Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Love Languages

I have a friend who is a therapist. He was talking to me vaguely about a married couple who did not speak the same love language and how he was assigning them homework to practice learning the other's language.


So I came home and mentioned it to my daughter. Oh yeah, she knew all about love languages. She'd had to take the test in her CE Life Roles class in high school. She knew her language and what she needed from others to have a working relationship.

Cool beans.

So the hubster and I took the test. My primary love language is touch. His primary love language is Acts of Service. Which is cool, since we both also speak those languages.

After we learned our primary languages, I was able to figure out why he freaked out so much when the kids had to be asked more than once to do chores. He was interpreting that as an "I don't love you enough to do it."  And he realized that a quick hug a day was not nearly good enough for me. A 30 second hug, and maybe an arm around or a hand hold once in a while was much better for my state of mind.

There are two of the languages I don't speak at all: the gifts one. receiving? giving? Gifts is not a big deal to me; I don't much care about them one way or another. The second language that I don't speak is Time Spent. That one makes me shudder and cringe.

My brother and I were on the phone the other day and he mentioned that his language was also touch, but his wife's was Time Spent. I immediately thought, AAAAHH!!  I would not, not, not be able to handle it if my husband had that one.

I love hanging out with friends once in a while, and I don't mind doing the family game night thing. But that's doing the time spent without thinking about it, and without it being hard.

But sitting and talking to my partner because they NEED me to spend time with them? Just for the sake of being there?? Um. I would kill my husband if he were that needy.

Now, that being said, I have a daughter whose love language is time spent. I don't feel like she's needy at all. If she needs time with me, she comes and sits near me and starts a conversation. It doesn't feel like she's leeching my energy, we just discuss stuff.

The note here is that *she* makes the effort to spend that time. Probably because she knows it would never occur to me to do that in the first place.

The whole "Hey, do you want to talk for a bit?" is the dumbest question I can think of being asked.

Talk about what? Because sometimes no, I don't feel like talking. That question makes me nervous and suspicious.

On the other hand "Hey, mom, let me tell you about my day." Or "Hey mom, I have a question." Or me saying, "You look upset, sweety, what happened?"  Those I can do willingly and without issue.

Usually I'm doing something else at the time my daughter comes to find me, so my attention is divided between what she's saying and what I'm doing. This works for both of us unless I hear something that needs my full and complete attention. Then she wins, hands down. Because daughter.

It feels like girl-talk. I can do girl talk with my daughters because I'm their mom, you know?

However, as a married couple, the hubster and I discuss kids, bills, dreams, goals, (the latter two in short spurts) and once in a while have an "i'm feeling this way, how are you feeling about this?" but not often. Because if I talk about something for too long and too deep, he retreats into his "nothing box."

Which is understandable, because once I start talking it's pretty darn hard to make me stop.

Which is why I have girl friends. I can do Time Spent with them just fine because it's not like I think about it when we're hanging out. But to talk to my husband for that length of time about all the different subjects we girls bounce around? Um... no. In fact, I'm pretty sure he'd stop listening after about five minutes.

I just... wow. I cannot fathom the amount of work and patience it would take to have a marital relationship with someone who needed Time Spent. Pretty sure we'd be divorced by now.

I guess that makes me selfish. And I guess that's why I didn't marry into that. I am too lazy make a conscious effort to learn that particular language to make my marriage work, and I'm so glad I don't have to.

We did have fun on our road trip to Phoenix. But I mostly read out loud to him, so...

Anyway, massive respect to those who not only speak the language, but those who willingly learn it to make things work.

In my opinion, that's got to be the hardest love language.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Affair With Apostraphes and Commas

Why do I write?

I write because I dream in vivid colors, swimming in the new, the odd, and the real. I write because I can feel and see things through my artist eyes that cannot be expressed in any other way than the power of feelings conveyed by words.

There is an essential part of me that longs for communication and understanding on a deep level. I want to be understood. I want to share my hopes, my visions of the beauty, the strange, and the twistedly weird.

Before my mental illness, I wrote for entertainment and for the experience of living in another world, time, and space for a few hours at a time. I wrote because I loved reading it over and over, caught up in stories and ideas that compelled and pulled at me, begging to be set down.

Now I write to purge the thoughts that plague me. The thoughts come in endless streams, disjointed yet related. I write in long run-on sentences, using too many commas because it's where I stop to breathe, but not where the thought ends. I write in incomplete sentences. Because impact.

I write because I enjoy finding connections and seeing where they lead, so the words 'and', 'but' and 'therefore' find their way into my typing more often than they should.

As I type there is a freedom, an escape from the cage that is now my head. Feelings escape and there is a lightness, a movement that I cannot find in the daily activities that I now have to force myself to do.

There is much lost in the translation from mind to fingers. My pinky is in love with that apostraphe and will possessify or contract anything that ends in S unless I enforce extreme discipline or go back and proof read. Not once, not twice, but sometimes ten times over. Its turns to it's whether I want it to or not. That finger demands to be used. That finger has a mind of it's own and I lack in catching all the errors.

But it is sometimes the errors that make writing what it is. Error is as much a part of me as is the blood flowing through my veins. It may not stain the page rust colored when 'there' comes out instead of 'their' or 'they're' - even though I *do* know the difference.  But the flaw is stil there, innate, beautiful in its own way. Annoying in its constancy.

Unfinished thoughts and words leak in as well. Words that have no meaning. The word Bear appears on the screen when I meant Table because the logic and intellect that once managed such things is damaged.

I write because imperfections must come out, whether in poetry or discourse. Thoughts rot and canker, spoiling everything around them when left to simmer in a rage unexpressed.

Words are cathartic, powerful emotions that I cannot deal with when bouncing inside my head from ear to ear, thought to thought, playing on the tides of my chemical imbalances like dolphins on the wake of a speedboat. Words keep me awake at night until I let them out.

I write because I want to be heard.

Thank you, Chuck Wendig, for this week's writing prompt. :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Snow White and the tldr Huntsman

I love fairy tales, so I was excited about the possibilities of "Snow White and the Huntsman" when it came out. I paid full price to see it in a theater and bought the blue-ray/dvd pack for $5 on Black Friday back in 2012. Then didn't open it until this morning to re-watch it (three years later.)

The movie intrigued me. Not because I thought the movie was particularly well made, but because it had enough plot holes and missing bits that I was sure it *had* to be an adaptation from a book.

I spent hours online searching for a book about Snow White that would have inspired the movie. Now, either I don't have the right kind of google-fu, or the screenwriter and/or director left the plot holes and inconsistencies in the finished film on purpose thinking they were being clever.

*stares confusedly at Hollywood*

I did find some decent fan-fic while hunting. Most of it was better written than the script. And of course some of it read as if maybe that particular wannabe author really had written the screenplay. *cough*


I re-watched this movie last night, er, early this morning, thinking that I haaaaad to be remembering bits of the story incorrectly. Yup, I sure was, but my memory had sugar coated quite a few things.

At 5:30 a.m. I found myself wishing I'd made popcorn to throw at the screen when Snow began her "writhing iron" inspiration speech that made men in the movie cheer (because they were *paid* to cheer) and men watching the movie groan in pain. It inspired me to hit the mute button.

-- I think Writhing Iron will be the name of the my next band. --

tl;dr - the bits I question and snark about because they got the story ALL WRONG!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Child's Wish List

Some things in life hurt. It's especially hard for me when things that hurt me when I was young are amplified ten times or more for other children. This list makes my heart break.

A friend of mine posted this on facebook yesterday, a copy of a wish list from a foster child in Oklahoma.

I read this and was amazed that with a few exceptions, this list could have been mine from childhood. While inducing tears, it also made me extremely grateful for the good things I did have as a child.

* Love. My mother loved us unconditionally
* A Drug/Alcohol free home
* We had soap, and I remember having a toothbrush--sometimes?
* I don't recall ever getting head lice or having cockroaches. 

Everything else, well... yeah. Food and water -- I could tell you stories about my mother hauling 5-gallon buckets of water from neighbors houses to use for cooking/drinking when ours was shut off. Or the heat being shut off in the middle of a Wyoming Winter. 

I don't want to talk about my toys and our (my brothers and my) games being sold. Those memories kind of suck.

Nice shoes and nice clothes were a fantasy. Especially nice shoes. My brothers all needed shoes sooooo badly. I had better luck with the hand-me-downs because other girls' things tended to last longer than my girl things (because I wore my stuff out just as fast as my brothers.) Boys are harder on clothes, period, though, so even their hand-me-downs were already worn through. It's not like we were picky, though. We'd wear what we had, because it's what we had, even if the soles of our shoes flapped around like we were our own drum line.

By the time I was 12, I gave up on the idea of trying to be feminine. I didn't own any church shoes, so I became very vocal about refusing to be girlie or attempting to be feminine - you know, by NOT wearing things like nylons or pumps or whatever cute things the girls were wearing in the mid-80's. My grandmother had made some nice dresses, but I paired them with the first socks I could find (mated or not) and the pair of  shoes I owned - usually a pair of ugly black sneakers.  -- I mean UUUUUGGGLY.

It's an interesting thing, what we come up with as coping mechanisms to deal with the perceived judgments of others.
-- You're gonna look at me and sniff because of my shoes? yeah, well, I don't *want* to look like wimpy girly you and your sore feet and uncomfortable nylons. If I'm gonna sit here for three hours, I'm at least going to be comfortable. So there.--

I wasn't in the foster system. I know for a fact that I have not had a life as hard as most of theirs has been. But my childhood had it's own special brand of hellish that instilled empathy for anyone who writes a list like this.

Here I am, thirty years later, sitting in front of a nice computer in a clean home with sheets on the beds, paid utilitites, and a healthy mix of new and hand-me-down clothes in everyone's closet. 

I am extremely proud of my brothers and who they have grown up to be. One has a Ph.D. in Engineering, One owns his own business. One works hard at a good job that is an hour's drive from his home and family. They each grew up to be good and caring men. They each served honorable missions. They are each wonderful, fun, and just as imperfect as the rest of us. But they grew from where they came from. I wish everyone could see it. Not everyone does, nor does everyone give them credit for being who they are when things could have turned out so much worse.

I am somewhat biased when it comes to my brothers, yes. We survived. We more than survived, we grew from what we endured. And we all respect and love our mother for everything she sacrificed and endured for and with us. She went without food more than we did. She... was amazing.

I cannot say that I am as accomplished as my brothers. I do have my degree, and I maintained a 3.86 gpa (with kids and while pregnant with kids). I climbed my way up the corporate ladder and could be working in a much higher position in the hotel industry if I had chosen to stay in that field. I chose mommyhood instead.

All of that aside, I will only feel like I have truly accomplished something with my life when none of my children ever, ever, ever have to write a list like the one above.

Even better, if I can help another child remove something from that list.

I have limitations with service, yes. More now than ever before, but still there are things I *can* do:

* Love people. Truly. So they see it in my eyes when I smile at them.
* drop a surprise box of groceries on someone's porch. (This one is my favorite. My husband and I love this particular act of service)

I know this is a wandering kind of post with no real thesis or aim, just rambling thoughts. So I may as well end here.

I feel hopeful.

I feel sad for those poor children out there that I can't bring into my home because I am not mentally capable of handling them right now.

I want to be able to mother them all. I am so very proud and supportive of a friend of mine who is a foster parent.

I want to ask everyone to please share the love. Just feel it, share it, and don't overlook those poor kids out there who need someone to love them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Where I'm At

Regression is hard. I know it's part of life, but it's a sucky part.

Let me start with the good things.

* I get to go play D&D with my guy friends on Saturdays. We laugh, we're silly, it's a good time. They don't care if I don't remember the rules. A couple understand my struggles completely. It's relaxing and recharging.

* Sunday evenings I go play games with another set of friends. We laugh, we're silly, and a good time is had by all.

* I have a lot of friends and family who are very supportive, whether I'm in a good place or a bad place.

* I have a great doctor who keeps tabs on me when I'm not doing great. He's supportive of my alternative supplements as well as being willing to tweak my meds as needed. He introduced me to, a great place to get coupons and less expensive prescriptions when you don't have insurance. "I don't get any kickbacks from this. Another patient of mine showed me this site, and I've been sharing it with patients ever since."  I love my psychiatrist.

* My husband is currently home all the time, and frankly that's a good thing currently. I'm not all that sure that I should be left alone right now.


And here are my stressors:

* My birthday happened. It was extremely extremely bad this year. I think mostly because I don't want another year like last year, but regardless, it sent me into this tailspin that I haven't been able to pull myself out of.

* My husband is out of work, and I'm a little worried about our ability to continue paying rent.

* Both of my favorite family reunions are at the exact same time this year. Not only that, but as much as I want to go, I don't think that I can handle being around all those people.  -- And my husband's immediate family reunion isn't nearly as many people as my extended family reunion. It makes me feel weak and stupid to dread the idea of going. Even though everyone is very loving, supportive, sweet, and caring. I just... don't feel like I can.  And this makes me extra sad because I LOVE Bear Lake.

* My doctor changed my meds last week. I'm now on 300mg of Effexor a day. I have had really great results with this medicine, but every change in the dosage makes me sick. If I don't eat when I take my meds, I feel like I have the flu. The rest of the time, I just feel icky, nauseated, or dizzy. Sometimes I'm okay, but mostly I feel sick. And being sick makes me grumpy.

* I am tired ALL the time. I get up around 11 a.m. after 9 hours of sleep and try to do something with my kids or be productive. After about an hour, I cannot keep my eyes open and end up falling asleep wherever I'm at and have to put myself to bed for another couple of hours.

* My motivation and energy levels are GONE. There is an entire list of things around the house that I want to do. Really want to do, honest. But I just can't drum up the energy or care enough to do them.
  - i.e. fold and put away my laundry. I'd kind of like to be able to vacuum that part of my room. Not only that, but when my room is clean, I feel like I can breathe better.
  - mop my upstairs floors. I just want my house to smell clean.
  - dust. Usually I love to dust, and it's not a hard thing for me to do. Now I look at my game chest, my piano and all the other shelves and think, "I want to dust that." And I can't summon the energy to go get a rag and do it.

* My right wrist and thumb are sprained. I was in a great creative space before I sprained them, and now I'm extremely discouraged that it hurts to move a pencil around. Well, it hurts to do quite a few things I'm used to doing with my right hand, but not being able to draw SUCKS.

* I went to the temple to go to my cousin's wedding a couple weeks ago and had a massive, I'm talking MASSIVE panic attack. I had to do breathing exercises, some kind of tapping/relaxation thing, and pop a xanex.  I had to leave the wedding breakfast early because the anxiety was still bad.  Going to the temple is supposed to be relaxing, recharging, and comforting. Instead, it made me want to go home. home home. Badly.


Here are the things that my doctor and other friends have suggested or 'prescribed' to help:

* exercise daily.
* Fish Oil and B vitamin supplements
* Iodine supplements
* Every day get up, get dressed, do my hair and make-up, and look like I'm ready to go out and face the world.

I would like to note that these things listed are not 'shoulds.'  These aren't things that are like another list of things to feel guilty about.  These are things that if I do them, I really do feel better. They are, my case, needs.

Except sometimes I can't make myself exercise. I have no energy. Or I'm too sick. And that just is how it  is. No guilt, just a thing on my list to do when I *can* do it.

The vitamins and other supplements are also things I take when I can keep them down.

The getting dressed and doing my hair is easier. With my new haircut, I *Have* to do it daily or it looks really crazy. Some eyeliner and some earrings, done. This one I can do just because I prefer to like what I see when I look in a mirror.

Sitting outside, whether in the front during a rainstorm or out back to cuddle with the dogs. I see all the yardwork I should be doing, but it is healthy for me to feel the sun on my skin, the grass between my toes, and the strength of the trees.


On a religious/spiritual front, I am doing:

* Church on Sundays. I can get through sacrament meeting now with no problems as long as I'm sitting in the back. Of course, with the revival of my anxiety it's not as easy as it was before June 18, but I can at least make it through the first two meetings without stress. The third meeting is harder.

* I play the scriptures out loud when I'm going to bed. For those of you who fall asleep immediately, that probably makes no sense. But when you're me and it takes an hour or so to fall asleep, I actually hear at least three or four chapters before I fade out.

* Prayer. A lot of it. I still feel weak. I know I'm not alone, but oh my goodness do I feel weak.


Truthfully, it is extremely to want to keep going right now. I feel like I'm slogging through mud.

It's wonderful when my son comes and jumps up on me and cuddles. I kiss his face and neck, he giggles, then runs off to build or play toys. He sings and keeps up constant conversation as he bounces from thing to thing around the house before jumping back up on me and getting more kisses and hugs.

Now, all this being said, I don't have a plan. So while part of me might want to jump off that cliff, I can't. I won't. It's just... hard right now. It's hard to want to keep fighting.

It's hard to wake up and face another day of no energy and sick and not be able to go visit friends or go for a decent walk around my neighborhood.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

You're the oldest

"Christine, you're the oldest grandchild, so you need to get good grades to set an example for your cousins."

"Christine, you're the oldest grandchild, so you need to go to church and read your scriptures to set an example for your cousins."

"Christine! You know better than that! You need to set a better example for your brothers."

"I'm stepping out for a bit, keep an eye on your brother's will you?"

"I expected more from you, you're the oldest."

Normally, these lines from my childhood don't bother me. In fact, I purposely didn't get excellent grades in high school because I *didn't* want to be valedictorian like my aunt.  Nor did I want to be the example for all of my cousins.  -- some of which are the same age as my daughters, and have no idea I'm their cousin and not their aunt, or even how we're related.

I have said the same thing to my oldest daughter. I did expect her to learn how to be nice to her younger siblings. And I tried to remember that younger siblings are GREAT at getting the big sister in trouble.

I still remember my younger brother getting picked up and patted on the back by my mother, while he gave me a smug grin over her shoulder and stuck his tongue out at me. I don't remember what happened, but I remember feeling frustrated that I was the one in trouble when he was the one responsible.

99% of the time, these things make me laugh. Because they're things parents and grandparents say to the oldest. Through personal experience, I have discovered that the oldest child is the one parents make most of their mistakes with.   ...  well.... I make *different* mistakes with my younger kids.

Today, however, was not one of my better days. I'm still really struggling with the depression, with the change in my meds and how sick it makes me, and with anger I can't explain. And with that negative tape that runs, came all of these lines from my childhood.

But the funny thing is, that instead of feeling like a failure to my cousins and brothers, I felt super proud of them for who they've all grown up to be. I have amazing brothers. I have amazing cousins. I am extremely grateful that I can say they're related to me. Maybe they learned from my poor choices? Maybe they learned from my experiences? Or maybe they're just innately smarter than me?

Or -- and more likely -- I had nothing to do with how they grew up, they just grew up and did their thing according to how they'd been taught and what they thought was right.

It doesn't mean I don't have guilt for putting that pressure on my oldest child. It doesn't mean I don't have guilt for the stupid things I did as a big sister or as the oldest cousin to the cousins who do remember me. Well... hmm. Not guilt, exactly. Those things are so long ago, and I've dealt with all of that, so it's not exactly guild. More... a type of regret? I don't know how to describe it.

It occupied my thought process for about an hour, though, so it meant something.

Maybe I'm hoping that as a mother I'm still trying to set a good example? Maybe because I will be a grandmother in a few months that I'm worried about putting that same pressure on a grandchild?  I hope not. When I was little I thought it ridiculous that I would have an influence on my cousins. I still think that's ridiculous today. I do have relationships with my cousins, but I feel it's one of respect and as peers, not oldest to youngest. I certainly don't know best, nor am I the boss of anyone.  I'm pretty sure I stopped bossing my brothers around when I got married and moved out. At least, I hope so?

Blah. I don't have enough processing power to analyze this further. It was there. It happened. I assume it happens to most oldest children. I don't think it's horrible or awful, nor do I think my parents or grandparents shouldn't have said it. I do think if I held onto it for years and resented them, that would be my problem, not theirs. And I think that in some ways it made me consider the realities of life. That there are consequences to things I choose that I can't see or that don't affect me directly.

People are always watching. That is the truth. Whether because they look up to you and you don't know it, or because they haven't decided yet whether they like you or not. Or they're just curious. I know, because I do it.

And oldest or not, I think that what I heard as a child helped me be aware of how others felt, how one thing affects others.

Not that I always remember that... ha! I sure wish I did. But overall, I think it helped make me a better person. Be a good example. I know I don't succeed at that a lot, but I think by keeping that in mind, it's made me a better person than I would be otherwise.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Needing Help vs Wanting Help

My daughter has a friend, who for the sake of anonymity we'll call... um... Suzi. Sure, that works.

Suzi has suffered from some form of depression since I've known her as a junior in high school. I don't know if this has ever been treated by a doctor or otherwise diagnosed by some form of professional. Judging by what I have seen of her personality, I would guess bi-polar, but I am certainly no expert. To date, Suzi has had two failed attempted suicides, but no visit to a psyche ward, and as far as I know, no medication.

Last night, Suzi came to visit my daughter. Suzi's mother isn't speaking to her because she doesn't approve of some of Suzi's lifestyle choices. Also, she told my daughter that she had found a way to numb the constant sadness: Percocet.  She'd had a bottle of 36 pills and had five left. After a week.

My daughter, having had to live with me and my struggles the past couple of years, asked some questions.

"Maybe you should go see a psychiatrist?"
"No! They'll lock me up in a white room, with a white gown, and feed me white food."
"No, it's not like that. I went to visit my mom in the psyche ward, it's not like that."
"Well I have friends who've been there, it's like that, I'm NOT talking to a psychiatrist."

So she tried another route:

"Maybe you should come in and talk to my mom. She knows how you're feeling, she can probably help."
"No, I don't need to talk to your mom. I don't need help. I've figured out how to help myself. I'm fine."

So she came to talk to me.

"Mom, how can I help her? She doesn't want my help and she doesn't listen."

I'm not a therapist, but the way I see it is either:  A - we report them for illegal use of a prescription drug, they get put in jail or I pull some strings and have them put in a psyche ward for detox. They don't want to be there, they don't think they need to be there. They smile and nod and do what they have to do to get out, and then go back to their life, one friend less, and still make the same choices.

B - We love her, we continue to try to point out where professional help would be effective, we try to be there without being taken advantage of. And in a rose-colored world, they'd see the light, realize they need help, then WANT the help, and then get it.

B doesn't happen often.

In 28 Days, Sandra Bullock's character didn't want to be in rehab. Thought it was stupid, that she had her life under control, and that the rules for everyday normal people didn't apply to her. And then things happened to her in rehab that caused her to have a change of heart, have some serious introspection, and take a good honest look at the world and people around her. By the time she got out of rehab, she *wanted* the help.

therapy, advice, meds, whatever, they are all available, but they aren't half as effective as they could be if the person being subjected to them either doesn't want them, or doesn't believe they'll help.

A psychiatrist can get the med combination 100% perfect, and it won't do a damn thing if the person is convinced their life sucks, nothing ever goes their way, it's not going to work out, so why bother trying. If it's not worth trying, they're not even going to see the great things around them even when their mood does lift.

A psychiatrist can get the med combination partly right and a person who wants help will notice a difference immediately (Or if not capable, their family will notice) and communicate back and forth with the doc about what's working and what's not.

Depression changes thought processes, so part of being on meds is working to change those negative trains of thought into positive ones. Or if that's not possible, then learn to recognize the rhetoric and de-rail it with something else. If a person isn't willing to examine their thought process, the meds can't do a whole lot to help them, either. Meds can do a little, but meds cannot and will not do the actual thinking for you.

People who WANT help, will find it. People who don't want help but need it, then have it thrown at them, won't be grateful for it. While it might keep them safe and out of jail, they won't truly get better until they want to. That's just how it is.

All that being said, you don't magically heal and get better from depression. you know that, right? But the helps, the coping skills, the meds, the advice, the small things friends  can do, all of that helps and matters. All of that helps dealing with the illness *easier*

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Recent Art Project

I'll just preface this with a disclaimer:  My first time working with a dremel. This piece is far from perfect and my design instructors would cringe. I couldn't figure out how to get the polycrylic to NOT goop up in the knotwork, so... I kind of want to just hide this in the closet and chalk it up to practice. So maybe it's a good thing he wouldn't come get it today.

Laying down the gridwork and learning how to do celtic knots. My very first time doing celtic knots.
I looked at a lot of tutorials. Threw in some steampunk gears for fun.

Finalized the knotwork, added the raven, and decided on a lunar theme for the top

Starting to dremel. This took hours. and hours. and hours. A - because I was learning to dremel as I went, B - because I was trying to figure out which bit worked best, and C - Because there's a lot of work to do.

At this point, I took it down to my father-in-law's house and we routed the edges. It was also at this point that I decided it was in the best interest of my elbow, thumb and forefinger to only dremel the knotwork.

Onward to the next stage:

Sanded, stained, and raven outlines inked in. The raven looked like a chicken at first, and I was mortified. 

Inked in gears and added the lunar phases

Finished. Knotwork painted so it stands out, gears highlighted, raven done. The zeppelin specs were not part of the original idea, but the feather pen I painted on looked terrible. I probably should have darkened the ink on the specs and weathered the edges to make it fit in better.  The raven was done with Acrylics over the ink.
I hope you can pardon the poor photographs, but I committed art!  Poorly, but it got me through yesterday, so that counts to me for something pretty big.

-- Do you know how many layers of yellow India ink it takes to actually make something look yellow instead of the color of whatever was under it? At least six. I kept inking and inking and inking until it looked yellow instead of brownish green. Note to self: In the future put a white background under anything I want to ink yellow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I am what I am

I *HAVE* BiPolar Type 2, Depression, and Anxiety.

I *AM* an Artist.
I am a Mother
I am a Friend, Lover, Sister, Aunt, Grandchild, Daughter

I am me.

I am not my illness, nor does it define me. It is something I have to deal with constantly. It is something that I have not completely figured out how to control.

This illness has changed my life, yes. I used to be able to row my boat, listen to the spiritual guidance, and -- haha -- argue with the Lord about where I was going, but I knew how my oars worked, I knew how the boat handled the eddies and rapids, and I felt confident that I could handle any further things my river had to throw at me.

And then I went over a waterfall. When I surfaced, I had to find a new boat - it feels like I had to make it myself, but I know I've had help. I have new oars, and this stretch of river that I'm on has hidden rapids, whirlpools, and very strong undercurrents that I don't know how to navigate anymore.

I've fallen out of the boat a couple of times. And I'm not the one steering. It's extremely difficult for me to ride this river of faith and not know where I'm going or if my boat has leaks because I'm an imperfect builder.

I'm readjusting to how my oars work. How the boat handles and knowing when to adjust course for the dangers and rapids that I can see is very tricky for me, and I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet.

However, the soul of me, my essence, is still here in the boat, determined to make it to the ocean so I can dance on the beach. I just have to re-learn some of my essentials.

Some days, like today, it seems extremely difficult to row. There are some things that hurt too much. Last night it seemed almost easier to let the current take me into the rocks. Not that I considered that option for longer than a half second. I'm too stubborn for that, and I really don't want to capsize again.

I am not my illness.

I am still here.

I dream vivdly, I love deeply, I play enthusiastically, and laugh loudly.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I love books, I do, but really? REALLY???

I have spent most of my life with my nose buried in books. For the most part, I love sci-fi/fantasy. I love to lose myself in stories and imagine I'm one of the starship smugglers or heroines on horseback saving the day with magic and thunder.

I also love some classics, like To Kill A Mockingbird, 1984, For Those I Loved, and Fahrenheit 451. I also enjoy plays from the Theatre of the Absurd genre. I especially love Equus with its mix of vivid history and strange.

Overall, my taste in literature runs on the odd side with some 'normal' stuff thrown in for color.

The last couple of years as I've been battling depression, I have primarily been reading romance novels. Fluffy and predictable, I don't much care about the plot or the setting. I'm guaranteed a happy ending and some feels along the way, which is important when things are so bad that I can't feel anything.

During this phase, I have purchased quite a few e-books. Most are SFF that I've shelved for when I will have the brain power to be able to think enough to enjoy the ride, the world, and the characters.

See authors??  I'm a reader. I LOVE books. I love stories. I love fun new ideas, new takes on old ideas, dreams, visions, and strange. I WANT you to take me to these places you dream about. I'd love to know about these worlds you spend months or years building.


Last night I tried to read some. It annoyed me. I'm talking crazy ANNOYED. Now, either I'm not in a place where reading is enjoyable, or these authors seriously need to pay good money to decent content and line editors. I fell back on Ole Reliable and tried some of the romance novels I had shelved for a rainy day. Those just irritated me even more.

Dammit, people, I want real dialogue. Read your freaking paragraphs OUT LOUD and see if those are words that would honestly and truly come out of your mouth.

Oh, and this is a personal preference, but STOP, for the love of Helvetica, writing in first person present tense. Unless you are Howard Tayler, don't do it. Just don't. You know that saying, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should?"  Yeah, most of you can't, so quit it.

First person is cool if it's past tense and you don't give me every stupid thought and every teensy memory of every last thing they see. I want to smack half of you with a frying pan, because if you tell me something once, I promise, I know how that character feels. Reactions to future things are understandable, as long as you don't rehash the old event every. single. time. grrrrrrr

If your character is a detective? Or the victim of a crime? Can you NOT be so obvious with the foreshadowing?  Can your character NOT know every last thing or have relatives or friends who have all these secret powers save the day? Or, contrarily, can your victim not be a complete airhead? The cops told them to stay where they're safe because the bad guy is ON THE STREET RIGHT THERE. So they take off running anyway? Seriously???

Oh, and fight scenes, folks. I love them, I do. A good testosterone moment or cat fight is pretty cool. However, I do not need a blow by blow account of every single fight. I get it. They whack each other. You can tell me some super cool moves, that's fine, but please, PLEAAASE, no five page fight scenes. I *will* skim and I will resent you for it. Unless you're Larry Correia, because he knows how to do fights that move the story forward and HELL YEAH, they are fun.

Yoo Hooo! Oh you lovey dovey Romance novelists? OMG do I have some rants for you folks. >:(

A - If you're going to open with a smexy hot scene, for crying out loud make it freaking believable. Having the awe inspiring double rainbow is all fine and dandy, you know, whatever, that's par for the course. But then immediately AFTER the guy has professed his love and she's thought he's THE ONE because angels sang and the heavens opened, one of them just says 'bye, it's been fun'??  Within two seconds of all the professions of "I'll love you forever"? Yeah, no. NO.

If the guy is an ass, then the sex would be quick and dirty, ***AND*** he'd have said all the sappy stuff to begin with. He would not have ended with it. I kid you not. They use that to get you IN bed, not out of it.

If he's a good guy and just leaves, it won't be immediately after the 'how can I live without this' moment. It just won't. Because he's a good guy. He'd obviously want to make the moment last forever before his incredibly good reason for taking off drives him away without an explanation or a note. Give the guy at least a few hours.

Even better? Don't open with the smexy hot scene, kay? Chances are it's not as hot as you think it is.

B- If you want to open with an 'ouchie my favorite person ever in the whole wide world left me high and dry' then use your brains and do it the right way. Don't start with the leaving scene. blech. And THEN, after ten years, the character may not have found someone else, sure, but I guarantee by then they wouldn't be all mopey and pining. If they are still crying over it, oh honey. I will throw that book at the wall and wish the character a horrible death.

C- There is more fun to it if you actually make me, your reader, feel the tension between the characters BEFORE you get to the all the rainbows and sweaty life changing moments. You know that's part of the fun with real life, right? Sometimes that's even better than the actual sweaty bit. And hey, if there's a one night stand with consequences, then STILL build up the tension before that problem is resolved. Let's be real here; there are gonna be issues to work out even if there is still some attraction.

D- Let's talk about vampires for a minute, mmkay? Most of your readers, in fact about 99% of them, know and understand vampires. Most of your readers have that same love and fear of vampires that you the writer do. If your breed of undead are different, do NOT spend pages and pages describing why and how and what. I don't care; I really don't. Give it to me in bits. I'm not even kidding.

If I read one more cafe scene where the 'in the know' character sits and explains for two hours to the 'wtf just happened' character how cool and scary these different monster are, I guarantee I'm not reading any further. Instead, it simply convinces me the author likes to hear themselves talk.

E- Anger. Yeah, I'm angry as I write this, but what's worse is when the main guy is *always* angry at the girl. Oh sure, from his point of view, he's angry with himself because he's attracted to her. And that's an excuse to take it out on her?? Trust me, there's a huge difference between being professional and being rude. From her/my point of view the guy is an ass and she's an idiot for not leaving the job or changing whatever situation she's in that requires her to be around him.

Or Are you secretly marketing the story as a BDSM? Because if so, you might want to change your freaking blurb. And also if that's the case, trust me sweety, your bedroom scenes need some massive changes. As well as the character interaction.

If you really think anger makes awesome romance tension, listen up. As someone who's married to a constantly grumpy angry dude, let me tell ya, it's not sexy and it's not a turn-on. In fact, it's a really great way to drive someone far, far, far away. K? This means that if your hero is upset with himself and is then rude to someone he likes, you MAKE THE JERK APOLOGIZE. Otherwise I want to destroy the book with fire. Lots and lots of fire. -- except that would ruin my laptop.

I swear, these authors should just let me beta read their stories. I could cut out half the crap they're throwing in that is stupid, poorly written, and completely irrelevant. THEN they can let real editors do the final polishing.