIN. I felt very proud of all the mites I must have sucked out of their comfy little mite lifestyle. I heard a "click" and realized I'd worn out the belt and it had snapped. Oh well, good thing I was done with that portion of my project! We'll get a new belt soon.

Happy Maya walking on the bed.After the suck-fest, I washed all the linens in scalding hot water. Then I washed all the clothes I could find in scalding hot water! Then I hopped in the shower to wash myself in scalding hot water! (The hot water didn't last as long as it usually does, though.) This washing-of-everything-at-once is funnier than you think, because usually I don't remember to do ANY laundry, and Clint takes care of it before I realize it. If only he knew 5 years ago what I would be prompted to do because of an invisible mite.

Now the room is bare and clean, the bed is made, and I think the mite count must be reduced, right? I plan on repeating this procedure after I buy the protective covers, along with flipping the mattress and beating/washing the down feather items.

If that isn't enough to ease my mind, I have one more idea:

No humans allowed in the bedroom.

impending holiday

If you are crabby about Valentine's day, I just want to say: I heart you - crab drawing with anatomical heart

Thanks to sis-in-law Emily Chaphalkar for getting me thinking about crabs today! She linked me to this clever designer on etsy, discovered by Chelsea K. For those of you that don't know, crabs are a symbol of... well, something, in my family - and we give crabs to each other out of love. Wow, that sounds terrible! I'm leaving it in, perhaps it will draw some kind of sicko traffic to my blog. We like to dance like crabs and make crab emoticon armies in gmail chat. Here's how one does that: V.v.V

I hope you enjoy my crabs-with-heart, and I hope you have a lovely Valentine's time of year or whatever. I am neither dreading it nor jumping up and down about it. Clint and I will probably go out for dinner next Wednesday or something when all the crowds have died down. We don't feel we need a holiday to remind ourselves that we like each other... but it is a great excuse to go out on a date.

I am so very grateful to have found the love of my life. He plays scrabble and reads with me and he NEVER buys me cheesy jewelry that looks like a pair of diamond-encrusted testicles. (Men, take note!) There is much fun to be had expressing your love this season, but I hope you'll make it personal and meaningful. Remember that it doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't even have to happen on the 14th. Crab!

ginger is awesome

Warning: This post contains female reproductive system themes! ginger makes your uterus less crampy

I've recently learned that ginger helps relieve the pain of cramps. It has been a pretty short trial so far, but comparing the results of ginger, nothing, and naproxen sodium (my old standby, Aleve) over a few months in my test subject (me), I would say that it's pretty effective! I am trying to go drug-free when possible and wondered if there was a natural treatment for this issue, especially since nothing is actually wrong with me, it's just pain. I only wish I had discovered this 15 years ago. Chomp on some raw ginger and drink ginger tea. Even ginger candy helps a little.

Don't have a uterus? Don't feel left out! I hear ginger is good for other kinds of pain relief too.


Last night Clint and I played our new bananagrams game (thanks, Raj and Emily!) and after a round or two we decided to team up and tackle a category. Anatomy was the first word so we took it from there - goal was to use all the letters and stay on topic.

Anatomy Bananagrams

Questionable words: I.V., ped (as in "peds"), fed, did, did, ow, ow, sew, wart, kid, qi, qi, and in. These were at the end of the puzzle and we had to decide whether to leave letters out or do our best to play them all. I can make an argument for including each word... for example "qi" is still anatomy-related if you consider Chinese medicine, right?

I feel pretty good about the result and will be trying this again soon!


Like everybody, I have quite a few things I'd like to do this year (be healthier, read more, decrease debt...) but I'd like to share the more creative ones with you here. I'm an artist. I want to remember to enjoy being an artist each day, and go beyond what my business or career requires me to do. 1. Play my guitar. I've gotten it out and tuned it, and it is now on a lovely stand staring at me, ready to go. It's been a couple of years since I gave it any real attention.

2. Paint. I'd like to create a couple of new collections of work to show.

3. Work on the anatomical LEGO© show I have planned with Clint and Dave.

4. Cook creatively with fresh ingredients. Try some new ideas.

5. Sketch and journal more often! Document life using stick-figure comics and share these with friends and the world. Yay! Ok, I'm ready to get started.

My good luck painting for moving to Texas

What about you? How will you bring art into your life this year?

the news and happenings

Today is the launch of my business, Shoemaker Medical, and that prompts me to tell you the story of how I got here, from a more personal point of view. Lately I have written that it got warm out, I taught some art lessons, left my job and then ta-da!  Had my own business. That last part probably seems very sudden, but of course I couldn't let the world know too much until I was ready to put in my two weeks' notice. So here is the story: I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I've always wanted to work for myself - in fact I've done it before with the art supply store I used to own in Norman and I enjoyed it immensely.  I didn't enjoy the operating-a-retail-store-all-the-time part quite as much, but it was still a great experience.  And now that I am a professional medical illustrator with a little experience under my belt, I want to go off on my own doing what I love doing. I have been planning and scheming with Clint over the past months, and saving my pennies, and working on all the marketing materials and contacts I would need to have a launch.

I've had some great printing help from Jim at Graphics Group, some amazing web design from Danielle, and sweet web development from Jason. Ask me for their info if you need something. It's way better than trying to do it yourself - believe me, you don't have time!

So there wasn't anything terribly wrong with my job at Orthofix. The main reason for leaving is that I want to be in charge of my own destiny and build my own business. (The work was fairly enjoyable. I really like the people and I'm already keeping in touch with many of them. Oh, and that house we bought? 1 mile from Orthofix.) The company has expressed interest in doing contract work with me, and that's awesome, but for now I really need to focus on my new clients and make the transition a clear one in my life.

There is also some measure of stress I'm leaving behind. I'm sure there is new and different stress to come, but I pledge to myself to be more aware of it, lead a more balanced life, and take care of my spirit and my body on a daily basis. Being at home means I can do yoga on my breaks or go out to garden for 5 minutes and this is a big deal for me. I'd love to cook more, exercise more, and breathe more! oh, and maybe be a happy, true version of myself when Clint walks in at 5:30. Is that too much to ask? I think not.

Other side projects I'd like to devote some time to include a huge LEGO© anatomical sculpture show with Clint and Dave, possibly some catalog modeling (what?), and adding webcomics to this blog in a couple of weeks! I'm told my doodles and stick figures are amusing, and if I can brighten somebody's day with a drawing of an eyeball bouncing up the stairs, how can I withhold that? I think I have a name for the new blog+comics but I'm going to wait to tell you.

new location...

Welcome to my blog. Again. I've made a successful move to this new cyber-locale, (!)  I won't be all business here, but have decided that it's still ok to be housed under the umbrella of my new company.  Thanks for visiting!

i work for myself now

Who's out there in cyberspace?  I'm happy to report that I am now my own boss and I have a big announcement coming out Monday, concerning said boss-ness, which I will post here.  I need to get a bunch of people to see it.  So please come back and look, and bring friends!  Thanks my loves. mitochondria

night out

Last weekend, we had a booth at Legends Night Out, our neighborhood association summer get-together.  Being new to the area, it was our first time and I was a bit surprised at the turnout!  My mission was to get the word out about art lessons and meet some neighbors.  Success!  Got a little sun too. mayacrowdclint


So we met some very nice people, including a pair of great bakers (Cakes by Kenneth in The Colony).  And we found out that a lot of parents with kids aged 6-10 were looking for drawing lessons.  An important bit of info!  So we will be adding something along those lines to the schedule.


art lessons

I am going to teach some art again this summer!  I've missed it since I closed down my art store, where we did classes, workshops, private lessons and general mess-making.  Time to open up my home and try it out again. Come one, come all!  And please let me know if you have other ideas; I consider this only my first offering.   Summer Programs Schedule

yay, it’s warm out!

ladybugI've been gardening!  This year I have all new beds since we're at a new house with a new-to-us yard.  We're planting using crazy hippie "organic methods," but it doesn't seem so out of the ordinary to me.  Clint and I want to rename it "normal gardening."

In the [far] past when I had flower gardens in Michigan, I didn't do anything with chemicals but then again, I didn't have to, because I was starting out with healthy, diggable soil.  I have read a lot about soil over the past months, and Clint and I have done a lot to try to improve our hard Texas clay.  Hopefully it worked!


Last night we slept in our new house for the first time! We moved during the day with the help of my friend and co-worker Allison, and the big things are all in their places. The kitchen was the hub of the move and is now full of boxes. I am sore and tired but very happy.

The home is peaceful, warm, and relaxing. I love the bathroom which will be very spa-like. We are going to make a yoga space too. I am hoping that having it set-up and ready will encourage us to practice more. That might not happen, but at least when we DO practice it will be in a nice environment.

Artwork and other ventures will occupy the office along with the work-desk. There is a guest room (which will have a guest-air-mattress for now) and a guest bath, a nice living room, and a garage. Yay covered parking! I think that's about it! Looking forward to beginning all the little projects that go with our new house!