Saturday, March 28, 2015

#JustToday

The winter has been harsh. It's been cold, and gray, and unpleasant for everyone. Spring is breaking, but... so are people. Did you know that April & May, statistically, are the highest suicide months of the year? Most people assume it's the middle of winter, the Holidays, things that remind them of being alone. But it's the spring, the end of winter, and birth of a new season that seems to bring a tragic end to so many lives. But, why? What is the rationale behind this?

Some studies claim that maximum peak sunlight during the spring season trigger a psychological effect causing people to lose their will to live. There's a theory, or at least hypothesis, that suicide is more likely during an intermediate phase as depression abates. When depression is "over" people generally feel an incentive to live. But when depression is at a maximum people also are not likely to commit suicide because of extreme lethargy, lack of ability to focus on a suicide plan, and so on. Obviously these factors depend on the individual kind and depth of depression. In any event, in the intermediate phase between these two times there is plenty of energy and ability to focus. And the person may not be optimistic or patient for continued recovery as they "should" be.

Hence the "counter-intuitive" pattern. And it would fit in well with seasonal change for those affected by it.><

"APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain."

— T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

There has been another loss. As my friend Cheryl is going through her grief, another family is mourning the loss of a loved one. A co-worker, but albeit, not a close co-worker, committed suicide this week. I've spoke with him on many occasions over the years, but never had the opportunity to meet him in person. There are 10 divisions where I work, and he was stationed in Florida. My first instinct is to question why, and what would drive a person to do this.

But, unfortunately I know that answer. Maybe, all too well.

At some time in a persons life, the thought of ending it all crosses our minds. For some, it's just a fleeting thought that is quickly brushed away, and is not thought of again. For others, especially those that by psychology standards are "damaged" - consider this notion quite frequently. It's methodical, and planned. Some just use the thought and the planning process as their means of deflating - then there are those that set the plan in motion. Below, this is something I have never shared publicly.

Somewhere between theatre class and finding out that the person who sexually abused me my entire childhood had died - a part of me died inside. I wasn't sad that this person had passed away. I was more angry that I never had justice, or even the support of people who were supposed to protect me before this persons death. I harbored a lot of anger, and resentment - and that resentment came out in very ugly, and destructive ways. For years before my "break down" I was what people call a self injurer. Self injury, for me, was not about killing myself. It was an unhealthy way for me to escape emotional trauma that I was not able to handle. Physical pain was easier to deal with than the war that was going on inside my head over what I had lived through, the consequences of speaking out about the abuse, and the aftermath of living with the belief that I single-handedly destroyed my family unit - creating a world where I was the bad guy, not the person who was actually responsible for years of terror and hell in my life.

I have also lived the last 20 years of my life believing I should not ever discuss this out loud with anyone because it would be shameful and throw a bad light on my family.

Not talking about this - Not bringing to light the events in my life that have so deeply scarred me in ways I can't begin to describe - is exactly what led to my decision to stop everything at 19.

Now, let me be clear about something. My family loves me to the moon and back. They never MEANT to hurt me, they never INTENTIONALLY tried to hurt me or make me feel like I was not a victim in this. It has, however, taken me years to come to peace with that. At 19, I wasn't ready to make nice. I wasn't ready for making peace. I was angry. I was volatile. I was destructive. And I was in pain. And I just wanted it all to STOP.

I don't remember what I did.

What I remember is making a choice. I remember that choice was: I am done with this life. I am ok with being done with this life. I love my family, but I need to do this for me, to be at peace.

Everything after that is a blur. I remember my parents getting me from college. I remember being admitted to Dartmouth Hitchcock medical center for a psychotic break. I remember being on suicide watch - and having my shoe laces, nail clippers, and every other item they deemed dangerous taken away from me. I remember having to check in every 15 minutes with the receptionist to ensure I was still alive. I remember a team of doctors coming in to my room with interns, and asking me if it was ok that the interns observe our "meeting". I remember writing in my journal - poetry mostly - about death, about life, about living in pain. In that time, I was misdiagnosed as having boarder line personality disorder, along with depression and anxiety issues. When I was 22, I was correctly diagnosed with D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder). I was placed on Risperdol, Clonapin, and Celexa. And in all honesty, they made me feel disconnected and zombie like.

After being released from the hospital, I went through group therapy. The people I met while there, were incredible. There was one girl in particular - that I connected with the most. She was one of the saddest people I've ever met, but one of the most beautiful people - inside and out. She didn't think so. She had a hard life. Then there were the people who were there because they were forced to be there. The people who chose to harden themselves.

When I was 19, I wanted to die.

I no longer feel that way about myself. I am grateful that I came through that period in my life. I don't know that I will ever be "over" what I lived through. I don't think someone really recovers from that. I still struggle with depression, which ranges from not dealing fully with my past, to weight & self image issues, as well as severe anxiety. But, it's manageable. And I feel that life is worth living every deliriously happy, and painfully sad moment.

Without great grief, there can not be great joy.

I chose to live every moment. And I don't regret a thing.

But I do feel that there needs to be more people lighting up the dark. There needs to be more support and awareness for suicide, and depression, and anxiety disorders. Sometimes the people who smile the brightest are in the darkest of places. Be a beacon for people. Be a person that someone can come to and say "I am in pain, and I need help".

I can't say enough good things about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I've used this in the past, and they are there to help, not judge. If you or someone you know needs help, please, give them the information for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - it's safe, it's confidential, and it can save a life.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Friday, March 20, 2015

Coffee

Who doesn't love a good cup of coffee? I know that I certainly do, but rarely have the opportunity to make myself a good, strong, perfectly smooth cup of coffee. I drink the coffee that's made, where ever I may be. Admittedly, if I were to suddenly stop drinking coffee, I'm pretty sure I would feel as if I were growing a brain tumor from caffeine withdrawal.

Today, I hobbled into my kitchen and made myself a cup of strong, bold, beautiful, frothy, creamy cappuccino. I. Am. In. Heaven. It really isn't rocket science to make - it just takes time, and patience.

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I have one of those really fine mesh strainers for loose tea leaves that I use for this. I fill that with 3 or 4 heaping tablespoons of a good brand strong coffee into the strainer. Boil 1/2 cup of water, and pour into a coffee mug. Gently place the mesh strainer directly into the coffee mug, and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes (depending on how strong you like your coffee). In a small heavy bottom pot, steam 3/4 cup of milk. Once steamed, what I do is put it in one of my magic bullet cups with the whipping blade, a pinch of cinnamon, and I whip the crap of it until it makes foam. Remove the mesh strainer from the coffee cup, and pour in your steamed milk and foam on top. If you like sweet coffee, you can add a tablespoon of sugar before adding the steamed milk.

This is so so so good. And you don't need to spend $7.00 at a fancy schmancy coffee house to get a great cup of coffee.

Among making fabulous coffee, I also cleaned out our little 4' x 4' foyer entry area. OMG it was disgusting. Apparently we haven't ever moved anything in there in... years? Why am I admitting this on my blog... good grief. Well, after sweeping up 2 lbs of dirt, cob webs, and throwing away a bunch of useless crap - I found, I have another bag (at least) of useless crap to go through still. How does all this stuff fit into one tiny space?? I have too much stuff. But, I did find a bunch of really cute shoes that I completely forgot I had! Score! I also found some jackets that I never wore because the arms are too tight that I'm going to sell on line. I told BJ that ** we have to ** get this house decluttered and organized. I think part of our complacency is that we just let stuff build up and build up - and we sort of just deal with it. I'm tired of having so much stuff. I would rather have a nice clean house with fewer things than a house filled with things that I do absolutely nothing with that collect dust.

I miss how my living room USED to look. We have this huge, ugly, clunky faux leather horse shoe sectional now. It's uncomfortable, and too big for this house. But, my living room used to have this cute little brown soft sofa, and the doll house my Grandfather made me when I was little were perfect for this area.

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We'll see how far we get this weekend. I'd at least like to get the kitchen & Pantry cleared out. I would also like to get those rooms repainted early this spring. What are good kitchen colors? I'm deathly bored of white. I need to find a good cheerful color. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave, and poof! It would all be done. I guess it doesn't work that way.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Crafty goodness

Well, since I'm temporarily immobile and have time on my hands, I figure I may as well do something with my time. Updating my blog seems like a good place to start. I went on Etsy today and asked in the forum if people still blog - or is it a dying art? There were many responses, which I'm grateful for. I found a nice group of new blogs I am following, that have inspired me to write a blog about my craft life.

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This is my work bench in my craft room. Admittedly, I seem to "craft" all over the house. We made this craft room with the good intention of keeping our hobbies in one designated area. I have come to the conclusion that the creative process doesn't like walls. It doesn't have boundaries, and it definitely can not be contained. Even in a room made entirely for the purpose of creativity.

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I've had that butterfly fabric for years, and I never knew what to do with it. I don't really sew much, but somehow have collected tons of fabric over the years. I needed something better to look at than a blank brown wall of a closet. We turned a closet into my work bench area - it seemed to serve the best purpose.

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While I primarily make jewelry - we do have a variety of other things we like to dabble in. Before making jewelry, I would do decorative painting with my Mom - hence all the paint. BJ painted ceramics before I met him - and it's something he enjoys doing, especially around the Holidays. The wooden bench in the corner we custom built in the craft room for BJ to have a space to paint, and to do his chainmaille. BJ doesn't have much wood working experience, however, my Father and my Grandfather both did wood working. I spent a lot of time in their work shops.

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So, this is (sometimes) where we create. But the reality is, you'll more likely find me with beads spread all over my bed while my husband plays XBox One, and my cats making a mess of things. All part of the creative process?

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And sometimes, just sometimes, we actually get things completed amid all the distractions.

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My creative process is pretty messy, actually. It normally consisted of beads everywhere. I never know what it is I'm going to make before I make it. I just start... putting things together. Sometimes they turn out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes I get frustrated and don't bead for months on end. But then I have months where all I want to do is create - and can not focus on anything else.

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So, this is just a little insight into the on goings of what we do in our home to make the things we do - with a little assistance of the four legged babies.  photo 26f312d1-aa32-482d-9ed4-4f989c852d1b_zpsp3wqnqt7.jpg

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Don't let yourself go, kids!

No, this isn't one of those "body shame" blogs that will tell you that you should be one thing or another. I'm not going to tell you that being big isn't beautiful, or that loving your bones is wrong. I would be a hypocrite. But, what I will share with you is my experience. You don't realize how far off the path you've gone until you lose your ability to walk without pain.

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I've struggled with my weight and self worth for what seems my entire life. Don't get me wrong - I'm finally in a place where I love myself. I read a sign a few weeks ago on line that said "Lions don't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep". And, it's true. I don't lose sleep over who doesn't like me, who does, what mistakes I've made, what things I could have done differently, etc. I'm not living my life for anyone but myself.

But, at what point are you just existing - not living? I've become complacent. I wouldn't say that I've become smug, but I've definitely come to a point where I've settled for where I am, and have made no effort to make better changes.

For the past four days I've been in extreme pain. I can barely walk at the moment, and it scares me. Have I really bargained with myself that behavior is ok as long as the "at leasts" still exist? At least I can still walk? At least I can take care of hygiene without the help of others? At least I can still drive? What are these "At leasts" that have floated their way to the surface of my conscience. Since when did "at least" become more important than trying harder?

I'll share a little secret. I am not perfect. I am not above making mistakes. I am sometimes a hypocrite. I sometimes make the wrong choices. I often times ignore the voice in my head telling me to get out and exercise because, lets face it, sitting on the sofa watching T.V. seems way more fun.

I haven't been able to walk for 4 days. I prayed, and cried, and negotiated. Please, let it be anything but blood clots in my leg. I've never had a blood clot. I stupidly looked up blood clots in the leg on Web MD. Has anyone else ever noticed that no matter what symptom you look up on Wed MD it always ends in "death"?

The prognosis? I'm fat. I have varicose veins. I've let myself go. I became complacent. I have Phlebitis, or, the inflammation of the veins in my legs, caused by having varicose veins. You don't realize how precious the ability to walk is until you suddenly can't, anymore, without pain.

I went to an imaging specialist in Dickson City yesterday to have an ultrasound done on my legs. I feel that this derived from Medieval torture. At least, on fat legs... it seems like torture. They push, hard, with that instrument, to get a clear picture of your veins - from groan to toe. Down the inner AND outter parts of your legs, down the tops of your legs, even behind your knees. Then they tap you, hard, to create a bounce in the flow. You hold your breathe. You exhale. They tap you again. I yelped out loud several times. The tech had to remind me to breathe. "If you don't breathe, your blood stops flowing properly, and this will take longer" he said. Sweet Jesus, no. I starred at the ceiling. I just repeated over and over again "This, too, shall pass - God be with me - This, too, shall pass". I may have cried. A lot.

In the grand scheme of things - phlebitis doesn't "sound" that terrible. It can become terrible. It can turn into DVT, which no one wants. I don't want to ever hear the words "You have blood clots in your legs".

The worst part of yesterday - I was alone. BJ made it to the Ultrasound place right before I went in, but he wasn't allowed to be with me. All day, all I really wanted was my Mom. I'm a grown ass woman, and I needed my Mom to hold my hand to tell me it's going to be ok. Is that ridiculous? I don't think it is. When don't we need our Mom's to tell us it's going to be ok?

Dad's are there to be our hero's and beat the hell out of shitty boyfriends. Mom's fix things that you think are broken.

So, tonight I get my round of steroids and antibiotics to "fix" the inflammation in my leg. Once the inflammation goes down, I will be able to walk (normally) again. You just don't realize how great walking is, until you can't.

Until my rounds of new prescriptions are done - I won't be able to go back on Contrave - the new medicine that my doctor put me on last week. Contrave is the combination of two different medicines. Bupropion is an antidepressant medicine. Naltrexone blocks the effects of narcotic medicines and alcohol. The going theory is that, food, like drugs and alcohol, is an addiction. I have to agree with this thought because there are some things that I have to steer clear from, because I know I'll plow through them like no one's business. You get a euphoric high when you eat things that make you not want to stop. That's addiction. Contrave is not an appetite suppressant. It triggers your brain to not think about your "addiction" and helps you to make better choices. Since being on Contrave, I haven't had the impulses to eat like I did without it. It wasn't always that I was "hungry" - more that I knew if I had something, it would make me feel really good.

So, the morale of the story is - don't let yourself go. Don't let the "at leasts" get in the way of the "I can" and "I will". You won't know how great the ability to walk is until you can't anymore.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On loss, and love...

My heart is heavy. My heart is breaking for my beautiful friend Cheryl as she goes through a time of mourning and grief. I also feel helpless to help her, and I so badly, and desperately, want to help her.

How do you help someone going through immeasurable grief?

Beyond our own personal experience on the subject, everyone experiences grief differently. Each of us have our own way of handling the pain of loss. When you lose someone you love, it feels as though part of you has been violently ripped out of your body. It's different from the loss of someone from a break up or divorce. Loss of a loved one by death is possibly one of the most paralizing feelings in the world. It leaves you breathless, and aching, and questioning why. We blame ourselves, we blame God, we blame other people for not seeing it coming. We rage until our bodies can no longer sustain, and then we weep. We greave until we reluctantly drag ourselves into acceptance. Not that we "accept" the situation, we accept that this is life, now. We accept that there is nothing our broken hearts can do to change the clocks, to turn back time. And after this very long period of grief and acceptance - we begin to heal. Parts of us, bit by bit - tiny pieces - start to mend. We'll never be whole again, not as we were. But we heal. Our hearts will love again. Our mind will shove away those thoughts of self damnation. A glimmer of who we are starts to shine.

A little over a year ago (January 2014) a friend from high school that I met through an exchange program with one of my neighboring schools committed suicide. Clue was... one of the most infectiously happy people you could ever meet. He was kind, and gentle, and talented. And there was a darkness in him that he felt he could not escape. No one knew, not one person. Not one person in a city, where to know Clue was to love him, saw this coming. And the after math... the shock, the fear, the grief... Then, the togetherness, the bond, the coming together that his life (and his death) inspired was something to behold. People flocked from states away, to remember a man that brought so much LIFE to their lives.

I remember that pain when I learned of Clue's passing. I remember laughing at the good memories. I remember crying because he was gone. I remember that there wasn't a single thing that anyone could have said or done that would have changed how I handled the mourning process. It's simply something one has to go through.

But, now being on the other end of it - I understand that desire and need to help someone I love very much to not suffer alone. She's lost her love. And I so want to lessen her pain in some way.

I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Craig. I saw their posts, and smiled at how happy my friend was with her new found flame. I was happy she was happy. And they look so happy. His smile was radiant, and they were a beautiful couple. And behind that beautiful smile was a world of pain. How do I tell my friend that there was positively nothing she could have done? His choice was not her fault. When a person is in that much pain, and they finalize their decision to either deal with the pain or end it - there is little the outside world can do to change their decision. He is free from the pain that haunted him. And in his wake, he's left a trail blaze of broken hearts and questions. It's not fair, and it's not easy, and it's not ok. No one will ever be ok with someone's choice to end pain in this way. But, in time, there is acceptance.

Yesterday I found something that made perfect sense, especially now. It's two words, really. Just Today. It's simple, and profound, and so completely true. Matthew 6:34 says "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Just Today means to make it through that moment. Take care of the things that need to be done that day. Just today, find something to be thankful for. Just Today applies to so many things that people may not even realize. Addictions, struggles with depressions... stress. Those who are also mourning the loss of a loved one. Those who want to be more in the here and now. Tomorrow is promised to no one. We have Just Today.

#JustToday

II. Parting and Absence
“We parted in silence”
Louisa Macartney Crawford (1790–1858)

WE parted in silence, we parted by night,
On the banks of that lonely river;
Where the fragrant limes their boughs unite,
We met—and we parted forever!
The night-bird sung, and the stars above
Told many a touching story,
Of friends long passed to the kingdom of love,
Where the soul wears its mantle of glory.

We parted in silence,—our cheeks were wet
With the tears that were past controlling;
We vowed we would never, no, never forget,
And those vows at the time were consoling;
But those lips that echoed the sounds of mine
Are as cold as that lonely river;
And that eye, that beautiful spirit’s shrine,
Has shrouded its fires forever.

And now on the midnight sky I look,
And my heart grows full of weeping;
Each star is to me a seal├Ęd book,
Some tale of that loved one keeping.
We parted in silence,—we parted in tears,
On the banks of that lonely river:
But the odor and bloom of those bygone years
Shall hang o’er its waters forever.

There is a song by Trisha Yearwood, "I would've loved you anyway", that I really believe people who have gone through some type of loss should listen to at least one time in their life. We can't live life in a bubble, protecting ourselves from the very nature of life. We live, and we die. But would we change those fleeting moments of happiness to protect ourselves from the pain that could come?

"If I'd've known the way that this would end
If I'd've read the last page first
If I'd've had the strength to walk away
If I'd've known how this would hurt...

I would've loved you anyway
I'd do it all the same
Not a second I would change
Not a touch that I would trade
Had I known my heart would break
I'd've loved you anyway

It's bittersweet to look back now
At mem'ries withered on the vine
But just to hold you close to me
For a moment in time...

And even if I'd seen it coming
You'd still've seen me running
Straight into your arms..."


Where ever you are right now, Cheryl - BJ and I are sending you our love, our thoughts, our prayers. We share in your sadness, and when you are ready, we are here. Even if it is to just hold your hand, sit in silence, and cry with you. We love you very much.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Selfies

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Okay, so I admit it. I'm a selfie taker. I like taking pictures and then editing them with different photo effects. This is one I did last night that I really like. I think I'm channeling Marilyn Monroe with the pose? I don't know what I was doing here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why buy Handmade?

Today on Etsy, someone posted a question that drew a hoard of responses - all equally correct, and beautiful. Why buy handmade?

Well, let me first tell you my reasons.

When you buy something handmade, you're buying a story, a part of a persons life, a joy, and sometimes a memory. When you support the handmade market, you're not lining the wallets of wall street, or the big corporations. You're helping enrich the lives of people who want to create beauty in the world - and to share that beauty with others. Handmade is so much more than someone "making" a craft item - it's love, and passion, and the desire to do something more with our lives than just be a statistic for a company that doesn't see it's employees as people - rather as numbers. That is what handmade means to me.

Another fellow artist from HotOffHerHook.etsy.com said, "To support small and/or local businesses; Handmade is so very often 'bettermade' than machine made, in its look, texture, and feel; Materials chosen to be used in handmade are often of superior quality than those used for machine made." She is right. Handmade items are made with love and care. Artists don't source the cheapest material to make the most profit. Most artists LOSE MONEY when selling their hand made items. Making an item means more than profit. It's taking pride in what one makes with their own two hands.

Annette from RescueMyRacks.etsy.com said, "My goal is to upcycle/recycle items that were bound for a landfill and give them new life. Instead of buying new wood, use what is already out there." Upcycling and repurposing in the handmade world is a big deal. We're not wasteful people. We save scraps because some day, we might be able to incorporate it into another project. We see beauty where others may see trash. Repurposing old furniture, old clothes, hell, even old toys is all part of what encompasses the term "handmade". Keeping things beautiful while preventing unnecessary waste is key. Leave a mark on the world, but leave a better planet for the next generation.

If I drive to a big box store right now, I'm not going to have that same euphoric feeling I do when I buy something made by someone elses hands. I don't get that happy feeling I would knowing my money is going to a mom working for extra money to buy her kids a gift, a dance lesson, or even something special for herself. I won't have that personal experience that I've grown to love on Etsy dealing directly with the maker of a special treasure. There is a unique one on one feeling you get when you deal with an artist. They CARE about making you happy. They WANT you to love their hand made items.

There is history in creativity. Paula from www.etsy.com/shop/PTurnbullandBishop said, "Traditions, making things the way it was done so many years ago. Keeping the craft tradition alive and passing it on to others. Native American style beadwork like ours where every stitch must be kept inside the leather because bags didn't have linings sewn in them. Items that other sellers make isn't just a craft but it was a way of life years ago. The Blacksmith, the Rug maker, the cobbler or the Furniture maker. These days with such a throw away attitude it is great to have such a wide variety of quality handmade items in one place."

So, this is why you should support hand made. Care where your money goes. Care about the people behind the product. Care that you're going to be receiving something that can be treasured and loved for generations. Handmade is made with love.