Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say! Katie McMahon puts that old adage to the test in her 100 Day Project, using both illustrations and comics to record her daily life. Over the course of the project, she celebrates the little things that make her smile, wrestles with anxiety and depression, and laughs at life’s absurdities. No matter what comes her way, Katie always returns to the drawing board, seeking a new perspective.
I’ve decided to make this book available for anyone to read, especially given that it’s all available on Instagram as well. Each image is accompanied by the text that was posted with it on Instagram during the 100 Day Project in 2018!
The captions on all of the following images are the captions that accompanied the original posts on Instagram during the 100 Day Project in 2018!
The beginning! This is my first 100 Day Project, and I’m pretty happy with how it came out. I’m feeling positive today, and I can’t wait for what the rest of the 100 days will bring. Probably some sad days, but probably great days, too! I can do this!
On my way out of the store today, the sun came out after a whole day of angry clouds and heavy rain. The scent of the flowers the store had outside was so strong and smelled wonderful. These two things made me stop for a moment and, as sappy as it sounds, appreciate a beautiful moment.
Had a little pep talk with myself for today’s drawing. I sometimes feel like I don’t belong in discussions about topics I care about because I don’t feel articulate enough or as well-informed as my friends and peers. That sometimes spirals into thoughts of unworthiness and lots of negative self-talk. I need to remind myself that my peers and friends care about me, and they want to hear what I have to say. My voice matters because it’s mine, just as your voice matters because it’s yours. Be kind to yourself, friends.
I am a sleepy human. I resolve to stop doing these so late at night.
Sometimes it’s hard to muster the energy or motivation to do anything when you’re in a negative headspace. For me, exercising helps more often than not. I don’t always remember this, but I’m gettin’ there!
Today I spent over three hours sorting through old artwork and art supplies. It was a blast, so of course I had to draw this joyful experience!
I found a full novella that I wrote in eighth grade. Holy crap was it bad. It’s so doofy and wonderful and rips off at least ten different books I was super into at the time. I have a lot of days where I feel crappy about myself as a writer or as an artist, and keeping these old stories and sketchbooks around helps me see how far I’ve come. It’s important to tell that to myself, especially when I’m feeling low. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’ve come a long way!
Sometimes my brain doesn’t want me to sleep at night, which is no fun. Hence, the need for an afternoon nap in my little cozy library. Take care, friends!
I’ve got a pretty bad case of imposter syndrome when it comes to my job, as well as my artwork and writing. Both the culture of the day and my fundamentalist background taught me that confidence in women equated to pride and vanity. I’m trying to be more confident in my abilities, but it’s hard to hear my own voice cheering for myself over the oppressive voices of my past.
I have a bad back and a bad habit of prioritizing everything before caring for my body. It’s not a good habit to get into. Take care of yourselves, friends.
I forgot about the drawing for this day because I was watching a delightful movie with friends. I decided to be nice to myself instead of beating myself up over it.
I love my kitty Tribble!
Sometimes I am incapable of showing kindness to myself.
I had drawn myself some new business cards, and I was so pleased with it that I decided to draw myself and the dragon featured in the design!
This isn’t really a self-portrait per se, but this is my tabletop RPG character, Zinnia, who could be considered an extension of myself. I think it counts! She’s a wonderful half-orc monk of the Lotus order. She’s such a sweetie, I love her! She likes plants, desserts, animals, and making friends! She only has a charisma score of 10, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to befriend people.
Taking time to read recharges my creative batteries and makes me feel happy. I’m always glad when I make time for reading.
I really do enjoy what I do for a living. I love my students, and I really feel like I make a difference in their educational journeys. I just wish I had more time and energy to draw and to do what I’m passionate about.
HOLY HECK traffic was slow that day! It took me an extra half hour to get home! Turns out, some minor construction had closed a lane at an intersection, so people had to merge AND deal with the stoplights. Heck of a thing to do during rush hour on a Friday! At least I had my McElroy podcasts to keep me company.
It took me a while to be honest with my struggles and to make this. I almost did a goofy bit about a tasty chickpea snack I discovered, but it didn’t sit right with me to shrug off my internal conflict so easily. Not when this project is about me trying to be more honest with myself. I’ll try to be better about that in the future.
After my cataract surgery, I missed my glasses so much that I bought these non-prescription glasses. They’re kinda similar to my old ones, though these have a stronger cat’s eye design. I really loved my glasses, they were a part of my identity!
I love doing laundry! Our washer was broken all that week, and when it was finally fixed it felt really good to wash clothes again. I think it’s an organizing thing for me – I really like sorting the different loads, hugging warm towels that come out of the dryer, and folding and putting away the clean, fresh-smelling clothes. When I organize the things around me, I feel organized internally.
A challenging day. But I keep getting back up.
Aiden and I had a fun stay-home date! I love spending time with this cutie guy!
A cleaning day! I feel so triumphant and refreshed after cleaning house…it might help if we did it more often!
I had lots of fun drawing this illustration of myself and a hibiscus tea dragon from the world of Katie O’Neill’s delightful book, “The Tea Dragon Society”! I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys adorable artwork, dragons, and an affection for craft.
I have to admit, I’m unhappy with how this piece turned out. I tried to draw despite knowing full well I was too exhausted to think straight. However, I’m keeping this in because I need a reminder to listen to my body when it’s telling me I’m too tired to draw well. It’s okay to fall behind in order to care for myself. I’m not sure why it’s such a hard lesson for me to wrap my head around.
Ahh, the signs of spring. Mysterious bug bites. Yes, I did get it looked at, and it was probably just a mayfly bite. Fun fact! Spider bites usually look like cigarette burns and ooze a bit – at least in New England, where the most common biting spider is the Brown Recluse.
Have a side of puns with your breakfast this morning!
Free Comic Book Day!
Free Comic Book Day!!
Free Comic Book Day!!!
Thinking thoughtful thoughts.
In which I am tired.
My sweet lil’ Leo! He likes to sit on the bookshelf by the window in my studio.
I was at an open mic night at The Freedom Cafe in Durham, NH giving a presentation on my 100 Day Project, and it was really cool! I’m not used to speaking in front of large groups of people, and I was very nervous, but everyone listened and was very kind. All in all, I enjoyed it! If you’re ever in Durham, NH on a Wednesday night during the UNH school year, stop by The Freedom Cafe and check out their Perform for Freedom open mic night! The Freedom Cafe is a donations-based, non-profit cafe that specializes in fair trade tea and coffee, and all proceeds go to organizations that work to end human trafficking and to support survivors of human trafficking. To learn more, visit thefreedomcafe.org!
I like making comics and I like my work-space!
Anxiety surrounding my perfectionism and my procrastination.
The rain was lovely today.
I look really flippin’ cool with my cool kid shades, but when I take them off…not so much.
I took the day off work because I didn’t feel physically or emotionally well, and when my tummy stopped hurting I took my frustration out on yard work. It was very cathartic!
I was asking a coworker friend for advice on how to barrel through days of anxiety or depression in order to get work done, and she said…don’t. She advised me to take care of myself on those days, and come back when I’m well again. It’s nice having friends to validate your feelings.
These are mostly things my “brain demon” tells me. A handful of these are things people have actually said to me, but mostly it’s just my very low self-esteem talking. It’s difficult because I want to pay myself a fair wage for the work I do, but unfortunately not a lot of people want to pay those prices because it’s “just art”.
In which I attempt to defeat procrastination! Don’t give me those puppy eyes, I’ll play video games later!
How to make my favorite minty fruit salad! Aiden and I had a lovely time with friends at their house for a delicious breakfast, and this is what we brought to share.
I have so many books to read. This isn’t a complaint by any means, I’m pleased as punch! I just wish I had more time to work through them all at a reasonable pace.
In which I (unsurprisingly) feel all the feels.
Number 50! And of course I was sick on that day. Go figure!
I may have taken on too many things. I’m sure it’ll be fine! Probably!
Aiden and I visited O Gawa Shou, a Japanese-style inn located in North Granby, CT for our anniversary! It was a much-needed time of rest and relaxation. I highly recommend visiting if you can, it’s so beautiful and relaxing! They even have an onsen fed by natural spring water! The food was amazing, the location was so peaceful, and the owners are super sweet, wonderful people. We can’t wait to go back!
Unfortunately, I got sick during my and Aiden’s anniversary vacation. I wasn’t sick enough to be bedridden, just sick enough to be miserable, as often happens to me.
These things stay with you.
Reading is such an adventure!
Everything in my regular routine seems much harder after a vacation. I don’t know if it’s because I had bronchitis during the vacation and so I didn’t get a proper rest, or if vacations just rid me of all my work stamina. Either way, I was super tired that whole week after coming back.
In which I experience that feeling you get when you’ve used up a round in a resource management game and you realize you could have done twice as much if only you had planned better. Oh well.
I had been feeling that way for the past handful of weeks. The metaphor might not work as well on paper as it had in my head, but I really wanted to draw myself as a Hufflepuff witch! Badger pride!
I need to listen to this me more often.
A breakdown of my stats, RPG style! I forget what method I used to come up with what level Artist I would be, but I swear it made sense in the moment.
Oh boy, it’s panic time!
Aiden is great! Have I mentioned that before? He’s wonderful.
I’ve always found nature to be very soothing for some reason. Whenever I’m stressed out, I like to take walks in green places.
I FINISHED MY PAPER.
In which I definitely, absolutely find an infinite source of productivity that will never, ever leave me!
I didn’t get much done that day.
I was thinking a lot about gender expression around this time. I have a lot of complicated feelings surrounding gender expression and body image. Some days I want to feel pretty and cute, but I look at myself in the mirror and what I see makes me feel like being pretty is impossible. Those days I put on masculine clothes to hide the body that I hate so much. Some days I’m happy to dress masculine because it’s honestly more comfortable and practical than feminine clothing tends to be. I’m happy that it’s often less expensive, better-made, and lower-maintenance. It’s a complicated whirlpool of emotions, and someday I hope I can find peace and acceptance with the body I have.
How I generally dress these days.
I went for a walk, and it was particularly lovely that day.
My mind is a sieve.
It was a grumpy day.
In which I have various internal crises. Art skills, my potential, the future, dream job versus real life, etc. The gang’s all here!
I get really tired of academic research really quickly. I just wanna draw!
A bad day.
I’ve realized I tend to value quality over deadlines, which has got me into trouble now and then. It also partially explains why my 100 Day Project pieces kept backing up. Time management skills are always a work in process for me.
I cried at work today in that weird way that I do when I cry in front of people who are not Aiden. I end up with what’s called “flat affect”, or severely reduced emotional expression, as tears run down my cheeks. It tends to creep people out. I got yelled at a lot as a kid, and one person in particular used to accuse me of crying “crocodile tears” to make them feel bad for yelling at me. I found that I got yelled at less if I was able to keep a straight face and quietly apologize and try to convince them that I wasn’t doing it on purpose.
In which I wrestle with all the hurt in the world and wonder how I can possibly hope to help combat it.
I was really excited to have glasses again! Yes, I received trifocals at 29 years old. My eyes are ridiculously bad. Unbeknownst to me, those glasses would turn out to not work because my eyes were so wonked out at that point.
Aiden called me while I was driving home one day with an interesting and slightly inebriated request from him and our housemate. I couldn’t help but share, it was such a goofy conversation!
In which I get to meet Lucy Bellwood of “100 Demon Dialogues”! She was so nice and fun to talk to! I highly recommend you check out her book, it’s so wonderful and full of all the realest of feels. She was the reason I decided to do my own 100 Day Project, in fact! I’ll always be grateful for that inspiration. I’ve grown so much from this experience!
I’m not very good at taking care of myself. More often than not, I will prioritize productivity over well-being. I forego exercise, I eat like crap or forget to eat entirely (unless Aiden cooks for me), I don’t take breaks for stretching or meditation…and I’m still trying to figure out how to change that.
I finished Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” before drawing this, and it was so freeing to read a book that dares to suggest that maybe God loves everyone, not just the people who fit certain white, straight, cisgender (often cis-male) American Christian molds. I grew up in a very conservative environment, and I wrestled with this God I was presented with: a God loves all people, but who smites with all the pettiness of a Greek deity, and who is totally cool with prejudice against folks that the church decides aren’t acceptable. I couldn’t wrap my head around it – for good reason, it turns out. I’m so glad to have read this book, it’s been incredibly validating. I still don’t know who God is really, but I think I’m interested in finding out, in my own way.
Aiden and I volunteered at the board game convention SHUX in 2018, and we had so much fun! It’s run by the good folks at Shut Up and Sit Down, a fantastic board game news and review company. Take a peek at their work on their website or on YouTube! I should also explain that their mascot is a pear, and volunteers were referred to as “Pearagons”. It was a wonderful week!
In which I start feeling a bit more confident in my work duties.
When I’m feeling sick and I’m working from home, it’s hard to make the decision to call out of work. I was raised to never call out unless I’m basically a corpse, and so I always feel guilty whenever I do call out. However, I’ve been working on being kinder to myself, and a part of that is recognizing when it’s time to rest. I’ve decided that if I’m feeling bad enough that I would be miserable in the office, I should let myself call out when I’m working from home. It’s good to let myself rest.
Reading and relaxing with Aiden is nice.
If you haven’t read Allie Brosh’s “Hyperbole and a Half”, which is where this internet meme originates from, I highly recommend it!
This is a tribute to my Fusion Community Church family, the very best community of kind, loving people. We had a delightful brunch at our pastor’s house, and it was so much fun making food together! I really rely on these wonderful folks quite a lot. This community has helped me grow so much in the past few years, and I am so grateful for their grace and patience. Thank you for all for your love and support, you amazing humans!
I work with so many talented, kind individuals, and it’s really hard to not compare myself to them. I’m sure I have my own skills as well, but it’s harder to see what they are when I’m so focused on my faults.
I had some pretty bad anxiety on this day.
I made some delicious lemonade and I was so pleased with it that I wanted to share the recipe! For a vegan-friendly lemonade, substitute the honey with agave nectar, adjusting the measurement to your taste. I hope you enjoy!
It can be hard, particularly for asexual folks who, like me, grew up in conservative Christian culture that glorified sex as the ultimate bond between a married man and woman. Without that, what am I to my husband? Am I broken somehow? How do I fix myself? Thoughts like that really send me into a tailspin of depression and self-hate. I can’t stress how incredibly wonderful and supportive my husband has been as I figured out my orientation. Aiden is the best, most kind and loving human, and I’m so happy I get to share life with him!
Skyrim was one of the first video games I played and really immersed myself in! It’s still one of my favorites, and I love going back to create new characters and play through the game from scratch. I tend to gravitate towards the race of cat-folk known as Khajit, and I inevitably end up focusing on sneaky, snipery sort of combat. This here is one of my more recent characters named Doh Vah Katie!
I love creating stories with Aiden, it’s so much fun! He has such great ideas and unique perspectives, and I learn a lot by working with him.
Plants! I love having little green buddies. I do my best to take very good care of them so they grow strong and healthy! However…I have not been gifted with a green thumb. Those plants are all definitely dead now.
Walking into the office is like walking into the Negaverse from Sailor Moon. It sucks out all my energy and feeds it to some ancient dark overlord.
Full disclosure, the 100 Day Project had ended by the time I drew this, but what mattered to me was finishing the project itself. I was so proud of myself for sticking to it!
I honestly wasn’t sure I would make it this far when I started the project! I have always had trouble sticking to things because of my low self-esteem, so I’m really proud of myself. It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m so thankful for all the people who encouraged me along the way!